In the 21st century, nursing has become one of the most popular, lucrative, and exciting fields in the job market. More than ever, young people are recognizing the earning potential in the field; registered nurses are currently making a median salary of over $70,000, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that job openings in nursing will grow 15% between 2016 and 2026. Now is as good a time as any to investigate the possibility of earning an online nursing degree.
These already high wages are even higher in the state of Oregon. According to the BLS, the current annual mean wage for registered nurses is $88,770. As such, anyone interested in a particularly lucrative and meaningful career has a good opportunity to investigate online nursing programs in Oregon. Many online nursing education programs have gone online in recent years, including programs as basic as an ADN and as advanced as a DNP. This movement has included many nursing schools in Oregon, allowing graduates to take advantage of high starting salaries and ample nursing opportunities in the Beaver State.
How to Become a Nurse in Oregon
The path to become a nurse in Oregon is relatively similar to the processes of other states. Both RN programs in Oregon and BSN programs in Oregon are excellent comprehensive options to prepare students for the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam and meet nursing licensure requirements. There are some unique details to be aware of in Oregon, including varying licensure costs and procedures. We explore some of those details below.
1. Choose the Path That's Right for You
Before a student earns an RN certification, they must first earn an undergraduate nursing degree. An associate degree may be sufficient for students who wish to practice nursing; however, many students at nursing schools in Oregon decide to complete a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program, which often helps nurses earn a higher starting salary. Students who eventually wish to teach nursing should plan to pursue a master's of science in nursing (MSN) or doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree. In most cases, a DNP degree is required to serve as an undergraduate professor.
2. Earn Your Nursing Degree
Nursing is one of the fields that has changed and benefited from the movement of undergraduate education from the classroom to the internet. Nevertheless, earning an online nursing degree isn't for everyone. Online students must be motivated, independent learners capable of completing self-paced work. Most online nursing programs also include in-person clinical hours, fellowships, and internships, all of which can be arranged in students' local communities. The length of each program depends on the degree that students are pursuing -- an ADN takes two years, a BSN takes 3-4 years, and a DNP takes 3-6 years to complete.
3. Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License
The industry-standard exam for nurses is the NCLEX-RN. How much study time a student should allocate for the NCLEX-RN depends on each individual student, but they should understand that the NCLEX-RN is a significant undertaking, on par with the MCAT or SAT. ADN and BSN programs prepare nursing students for the exam; however, additional studying is certainly advisable to achieve a good score. Upon passing the exam and receiving licensure, students do not immediately receive a job. Although their new RN licensure does officially allow them to work as a nurse in Oregon, newly licensed nursing school graduates still need to pursue job openings at hospitals and clinics.
Nursing Licensure in Oregon
There are two ways to earn nursing licensure in Oregon: examination or endorsement. Each route requires the nursing student to successfully complete a standardized nursing test – either the NCLEX-RN or a LPN/RN State Board Testing Pool Examination (SBTPE). Students need to have an RN certification – often earned via an associate degree – to sit for the exam, although many choose to complete a BSN program instead.
Examination is the most common path to licensure for students who have completed a program at a nursing school in Oregon. Graduates of approved nursing schools in Oregon can sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. If they obtain the required score, they receive nursing licensure in the Beaver State. Endorsement is the licensing option for students who have passed the SBTPE or NCLEX-RN and have already earned licensure in another state. For a fee of $195, the Oregon State Board of Nursing endorses registered nurses to practice in Oregon.
In each case, students only need to complete one standardized exam to earn certification in Oregon. All students with an online nursing degree who are planning to practice in Oregon should verify the most up-to-date standards with the Oregon State Board of Nursing.
State Requirements By Nursing Type
To become an RN in Oregon, you will need at least an associate's degree in nursing. This educational path leads to job opportunities as an Associate's Degree Registered Nurse (ADRN), who primarily work in hospitals under the supervision of doctors and nurse practitioners. Alternatively, you could earn a bachelor's degree, which will qualify you to become a Bachelor's Degree Registered Nurse (BDRN). BDRNs enjoy a wide range of professional opportunities, and can work in settings including community health clinics in addition to hospitals.
In either case, you will follow a similar path to licensure. You must apply directly to the Oregon State Board of Nursing (OSBN) with your nursing school transcripts, a passport-sized photograph, a police background check, and a set of fingerprints from an approved vendor. You must also pass the NCLEX-RN examination, a standardized test that challenges your knowledge of essential nursing and healthcare concepts. It mainly uses a multiple-choice format, and you must answer at least 75 of 265 questions within the six-hour time limit. The exam costs $200, plus a $160 application fee payable to the OSBN.
Under Oregon state law, nurses cannot start work until they have officially received their licenses. Meaning you cannot begin even an orientation program without your license, even if you know you have passed the NCLEX-RN exam.
You qualify for an Oregon state endorsement if you hold or have previously held an RN license in another U.S. state. If you attended nursing school in another state but have never been licensed, you can register for the NCLEX-RN exam in Oregon. However, the state's nursing board may request additional information about your education, such as course descriptions. If you attended school outside the U.S. and have never held an RN license in any state, one of five OSBN-approved education equivalency agencies must assess and approve your schooling credentials. You may also have to pass an English language proficiency test.
Oregon RN licenses remain valid for two years, and expire the day before your birthday. You become eligible to renew your license 90 days before the expiry date.
In Oregon, certified nursing assistants (CNAs) earn their credentials by completing an approved training program and passing an examination. The OSBN maintains a list of recognized CNA educational training programs here.
Alternately, the OSBN recognizes two equivalents to an Oregon-based in-class educational program:
- Graduation from a comparable program in another U.S. state, so long as you completed classes within the past two years and covered at least 75 hours of in-class instruction
- Military training as a medic or corpsman, along with at least 400 hours of remunerated employment in a caregiving environment within the past two years
After completing your educational training or an approved equivalent, you must take the CNA-1 examination. This two-part exam includes a written multiple-choice test along with a manual skills assessment. Candidates write the multiple-choice portion of the examination at a testing center, but undertake the manual skills assessment in a real-world setting on an individual basis. The test costs $106, plus fingerprinting fees. Applicants must submit copies of their fingerprints in addition to passing a national criminal background check prior to taking the exam.
Out-of-state applicants meet eligibility requirements for an Oregon endorsement if they hold a valid CNA certificate from another state. Expired out-of-state CNA certifications also qualify, so long as you remained in good standing throughout your previous term of employment.
Oregon CNA certifications remain valid for approximately two years, and expire at midnight on the day immediately prior to your birthday. You can apply to renew your certificate within 90 days of its listed expiry date.
To fulfill the educational requirements for a licensed practical nurse (LPN) in Oregon, you must graduate from a nursing training program with official approval from the Oregon State Board of Nursing (OSBN). Full-time students typically complete LPN training programs in about one academic year. When you graduate, administrative staff at your school will automatically notify the OSBN of your eligibility for LPN licensure.
Otherwise, you will follow the same licensure process that registered nurses (RNs) complete:
- Complete an application form, and submit it to the OSBN.
- Supply a passport-sized photo, a set of fingerprints from an approved vendor, and the results of a national criminal background check.
- Register to take the NCLEX-Practical Nurse (PN) examination.
- Furnish the OSBN with an official copy of your nursing school transcripts.
The NCLEX-PN exam covers a maximum of 205 multiple-choice questions, you must answer at least 85. You will have five hours to complete the exam, and questions cover topics including care environment safety, physiological and psychosocial integrity, and the promotion and maintenance of physical health. It costs $200 to take the exam, plus a $160 OSBN application fee. Approved vendors also charge candidates for fingerprints. You automatically become eligible for your LPN license if you pass the test.
If you attended an accredited nursing school out of state, you can apply for LPN licensure in Oregon as long as you completed your education in the United States. Applicants with international backgrounds must apply to have their schooling credentials recognized by the OSBN before qualifying for Oregon licensure.
As with other forms of Oregon nursing licensure, your LPN certification remains valid for approximately two years, and expires at midnight on the day before your birthday. The renewal window opens 90 days before your license expires.
Among the various types of nursing, nurse practitioners (NPs) have the greatest level of professional responsibility, and thus require more education. To apply for NP licensure in Oregon, you must have at least a master's degree in nursing from an accredited school recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Furthermore, your educational background must include graduate coursework in pathophysiology, pharmacology, physical assessment, and areas of specialization covered by the type of advanced nursing license you seek. Oregon recognizes NPs as well as clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). For example, you must show evidence of advanced anaesthesiology training if you want to become a CRNA. Visit this site for further specifics about the different types of Oregon APRN licenses.
All APRNs in Oregon hold RN licenses, and you must follow the steps to get your RN license. Out-of-state and international endorsement requirements are also identical to those that apply to RNs.
Upon earning your RN license, the Oregon State Board of Nursing (OSBN) will issue an accompanying NP, CNS, or CRNA certification number. Your RN license and APRN certification both remain valid for the same period, which continues for approximately two years before expiring at midnight on the day before your birthday. As with Oregon licenses that cover the other types of nursing, you can apply to renew your RN/APRN credentials 90 days before their expiry dates.
Career Outlook for Nurses in Oregon
Oregon nurses enjoy annual mean wages that are nearly $15,000 above the national average in addition to ample opportunity, with over 35,000 jobs currently available across the state. Oregon boasts a number of large hospitals, a number of which focus on cancer research and cardiac care, making those two fields popular among nurses as well. Nursing is also a particularly popular profession in Oregon, as nearly 20 out of every 1,000 employed citizens in Oregon are registered nurses.
The BLS projects a 15% growth rate nationwide in the nursing profession between 2016 and 2026. When paired with Oregon nurses' currently appealing wages, it is clear that this profession should continue to be a popular and lucrative option for those in the Beaver State over the next decade. With multiple Oregon professional organizations specifically focusing on nurse practitioners -- including the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioner's Oregon chapter and the Nurse Practitioners of Oregon -- nurses looking to advance to the practitioner level can also find plenty of opportunity and support in Oregon.
Employment Data For RNs in Oregon
U.S. Bureau of Labor (BLS) statistics show that RNs command average annual earnings of $73,550 per year. That figure represents the mean of 2.9 million working American nurses as of May 2017. Looking at median earnings, the BLS notes a salary range of $48,690 for the bottom 10% of nurses to $104,100 for the top 10%. Experienced professionals tend to post higher annual earnings, but other factors including the job setting also play major roles.
The top five job settings for RNs, ranked in descending order by the number of employed nurses, include:
- Doctor's offices
- Home healthcare providers
- Skilled nursing facilities
- Outpatient clinics
RNs employed in hospitals and outpatient clinics tend to earn the highest annual salaries, while those who work in skilled nursing facilities and doctor's offices tend to earn the lower end of the range. However, they also tend to work fewer hours, and many nurses who work in these settings view the trade-off favorably.
Outside of a few major urban centers, Oregon is largely rural and sparsely populated. Concentrating your job search in cities including Portland, Eugene, Gresham, Hillsboro, Beaverton, and Bend will generate the largest volume of potential leads.
Employment Data For CNAs in Oregon
According to the BLS, CNAs in the U.S. earn a mean average annual salary of $28,540. Experience, the industry of employment, and other factors contribute to an overall salary range of about $20,680 to $38,630. Most CNAs work in long-term care centers and skilled nursing facilities, while large numbers also hold employment in hospitals, retirement communities, assisted living communities, and home healthcare providers. Others work for employment services firms on a contract or assignment basis.
BLS statistics report that medical and surgical hospitals tend to offer the highest average levels of pay for CNAs, while assisted living facilities and retirement communities typically offer salaries that range toward the lower end. However, these general trends do not apply universally, and you can find higher-paying and lower-paying jobs in practically all of the aforementioned settings.
Almost half of Oregon's total population lives in the greater Portland metropolitan area, making it an excellent place to launch your job search. Other major Oregon cities include Eugene, Gresham, Hillsboro, Beaverton, and Bend. Most of the state's smaller towns and urbanized areas also house at least one facility that will employ CNAs, though likely in relatively limited numbers.
Employment Data For NPs in Oregon
NPs enjoy the highest average annual earnings of all the types of nursing, according to the BLS. The nationwide mean salary for an American NP reached $107,480 in May 2017, with an overall median range spanning from a low end of about $74,840 to a high end of approximately $145,630. Specialized APRNs can earn even more, with May 2017 median pay rates for nurse anaesthetists and nurse midwives reaching $110,930. The highest-paid APRNs enjoy annual earnings that approach the level of what an average American family doctor might expect to make in a year.
Major employment settings for APRNs include:
- Doctor's offices
- Outpatient clinics
- Offices of other health practitioners, such as specialist physicians and surgeons
- Nursing schools, colleges, and universities
APRNs who work in education tend to earn the least, but they also usually have set and manageable schedules and experience far less job-related stress. According to the BLS, the highest-earning APRNs usually work in hospitals and outpatient clinics.
The Oregon State Board of Nursing (OSBN) maintains a list of approved nursing programs, if you want to search for a teaching job. For other jobs in other settings, concentrate your search in major Oregon cities including Portland, Eugene, Gresham, Hillsboro, Beaverton, and Bend to access the widest possible range of opportunities.
Biggest Hospitals in Oregon
In general, hospitals are the primary employers of registered nurses in the United States. As such, if a state has more hospitals, as a rule that state is likely to have more employment opportunities for nurses. Large hospitals in particular often look for recent graduates to fill nursing positions. Larger hospitals are also more likely to offer internships and fellowships for nursing students. Below are the two largest hospitals in Oregon.
- Oregon Health and Science University: Located in Portland, OHSU is a particularly strong option for students earning their online nursing degree in Oregon because they can transition straight from the classroom to employment in a hospital. In addition to being one of the best nursing schools in Oregon and offering excellent nursing and public health programs, OHSU operates a network of hospitals and clinics, serving more than 250,000 patients each year.
- Providence Portland Medical Center: Also based out of the City of Roses, Providence Portland Medical Center specializes in cardiac and cancer care. PPMC is a full-service hospital that employs over 1,000 doctors. Subspecialties include women's health, behavioral health, and rehabilitation. The Portland center is a part of the larger Providence Health & Services network.
Additional Nursing Resources in Oregon
- NAPNAP Oregon Chapter: The National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners promotes health for youth through opportunities for advocacy, role advancement, and professional development. The Oregon chapter of NAPNAP focuses on providing these opportunities specifically to nurses in the state. Membership includes many resources, including continuing education opportunities.
- Oregon Center for Nursing: The Oregon Center for Nursing facilitates research and collaboration that furthers the nursing profession. The organization's web page includes publications, lists of programs, and detailed information on how to enter the nursing profession in Oregon.
- Oregon Nurses Association: Over a century old, the Oregon Nurses Association is a nonprofit organization primarily focused on improving health and increasing the availability for healthcare services for all of Oregon's citizens in addition to advancing the welfare (economic and general) of nurses in Oregon. The organization's web page also connects members to local professional development opportunities.
- Nurse Practitioners of Oregon: NPO is a special interest group within the Oregon Nurses Association. Founded in 1977, NPO primarily focuses on legislation and advocacy that benefits the nurse practitioner profession. The organization also provides a means for information exchange and support among nurse practitioners in Oregon.
Accredited Online Nursing Programs in Oregon
The following database is a comprehensive list of all accredited online nursing degrees available in Oregon, including ADN, BSN, RN-to-BSN, MSN, and DNP programs. This list is intended to serve as a resource for future online students who are comparing the many nursing schools in Oregon.