Students attending nursing school online in Texas prepare themselves to enter a fast-growing field. The U.S. boasts nearly 3 million registered nurses (RN), and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 15% job growth for RNs by 2026. Texas is home to the second-largest number of RNs, with the Houston and Dallas metro areas boasting particularly high numbers of RNs. Still, Texas faces a nursing shortage across all types of nursing. The Texas Nurses Association projects 60,000 unfilled nursing positions by 2030.
Though Texas RNs earn slightly lower than the national average of $68,000 per year, specializing in fields such as geriatrics or cardiology results in higher salaries. Texas students can take advantage of the field's growth by earning an online nursing degree.
How to Become a Nurse in Texas
To become an RN, individuals must complete an on-campus or online nursing program, such as those offered through nursing colleges in Texas. After completing a nursing school in Texas, aspiring nurses must pass the NCLEX-RN and submit to a criminal background check. In Texas, the NCLEX-RN costs $100, plus a $186 endorsement fee. The Texas State Board of Nursing (BON) provides a list of NCLEX-RN pass rates by school. Texas' pass rate exceeds the national average.
1. Choose the Path That's Right for You
An associate degree remains the minimum level of education required to become an RN in Texas, but many nursing students choose to complete an online BSN program in Texas. After earning a bachelor's degree from a nursing school in Texas, students who plan to become nurse anesthetists, family nurse practitioners, or college-level nursing instructors must earn an advanced nursing degree, such as a master's degree (MSN) or a doctorate in nursing practice (DNP).
2. Earn Your Nursing Degree
To prepare students for licensure, online nursing programs in Texas require clinical practice on an approved site. Therefore, students can seldom find fully online nursing programs. Most associate degree and bachelor's programs at nursing schools in Texas require applicants to pass an admissions exam and meet general requirements. MSN programs take one to two years to complete, and BSN programs take about four years. Nursing degree coursework includes science classes, general education courses, nursing classes, and clinicals.
3. Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License
Graduates of nursing schools in Texas must pass the NCLEX-RN to earn licensure. Online nursing programs prepare students to pass the exam, which costs $100 and takes six hours. Most successful test takers also study daily for at least two months prior to the exam. The Texas BON grants licensure to candidates who complete an approved nursing program, pass the NCLEX-RN, and pass a criminal background check. Jobs, while plentiful, are not guaranteed to any nurse.
Nursing Licensure in Texas
The NCLEX-RN, a licensure requirement, tests entry-level nursing practices and nursing-related information. To be eligible to take the NCLEX-RN, students must complete an accredited ASN, BSN, or diploma program. At Texas nursing schools, approved BSN programs include nursing practice coursework, science classes, and clinical components. Graduates of online BSN programs in Texas enjoy more career options than ASN or diploma holders.
The Texas BON licenses nurses in the state. After passing the NCLEX-RN, students undergo a background check. Felony convictions or unresolved criminal charges may eliminate a prospective nurse. Once licensed in Texas, nurses can practice in a Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) state. Likewise, nurses licensed in an NLC state may transfer their license to Texas.
Nursing Licensing Costs in Texas
Exam Fee $100
State Requirements By Nursing Type
Eligible candidates seeking an RN license in Texas must follow the step-by-step requirements presented by the BON. In the months leading up to graduating from an approved Texas RN program or from an accredited out-of-state RN program, students should submit the $100 initial licensure application and complete a criminal background check. Approximately one month prior to graduation, candidates must register for the $200 NCLEX-RN exam.
After registering for the national exam, the Texas BON requires nursing candidates to complete the Nursing Jurisprudence Examination (NJE). After correctly answering 75% or more of the 50 questions, candidates receive an authorization to test (ATT). Within 75 days of receiving the ATT, students must successfully complete the NCLEX-RN exam, which includes 75-265 multiple-choice questions. Once students pass the national exam, they receive a certificate and the ability to verify their licensure online.
For out-of-state applicants, along with passing the NCLEX-RN and NJE, the Texas BON requires an out-of-state criminal background check and an affidavit of graduation. International students must also show proof of passing an English proficiency exam and a full report from an approved Credential Evaluation Service (CES). Nurses licensed by another authority may receive an endorsement to practice in Texas, granted they meet state requirements, complete the nurse endorsement application, and pay the $186 endorsement fee.
To avoid late fees, RNs should submit the licensure renewal within 60 days of the two-year license expiry date. Delinquent license renewals and license reactivations require submitted proof of continuing education along with the payment of late fees and additional processing fees.
The first step in the process to becoming a certified nursing assistant requires students to complete an eligible nurse aide training and competency evaluation program (NATCEP). The Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) department approves programs that satisfy all necessary requirements, including the provision of at least 100 training hours. Students can find approved NATCEPs in Texas on the HHS directory search. Candidates must also submit a criminal record check and have a clean record of employment conduct.
For the next step, candidates must complete the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP) exam within two years of completing their NATCEP. The NNAAP exam, which carries a $104.50 fee, requires students to complete a written and oral portion along with a skills demonstration. Military service members and nursing students may bypass certain requirements based on experience. Once candidates pass the NNAAP exam, they receive certification, and the HHS registers them in the nurse aide registry.
Every two years, nurse aides must complete at least 24 hours of in-service education. The HHS provides a list of approved programs to satisfy these requirements. To renew their license, nurse aides provide continuing employment and education records every two years. If an aide's license expires and they did not work in the field, they must apply to test for recertification through the HHS. Out-of-state nurse aides with the necessary credentials can apply for certification in Texas through reciprocity.
Unlike most state nursing organizations in the U.S., the Texas BON uses the terms licensed practical nurse (LPN) and licensed vocational nurse (LVN) interchangeably. To become a licensed practical nurse, candidates must first complete an approved state LPN program. While the classes differ depending on the program and school, each program emphasizes clinical practice. Although the Texas BON recognizes accredited pre-licensure programs from other states, out-of-state students should verify their education eligibility by contacting the institution offering the program. International students must receive a full report from an approved credential evaluation service.
Students then pay the initial licensure fees, submit a criminal background check, register for the NCLEX-PN exam, and pay the $200 registration fee. To grant the ATT for the national exam, the Texas BON requires students to correctly answer 75% of the 50-question NJE. The ATT provides students with a 75-day window to complete the NCLEX-PN exam. By passing this exam, which includes 85-205 multiple-choice questions, students receive certification and can apply for state licensure.
Out-of-state applicants must follow similar steps, but they require an out-of-state criminal background check, plus an affidavit of graduation. For out-of-state LPNs seeking licensure in Texas, the BON requires eligible candidates to complete an endorsement application and pay the $186 endorsement fee. LPNs renew their licenses every two years through the timely renewal applications. Nurses may renew expired licenses, whether delinquent or inactive, though they must also submit additional fees and proof of continued education.
In Texas, nurse practitioners fall under the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) umbrella, along with nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, and clinical nurse specialists. The Texas BON requires that all NP candidates complete, at minimum, a master's degree in nursing, prepare for more than one advanced practice role, and complete a minimum of 500 clinical hours for each role. Check the Texas BON for in-state and out-of-state program approval, and ensure that a national or regional accrediting organization accredited the program.
Additional educational requirements include completed courses in advanced physical assessment, pharmacotherapeutics, APRN role preparation, pathophysiology, and at least 20 hours of continuing nursing education within the last two years. Once students complete the education component, they must pass one of the national certification exams recognized by the BON and then complete 400 hours of practice in a two-year period.
After completing the BON's application for licensure, submitting the fee, and completing the online license verification, NP candidates become eligible for licensure in Texas. NPs must renew licenses every two years by completing the renewal application. NPs who allow licenses to expire, whether through delinquency or inactivity, must demonstrate proof of continued education and pay additional fees. If a license remains inactive for more than four years, the NP must complete a refresher course. The BON does not offer endorsements for out-of-state licensed NPs.
Career Outlook for Nurses in Texas
According to the BLS, Texas healthcare centers employ more than 207,800 registered nurses, the second-largest number of RNs of any state. The Houston and Dallas metropolitan areas exist as the nation's fourth- and seventh-largest metro centers for nursing employment, respectively. Although Texas boasts a large concentration of nurses and Projections Central projects a 4% growth rate in the profession, Texas suffers from a nursing shortage. This means graduates of online nursing degrees can explore ample job opportunities.
Texas nurses specialize in a variety of areas and work in positions such as certified dialysis nurse, legal nurse consultant, and nurse midwife. Spanish-speaking students at nursing schools in Texas can find professional opportunities focusing on the healthcare needs of the Hispanic population.
Employment Data for RNs in Texas
Texas boasts a strong employment field for RNs. With a $72,070 mean annual wage, which is higher than the profession's national average of $70,000, Texas also employs the second most registered nurses in the nation. Like most states, the mean salary for registered nurses varies depending on the field or industry. On average, RN salaries range from just above $60,000 in education to more than $90,000 in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing. Hospitals, ambulatory services, and residential care facilities fall in between those two industries. Across the country, 61% of registered nurses work in hospitals, and the job outlook for these positions remains positive. Analysts project a 15% growth rate through 2026 for RNs, which is more than double the average career.
Similar to the rest of the country, Texas offers more positions to registered nurses in metropolitan areas because of the centralized hospital and health services. The Plano and Irving metropolitan area in Dallas, along with the Woodlands and Sugar Land metropolitan centers, employ nearly half of the state's residential nurses. Texas' Sherman-Denison region hosts one of the country's highest concentrations of nursing positions. Texas' major cities do not hold all the RN positions, as North Texas boasts one of the country's largest nonmetropolitan workforces of registered nurses. For nursing candidates, the spread of career opportunities throughout the state provides a large selection of employment and living options.
Employment Data for CNAs in Texas
On the national scale, the certified nursing assistant career looks positive. Analysts project an 11% growth rate for nursing assistants and a 24% growth rate for home health aides through 2026. Despite coming in lower than the mean salary for all careers nationally, the respective median annual salaries of $27,520 and $25,610 for nursing assistants and home health aides, in combination with the positive career growth, makes becoming a CNA a good choice for students. CNAs seeking higher salaries can explore careers in the federal executive branches, facilities support services, or education. The annual mean wages for these industries range from $35,000-$38,340.
In Texas, CNAs earn a mean salary of $26,390 and join the country's fourth-largest CNA workforce. The Texas metropolitan centers provide the best work opportunities for CNAs in the state in both pay and employment numbers. Tyler provides nursing assistants with an annual mean wage of $38,410, which ranks fifth among the country's highest-paying metropolitan areas. The Houston metropolitan area provides the most job opportunities in the state, employing the sixth most CNAs among the country's metropolitan areas.
Employment Data for NPs in Texas
The flexibility of the nurse practitioner field provides a great deal of choice and opportunity for professionals. While the annual mean salary for NPs comes in at $111,330, some fields offer substantially higher salary potential. Nurse anesthetists, for example, earn a median annual wage of $165,120 in the U.S. NPs employed in personal care services and consulting services earn annual mean wages ranging from $132,000-$139,460. In Texas, the opportunities and salaries compare favorably on the national scale.
While the state boasts an annual mean salary just above the national average, Texas employs the third-most NPs in the country, with a workforce of nearly 11,000. The Houston and Dallas metropolitan centers host approximately half of these professionals. Although most jobs available to NPs in Texas appear in city centers, some of the state's rural regions offer financial benefits. The Big Thicket region, for example, represents the highest-paying nonmetropolitan area for NPs in the country. The more rural areas contain fewer hospitals, which provides more opportunities for higher-paying personal care and home care services. For NP candidates, the data available for Texas highlights a multitude of career options and employment opportunities and makes the state a desirable location.
Biggest Hospitals in Texas
Texas employs the second-largest number of nurses of any state. Along with Texas' large population, the number of nurses in all types of nursing reflects the state's commitment to healthcare. Texas contains more than 600 hospitals, including respected institutions such as Baylor University Medical Center and Houston Methodist Hospital. With these hospitals employing a large number of nurses, as well as the ongoing nursing shortage, Texas presents plenty of entry-level opportunities for online nursing degree graduates.
- Texas Medical Center: The world's largest medical complex, Texas Medical Center serves 10 million patients annually. TMC is home to the world's largest cancer hospital, as well as the largest children's hospital, and employs about 106,000 people. TMC's breakthrough research and cutting-edge practices make it a great setting for innovative nurses who work in all types of nursing.
- Tenet Healthcare Corporation: With 77 hospitals and 137,000 employees, Tenet Health stands out as the country's third-largest, investor-owned healthcare company. From its headquarters in Dallas, Tenet Health operates hospitals and facilities in 47 states. The corporation employs 38,000 nurses and serves 11.3 million patients annually.
Additional Nursing Resources in Texas
- Texas Association of Nurse Anesthetists: Recognizing the growing role of certified registered nurse anesthetists in Texas, TxANA advances the profession and advocates for general healthcare. Nursing students may join TxANA, but all members must also join the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists.
- Greater Texas Chapter of NAPNAP: The Texas chapter of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners promotes children's health. The organization hosts a quarterly educational dinner; sponsors awards; and conducts advocacy and outreach efforts. Members receive continuing education units.
- Texas Nursing Students' Association: Representing more than 3,000 Texas nursing students, TNSA maintains chapters at many nursing schools in Texas. Members enjoy access to online forums, a scholarship competition, and an annual conference. Members are also constituents of the National Student Nurses Association.
- Texas Nurses Association: As Texas' oldest and largest association for nurses, TNA advocates for nursing-related public policy initiatives, provides continuing education, and develops resources to aid in nursing practice. TNA operates an online career center and a peer-assistance program for nurses with concerns about substance abuse or mental health.
- Texas Clinical Nurse Specialists: Founded in 2003, this coalition of clinical nurse specialists advocates for general healthcare and the profession, while supporting research in relevant fields. TxCNS members attend events and join an online job board. TxCNS exists as an affiliate of the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists.
Accredited Online Nursing Programs in Texas
See below for a list of all accredited online nursing programs in Texas, including ADN, BSN, RN-to-BSN, MSN, and DNP programs. Online RN programs in Texas typically require some in-person components. Students earning advanced nursing degrees may specialize to increase their earning potential after graduation.