Healthcare is one of the most in-demand industries in the country, and nurses can give back to their communities and improve others’ quality of life through their work. Registered nurses (RN) earn a median salary of more than $68,000, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the nursing field to grow by 15% between 2016 and 2026, which is more than double the national average.
Nursing schools in Utah are a popular choice for students pursuing higher education. Of all degrees conferred in the state, more than 20% are in a health-related program -- more than any other field of study. Utah's Department of Workforce Services rated nursing as one of the most desirable careers in the state based on the field’s high demand and wages. With nearly 1,200 jobs opening for registered nurses annually, the outlook for nursing graduates in Utah has never been better.
How to Become a Nurse in Utah
Utah's nursing school graduates undergo a licensing process similar to that required by most other states. Utah’s process entails unique licensing costs and governing bodies. To attain licensure in Utah, nursing graduates must pass the NCLEX and pay a licensing fee to the Utah Board of Nursing. Since Utah holds membership with the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), nurses licensed in Utah may practice in any NLC state.
1. Choosing the Right Path for You
Students should make career decisions before applying to nursing schools in Utah. All nurses in the United States must complete the NCLEX-RN, for which candidates must hold at least an associate degree in nursing. Online BSN programs in Utah prepare candidates to take the NCLEX-RN and open opportunities for positions as travel nurses or nurse anesthetists. A master’s degree in nursing (MSN) qualifies graduates to become nurse practitioners and advanced practice nurses. Students seeking positions in healthcare management or college-level teaching should earn a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) from one of the nursing schools in Utah.
2. Earn Your Nursing Degree
After choosing a degree, students must decide whether to consider on-campus or online nursing programs in Utah. The percentage of students who choose online degrees in Utah is nearly double the national average. Admissions requirements for online nursing programs typically resemble those for on-campus programs. Because nursing programs impose science requirements, most nursing colleges in Utah require applicants to complete prerequisites in biology and chemistry. Most Utah nursing programs, both online and on campus, require students to complete a practicum to gain hands-on training and real-world experience. Program length varies by school and specific degree. Accelerated nursing programs in Utah allow students to earn their degrees more quickly.
3. Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License
The NCLEX-RN, administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), tests candidates on various areas of the nursing field, including safe and effective care environment, health promotion and maintenance, physiological integrity, and psychosocial integrity. The exam costs $200 and consists of 75-265 multiple-choice questions. Students must complete the NCLEX-RN within six hours, and the exam concludes once its software accurately determines the candidate’s competence level. Students attending nursing schools online in Utah prepare for the exam through their coursework, but the NCSBN suggests additional preparation. After passing the exam, candidates must apply for licensure in the state in which they wish to practice.
Nursing Licensure in Utah
After graduating from an online nursing program, nursing candidates must follow Utah’s procedure to gain a license to practice in the state. Candidates must complete an ASN, BSN, MSN, or DNP program to qualify to take the NCLEX-RN.
After passing the NCLEX-RN, prospective nurses must register with the state’s nursing board. In Utah, the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing manages all nursing licensure. Since Utah is part of the NLC, nurses licensed in Utah may practice in other NLC states. Candidates licensed in non-NLC states may apply for a nursing license verification to practice in Utah.
Nursing Licensing Costs in Utah
Exam Fee $95
Background Check $100
State Requirements By Nursing Type
RNs in Utah give back to their community by supporting others' health and wellbeing. You can complete the educational requirements to become an RN in as little as 20 months, and enter the workforce with the confidence to deliver quality care. The curriculum combines theory and practice, offering lectures, laboratory experiences, and clinical learning.
Some programs may use human patient simulators to enhance the understanding of real-world situations. Courses explore topics including medical terminology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, and pediatric care. These studies prepare students for the NCLEX-RN, as long as they graduate and provide transcripts from an approved nursing program. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) develops and administers the exam, which costs $200. Test takers have up to six hours to complete the NCLEX-RN, which as of July 2017 includes a 30-minute special research section for select candidates. This section helps test makers determine which kinds of new test items to include in future exams.
According to the state’s Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, acquiring your RN license requires passing the exam in addition to submitting an application and two sets of fingerprints. The application fee costs $100. If you hold an out-of-state license, then you must provide verification to the division.
RN licenses expire on Jan. 31 in odd-numbered years. You must pay $58 to renew your license. Allowing your license to expire means you must also pay a reinstatement fee that ranges from $20-$50.
If you want to work as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) in Utah, you must complete a program approved by the Utah Nursing Assistant Registry. Students can generally enroll in one of these programs through a community college, hospital, or nursing home. You can find a list of approved programs on the registry's website. The registry might waive certain program requirements in special circumstances. For example, you may receive a waiver if you hold an expired RN license, as long as that license was in good standing. You might also receive a waiver if you successfully completed certain nursing fundamentals courses.
Utah administers a state assessment for students who complete their CNA training. It includes a skills section, which uses a person or mannequin to assess how well you can perform your nursing duties. It also includes a computer-based, written section; you must correctly answer 75 of 100 questions. CNA training graduates must pass the exam within one year of finishing their training. The state charges $75 for the exam. The registry automatically includes those who pass it. Out-of-state CNAs can request the registry to verify their certification for a $10 fee.
To renew your license, you must work under a licensed nurse for 200 paid hours within two years of seeking renewal. You may take an exam in lieu of completing the hours. Licensed nurses receive a renewal notice 90 days before their license expires, and must pay $15 for each of the first six months they allow their license to remain expired.
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) begin their careers by enrolling in an approved program. Utah requires all of its in-state programs to hold national accreditation form the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). You can find a list of accredited programs on the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing website.
You can apply for your LPN once you reach your last semester of LPN studies. The application costs $100 and includes a required background check. You should register for the NCLEX-PN at least two months before you sit for it. The exam costs $200 and assesses knowledge through multiple-choice, drag-and-drop, and fill-in-the-blank questions about what you learned in your coursework. You may take up to five hours to complete the exam, and must answer at least 85 of the 205 questions. Expect to receive your LPN license within three weeks of passing the exam.
You can apply for licensure in Utah if you maintain an active license in another state. You must submit verification from that state, and do not need to undergo a background check. LPN licenses expire on Jan. 31 of each even year. You should receive a renewal notice 60 days before your license expires. You must pay reinstatement fees ranging from $20-$50 if it does expire.
Nurse practitioners work as advanced practice registered nurses (APRN), who must complete studies in assessment, diagnosis, and treatment, as well as classwork in pharmacotherapeutics. Nurse practitioners who specialize in anesthesia must make sure their programs hold accreditation from the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs. Those specializing in mental health must complete at least 4,000 hours of education and clinical experience. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing awards 1,000 hours for graduating from an approved program.
You can seek certification through certain nationally recognized organizations, including the American Nurses Association, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, and the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists. Check with the certifying organizations to determine what each requires for its exam. You must pass your exam within five years of graduating.
Applying for your LPN license requires state and federal background checks. You must also submit official transcripts. The license application costs $140. LPN licenses expire Jan. 31 of even years; expect a renewal notice 60 days in advance. You must pay a $68 renewal fee.
If you obtained LPN licensure from a state with fewer educational requirements than Utah, the state may still issue you a license, as long as your original licensing state's standards equaled those in effect in Utah at your time of graduation. You may receive a temporary LPN license if your current out-of-state license did not require assessment and pharmacotherapeutics classes.
Career Outlook for Nurses in Utah
The Department of Workforce Services in Utah lists nursing as a top field based on demand and salary, noting that nursing has the sixth-highest number of annual job openings in Utah. Of all careers requiring degrees and professional licensure, nursing offers the most annual job openings.
While nursing candidates with associate degrees and a nursing license have plenty of career opportunities in Utah, those with advanced degrees enjoy even greater demand. Specialized nurses, such as nurse anesthetists and nurse practitioners, experience enormous earning potential in Utah. Nurse practitioners in the state earn an annual mean wage of more than $100,000, and nurse anesthetists earn a mean wage of more than $155,000. The BLS projects these advanced nursing positions to grow substantially over the next decade.
Employment Data For RNs in Utah
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, RNs in Utah earn an average of $63,050 annually. St. George boasts the highest concentration of RNs in the state, with 12 RNs for every 1,000 people. Other popular locations in Utah for RNs include Salt Lake City, the central metropolitan area, and Ogden-Clearfield. The greatest employment opportunities in Utah exist in the most populous locations, which tend to need more medical professionals to meet the needs of both residents and visitors.
You can find employment as an RN in a range of industries, including all areas of practice in hospitals. You may also opt to work in a private physician practice. Some companies might assign you as a private duty nurse to help patients in their homes. Corporations might hire RNs to provide care to employees on the job, and schools employ these professionals to treat students and teachers.
Employment Data For CNAs in Utah
Bureau of Labor Statistics data provides insight into CNA earning potential. Most CNAs in Utah earn an average income of $26,150 each year, aligning closely with the mean national salary of $28,540. The state capital, Salt Lake City, pays the highest mean annual salary: $27,140.
Not surprisingly, Salt Lake City also boasts the most CNAs in the state. The city employs nearly 4,500 CNAs, which equals 6.36 CNAs for every 1,000 people. Provo-Orem and Ogden-Clearfield also hire CNAs at high rates, collectively employing over 3,200 of Utah’s 9,850 CNAs -- more than one-third of these professionals statewide.
Skilled nursing facilities frequently hire CNAs to help groom, feed, and bathe patients. Across the U.S., these facilities employ nearly 6,000 CNAs in total. You can also find CNA employment in hospitals, assisted living facilities, and retirement communities, where senior citizens reside. Moreover, private home health services providing in-home patient care hire CNAs to support patients at their homes. These professionals perform many of the same duties they would in a clinical setting.
Employment Data For NPs in Utah
Nurse practitioners compose over 166,000 employees in the U.S. workforce, according to the BLS. With a U.S. average annual income of $107,480, these professionals in Utah keep pace, earning a mean salary of $99,960 a year. Data shows 1.25 nurse practitioners for every 1,000 people in Salt Lake City. Just under 1,000 nurse practitioners work in the capital city, earning $100,020 per year, on average. They earn more annually in Ogden-Clearfield, making $103,320 on average.
Advanced degrees for nurse practitioners qualify them to order, conduct, and interpret diagnostic tests. They may also prescribe medication. For these reasons, many (approximately 78,000 nationwide) find employment in private physicians’ offices. Others start their own practices, instead. In addition, hospitals, universities, and patient care centers hire nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners working in personal care services earn the most on average -- just under $140,000.
Biggest Hospitals in Utah
Large hospitals offer ideal settings for online nursing graduates, since they typically have a large number of job openings. Aspiring nurses who wish to work in a particular hospital or medical center should acquire an internship or fellowship while attending nursing school in Utah.
- University of Utah Hospital: Opened in 1965, the University of Utah Hospital comprises four hospitals and 12 health centers, and employs more than 8,000 people. The hospital frequently hires talented new graduates, and receives more than 25,000 admissions annually. It consistently ranks as the best hospital in the state.
- Intermountain Medical Center: With 22 hospitals and various clinics, the Intermountain Medical Center is the largest hospital network in Utah, employing more than 34,000 people. Intermountain Medical Center features state-of-the-art equipment, participates in cutting-edge research, and works in a wide range of healthcare specialities.
Additional Nursing Resources in Utah
- Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing: This government webpage features information regarding state nursing standards, policies, and licensing. It also provides resources related to testing, application, and compliance for nurses in Utah. The nursing statutes and rules listed are useful for new and veteran nurses.
- Utah Nurses Association: The UNA acts as the voice of nurses in Utah. It promotes the nursing profession, advocating for better healthcare practices, facilities, and employment standards. Members have access to conferences, professional development resources, publications, and networking opportunities.
- Utah Health Care Association: The Utah Health Care Association improves the long-term care facilities and patient care in the state. Its web page provides information on facilities and resources for citizens, care providers, and healthcare professionals. Members can access professional development opportunities, industry information, and events.
- Utah Nurse Practitioners: UNP strives to improve the profession and care delivery of nurse practitioners in Utah by providing support, professional development, industry resources, and career assistance.
- Utah Student Nurses Association: UtSNA, a chapter of the National Student Nurses Association, gives student nurses opportunities to create professional networks, advance their learning, develop leadership skills, and improve their career potential. UtSNA’s website provides information about events, scholarships, state regulations, and industry news.
Accredited Online Nursing Programs in Utah
The following database may help aspiring nurses choose the best online nursing program for their academic and professional goals. The list comprises every accredited online nursing degree in Utah, including online ADN , BSN, RN-to-BSN , MSN , and DNP programs in Utah. Online nursing programs in Utah allow students to satisfy licensure requirements without traveling across the country.