How to Become an RN in Hawaii (A Complete 2023 Guide)

How to Become an RN in Hawaii (A Complete Guide)

Want to become an RN in Hawaii?

Don’t know what the requirements are?

Confused about where to begin?

Don’t worry. We’ve got you. 

Today, we’re going to give you all the steps on how to become an RN in Hawaii. We’ll include all the big and small details, so you’ll know EVERYTHING there is to know. 

Plus, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions. 

So are you ready?

Let’s dive right in!

The 5 Steps to Becoming an RN in Hawaii 

There are 5 main steps to becoming an RN in Hawaii. These are:

Now, let’s get into the details. 

Step 1: Plan Out Your Nursing Career

When you think about nurses, you probably have a picture of a hospital in your head — and we can’t blame you. That’s where you’ll find them most of the time.

Almost 60% of nurses in Hawaii work in a hospital setting — but that doesn’t have to include you. 

Not if you don’t want it.

Registered nurses can provide patient care in multiple ways. You can be a community nurse, a nurse that handles case management, or maybe a legal nurse consultant.

It’s a good idea to plan out what kind of playing field you want as a nurse. 

Also, knowing what options you have — and which path you’re leaning towards — will give you a better idea of what you need to do in the next step.

Step 2: Pick a Nursing Program

You can take 2 routes to qualify for an RN license in Hawaii. You can either complete an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

We’ve put together a comparison table to show you the advantages and potential drawbacks of both programs. 

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
Program Duration2 years or less3 to 4 years
Program FocusNursing concepts and clinical practiceNursing theory and skills, ethics, pharmacology, public health
Possible Practice AreasIntensive care, mental health, emergency department, pediatricsIntensive care, mental health, emergency department, pediatrics, nursing forensics, public health, teaching, management, case management, research
Potential Career PathsHome care nurse, patient coordinator, care coordinator, clinical associate, pediatric nurse, clinical nurse liaison, clinical research associate, oncology RN, emergency room RN, infection preventionistHospital staff nurse, emergency room nurse, trauma nurse, psychiatric nurse, charge nurse, pediatric nurse, nurse navigator, public health nurse, nurse case manager, critical care nurse, nurse educator, healthy policy nurse, nurse recruiter, nurse informaticist, forensic nurse, clinical research nurse, nurse health coach
NCLEX Pass Rate83%90%
Advancement OpportunitiesLessMore
Program cost:CheaperMore expensive

Pursuing an ADN allows you to find employment earlier. You can also go back to school later and get a BSN. 

In comparison, holding a BSN opens us more opportunities for you. It’s a requirement if you want to become an APRN or step into a leadership role.

72% of RNs in Hawaii have BSNs. That’s higher than the national average of 53%.

Ultimately, the decision is yours to make. Just make sure it aligns with your career plans. 

Step 3: Choose a College

Now that you decided on which nursing program to take, it’s time to choose where to study it. 

To help you out, we’ve made a list of the approved nursing schools in Hawaii.

NCLEX Pass Rate
(last 3 years)
Chaminade University of HonoluluYesYes65.30%
Hawaii Pacific UniversityYesYes71.10%
University of Hawaii at ManoaYesYes86.60%
University of Hawaii Maui CollegeYesYes75.50%
Kapiolani Community CollegeYesNo 90%
Kauai Community CollegeYesNo 74.10%
Hawaii Community CollegeYesNo86.40%
University of Hawaii at HiloNo Yes81.80%
University of Phoenix – Hawaii NoYes81.40%

If you want to do your own research, then here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Approved: the nursing school/college you choose SHOULD be approved by the Hawaii State Board of Nursing. 
  • Reputation: check if the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) certify the school.
  • Availability of Financial Aid: BSNs are more expensive than ADNs, but the amount may become manageable if your school can support part of your tuition.
  • Teacher-to-Student Ratio: Smaller classes typically mean more assistance per individual. This way, instructors can provide the appropriate support if you have unique challenges.
  • Hands-on Training Technology: If your school has resources that allow you to apply the theories you’ve been learning, you’ll be more prepared when you find a job.
  • NCLEX Pass Rates: You can tell how well a school prepares its students for the nursing licensing exam by how many pass on their first try.

Step 4: Earn Your License

Once you complete your nursing program, you can start working towards getting your RN license. 

That’s right. 

This means you now have to take the NCLEX exam. 

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. 

Let’s detail the steps one by one: 

  • Print and fill out the Application for License by Exam – Nurse form. You can find the latest version on the official site (Scroll down > Select Nursing License > Select Requirements and Application Form > scroll down to the form)
  • If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the questions in the form, make sure to provide document proof 
  • Get a legible copy of your government-issued photo ID with date of birth and a legible copy of your Social Security Card
  • Get fingerprinted for a criminal history record check by FieldPrint Inc. Make sure to use the code FPHIBrdNursing so the board can retrieve your report. Note: to be sure that the results will come in time, it’s best to file for fingerprinting 30 days before you apply. 
  • Request your nursing school to directly send your official transcripts in a sealed envelope to the Board. The Board will only accept it if it is sent directly from the school. 
  • Get a $40 check made payable to Commerce & Consumer Affairs
  • Send your application form, proof documents (if applicable), copies of ID and SS Card, criminal history record check, and your check to BOARD OF NURSING, P.O BOX 3469, HONOLULU, HI 96801. Or you can deliver these yourself to their office at BOARD OF NURSING, 335 MERCHANT STREET, RM. 301, HONOLULU, HI 96813
  • Take and pass the NCLEX exam. Note: Applicants who fail the NCLEX can retake it 3 times. If you fail three times, you will need to take a board-approved remedial course before your next attempt.


You now have an RN license!

Step 5: Enter the Workforce

The only thing left is to find your first nursing job!

As we mentioned, most nurses in Hawaii (58%) work in hospitals, but you can find employment in different facilities. According to, RNs in Hawaii typically go into the following settings:

  • Hospitals — 58%
  • Nursing Homes — 8% 
  • Ambulatory Care — 5%
  • Home Health, Physician’s office, insurance, public health, community health, dialysis clinics, and hospices — 2% to 4%
  • Assisted living or correctional facilities, school health, and academia — 1%

You can take advantage of the New Nurse Residency Program if you’re leaning towards a hospital setting. Seven facilities in Hawaii are part of this initiative:

  • Castle Medical Center, Kailua
  • Hawaii Health System Corporation, Honolulu
  • Hawaii Pacific Health — Pali Momi Medical Center, Aiea
  • Hawaii Pacific Health — Straub Clinic & Hospital, Honolulu
  • Kaiser Moanalua Medical Center, Honolulu
  • The Queen’s Medical Center, Honolulu
  • Shriners Hospital for Children, Honolulu

Frequently Asked Questions

As promised, we’re going to answer some of the frequently asked questions before we go. 

How much do RNs earn in Hawaii?

RNs in Hawaii earn above the national average salary in the U.S., which is $82.750. The average annual compensation received by RNs in the state is $106,530.

How often do I renew my RN license in Hawaii?

Registered Nurses in Hawaii need to renew their licenses every 2 years. It expires on June 30th of every odd-numbered year.

How can I renew my RN license in Hawaii?

It requires a $126 renewal fee and complying with one of several learning activity options. These include:

  • 30 Continuing Education hours
  • Attending a 60-hour refresher course
  • Completing at least two-semester credits of post-licensure academic education connected to nursing
  • 120 hours as a preceptor
  • Being a principal or co-principal investigator for a nursing research study
  • Authoring a peer-reviewed published nursing or health-related article
  • Development and delivery of a 5-contact hour nursing education program 
  • Completing a board-approved nurse residency program

What are popular specialties for RNs in Hawaii?

RNs in Hawaii go into the following specialties:

  • Acute care — 41%
  • Gerontology — 8%
  • Perioperative — 6%
  • Pediatrics, Mental Health, non-clinical specialties, home health, adult health, oncology, nephrology, cardiology, community health, rehabilitation, and palliative care — 2% to 4%

Helpful Resources for Hawaii RNs

List of Baccalaureate Degree Programs (BSNs) in Hawaii

Here’s a list of BSN programs approved by the Hawaii BON:

3140 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816, United States
+1 808-735-4711

1175 Manono St, Hilo, HI 96720, United States
+1 808-934-2500

1 Aloha Tower Dr, Honolulu, HI 96813, United States
+1 808-544-0200

4303 Diamond Head Rd, Honolulu, HI 96816, United States
+1 808-734-9000

3-1901 Kaumualii Hwy, Lihue, HI 96766, United States
+1 808-245-8311

310 W Kaahumanu Ave, Kahului, HI 96732,
United States
+1 808-984-3500

200 W Kawili St, Hilo, HI 96720, United States
+1 808-932-7446

2500 Campus Rd, Honolulu, HI 96822, United States
+1 808-956-8111

Visit the Hawaii BON website for updates.

In Conclusion

Whew! Becoming an RN in Hawaii takes a lot of work, doesn’t it? 

But at least now you have a roadmap to make the journey a lot easier to navigate. 

So what are you waiting for?

You should begin step 1 right away!

Anyway, it’s just making plans first. 

Good luck!

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