How to Become an RN in North Carolina – A Simple Guide

How to Become an RN in North Carolina - A Simple Guide

Want to know how to become a registered nurse in North Carolina? 

We’re here to help! 

Whether you are fresh from high school, mid-way through another course, or a professional in another field, it’s not a bad idea to become an RN!

Becoming an RN in the state opens up many career opportunities, so if you’re looking to start your career in nursing, now is the chance. 

Sure, you might have to spend a few years studying to be a nurse, but the whole process may not be as tedious or overwhelming as you think.

We’ve simplified the process of how to become an RN in North Carolina into 4 simple steps. We’ve also included a short FAQ section to help you with other common questions. 

Follow the steps below to help you navigate the application process and reach your dreams!

Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s dive in!

How to Become a Registered Nurse in North Carolina in 4 Steps

As we told you initially, the application process is not complicated, despite what other people may think. It only takes a few steps to become a registered nurse in North Carolina:

  1. Graduate from a Nursing Education Program
  2. Apply for an Exam Application Online
  3. Pass the NCLEX-RN
  4. Complete the Criminal Background Check

In the following sections, we’ll go into detail about each step. 

But before we proceed…

Are you already an RN in another state? If so, your process for becoming an RN is different. 

If you are an RN from a state that is part of the nursing license compact, then you can practice in North Carolina without filing for endorsement. North Carolina is a nursing license compact state!

But if you are from a state that is not license compact, you can find out how to apply for a License by Endorsement by checking the requirements here

Having said that, let’s proceed to the step-by-step process of becoming an RN. 

How to Become an RN in North Carolina Step #1: Graduate from a Nursing Education Program

The first step to becoming a registered nurse in North Carolina is to attend a state-approved nursing education program. 

However, if this is your first time applying for a license, you have to go through a License by Examination process where you have to take the NCLEX. 

There are two RN programs that you can choose from: ADN and BSN. 

ADN vs. BSN: What’s the Best Program For You?

The most striking difference between an ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing) and a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) is the length of time it takes to study. The ADN takes two years, while the BSN takes four years. 

The ADN is a shorter program because it focuses on technical nursing skills such as chart monitoring and updating. It also teaches you basic medical procedures. 

However, the ADN lacks the holistic approach to healthcare, which includes research, laboratory practice, management, and public health. This is what BSN stands out in. 

The BSN, a four-year program, gives you a more in-depth understanding and practice, plus an ability to understand management concepts. Hence, those who graduate with a BSN degree are allowed to take management positions. 

When it comes to choosing which program is best for you, the best program would be where your career goal is aligned. 

In this case, if you want to pursue management roles in the future, a BSN program would be beneficial for you. But if you want to graduate early and become an RN in 2-3 years, the ADN is the ideal track. 

But whatever you choose, just make sure your school is approved by the North Carolina Board of Nursing

How to Become an RN in North Carolina Step #2: Apply for an Exam Application Online

Once you graduate, the next thing you have to do is apply for the NCLEX. To do this, follow the steps below: 

  1. Create an account at the Nurse Gateway.
  2. Choose ‘Exam Application’ and fill up the required information.
  3. Complete the other parts of the application, such as passing your Electronic School Verification or Official Transcript Copies to the North Carolina Board of Nursing.
  4. Pay the exam application fee of $75. This fee is non-refundable. 

After paying online, wait up to five business days for your application to be verified. You will receive an email granting you a verification to proceed to apply for the NCLEX. 

How to Become an RN in North Carolina Step #3: Pass the NCLEX-RN

Once you’re approved to take the NCLEX, you have to apply separately to PearsonVue, the company handling the NCLEX. 

To apply for the RN exams, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure that you are verified by the North Carolina Board of Nursing. If you’re not, go back to step 2 to complete the application.
  2. Once you are verified, go to
  3. Create an account at PearsonVue.
  4. Choose your schedule and testing venue.
  5. Pay the exam fee of $200 online.

After paying, you will receive an email confirming your test date and venue. This should only take a few days. 

Once you get the final details, proceed to your testing site on the day of the exams. Make sure to arrive at least 15 minutes early to have ample time to settle down. 

The test results are finalized 4-6 weeks from your exam date, so wait for the results by email during this period. 

How to Become an RN in North Carolina Step #4: Complete the Criminal Background Check

The final step is to complete a criminal background check as mandated by the North Carolina Board of Nursing. 

Here are the steps for your CBC application: 

  1. Log in to the Nurse Gateway using the same credentials you used in applying for the NCLEX.
  2. Click the ‘Live Scan’ application.
  3. Print the forms you need for your fingerprint scanning and pay the application fee of $38.
  4. Contact your local Sheriff’s office to schedule a date to do your Live Scan in their venue.
  5. Complete the live scanning of your fingerprints.
  6. The Sheriff’s office will transmit your fingerprints to the Board of Nursing.

Wait for your fingerprints to be verified and cleared. Once you complete this and pass the NCLEX, you can now get a license as a registered nurse in North Carolina. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Registered Nurse in North Carolina

Now that you know how to become an RN in North Carolina, let’s answer a few common questions. 

How much does it cost to become an RN in North Carolina?

The total fee for the whole application process is $313, where $200 is for the NCLEX, $38 is for the Criminal Background Check, and $75 is for the Exam Application done at the Nurse Gateway.

How long is the nursing program in North Carolina?

If you’re taking the ADN, it’s two years, but it’s four years if you’re taking the BSN

How long is a North Carolina nursing license good for?

It’s valid for two years, during which you need to have 15 hours of continuing education units and 640 hours of active practice.

How much does an RN earn in North Carolina?

An RN in North Carolina earns an annual median of $72,220, or an average hourly wage of $34.72.

Helpful Resources for North Carolina RNs

List of Associate Degree Programs (ADNs) in North Carolina

Here’s a list of ADN programs approved by the North Carolina BON:

Alamance Community
PO Box 8000
Graham, NC 27253
(336) 438-9597

Technical Community College
340 Victoria Road
Asheville, NC 28801
(828) 398-7900

Beaufort County Community
5337 US Highway 264 East
Washington, NC 27889
(252) 946-6194

Bladen Community College
PO Box 266
Dublin, NC 28332
(910) 879-5500

Blue Ridge Community
180 West Campus Drive
Flat Rock, NC 28731
+1 828-694-1700

Brunswick Community
PO Box 30
Supply, NC 28462
(910) 755-7300

Cabarrus College of Health
401 Medical Park Drive
Concord, NC 28025
+1 704-403-1555

Caldwell Community College
and Technical Institute
2855 Hickory Boulevard
Hudson, NC 28638
+1 828-726-2200

Cape Fear Community
411 North Front Street
Wilmington, NC 28401
(910) 362-7000

Carolinas College of Health
2110 Water Ridge Parkway
Charlotte, NC 28217
+1 704-355-5043

Carteret Community College
3505 Arendell Street
Morehead City, NC 28557
(252) 222-6000

Catawba Valley Community
2550 Hwy 70 SE
Hickory, NC 28602
(828) 327-7000

Central Carolina Community
1815 Nash Street
Sanford, NC 27330
+1 919-718-7275

Central Piedmont Community
PO Box 35009
Charlotte, NC 28235

Cleveland Community
137 South Post Road
Shelby, NC 28152

Coastal Carolina Community
444 Western Boulevard
Jacksonville, NC 28546
(910) 455-1221

College of The Albemarle
1208 North Road Street
Elizabeth City 27906

Craven Community College
800 College Court
New Bern, NC 28562
(252) 638-7200

Davidson-Davie Community
PO Box 1287
Lexington, NC 27293
+1 336-249-8186

Durham Technical
Community College
1637 Lawson Street
Durham, NC 27703

ECPI University – Charlotte
4800 Airport Center Parkway
Charlotte, NC 28208

ECPI University – Raleigh
4101 Doie Cope Road
Raleigh, NC 27613

Edgecombe Community
225 Tarboro Street
Rocky Mount, NC 27801
(252) 824-3902

Fayetteville Technical
Community College
2201 Hull Road
Fayetteville, NC 28303
(910) 500-0171

Forsyth Technical Community
2100 Silas Creek Parkway
Winston Salem, NC 27103

Galen College of Nursing
30 Town Square Boulevard
Asheville, NC 28803
+1 828-209-2509

Gardner-Webb University
PO Box 7309
Boiling Springs, NC 28017
(704) 406-4000

Gaston Community College
201 Hwy 321 South
Dallas, NC 28034

Guilford Technical Community
601 East Main Street
Jamestown, NC 27282

Halifax Community College
PO Box Drawer 809
Weldon, NC 27890

Isothermal Community
PO Box 804
Spindale, NC 28160
+1 828-286-3636

James Sprunt Community
PO Box 398
Kenansville, NC 28349
(910) 275-6124

Johnston Community College
PO Box 2350
Smithfield, NC 27577
+1 919-934-3051

Lenoir Community College
231 North Carolina Hwy 58, Kinston, NC 28504, United States
+1 252-527-6223

McDowell Technical
Community College
54 College Drive
Marion, NC 28752

Mayland Community College
PO Box 547
Spruce Pine, NC 28777

Mitchell Community College
500 West Broad Street
Statesville, NC 28677
+1 704-878-3200

Montgomery Community
1011 Page Street
Troy, NC 27371

Nash Community College
PO Box 7488
Rocky Mount, NC 27804
(252) 443-4011

Piedmont Community College
PO Box 1197
Roxboro, NC 27573|
(336) 599-1181

Pitt Community College
PO Drawer 7007
Greenville, NC 28590

Randolph Community College
629 Industrial Park Drive
Asheboro, NC 27205

Region A Nursing Consortium
185 Freedlander Drive
Clyde, NC 28721

Richmond Community
1042 West Hamlet Avenue
Hamlet, NC 28345
+1 910-410-1700

Roanoke-Chowan Community
109 Community College Road
Ahoskie, NC 27910
(252) 862-1200

Robeson Community College
5160 Fayetteville Road
Lumberton, NC 28360

Rockingham Community
PO Box 38
Wentworth, NC 27375

Rowan-Cabarrus Community
399 Biotechnology Lane
Salisbury, NC 28083

Sampson Community College
1801 Sunset Avenue
Clinton, NC 28329

Sandhills Community College
3395 Airport Road
Pinehurst, NC 28374
910-692-6185 | 800-338-3944

South Piedmont Community
4209 Old Charlotte Highway
Monroe, NC 28110

Southeastern Community
PO Box 151
Whiteville, NC 28472
(910) 642-7141

Southwestern Community
447 College Drive
Sylva, NC 28779
+1 828-586-4091 ext. 269

Stanly Community College
102 Stanly Parkway
Locust, NC 28097
 (704) 888-8848

Surry Community College
630 S. Main Street
Dobson, NC 27017
(336) 386-8121

Vance-Granville Community
PO Box 917
Henderson, NC 27536
(252) 492-2061

Wake Technical Community
2901 Holston Lane
Raleigh, NC 27610
+1 919-747-0400

Wilson Community College
PO Box 4305
Wilson, NC 27893

Wayne Community College
3000 Wayne Memorial Drive
Goldsboro, NC 27534

Western Piedmont
Community College
1001 Burkemont Avenue
Morganton, NC 28655
+1 828-448-3500

Wilkes Community College
1328 S Collegiate Drive
Wilkesboro, NC 28697

Visit the North Carolina BON website for updates.

List of Baccalaureate Degree Programs (BSNs) in North Carolina

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

Appalachian State University
ASU Box 32151
730 Rivers Street
Boone, NC 28608

Barton College
PO Box 5000
Wilson, NC 27893
800-345-4973 | 252-399-6300

Belmont Abbey College
100 Belmont Mount Holly
Road Belmont, NC 28012

Campbell University
PO Box 1090
Buies Creek, NC 27506
(800) 334-4111

Catawba College
2300 West Innes Street
Salisbury, NC 28144

Chamberlain University
2015 Ayrsley Town Boulevard
Suite 204
Charlotte, NC 28273

Duke University
307 Trent Drive
DUMC 3322
Durham, NC 27710
(919) 684-3786

East Carolina University
4205 L Health Sciences Bldg
Greenville, NC 27858

Elon University
100 Campus Drive
Elon, NC 27244

Fayetteville State University
1200 Murchison Road
Fayetteville, NC 28301
+1 910-672-1111

Galen College of Nursing
30 Town Square Boulevard
Asheville, NC 28803
+1 828-209-2509

Gardner-Webb University
PO Box 7309
Boiling Springs, NC 28017
(704) 406-4000

High Point University
One University Parkway
High Point, NC 27268
(800) 345-6993 | (336) 841-9000

Lees-McRae College
PO Box 128
Banner Elk, NC 28604

Lenoir-Rhyne University
Box 7292
Hickory, NC 28603

Mars Hill University
PO Box 6678
Mars Hill, NC 28754

Methodist University
5400 Ramsey Street
Fayetteville, NC 28311

North Carolina A&T State
1601 E. Market Street
Greensboro, NC 27411

North Carolina Central
1801 Fayetteville Street
Durham, NC 27707
(919) 530-6100

Northeastern University
2151 Hawkins Street
Charlotte, NC 28203

Pfeiffer University
PO Box 960
48380 Hwy 52 North
Misenheimer, NC 28109

Queens University of
1900 Selwyn Avenue
Charlotte, NC 28274

St. Andrews University
1700 Dogwood Mile
Laurinburg, NC 28352
(910) 277-5555

South College
140 Sweeten Creek Road
Asheville, NC 28803
(828) 398-2500

South University
3975 Premier Drive
High Point 27265

University of Mount Olive
634 Henderson Street
Mount Olive, NC 28365

University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill
CB #7460 Carrington Hall
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
+1 919-962-2211

University of North Carolina at
9201 University City
Charlotte, NC 28223

University of North Carolina at
PO Box 26170
Greensboro, NC 27402

University of North Carolina at
PO Box 1510
Pembroke, NC 28372

University of North Carolina
601 S. College Road
Wilmington, NC 28403

Watts College of Nursing
2828 Croasdaile Drive
Suite 200
Durham, NC 27705

Western Carolina University
3971 Little Savannah Road
Cullowhee, NC 28723

Wingate University
PO Box 159
Wingate, NC 28174
(704) 233-8125

Winston-Salem State
601 Martin Luther King, Jr.
Drive Winston Salem, NC 27110

Visit the North Carolina BON website for updates.

In Summary

It’s a great idea to become an RN in North Carolina! 

If you follow our guide, you can already get your license in just a few years! 

So what are you waiting for?

Choose between an ADN or BSN degree, enroll in a state-approved school, register for a license online, pass the NCLEX, and complete a Criminal Background check! 

We hope you found this article helpful! 

We’re cheering for you. 

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