An End-to-End Guide on How to Become an RN in Ohio

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Are you thinking of becoming an RN in Ohio? Do you think it will be a rewarding career?

Well, we couldn’t agree more!

Marymount University identified ten trends to watch out for in 2023. One of these is that the nursing shortage will increase.

What does this mean?

It’s an excellent time to become a nurse because the number of job opportunities will grow! The American Nurses Association (ANA) states that RNs will be the most in-demand profession in the country through 2023. 

As of May 2021, the median annual salary of Registered Nurses is $77,600. Considering that 64% of nurses work anywhere between 36 to 40 hours a week, that’s not a bad deal.

Perhaps you’re even more determined to become an RN in Ohio by now. 

You have to be prepared to work hard if you want to become a nurse. It can seem daunting, but we assure you it’s doable.

To help you out, we’ve created a guide, especially for aspiring RNs in Ohio. We’ll show you how to get your RN license in five steps and we’ll also answer some FAQs.

It may seem like a lot, but we’ll keep it as simple as possible.

Are you ready? Let’s go!

How to Become an RN in Ohio in 5 Steps

Having a guide can prevent your nursing journey from being overwhelming. Let’s go through 5 different questions to help you achieve your goal. 

We’ll be answering the following questions:

  1. How do you foresee your nursing career?
  2. How do you establish a solid educational foundation?
  3. How do you decide on a nursing program?
  4. How do you find the best nursing school for you?
  5. How do you apply for a nursing license?

How to Become an RN in Ohio Question#1: How Do You Foresee Your Nursing Career?

It may seem counterintuitive, but believe us when we say the end is the best place to start. More than thinking about why you want to be an RN, ask yourself what kind of RN you prefer to become.

Most RNs eventually find their way to a hospital setting — and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, it pays to know that you have options.

Some registered nurses practice in different areas — and so can you! Some RNs go into case management, forensic nursing, or public health.

Your end goal affects your choices in the different steps. So the clearer it is, the better your decision-making process will be.

But for now, let’s make sure you start strong.

How to Become an RN in Ohio Question#2: How Do You Establish a Strong Educational Foundation?

Some people are born into a family of nurses, so they’re exposed to the profession early. It may lead them to decide early on that they want to join the nursing industry.

You don’t have to have that exposure to arrive at the same conclusion, so don’t worry. However, the sooner you decide you want to become a nurse, the more time you have to prepare.

Your education doesn’t begin in nursing school. Even in high school, you can start setting yourself up for success. 

There are two areas to develop.


It should go without saying — the higher your GPA, the higher the chances you’ll get into the nursing school of your choice.

Nursing schools often require applicants to go through specific subjects. The requirements vary between schools, but you can bet on the following:

  • English (4 years)
  • Maths (3 to 4 years, including algebra and geometry)
  • Sciences (3 to 4 years, including biology and chemistry, preferably with labs)
  • Social studies (2 to 4 years)
  • Foreign Languages (2 years)

That said, it’s not all about the grades, but about how much you really learn and absorb.


You can find activities outside school that allow you to learn more about nursing, beef up your college application, and get real-world experience.

Try signing up for basic life support or first aid classes. Skills such as CPR will come in handy, especially if you’re planning to go into nursing.

You can also look into joining organizations specifically for youth interested in the healthcare industry. The HOSA-Future Health Professionals is an excellent choice. You can attend events and conferences or participate in competitions.

You can also participate in a blood drive or volunteer in a hospital. Shadowing a nurse can open your eyes to the realities of nursing and give you a better idea of what the job entails.

How to Become an RN in Ohio Question#3: What Degree Do You Want to Pursue?

Whether it’s because you’re getting nearer to graduation or you’re planning to shift careers, you’ll need to decide which nursing program you’ll pursue. You’ll need it to apply for an RN license in Ohio.

You can either go for an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Although either one qualifies you for a license, your choice has short-term and long-term effects.

Here’s a chart that shows how they compare side-by-side:

Comparison Area

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)




Program Duration

1.5 to 2 years

3 to 4 years

Program Focus

Nursing concepts and
clinical practice

Nursing concepts, clinical practice, communication,
ethics, leadership, and management


More affordable

More expensive

2021 National NCLEX Pass Rates



2020 Ohio-Specific
NCLEX Pass Rates






Practice Areas

  • Emergency Department
  • Mental Health
  • Intensive Care
  • Pediatrics
  • Emergency Department
  • Mental Health
  • Intensive Care
  • Pediatrics
  • Case Management
  • Forensic Nursing
  • Research
  • Teaching
  • Public Health

Career Advancement

Less opportunities

More opportunities

Expected Salary



Ultimately, there’s no right way to choose which degree you should pursue. It’ll come down to your long-term objectives and available resources.

In 2019, 41% of RNs in Ohio had an ADN, and over half had no intention of pursuing higher levels of education. However, on a national level, 48.1% of RNs in the U.S. carried BSNs, while only 28.1% had ADNs.

How to Become an RN in Ohio Question#4: How Do You Find the Best Nursing School for You?

Like your preferred nursing program, the school that fits you best may vary. However, keep these aspects in mind while searching for the ideal nursing school.

  • Accreditation: Attending the program from a non-accredited institution won’t allow you to qualify for the NCLEX. It’s best to clear this up from the beginning.

You can find a list of ADN and BSN programs with their approval status on the Ohio Board of Nursing website linked here.

  • Learning Options: Some aspiring nurses work part-time while studying. You might do better in a school that offers multiple options. These may include night classes or online courses.
  • Faculty: Your instructors are your primary source of information. Check out how many of their faculty are full-time and whether their backgrounds cover multiple nursing specialties. It increases your chances of getting a well-rounded education.
  • Class sizes: Smaller classes open opportunities to receive more support from your instructions. You’re more likely to get it if the student-teacher ratio is small if you need assistance with your coursework.
  • NCLEX Success Rates: Nursing schools contribute significantly to your readiness for the licensing exam.
  • Support Services: Nursing school isn’t a walk in the park — and we’re not talking about the program coverage. Programs such as financial aid or career placement can go a long way for students.

How to Become an RN in Ohio Question#5: How Do You Apply for a Nursing License?

In the end, it all comes down to this — getting your license. Two processes lead to it — examination or endorsement.

Let’s take a look at both.

Licensure by Examination

If you’ve never taken the NCLEX-RN before, then you need to apply for a license by examination. 

In order to do this, you need to send an application to the Ohio Board of Nursing. You can do this online

The application process includes a criminal background check and a Program Completion Letter. The latter must come straight from your nursing school to the Board of Nursing.

You’ll know whether you’ve complied with the documentation requirement if your application status on the website says submitted instead of pending or generate fee.

While working on this, you can also register with Pearson VUE, which administers the NCLEX in Ohio. There’s a separate testing fee amounting to $200.

Once the board reviews your application and determines that you’re eligible for testing, you’ll receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) notice. It contains instructions on how to schedule your exam.

The last step is to take the NCLEX. Ohio’s Board of Nursing will issue your license when you pass. In the unfortunate scenario that you don’t, you must reapply to both the board and Pearson VUE.

Licensure by Endorsement

Nurses who already have their licenses and want to work in Ohio must apply for their Ohio RN license by the endorsement process, unless their state of residence is a nursing compact state. 

It’s similar to the licensure by examination process, except for some additional steps:

  • Validating your existing nursing license through Nursys or directly from the NCSN jurisdiction.
  • Completing two contact hours related to the Ohio Nurse Practice Act and the rules of the Nursing board.
  • Passing an English proficiency test from either IELTS, TOEIC, or TOEFL for foreign-educated applicants

Once you complete the endorsement process, you can have an Ohio RN license. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming an RN in Ohio

We’ve completed the five steps on how to become an RN in Ohio. Now, let’s move on to some important FAQs.

How much does a registered nurse in Ohio earn?

The national average salary for RNs is $82,750. In Ohio, it’s 13% lower at $71,640.

Remember that several factors affect how much you can earn. These include your exact location in Ohio, your experience, your degree, as well as other factors. 

Where do nurses in Ohio usually work?

55% work in hospital settings, albeit in different parts. Some are in the Emergency Department, others in outpatient services. However, in-patient care remains the most popular area.

Other work settings RNs favor are nursing homes, extended care facilities, and assisted living centers.

The areas with the least number of RNs in Ohio are correctional facilities, policy-making bodies, planning and regulatory boards, research organizations, and independent home care settings. These settings have less than a thousand RNs each.

How often do I need to renew my RN license in Ohio, and what are the requirements?

RNs in Ohio need to undergo the renewal process biennially, every odd year. However, there are two schedules.

Those who need to renew their license between July 1 to September 15 have a $65 fee. Those who must complete the process from September 16 to October 31 need to pay $115.

You must complete 24 hours of continuing education to qualify for a renewal. You must check the rules and laws of the Ohio Nurse Practice Act to know more about the requirements for continuing education. 

In Conclusion

And there you have it — the five questions you need to ask as you go through your nursing journey. It might seem like a lot, but having a guide can make things more manageable.

Once you have a clear goal in mind, take it one step at a time. Keep at it, and you’ll have your license sooner rather than later.

We wish you all the best!

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