How to Become an RN in South Dakota – A Simple Guide

How to Become an RN in South Dakota - A Simple Guide

The journey to becoming a registered nurse is a long and challenging one, but we all know it’s worth it.  

Yes, the process may seem daunting and overwhelming, but the benefits and the job fulfilment are high.

So… how do you become one? 

We’re here to answer that question in the simplest way possible. 

If you’re wondering how to go about the process, how long it’ll take, and how much it would cost, then you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’ll give you three easy steps on how to become an RN in South Dakota, and we’ll answer some FAQs other aspiring nurses have.

Ready to know more?

Let’s get right to it!

How to Become a Registered Nurse in South Dakota: 3 Easy Steps

1. Complete a board-approved RN program.

2. Apply for an RN license through the South Dakota Board of Nursing.

3. Find your first RN job and keep your license active. 

We’ll detail each step in the next few scrolls, so don’t leave just yet!

How to Become an RN in South Dakota Step#1: Complete a Board-Approved RN Program

Every profession, nursing included, requires practice and learning. A nursing education program will help you learn all the medical concepts, terminologies, and training needed to face the real world.

The two RN programs you can choose from are Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

What’s the difference between the two?

Well, ADN nurses are those who are mainly focused in doing the technical, daily care such as patient monitoring, checking and updating of charts, and administering basic products. If you choose ADN, it’ll only take you 20-24 months to complete the program.

On the other hand, BSN nurses are more involved in deciding key procedures for the patients. They also have more leadership and management roles, as they take part in creating and executing the hospital’s initiatives. Some BSN nurses can even branch out to public health, education, and even nursing research. Since BSNs have more in-depth training, completing the program usually takes 36-48 months.

To ensure the quality of education of future RNs, whatever track you choose, the South Dakota Board of Nursing has approved a list of programs you may take if you wish to pursue this career. 

You can also view the top nursing programs approved by the state’s board here

What’s great is that you can obtain a degree anywhere - from an agency, a nursing school, or college, as long as the program from the institution is approved by South Dakota’s board.

If you’re a nursing student from a different state, then you can also apply in South Dakota! You just need to make sure your program was approved by that specific state’s requirements.

How to Become an RN in South Dakota Step#2: Apply for an RN License through the South Dakota Board of Nursing

Now that you’ve graduated, it’s time to apply for your RN license. 

Since this is done online, it’ll be easier for you to fill in your basic information and credentials, and upload other documents required. 

If it’s your first time applying for an RN license, then you will need to take the NCLEX-RN and apply through examination. 

However, if you are already an RN in another state seeking licensure in South Dakota, then you can apply through endorsement instead. 

Let’s talk about the two processes. 


To apply for your license through examination:

1. Fill in your information on the South Dakota’s Nursing Board website and pay $100 for the online application.

2. Take the Criminal Background Check. 

  • Follow the instructions indicated on the packet for the fingerprint cards.

3. Register with Pearson VUE so you can take the NCLEX-RN exam. 

  • You can either call them at 1-866-496-2539 or email them at
  • You also need to pay $200 to register for the exam.

4. Submit your Transcript of Records (TOR) to the Board.

  • If you are from South Dakota, then your Certificate of Nursing Education (CNE) will be sent directly by your school to the Board of Nursing. 
  • On the other hand, if you are a graduate of an out-of-state program, then your school or a transcript clearinghouse should send the transcript to the board directly. If the transcript clearinghouse you’ve chosen allows email submission, then ask them to email your credentials to

If all your requirements are complete and verified by the board, you will receive an email from Pearson VUE with the Authorization to Test (ATT).

Follow the steps indicated in the email so you can schedule an appointment for the exam.

NCLEX-RN exam results are usually released after 2 business days through Pearson VUE’s Quick Results Service. Only Pearson VUE will be sending you the results and not South Dakota’s Board. 

You can expect 2 types of results.

If you fail, the search won’t show your registered name online. And in 5-7 days, you will receive a letter from the Board regarding your exam result. However, you can opt to retake the exam. 

On the flip side, if you pass, you will get a packet in the mail from Pearson VUE containing your newly-activated RN license! You are now a full-fledged RN!


If you’re already an RN from another state, then you don’t need to take the NCLEX-RN all over again. Instead, you can apply for a South Dakota RN license through endorsement.

To apply through endorsement, you need to:

1. Submit an online application and pay a $100 application fee.  

2. Complete a criminal background check. 

3. Verify your original state license either through or through submitting a Verification of Licensure (if your state does not use Nursys). 

4. Verify your previous employment. You need to request your current or previous employer to complete the Employment Verification form to be mailed to the Board. 

Another privilege for all South Dakota RNs is that you can hold multi-state licenses. Since South Dakota is a nursing compact state, you won’t have to re-apply several times in other compact states that you want to practice in.

You can check this list to see other nursing compact states.

How to Become an RN in South Dakota Step#3: Find Your First RN Job and Keep Your License Active 

Now that you are an RN, you can start looking for your first RN job! Congratulations! 

But don’t stop educating yourself just because you are employed. 

In fact, you need to keep in mind that you need to keep your license active by renewing it every 2 years. 

To renew your license, you need at least 40 hours of continuing education on topics directly related to the duties of a nursing facility administrator, and pertaining to health care, healthcare administration or business administration.

You can see approved CE providers here

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Become an RN in South Dakota

1. How much in total do I need to prepare to take the exam?

    • $100 for the online application

    • $200 for the Pearson VUE registration and exam proper

2. I want to take the test in a physical center. Where can I go?

South Dakota has only one accredited Pearson VUE center and it’s in Sioux Falls.

You can head over to 101 West 69th Street, Suite 104, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

3. I need to get the license as soon as possible so I can practice already. Is there any permit or form I can apply for?

If you need to practice urgently, then you can apply for a temporary work permit.

Temporary work permits are only given to first-time exam takers who pass all the eligibility requirements and are still waiting for the NCLEX testing results to come out.

This temporary permit is not renewable and cannot be viewed or verified on the board’s official website.

Lake Area Technical College
1201 Arrow Ave.
Watertown, SD 57201

Mitchell Technical College
1800 East Spruce Street
Mitchell, South Dakota 57301

Oglala Lakota College
490 Piya Wiconi Road, Kyle, South Dakota 57752

Southeast Technical College
2320 N Career Ave • Sioux Falls, SD 57107

Western Dakota Technical College
800 Mickelson Dr, Rapid City, SD 57703, United States

Visit the South Dakota BON website for updates.

List of Baccalaureate Degree Programs (BSNs) in

South Dakota

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

Augustana University
Sioux Falls, SD, 57197

Dakota Wesleyan University
1200 W. University Ave.
Mitchell, SD 57301

Mount Marty University
1105 W. 8th St. Yankton, SD 57078
(605) 668-1545 

Presentation College
1500 North Main Street AberdeenSD 57401

South Dakota State University
1451 Stadium Rd, Brookings, SD 57007, United States

University of Sioux Falls
1101 W. 22nd St. Sioux Falls, SD 57105
(800) 888-1047

University of South Dakota
414 E. Clark Street 
Vermillion, SD 57069

Visit the South Dakota BON website for updates.

In Summary

Becoming a registered nurse may take a while, but from this article, you’ve seen how easy and simple it is to complete and finish the process.

If you follow and secure all the prerequisite documents and succeed in your NCLEX, then you won't face challenges and further delays in becoming an RN in South Dakota.

We wish you all the best!

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