A nurse’s state license is their golden ticket to traveling wherever they want for an assignment. Particularly for compact states, one license unlocks over half the country as a potential travel destination.
The requirements to get a new license vary greatly by state, so it’s no surprise that the requirements to renew a license also vary by state.
Every state requires that you renew your license every few years to continue practicing. Most also require some aspect of continued education to prove that you’ve kept up your skills and are up to date on all of the latest advances in nursing.
Nursing Continued Education Requirements
Continued Education (CE) is often measured in terms of continuing education units (CEU) which are equal to 10 hours of instruction called “contact hours”. These hours aren’t necessarily always 60 minutes in length – it varies by state mandate.
To help you keep track of your licenses, and make sure you’re prepared for renewal when the time rolls around, we’ve put together a table of the renewal rate of each state and how many contact hours are required for RNs. Some states also require specific CE courses for specific subjects.
Requirements To Renew RN Nursing License By State
|STATE BOARD||eNLC?||CONTACT HOURS REQUIRED||RENEWAL|
|Alabama||Pending||24 hours||2 years|
|Alaska||No||Must complete 2 of the following:|
- 30 contact hours
- 30 hours professional nursing activities
- 320 hours nursing employment
|Arizona||Yes||One of the following within the past 5 years:|
- 960 hours of RN-licensed practice
- board-approved refresher course
- graduated from a nursing program and obtained a degree
- advanced degree (RN to BSN, MSN, or doctorate; or advanced practice certificate).
|Arkansas||Yes||15 contact hours, national certification/recertification, or completion of one college credit hour course in nursing with grade C or better||2 years|
|California||No||30 hours||2 years|
|Delaware||Yes||30 hours (3 hours related to substance abuse) and one of the following:|
- 1,000 practice hours within the past 5 years
- 400 practice hours within the past 2 years
- refresher course within the past 2 years
|District of Columbia||No||24 hours||2 years|
|Florida||Yes||24 hours of appropriate CE during each renewal period, including two (2) hours relating to prevention of medical errors and two (2) hours in Laws and Rules in Nursing. In addition to these 24 hours of general CE, every third renewal two (2) hours of domestic violence CE must be completed for a total of 26 hours||2 years|
|Georgia||Yes||Choose from one of five different options||2 years|
|Hawaii||No||Choose from one of 10 different options||2 years|
|Idaho||Yes||At least two activities from this list of learning activities||2 years|
|Illinois||Pending||20 hours||2 years|
|Iowa||Yes||36 hours; RNs who regularly examine, attend, counsel or treat dependent adults or children must complete 2 contact hours of training related to child/dependent adult abuse||3 years|
|Kansas||Yes||30 hours||2 years|
|Kentucky||Yes||Choose from one of eight different options PLUS a number of specific class requirements||Every year|
|Louisiana||Yes||Full-time nurses (1600 practice hours) minimum of 5 contact hours required; Part-time nurses (160 practice hours) minimum of 10 contact hours required; Inactive nurses (less than 160 hours) minimum of 15 hours required||Every year|
|Massachusetts||Pending||15 hours||2 years|
|Michigan||Pending||25 contact hours - At least 2 hours in pain and pain symptom management||2 years|
|Minnesota||Pending||24 hours||2 years|
|Montana||Yes||24 hours||2 years|
|Nebraska||Yes||Practiced nursing for at least 500 hours during the past 5 years AND 20 hours||2 years|
|Nevada||No||30 hours plus one-time required 4 hour bioterrorism course||2 years|
|New Hampshire||Yes||30 hours in past 2 years plus 400 hours active in practice in 4 years immediately prior to date of application||2 years|
|New Jersey||Pending||30 hours||2 years|
|New Mexico||Yes||30 hours||2 years|
|New York||No||3 contact hours infection control every 4 years; 2 contact hours child abuse (one time requirement for initial license)||4 years|
|North Carolina||Yes||Choose from one of eight different options||2 years|
|North Dakota||Yes||12 hours||2 years|
|Ohio||No||24 hours||2 years|
|Oklahoma||Yes||One or more of the following:|
- Employment in a position that requires a registered nurse/practical nurse
license with verification of at least 520 work hours; or
- Completion of at least twenty-four (24) contact hours of continuing
education applicable to nursing practice; or
- Current certification in a nursing specialty area; or
- Completion of a Board-approved refresher course; or
- Completion of at least six (6) academic semester credit hours of nursing
coursework at the licensee’s current level of licensure or higher
|Oregon||No||Practice requirement of 960 hours of nursing practice within the last five years if license has been expired for 61 days or more||2 years|
|Pennsylvania||No||30 hours||2 years|
|Rhode Island||No||10 contact hours including 2 hours of substance abuse CE||2 years|
|South Carolina||Yes||At least one of the following:|
- 30 contact hours
- national certification
- completion of an academic program of study in nursing or a related field
- verification of competency and the number of hours practiced as evidenced by employer certification
|South Dakota||Yes||Verification of employment in nursing for a minimum of 140 hours in any 12-month period during the previous 6 years, or total accumulation of 480 hours during the previous 6 years||2 years|
|Tennessee||Yes||Completion of two items from this list||2 years|
|Texas||Yes||20 contact hours related to area of practice||2 years|
|Utah||Yes||Licensed practice for at least 400 hours OR licensed practice for at least 200 hours and completed 15 hours of approved continuing education OR completed 30 hours of approved continuing education||2 years|
|Virginia||Yes||15 contact hours and 640 practice hours OR 30 contact hours||2 years|
|Washington||Pending||531 hours of active practice and 45 clock hours of continuing education within a three year cycle.||Every year|
|West Virginia||Yes||12 hours||Every year|
|Wyoming||Yes||One of the following:|
- 500 practice hours within the past 2 years
- 1,600 practice hours within the past 5 years
- 20 CE units in the past 2 years
- refresher or reentry program in the past 5 years
Tips for Completing Your Continued Education Requirements
The required number of hours can seem a bit daunting, but don’t forget that you often have a few years to fit all of those hours in. We recommend spreading them out and looking for opportunities to have fun while also earning credits.
Ask the facility you are working at. In some cases, facilities or hospitals will offer some CEU courses to help nurses keep up their licenses. Ask your nurse manager if there are any available for you to attend.
Check your state’s nursing board website. Often they will list a number of recommended CEU sources that are approved by the board.
Attend a conference! Conferences like TravCon will often be approved for CE’s. For example, the ANCC approves 10-12 contact hours for nurses that attend TravCon. Network and have fun while also gaining credits!
We hope this was helpful in helping you plan our your next assignments to ensure your license is kept up to date! Please keep in mind that these requirements change over time so please visit your state’s board of nursing website if you have questions. We recommend applying for renewal as soon as it’s available so that you don’t end up with an expired license while practicing.
Happy job hunting!
The Nomad Team