Become a Nurse in Oklahoma: What Are the Licensing Requirements?

To become licensed by the Oklahoma Board of Nursing, you must successfully complete an approved nursing program, pass the NCLEX examination, and meet any additional requirements set by the board.

Being a nurse in Oklahoma, also known as the Sooner State, offers a remarkable opportunity for professional growth in nursing. The state provides a unique environment that allows nurses to thrive and make a significant difference in their communities. With a perfect blend of welcoming, tight-knit communities and lively urban centers, Oklahoma sets the stage for dynamic nursing practice. If you’re interested in learning more about how to become a nurse in Oklahoma and embark on this rewarding career path, continue reading to discover the steps and requirements to pursue your dream in the Sooner State.



Nursing in Oklahoma is as diverse and vibrant as the landscapes found throughout the state… Just like the varied physical features of rolling plains, rugged mountains, and scenic lakes in Oklahoma, nurses in the state showcase their versatility and adaptability as they navigate through different healthcare settings, from bustling urban hospitals to rural clinics. Nursing in Oklahoma is an exciting journey filled with diverse opportunities for personal and professional growth, much like the captivating topography that defines the state.

What Is the Oklahoma State Board of Nursing?

The Oklahoma State Board of Nursing is an official regulatory organization established to supervise and govern the nursing profession within the state of Oklahoma. It holds the authority to oversee and regulate all facets of nursing to ensure adherence to appropriate standards and practices. 

The Board assumes responsibility for monitoring nursing licenses, certifications for unlicensed assistants, nursing practices, and nursing education. They establish standards for educational programs, evaluate and approve programs that meet these standards, and facilitate the issuance and renewal of licenses for eligible applicants. 

The Board also handles complaints, investigations, and disciplinary actions, including the conduct of hearings when required. Furthermore, they provide support through a program designed to assist nurses dealing with substance abuse issues and actively engage in research, conferences, and consultations aimed at enhancing nursing education and practice throughout Oklahoma.

How To Become a Registered Nurse in Oklahoma


There are different pathways to prepare individuals for a nursing career, with varying requirements for positions ranging from entry-level to advanced roles. Below we’ll go through the three main requirements you must fulfill to be eligible for licensure, thus becoming a registered nurse (RN).

Earn a degree in nursing

As an aspiring nurse, you must complete a state-approved program offered by nursing schools in Oklahoma or elsewhere. Generally, in Oklahoma, the minimum degree required to become a registered nurse is an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). However, many RNs choose to begin their journey with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) as they provide a more complex curriculum that explores various aspects of nursing.

To pursue advanced nursing roles, earning a graduate degree and obtaining additional certifications is necessary. Many nursing schools in Oklahoma offer a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP) programs that allow you to specialize in various areas.

Pass the NCLEX-RN

In order to acquire a nursing license, you must successfully pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) specifically designed for registered nurses. Pearson VUE is the organization responsible for administering the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) and conducting it at their Pearson Professional Centers. Therefore, to be eligible to sit for the NCLEX, it is necessary to complete the registration process with Pearson VUE.

While nursing coursework and clinical experience can provide valuable preparation for the exam, additional studying may be necessary. It is important to understand that passing the NCLEX is a prerequisite for obtaining licensure and is vital for securing RN positions, but it doesn’t guarantee immediate employment.

Gain experience

Gaining clinical experience is an essential aspect of the path toward becoming a nurse in Oklahoma. It is crucial for aspiring nurses to receive practical training and exposure in diverse healthcare settings. Degree programs in nursing often include clinical rotations as an integral part of the curriculum, allowing students to apply their theoretical knowledge in real-life healthcare situations. These clinical experiences serve to strengthen the competence and self-assurance of future nurses while ensuring their readiness to tackle the challenges of the healthcare profession in Oklahoma.

Getting Your Nursing License in Oklahoma


To get licensed as a nurse in Oklahoma, you must meet these criteria:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Graduate from a state-approved nursing program.

Next, register for and pass the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN exam and complete a fingerprint-based background check. Then, submit your application through your Nurse Portal account. Make sure to pay the fees as well as provide the required information and documentation.

In addition, you can obtain a compact nursing license. With such a license, you will enjoy the added flexibility of practicing in other compact nursing states, making it easier to pursue nursing opportunities across state lines without the hassle of obtaining multiple licenses.

Renewing Your Nursing License in Oklahoma

Nursing licenses in Oklahoma must be renewed every two years, with the expiration date falling on the last day of the licensee’s birth month. For registered nurses, license renewal takes place in even-numbered years, while licensed practical nurses renew theirs in odd-numbered years.

To renew your nursing license, you must fulfill one of the following qualifications set by the Oklahoma Board of Nursing:

  • Work in a position requiring a registered nursing license for at least 520 work hours.
  • Complete at least 24 contact hours of continuing education relevant to nursing practice.
  • Obtain certification in a nursing specialty area.
  • Complete a Board-approved refresher course.
  • Complete at least six academic semester credit hours of nursing coursework at or above your current level of licensure.

The renewal, similar to the initial application for licensure, can be done through your Nurse Portal account.

How Long Does It Take To Become an RN In Oklahoma?

Overall, the time frame for obtaining a nursing license in Oklahoma can range from around two years for an ADN program to four or more years for a BSN program or higher degrees. Furthermore, it is important to note that the process may take longer if additional certifications or advanced degrees are pursued beyond the initial RN licensure.

Additionally, the preparation time for the NCLEX, as well as the license application, can vary based on your study habits, prior knowledge, and overall availability.

Salary and Job Prospects for RNs in Oklahoma

If you’re considering a career as an RN in Oklahoma, it’s essential to have a comprehensive understanding of the salary landscape and job prospects in the state. As of June 2023, recent data indicates that RNs in Oklahoma command an average annual salary of $117,203, with an approximate additional compensation of $12,000 for overtime work. These figures reflect a salary roughly 25% above the national average, establishing Oklahoma as an attractive and promising destination for aspiring and practicing RNs.

Additionally, based on the Long-Term Occupational Projections for 2020-2030, Oklahoma is anticipated to experience a substantial surge in job opportunities for RNs, with a projected growth rate of 11.9%. This expansion is expected to yield approximately 2,620 new job openings annually.

Top-paying cities for RNs in Oklahoma


Some areas in Oklahoma offer higher salaries than others. According to recent data, the top-paying cities for RNs in Oklahoma are:

  • Tahlequah, with $135,165 per year
  • Tulsa, with $124,247 per year
  • Edmond, with $123,977 per year
  • Oklahoma City, with $118,796 per year
  • Bartlesville, with $108,426 per year
  • Muskogee, with $92,334 per year
  • Shawnee, with $88,727 per year
  • Norman, with $85,007 per year
  • Enid, with $82,944 per year

Wrapping Up

In summary, to become a licensed nurse in Oklahoma, you must complete an approved nursing program, pass the NCLEX examination, and fulfill additional requirements specified by the Oklahoma Board of Nursing during the licensure application. The timeline for becoming an RN in Oklahoma varies depending on the selected degree program and individual circumstances. The whole process provides you with the chance to make a meaningful impact in diverse healthcare settings throughout the state and contribute to the community.

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