How To Become a Nurse in Oregon: Licensing Requirements and Renewal of License

Becoming a nurse in Oregon means meeting the state’s requirements to practice nursing and provide quality care to promote community well-being.

Did you know that Oregon is on the path to mandating by law the ratios of nurses to patients in 12 hospital units? Should HB 2697 be approved, it would bring about significant changes to Oregon’s nurse staffing regulations, positioning the state as one of the pioneers in implementing limits on the number of patients that can be assigned to individual nurses. If you are interested in becoming an RN in a state that clearly recognizes the importance of nurses in delivering quality healthcare services and acknowledges their crucial role in promoting patient well-being, read on.



Nursing in the so-called Beaver State can be likened to its famous Crater Lake, a deep and awe-inspiring body of knowledge and compassion. Just as the lake’s depths hold mysteries waiting to be explored, nursing there encompasses a vast realm of expertise and understanding, requiring continuous learning and exploration. The dedication and commitment of nurses parallel the majestic presence of Crater Lake, as they provide care that runs deep and touches the lives of individuals and communities. Just as Crater Lake leaves a lasting impression on those who witness its beauty, nurses leave an indelible mark on the lives of those they care for, making a difference that resonates for years to come.

What Is the Oregon Board of Nursing?

A state’s nursing board is the regulatory body that oversees and regulates various aspects of the nursing profession within that state. In the case of Oregon, the Oregon State Board of Nursing safeguards the public’s health and well-being. Its primary purpose is to protect the public by ensuring nursing competence, integrity, and safe practice. The board sets and enforces standards for nursing practice, including guidelines for education, licensure, and the scope of practice. It grants licenses to qualified individuals, monitors license renewals, and approves nursing education programs. Additionally, the board interprets and enforces the Oregon Nurse Practice Act, investigates complaints, and takes disciplinary actions against practitioners who violate the act.

How To Become a Registered Nurse in Oregon


To become a registered nurse in Oregon, you must navigate a well-defined process encompassing academic preparation, licensing examinations, and gaining practical experience. This path ensures that you are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and expertise needed to meet the diverse healthcare needs of Oregon’s population.

Earn a degree

The first step towards becoming an RN is pursuing a nursing degree in an accredited program. The Oregon Board of Nursing has a list of approved programs that you can consider. Generally, you can choose between two degrees:

ADN programs are typically offered at community colleges, while BSN programs are offered at universities. However, regardless of the degree path chosen, both ADN and BSN programs fulfill the educational requirements necessary to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

Pass the NCLEX-RN

The National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) is the standardized exam used to assess your knowledge of nursing practices. To register for the exam, you need to submit an application to the Oregon State Board of Nursing and pay the associated fees. Once you pass the NCLEX-RN, you will be eligible to apply for an RN license in Oregon.

Gain experience

Lastly, after obtaining your RN license, gain some practical experience. Working alongside experienced nurses and handling a diverse range of patients and medical conditions can help you develop clinical skills, critical thinking abilities, and confidence in nursing.

Getting Your Nursing License in Oregon

Once you have obtained your degree and passed the NCLEX, it is time to apply for licensure. You can access the application form from the Oregon State Board of Nursing website, and after completing the application, make sure to provide all the necessary personal information, educational background, employment history, and official transcripts from your nursing program. Next, schedule fingerprinting and undergo a background check as required. 

Once everything is ready, submit your completed application to the Oregon State Board of Nursing and await the board’s review of your application, transcripts, background check results, and supporting documents. Upon approval, you will receive your nursing license from the board, granting you the legal authority to practice as an RN in Oregon.

Renewing Your Nursing License in Oregon

After obtaining your nursing license, you must renew it periodically. In Oregon, the Board requires you to renew your nursing licenses every two years. The renewal process involves submitting an application, paying the renewal fee, and completing any required continuing education credits. 

There are no specific periods when you must renew your license. Instead, the duration of the initial licensure is determined based on your birthdate and the sequence of the year you were born. So, in case you were born in an odd year, your license will expire at 12:01 am on your birthday in subsequent odd years. Similarly, if you were born in an even year, your license will expire at 12:01 am on your birthday in subsequent even years.

Remember that it’s your responsibility to ensure the timely renewal of your license, as receiving renewal notifications is a courtesy, and not receiving them does not excuse late renewal. Late renewal will result in a $100 penalty fee.

How Long Does It Take To Become an RN in Oregon?


The time it takes to become a registered nurse in Oregon can vary depending on individual circumstances and the fulfillment of requirements such as completing the necessary education and passing the licensure exam.

Firstly, an ADN program generally takes 2-3 years to complete, while a BSN program typically requires four years of study. It’s worth noting that some BSN programs offer accelerated options for those with a bachelor’s degree in another field. Clinical experience is also an integral part of the program curriculum, with the duration varying based on the specific program.

Next, the time needed to prepare for the NCLEX-RN can stretch to a few months. In addition, the application process for licensure usually takes a few weeks to finalize. So, overall, the timeline for becoming an RN in Oregon can range from 2 to 4 years or longer, depending on your chosen educational path and any additional requirements.

Salary and Job Outlook for RNs in Oregon

There are several factors to consider about the salary and job outlook for registered nurses in Oregon. They can vary based on factors such as education, experience, specialization, and location. However, recent data shows that, as of June 2023, the average salary for RNs in Oregon is $104,540 and an additional $12,000 overtime per year. This average is 11% higher than the national average.

As for the job outlook, the demand for qualified nurses continues to be strong. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment opportunities for RNs will grow by around 6% nationally from 2021 to 2031. This growth is expected to translate into numerous job openings for RNs in Oregon. Based on Labor Market Projections, there will be a 12.1% positive change in employment opportunities for RNs in Oregon, as there are estimated to be 2,580 new job openings annually.

Top-paying cities for RNs in Oregon


Some cities in Oregon offer higher average salaries for RNs compared to others. The top-paying cities include:

  • Portland, with $152,621 per year
  • Springfield, with $115,775 per year
  • Beaverton, with $105,948 per year
  • Salem, with $104,320 per year
  • Klamath Falls, with $103,652 per year
  • Gresham, with $99,074 per year
  • Eugene, with $98,349 per year
  • Madras, with $96,782 per year
  • Gold Beach, with $46,694 per year


All in all, pursuing a career in nursing in Oregon offers excellent opportunities to contribute to the community’s well-being. Additionally, it presents you with various personal benefits, including a higher-than-the-national-average salary and a promising job outlook. With a dedication to continuous learning and adherence to professional standards, you can play a vital role in Oregon’s healthcare system.

Get The Latest Nursing News In Your Inbox

Stay on top of the latest word that affects your career.

More To Explore

It's time For the next step

Whether it's a new a job, or continuing your education, is your career partner.