Become a Nurse in Virginia: Nursing License Requirements

The Virginia Board of Nursing establishes and enforces the necessary criteria and regulations for nurse licensing in Virginia.

Nursing license requirements in Virginia are governed by the Virginia Board of Nursing, which sets the standards and regulations for individuals seeking to practice nursing within the state. These requirements serve to ensure that nurses possess the necessary knowledge, skills, and qualifications to provide safe and competent care to patients. By establishing clear guidelines for licensure, the Virginia Board of Nursing upholds the highest standards of professionalism and safeguards the public’s well-being. Understanding these requirements is essential for aspiring nurses and healthcare professionals pursuing a career in Virginia.


Understanding and meeting the nurse licensing requirements set by the Virginia Board of Nursing is crucial for aspiring nurses to ensure professionalism, competence, and patient safety in their career pursuits within the state.

How to Become a Registered Nurse in Virginia


If you are interested in a career as a registered nurse and want to practice your profession in the state of Virginia, here are the steps you need to follow.

Earn a degree

The first step to becoming a registered nurse in Virginia is to earn a degree in nursing. This typically involves completing a nursing program, such as an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited institution. These programs give aspiring nurses the essential knowledge and skills to practice nursing effectively.

Pass the NCLEX-RN exam

After completing the nursing program, aspiring nurses in Virginia must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). This standardized exam assesses the candidate’s readiness to enter nursing and is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). Passing the NCLEX-RN exam is a crucial requirement for obtaining licensure as a registered nurse in Virginia.

Gain professional experience

Once licensed, gaining professional experience is essential in a registered nurse’s career. It provides valuable hands-on learning opportunities and helps nurses refine their clinical skills and expertise. It allows nurses to apply their theoretical knowledge in practical settings, develop critical thinking skills, and gain exposure to various healthcare environments. One can acquire professional experience through working in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, or other healthcare settings.

What Is the Virginia Board of Nursing?

The Virginia Board of Nursing is a regulatory body that oversees and governs the practice of nursing within Virginia. It is a part of the Department of Health Professions and is responsible for ensuring that nurses meet the necessary qualifications and standards to provide safe and competent care to patients. The board enforces regulations, policies, and guidelines related to nursing education, licensure, practice, and discipline. It reviews and approves nursing programs, administers licensure examinations, issues and renews licenses, and investigates complaints against nurses. The Virginia Board of Nursing plays a crucial role in safeguarding public health and safety by upholding the highest standards of nursing practice and professionalism in Virginia.

How to Get Your RN License in Virginia

To obtain an RN license in Virginia, aspiring nurses must follow a set of steps established by the Virginia Board of Nursing. The first few steps have been set out in the previous section. In addition,  after graduation, candidates must apply for licensure through the Virginia Board of Nursing. They are required to provide the necessary documentation, including official transcripts and a completed application form.

After passing the NCLEX-RN exam, candidates can submit their results to the Virginia Board of Nursing as part of their license application.

In addition to meeting educational and examination requirements, candidates must also fulfill other prerequisites set by the Virginia Board of Nursing. This includes undergoing a criminal background check, disclosing past disciplinary actions or convictions, and submitting required fees. The board carefully reviews each application and issues an RN license to qualified candidates who meet all requirements.

If your ambition is to work as a nurse across multiple states, you can obtain an Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) license, as Virginia is one of the nursing compact states. This unique license enables you to practice in other eNLC states, granting you a wider array of possibilities and greater flexibility in your nursing profession.

How to Renew Your RN License in Virginia

Renewing your RN license in Virginia is essential to ensure continued practice as a registered nurse in the state. The Virginia Board of Nursing requires nurses to renew their licenses periodically to maintain their active status. The renewal process typically involves completing the necessary continuing education credits, which may vary depending on the number of years since the initial licensure.

Virginia registered nurses must complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years to be eligible for license renewal. The Virginia Board of Nursing should approve these educational activities focusing on enhancing professional competence and knowledge in nursing. Nurses must record their completed continuing education hours, as they may be required to submit documentation during the renewal process.

To renew their RN license, nurses in Virginia must submit a license renewal application to the Virginia Board of Nursing. The application can typically be completed online or through the mail and requires providing necessary personal information, including contact details, employment history, and any updates to the previously submitted information. Additionally, nurses are required to pay the renewal fee as specified by the Virginia Board of Nursing.

Registered nurses in Virginia must keep track of their license expiration date and initiate the renewal process on time to prevent any lapse in their licensure status. By adhering to the renewal requirements set by the Virginia Board of Nursing, nurses can continue their professional practice and ensure that they meet the ongoing standards of competency and professionalism within the nursing profession.

How Long Does It Take to Become an RN in Virginia?

How long it takes to become an RN in Virginia can vary depending on several factors. Typically, it takes 2 to 4 years to complete the necessary education and training to become a registered nurse. This includes completing an accredited nursing program, such as an Associate Degree in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. An ADN program generally takes 2 to 3 years to complete, while a BSN program typically requires four years of study. After completing the nursing program, aspiring nurses must pass the NCLEX-RN, which can take additional time for preparation and scheduling. Becoming an RN in Virginia can range from 2 to 4 years or longer, depending on the individual’s chosen educational pathway and personal circumstances.

Salary and Job Outlook for RNs in Virginia


The salary and job outlook for RNs in Virginia is promising. According to ZipRecruiter, as of May 8, 2023, the average annual pay for an RN in Virginia is $74,317. This figure reflects the competitive compensation available for registered nurses in the state. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 6 percent growth in the employment of registered nurses from 2021 to 2031, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. This projected growth indicates a steady demand for qualified RNs in Virginia, presenting ample opportunities for job prospects and career advancement in nursing. With favorable salaries and a positive job outlook, registered nursing offers a promising and rewarding career path in Virginia.


In conclusion, the nurse licensing requirements in Virginia, overseen by the Virginia Board of Nursing, play a critical role in upholding the standards of professionalism, competence, and patient safety within the nursing profession. Aspiring nurses must meet the educational, examination, and experience prerequisites the board sets to obtain their RN license. 

The nurse licensing requirements are a foundation for a strong and reputable nursing workforce in Virginia, ensuring the delivery of safe and competent healthcare services. Furthermore, staying updated on license renewal requirements is crucial for maintaining active licensure and continuous professional development. By adhering to these requirements, nurses can embark on a fulfilling and impactful career in Virginia’s healthcare system, providing quality care to patients and contributing to the community’s well-being.

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