One question I frequently get asked is how to get a nursing job in the US. This country has a growing need for nurses and other medical workers, so the opportunities are definitely here. In fact, the nursing field is growing twice as fast as the average profession in the US — that’s huge!
So, how can international nurses start their careers in the US? Here’s a step-by-step guide that should help.
- Get Licensed: First and foremost, you’ll need to become a Registered Nurse in your home country. That means graduating from an accredited Registered Nursing program, obtaining your license as an RN, and practicing as an RN for at least two years. So before you start looking for jobs in the US, make sure you meet those criteria.
If you’re not sure if you’re qualifications and background studies are enough, be sure to reach out to the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) to see if you’re ready.
- Test Your English: Depending on where you went to nursing school, you might need to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to make sure you’re proficient. If you went to nursing school in a country where English was the spoken language (UK, Australia, New Zealand, etc.), you’re likely exempt.
- Take the NCLEX-RN: Once you’ve figured out which US state you’d like to work in, it’s time to apply for that state’s Board of Nursing and take the necessary NCLEX-RN (this is a big step!). It’s a standardized test that’ll get you on your way to obtaining a Registered Nurse license in the US.
- Apply for Jobs: After you get all of your qualifications taken care of, start looking for jobs in the state you’d like to work in (more on that, below). You’ll probably find the best results by working with a staffing firm.
- Get Your Visa! When you land that dream job, apply for your US work visa. This is one of the reasons it’s a good idea to work with a staffing firm in your job search; they’ll also be able to help get all of your paperwork in order for your visa. Trust me, a little help goes a long way!
Choosing the Best US State for a Nursing Job
There are a lot of factors that will go into where you eventually end up working in the US. Do you prefer year-round sunshine? Or do you like to experience all four seasons? What kind of lifestyle are you looking for — big house in the country, or an apartment in the city?
Beyond that, consider the current job markets in different regions. See which states are hiring the most nurses in coming years. These types of stats will make it easier to figure out where you’ll be most likely to land your dream job.
Good luck in your search!