Covid-19 has helped shine a spotlight on the incredible kindness and dedication of nurses across the nation – and it has also revealed the need for additional qualified nurses, including in Florida. Home to a sizeable number of older adults, coupled with a growing population, over 27,000 new registered nursing jobs are expected to be created between 2019 and 2027 according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the second most among all professions.
As Florida requires more RNs and other nursing professionals, colleges and universities across the state are offering affordable, convenient online nursing programs to meet that need. From associate to doctoral programs, these flexible online programs offer students the join the nursing field through remote education.
If you’re looking to start (or advance) your RN career in Florida and are interested in earning your degree online, this guide is for you. You’ll get all of the information you need, including spotlights of top accredited online nursing programs in Florida, an overview of what it’s like to earn your nursing degree online, licensing and salary details for RNs in Florida, and much more.
How Do Online Nursing Programs in Florida Work?
Online coursework structure can vary from school to school in Florida, with some engaging you in coursework almost entirely online and others implementing a hybrid style of learning with both online and in-person classes. Programs may differ in structure, but in-person clinical work will always be an essential part of a nursing degree. Hands-on learning traditionally takes place in a pre-approved professional medical environment.
Online nursing programs may employ both synchronous and asynchronous learning—essentially live at a scheduled time (synchronous) or material that you can engage with at your own pace (asynchronous). Science-based courses commonly require the lab element of a class be completed in person.
The number of credits required for graduation varies depending on the level of degree. For example, Central Florida University’s RN-to-BSN program requires 120 credits for graduation. ADN programs similar to the one offered by Chipola College are completed with approximately 72 credits. While structured nursing curricula looks similar from school-to-school, the flexibility of online learning allows many professionals the option to work and attend classes simultaneously.
What Kinds of Online RN Programs in Florida Are There?
There are a variety of hybrid and online RN programs in Florida geared towards students at different points in their nursing education – from those looking to begin their careers via an associate degree to learners with a bachelor’s degree striving towards an advanced education. Below you can find some of the most popular online academic paths for a nursing career in Florida.
Florida Online Nursing School Spotlights
Nursing schools in Florida provide a wide variety of online degree programs, but it’s important to remember that not all are created equally. Recognizing that many students are busy with other commitments, EduMed rounded up a list of some of the best online nursing programs in Florida offering flexible online education, accreditation, and affordable prices. The three online nursing programs highlighted below have a consistently high percentage of nursing graduates who pass the NCLEX-RN exam. See which online RN programs in Florida stand out in 2020.
FAQs About Online Nursing Programs in Florida
Can I earn my nursing degree in Florida completely online?
Traditional coursework for accredited online nursing programs in Florida can often be completed entirely online – but almost always require in-person clinical work. Many programs also offer hybrid learning, coupling online and in-person coursework. Some schools provide accelerated degrees, allowing you to complete the program more quickly than a traditional in-person program.
Will my online Florida nursing degree be considered less valuable by employers?
Receiving your degree from an accredited online nursing school in Florida ensures your degree holds the same value as a program completed in person. Online and campus-based programs alike must meet the same standards set by accrediting institutions. The classes you take and the practicums you complete will look nearly identical to that of your campus-based peers. Your degree will also mirror those given to in-person learners. Regardless of how you complete your nursing education, what matters most is your NCLEX-RN exam score.
How long does it take to go through an online RN program in Florida?
The duration of an online nursing program depends on several variables. Students who already hold an associate degree in nursing can typically earn a BSN relatively quickly. Many online programs offer accelerated RN-to-BSN programs, allowing you to complete requirements in as few as two years. Traditional BSN degrees take approximately four to six years, depending on whether you enroll on a full- or part-time basis
Some institutions also offer “4+1” RN-to-MSN programs. These academic tracks allow students to complete a master’s degree in nursing in relatively short order. Otherwise, most MSN programs take about two years to complete.
RN Licensing Information and Requirements in Florida
Before starting your academic journey towards a career in nursing, it’s important to understand the RN licensing requirements specific to the state of Florida. The Florida Board of Nursing outlines a clear set of prerequisites that you must meet before receiving licensure.
Get Your Degree
Prior to obtaining RN licensure in Florida, you must complete a degree from an institution accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). These commissions ensure the education you receive provides the necessary training to become a competent nursing professional. Recognized programs include associate to master’s degrees and also include military nursing education.
Application, Fees, and Fingerprints
The Florida Board of Nursing offers an online application, with the required application fee of $110 due at the time of submission. In addition to your completed application, you must also submit fingerprints through a service provider approved by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. This meets the state’s required background screening for professionals that provide service to children, the elderly, and disabled individuals.
Prepare for the NCLEX-RN Exam
Prior to taking the NCLEX-RN licensure exam, adequate preparation is critical. Imagine completing all required coursework, graduating from your nursing program, and then failing to secure your RN license. Coursework can play a big role in preparing you for this exam, but you also need time to prepare. Myriad free online resources exist for this exam—take advantage of them.
Register and Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam
Once you complete your nursing program and supply the Florida Board of Nursing with all necessary application materials, the board will notify you of your eligibility to take the exam. Along with your eligibility letter, the board provides instructions regarding test registration—the fee for registration is $200. After registering, Pearson Vue contacts you via email with an authorization to test (ATT). This authorization key is only viable for a specific number of days. After receiving a passing score, the Florida Board of Nursing issues your RN license in about a week.
Continuing Education and License Renewal
Barring any disciplinary actions, maintaining your RN license depends on renewing your license and completing the required number of continuing education credits. The renewal process can be completed online, with fees paid online or by mail. Florida requires RNs to renew their licenses every two years. During those two years, RNs must complete one hour of continuing education per month, resulting in 24 credits per licensure period. In addition to 16 hours of general continuing education courses, RNs cover subject areas such as prevention of medical errors, domestic violence, and human trafficking.
Salary and Job Outlook for RNs in Florida
As one of the most populous states in the U.S., combined with an especially large older demographic, Florida perpetually needs qualified nursing professionals. As of 2020, Florida employs the third highest number of RNs in the country. We highlight the Florida job market and average RN salaries below.
What’s the job market like for RNs in Florida?
Like many large states, Florida has a growing need for competent registered nurses. Florida employs nearly 200,000 RNs currently, but that number will continue to grow. The next decade is expected to produce a 16% job growth rate for nurses, resulting in more than 30,000 new jobs, according to official state figures from Projections Central. In addition to new jobs being created, the state should see about 14,000 roles open each year due to retirement or nurses seeking employment elsewhere. When compared to a national job growth rate of 12%, it’s evident that Florida offers ample career opportunities for RNs new to field.
Job Outlook for Registered Nurses in Florida
|Employment (2018)||New Jobs (2018-2028)||Job Growth Rate (2018-2028)||Average Annual Openings (2018-2028)|
Source: Projections Central
How much can I make working as an RN in Florida?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, RNs earned average salaries of $67,000 per year in 2019. While other large states such as California and New York offer higher annual mean wages, it’s important to recognize key factors such as cost of living and Florida’s lack of state income tax. Review the earnings table below to see how much RNs earn in a few of Florida’s largest cities compared to the entire state and nation.
Annual Earnings for Registered Nurses in Florida
|Median Hourly Wage||Mean Hourly Wage||Annual Mean Wage|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2019
Online Resources for Florida Nursing Students and Professionals
- Florida Board of Nursing The FBN supports students and practitioners alike by providing RN licensure, training, and education. It also works to ensure every nurse employed in the state of Florida meets the requirements for safe practice.
- Florida Nurses Association Dedicated to advancing the profession of nursing in the state, the FNA represents all Florida nurses, regardless of specialty or practice area. As an advocate for nurses, this group provides professional development and scholarship opportunities for those in the field.
- Florida Association of Nurse Practitioners Florida’s leading professional organization for nurse practitioners, FANP advocates for patient-centered healthcare. The association also works to educate the public on the advanced practice of nursing and advocates for access to effective healthcare for all Floridians.
- Florida Nursing Students Association This student-led group prepares nursing students for their careers in the field by offering education, training, and networking. The group also dedicates itself to expanding healthcare to people in all walks of life.
- Florida Health Care Association Founded in 1954, this organization of nursing professionals and medical centers seeks to improve healthcare for elder Floridians through public policy. The group advocates for quality of service, professional development, and expanded access to high-quality, long-term care.
- Scholarships & Online Resources for RN Students This helpful EduMed guide lays out financial, academic, and career resources RN students may find helpful when pursuing a nursing career. You can find a detailed list of nursing scholarships alongside links to academic resources and student/professional organizations.