Applying for Nursing Jobs Before NCLEX | What You Need to Know


Career Consultant & Blog Writer

Published: January 26, 2024

Yes, it is possible to apply for nursing jobs before passing the NCLEX. Some healthcare facilities may consider candidates who are in the process of obtaining their nursing license. Highlight your commitment to licensure, relevant experiences, and enthusiasm for the nursing profession in your application.

Embarking on a nursing career is an exciting journey filled with challenges and opportunities. One crucial aspect that aspiring nurses often overlook is the option of applying for nursing jobs before NCLEX licensure. In this article, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of this unconventional approach, exploring the benefits, challenges, and essential steps to enhance your chances of success.

Understanding NCLEX

The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is a standardized test that all nursing graduates must pass to obtain their nursing license. It serves as a benchmark to ensure that nurses have the necessary knowledge and skills to provide safe and effective patient care.

Benefits of Applying Before NCLEX

  • Increased Chances of Securing a Job Early: Landing a job before obtaining licensure can set you apart from other candidates, showcasing your commitment to the profession.
  • Gaining Practical Experience Before Licensing: Working in a healthcare setting before passing the NCLEX provides valuable hands-on experience and enhances your clinical skills.

what is the application process for nursing jobs before NCLEX

The process of applying for nursing jobs before obtaining your NCLEX licensure involves several key steps. Here’s a detailed guide to help you navigate this unique path:

Applying for Nursing Jobs Before NCLEX

Research Job Opportunities

Begin by exploring job opportunities in healthcare facilities that are open to hiring nurses before they pass the NCLEX. Look for positions that explicitly mention consideration for candidates in the process of obtaining licensure.

Prepare Your Resume

Craft a comprehensive resume highlighting your educational background, clinical experiences, and any relevant certifications. Clearly outline your expected date of NCLEX completion.

Create a Cover Letter

Draft a cover letter expressing your enthusiasm for the nursing profession, your commitment to ongoing learning, and your eagerness to contribute to the healthcare team. Address why you are applying before obtaining your NCLEX license.

Utilize Online Job Portals

Explore nursing job listings on online platforms. Websites like Indeed, LinkedIn, and specific healthcare job boards often have opportunities for nurses in various stages of licensure.

Network Within the Industry

Attend nursing career fairs, workshops, and networking events. Connect with professionals in the healthcare industry on LinkedIn. Networking can open doors to job opportunities and provide valuable insights.

Submit Applications

Submit your resume and cover letter through the preferred application process of each healthcare facility. Ensure that you follow the application instructions carefully and provide all necessary documentation.

Prepare for Interviews

If selected for an interview, prepare thoroughly. Anticipate questions about your licensure status and be ready to showcase your commitment to obtaining licensure, your relevant experiences, and your passion for nursing.

Address Licensing Concerns

During the application process and interviews, be proactive in addressing any concerns about your lack of licensure. Communicate your plan for obtaining licensure and emphasize your dedication to the nursing profession.

Stay Informed About Licensing Progress

Keep potential employers informed about your progress toward obtaining your NCLEX license. Update them on any significant milestones or changes in your timeline.

Negotiate Conditional Offers

If you receive a job offer, be prepared to negotiate conditional terms based on obtaining licensure. Understand the expectations and requirements set by the employer and ensure you can meet them.

Understand Legal Considerations

Familiarize yourself with state regulations regarding job applications without licensure. Be transparent about your licensing status to avoid any legal complications.

By following these steps, you can actively engage in the job application process before obtaining your NCLEX licensure, increasing your chances of securing a nursing position early in your career.

what to do after passing NCLEX

Applying for Nursing Jobs Before NCLEX

Congratulations on passing the NCLEX! Your success marks a significant milestone in your nursing career. Here’s a comprehensive guide on what to do after passing the NCLEX:

Receive Your Official Results

After passing the NCLEX, you will receive official results from the nursing board. This may be in the form of an email or an official letter.

Apply for Licensure

Once you have your passing results, apply for your nursing license with the state nursing board. Follow their specific instructions, which usually include applying, proof of education, and any required fees.

Wait for License Approval

The processing time for licensure approval varies by state. Be patient and monitor the status of your application through the nursing board’s online portal or contact them directly for updates.

Prepare for Job Search

With your licensure in progress, start preparing for your job search. Update your resume and cover letter, and consider networking within the healthcare industry to explore potential job opportunities.

Research Potential Employers

Identify healthcare facilities or organizations where you would like to work. Research their values, workplace culture, and job openings. Tailor your application materials to align with their specific requirements.

Submit Job Applications

Once your nursing license is approved or in the final stages of approval, start submitting job applications. Be diligent in following application instructions and deadlines.

Prepare for Interviews

Expect potential employers to schedule interviews once they see your licensure status. Prepare for common nursing interview questions and showcase your skills, experiences, and enthusiasm for the nursing profession.

Consider Specializing

Explore opportunities for specialization within nursing. Determine if some specific areas or fields align with your interests and career goals.

Complete Additional Certifications

While waiting for job opportunities, consider completing additional certifications that may enhance your skills and make you more competitive in the job market.

Network Within the Nursing Community

Attend nursing conferences, workshops, and networking events to connect with fellow nurses, healthcare professionals, and potential employers. Networking can open doors to job opportunities and provide valuable insights.

Stay Informed About Continuing Education

Stay informed about ongoing education requirements and opportunities. Many healthcare facilities value nurses who actively pursue professional development.

Negotiate Job Offers

Once you receive job offers, carefully review the terms and conditions. Be prepared to negotiate aspects such as salary, benefits, and work schedules.

Complete New Hire Requirements

Fulfill any additional requirements or orientations mandated by your new employer. This may include background checks, drug screenings, or specific training sessions.

Celebrate Your Achievement

Take time to celebrate your accomplishments. Passing the NCLEX is a significant achievement, and you deserve to acknowledge your hard work and dedication.

By following these steps, you can smoothly transition from passing the NCLEX to securing a rewarding nursing position and embarking on a successful healthcare career.

FAQs With Answers About Applying for Nursing Jobs Before NCLEX

Can I work in the USA as a nurse without NCLEX?

No, the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) is a mandatory licensing exam for nurses in the USA. You must pass the NCLEX to obtain a nursing license and work legally as a nurse in the United States.

How to apply for a nursing job in the USA?

To apply for a nursing job in the USA, follow these steps:

  • Obtain a nursing license by passing the NCLEX.
  • Create a comprehensive resume highlighting your education, clinical experiences, and certifications.
  • Research potential employers and job opportunities.
  • Submit applications through online job portals or directly to healthcare facilities.
  • Prepare for interviews by showcasing your skills, experiences, and commitment to nursing.

Can I work as a nurse in the USA without IELTS?

While the NCLEX is the primary requirement for foreign-educated nurses, some states may also require proof of English proficiency. The IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is one of the accepted tests for this purpose. Check with the nursing board in the state where you intend to work for specific language proficiency requirements.

When should I start studying for NCLEX RN?

The timing for studying for the NCLEX RN varies based on individual circumstances. Generally, many nursing graduates begin preparing for the exam during their final year of nursing school or shortly after graduation. Starting early allows for a comprehensive review and better preparation for success.

Can you work as an LPN before passing NCLEX?

In most cases, Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) are required to pass the NCLEX-PN to obtain licensure. Working as an LPN before passing the NCLEX-PN is unlikely as licensure is a legal requirement for practicing as an LPN in the USA. Ensure you meet all licensing requirements before seeking employment.

Bottom Line

Applying for nursing jobs before obtaining your NCLEX licensure can be a strategic move to jumpstart your career. While challenges may arise, the benefits of gaining early experience and securing a position outweigh the potential hurdles. By focusing on networking, showcasing your skills, and staying committed to licensure, you can navigate this unconventional path successfully.