January 19, 2022
Ohio city skyline at dusk reflecting on the water

Ohio is currently experiencing a nursing shortage similar to the rest of the country. With a low cost of living and moderate hourly wages as compared to the national average, nurses from across the country are being drawn to this Midwest state.

Mild winters and summers attract individuals looking for variety in climate. Its proximity to Lake Erie is a bonus for nurses that love to be near the water. 

The Buckeye State also boasts several of the nation's best hospitals: Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, and Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Cleveland and Columbus, the largest cities in Ohio, not only have great hospitals but also have numerous universities offering advanced degree opportunities for nurses.

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Part One What is the Demand for Nurses in Ohio?

The U.S. Health Department of Health and Human Services (HRSA) conducted a workforce analysis of projected nursing needs through 2030. The study looked at each individual state and identified shortages and surpluses. While Ohio is currently in a nursing shortage, by 2030 Ohio is projected to have one of the largest nursing surpluses in the country (49,100). 

Unfortunately, this workforce analysis was conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and new reports show that there will not be a surplus of nurses in Ohio in the near future. In fact, there will be the need for thousands of additional nurses as the current workforce continues to leave the bedside. 

This analysis does have some limitations that must be noted. According to a study conducted by the Rand Corporation, the HRSA analysis was conducted prior to the ACA. It is estimated that an additional 17 million Americans have health insurance since this took effect. Furthermore, the analysis does not identify BSN educated nurses from diploma nurses. This affected projections as an increasing number of hospitals are attempting to gain Magnet designation. 

Despite the surplus reported by the HRSA analysis, the reports provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revealed that there is a high demand for specialized nurses, including nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, clinical nurse specialists, and nurse anesthetists, in Ohio.

Overall, the need for nurses will be affected by a variety of reasons, including changes in health care coverage and reimbursement, health insurance changes at a government level, and hospital accreditation changes.

Part Two Ohio State Board Of Nursing

The Ohio Board of Nursing regulates and issues all nursing licenses in the state. Its mission is to actively safeguard the health of the public through the effective regulation of nursing care.

Contacting The Board

Office Address

17 South High Street
Suite 660
Columbus, Ohio 43215-7410
Phone: (614) 466-3947
Fax: (614) 466-0388

Office Hours

8 am - 5 pm, Monday - Friday (Except Government Holidays)

Department Directory

Department Phone Email
Main Office (614) 466-3947
RN or LPN Initial License
License Renewal and Name/Address Changes
Online System Support (614) 466-3947
Complaints (614) 466-9564
Post-Disciplinary Monitoring
Alternative Program for Chemical Dependency
Practice Questions and PIIP Program
APRN Licensure Process
APRN Practice or HB 216 Questions
Nursing Education Programs
Continuing Education
Nurse Education Grant Program
Proposed Administrative Rules
Reinstatement and Reactivation

Part Three Ohio Nursing Licenses

Ohio is not part of the Nurse Licensure Compact, so every nurse must apply for a separate license to practice there. However, Ohio has passed legislation to enact the compact license but it is still awaiting implementation. Unfortunately, there has not been any further update as to when this is expected. 

In 2016, the Board implemented a new system based on updated technology. The new 3.0 Ohio eLicense system is a comprehensive regulatory license system used by numerous state licensing boards. All license and certification applications must now be submitted online.


There are three ways to obtain nursing licensure in Ohio:

  • Licensure by Exam (first-time nurses)
  • Licensure by Reciprocity (out-of-state nurses)
  • Reinstatement (lapsed licenses)

All nursing license and certificate applications, including permission to take the NCLEX must be submitted online using Ohio’s eLicense 3.0 system. You must set up a new account. Instructions for creating your new user account can be found on the Board’s website.


For those getting their first license, applicants must first graduate from an accredited nursing school and complete the necessary paperwork to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) exam.

In order to take the NCLEX, nurses must do the following:

  1. Create a new account on
  2. Register and pay $200 with Pearson VUE. School codes can be found here.
  3. Receive an Acknowledgement of Receipt of Registration from Pearson VUE.
  4. Receive eligibility from the BON.
  5. Receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) letter from Pearson VUE. Candidates must test within the validity dates. There are no extensions.
  6. Schedule an exam appointment online or by phone for international scheduling.
  7. Arrive for exam appointment and present your ATT letter and acceptable identification (ID). 
  8. Receive results from the BON approximately four weeks after the exam.

After passing the exam, nurses can complete their application for an Ohio nursing license. Fees are paid via major credit card on the eLicense system.

Once the application has been accepted by the Board, applicants will receive information regarding state-mandated fingerprinting and background checks. The length of time on the entire application is solely dependent on the number of applications received at any given time.


Nurses with licenses in other states also apply via the eLicense Portal to gain licensure in Ohio. The process is expedited for these individuals due to preexisting background checks and fingerprinting.

To apply for licensure by reciprocity you must send the following to the Ohio Board of Nursing:

  1. Non-refundable Application fee ($75.00) paid online
  2. Required Documentation for Education
    If you held/hold a license from a NURSYS state, the education information is typically available on NURSYS.
  3. License Verification
    Verification of licensure by examination and verification of current, valid license as a registered nurse must be sent directly from the jurisdiction or electronically by NURSYS. 
  4. Continuing Education
    Upload certificates showing completion of two contact hours of CE directly related to Chapter 4213.ORC and the rules of the Board.
  5. Criminal Records Check
    For more information on Criminal Records Checks, see this document

A sample of all the information required for licensure by endorsement can be found here.


If you allow your license to lapse or expire, you must apply for reinstatement in the eLicense system. You will be asked questions about your employment history, continuing education, citizenship, criminal records, disciplinary actions, and mental health history.  A sample of the information you must provide can be found here.


All Ohio nursing licenses must be renewed between July 1 through September 15 to avoid late fees. The RN renewal fee is $65.00 plus a $3.50 state transaction fee.

Those who renew on or after September 16 must pay an additional $50.00 and a $3.50 state transaction fee. Licenses not renewed after October 31 are deemed lapsed. Nurses with lapsed licenses cannot work and must apply for reinstatement.  See above for reinstatement information. 

Registered nurses in Ohio must complete 24 contact hours of continuing education prior to each renewal. See Part Six for more information on continuing education requirements. 


If you are a retired nurse seeking to volunteer your services at a free clinic, charitable organization, or during a natural disaster, holding a Volunteer Certificate (VC) may be a good option for you. 

Volunteer Certificates may be issued to nurses who have held one of the following:

  • A valid, unrestricted Ohio nursing license OR
  • A valid, unrestricted nursing license in any other state for at least 10 years OR
  • A valid, unrestricted nursing license in one or more branches of the US Armed forces for at least 10 years.

There is no fee for a Volunteer Certificate, but you must agree to practice without compensation. To apply for a Volunteer Certificate, complete the General Application in the Board’s eLicense system.

Click here to see a sample of the application on the Board’s website.

Part Four Ohio Nurse Salary and Benefits 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the average annual salary for a Registered Nurse in Ohio is $69,750. Hourly wages average $33.53. While this number is merely the reported average, Registered Nurses have the ability to earn even more depending on responsibilities, certifications, and shift differentials.

The BLS does identify North Northeastern Ohio non-metropolitan area as one of the top five non-metropolitan areas with the highest employment in this occupation. The reported annual hourly wage is $31.11 and yearly salary is $64,700. Southern Ohio non-metropolitan area is also identified as in the top five of non-metropolitan areas with the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients in this occupation. The reported annual hourly wage is $31.03 and yearly salary is $65,540 for this area of Ohio. 

According to, the average annual pay for a RN Nurse in Ohio is $61,623 a year or approximately $29.63 an hour. The majority of RN Nurse salaries currently range between $53,198 (25th percentile) to $82,597 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $97,063 annually in Ohio. Currently, Ohio ranks number 42 out of 50 states nationwide for RN Nurse salaries. 

City Annual Salary Hourly Salary
Toledo $73,311 $35.25
Dayton $72,574 $34.89
Columbus $71,330 $34.29
Canton $68,031 $32.71
Lorain $67,263 $32.34
Cincinnati $66,914 $32.17
Middletown $63,601 $30.58
Youngstown $62,228 $29.92
Cleveland $62,088 $29.85
Akron $61,635 $29.63

How To Increase Your Nursing Salary in Ohio

Certifications such as CCRN, CPN, and RNC will all earn individuals additional pay depending on the hospital system. This can vary depending on a variety of factors but nurses can either receive a one-time bonus or an increase in their hourly wage. It is important to check with employers regarding this. 

Shift differentials range from 5%-20% depending on the shift work. Weekend night shifts pay more than weekday day shifts. Before accepting any position it is important to speak to Human Resources to understand the shift differential at each hospital. Furthermore, some hospitals will only provide a shift differential if a nurse is paid on an hourly basis. Rarely are salaried employees eligible for this benefit.

Participating in hospital- and unit-based committees may also contribute to higher earnings. Hospitals, particularly Magnet-designated, commonly have numerous opportunities in which to participate.

While participation alone does not increase pay, it can help a nurse climb the clinical ladder. With each step in the clinical ladder, there is also a pay increase.

Precepting new nurses can also be a way to earn bonuses. Most hospitals offer bonuses for precepting new nurses. This is paid in two lump sums. The first payment is after the new nurse is off of orientation while the final payment is after the new staff member has been in the hospital system for a full year. This is a great incentive for senior nurses to pass on their knowledge to the next generation of nurses.

Benefits for Ohio Nurses

Nurses enjoy strong benefits throughout Ohio. Actual benefits including healthcare will vary depending on the healthcare institution. Most institutions will only offer benefits to part-time and full-time employees. Rarely are they offered to per diem or contracted employees. Standard benefits include:

  • Disability insurance
  • Vision insurance
  • Retirement options
  • Discounts on a variety of products
  • Dental coverage
  • Maternity leave
  • Health insurance
  • Childcare support
  • Various memberships related to the organization
  • Leave benefits

See a full ranking of all 50 states salaries adjusted for the cost-of-living

Part Five Best Hospitals In Ohio

With 129,090 Employed Registered Nurses, understanding key differences between these facilities is important. You’ll want to know which hospitals nurses like best and other important features like Magnet status and location.

Ohio Magnet Hospitals

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), in its aim to promote nursing excellence, evaluates healthcare organizations through its credentialing programs. The Magnet designation is the highest credential awarded to healthcare institutions based on their work environment, nursing excellence, innovations in nursing practice, and quality patient outcomes.

For RNs seeking work with best-in-class medical institutions, choosing one with Magnet status is a smart move.

List of Magnet Hospitals in Ohio

Organization Name City
Akron Children’s Hospital Akron
Aultman Hospital Canton
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Cincinnati
Cleveland Clinic Cleveland
Cleveland Clinic-Fairview Hospital Cleveland
Cleveland Clinic Akron General (Formerly Akron General) Akron
Cleveland Clinic Hillcrest Hospital Mayfield Heights
Cleveland Clinic Marymount Hospital Garfield
Cleveland Clinic South Pointe Hospital Warrensville
Dayton Children’s Hospital Dayton
Mercy Health - St. Rita's Medical Center Lima
Mercy Health West Hospital Cincinnati
Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital Fairfield
MercyHealth Youngstown (formerly Humility of Mary Health Partners) Youngstown
MercyHealth-St. Elizabeth Boardman Hospital Boardman
MercyHealth-St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital Youngstown
MercyHealth-St. Joseph Warren Hospital Warren
Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus
OhioHealth Grant Medical Center Columbus
OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital Columbus
Premier Health Dayton
Premier Health - Atrium Medical Center Middletown
Premier Health - Good Samaritan Hospital Dayton
Premier Health - Miami Valley Hospital Dayton
Premier Health - Upper Valley Medical Center Troy
Southern Ohio Medical Center Portsmouth
Summa Health System Akron & St. Thomas Campuses Akron
Summa Health System Barberton Campus Barberton
The Christ Hospital Health Network Cincinnati
The Jewish Hospital - Mercy Health Cincinnati
The MetroHealth System Clevland
The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute Columbus
TriHealth Cincinnati
TriHealth-Bethesda North Hospital Montgomery
TriHealth-Good Samaritan Hospital Cincinnati
University Hospital and Ross Heart Hospital at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Columbus
University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center Cleveland
West Chester Hospital West Chester

Part Six Continuing Education Requirements 

Like most other states, Ohio requires continuing education for nurses to maintain an active license. The continuing education requirements for nurses and nurse volunteers in Ohio are as follows:

Registered Nurses (RN)

For the period immediately following licensure by exam, a nurse who holds an active license to practice nursing in Ohio is not required to complete any contact hours of CE for the first renewal.

After the first renewal, RNs must complete at least 24 contact hours of CE during each licensure period to renew a license. A nurse who has been licensed in Ohio by reciprocity for less than or equal to one year must complete 12 contact hours. For every renewal, at least one of the 24 contact hours must be related to Chapter 4723 of the Ohio nurse practice code and rules (Category A).

A list of Board-approved CE providers for Category A courses can be found here.

Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN)

For the period immediately following licensure by exam, a nurse who holds an active license to practice nursing in Ohio is not required to complete any contact hours of CE for the first renewal.

After the first renewal, LPNs must complete at least 24 contact hours of CE during each licensing period to renew a license. A nurse who has been licensed in Ohio by reciprocity for less than or equal to one year must complete 12 contact hours. For every renewal, at least one of the 24 contact hours must be Category A.

Volunteer Certificate for an LPN, RN or APRN

A Volunteer Certificate holder must complete at least 24 contact hours of CE during each certificate period. At least one of the 24 contact hours must be Category A.

For further information on continuing education units including finding, paying, and getting credit for your courses, see the Continuing Education Guide.

Part Seven Best Nursing Schools In Ohio

According to the 2021 U.S. News & World Report Ohio State University (OSU) currently ranks 9th (tied) in the MSN and 18th (tied) for the DNP programs. While there are other outstanding nursing programs, OSU has continually been recognized as one of the top in the country. 

Other top programs recognized are Case Western Reserve University and University of Cincinnati.

Case Western University is ranked as follows: 

13 (tie): Best Nursing Schools: MSN

12 (tie): Best Nursing Schools: DNP

University of Cincinnati is slightly lower on the list:

#39 (tie): Best Nursing Schools: MSN

#47 (tie): Best Nursing Schools: DNP

NICHE, a website containing information on over 250,000 schools across the United States, has collected over one million reviews including data on BSN programs throughout Ohio. These reviews and survey analyses were placed into a comprehensive report. According to the 2022 NICHE Best Colleges in America, the following were the top five for BSN programs throughout the state of Ohio.

  1. Ohio University
  2. The Christ College of Nursing & Health Sciences
  3. Case Western Reserve University
  4. Mount Carmel College of Nursing
  5. University of Cincinnati

Although rankings are a good way to get a headstart into your research, it’s up to you to find the program of study that fits your needs, lifestyle, and budget. As long as your program of choice is State Board-approved and you work hard, you will be well prepared for your licensing exam.

Part Eight Nursing Labor Unions in Ohio

In Ohio, right-to-work laws, which aim to protect the rights of non-union workers, do not exist. Chances are, if you plan to work as an RN in Ohio, you might become part of a major union. These include:

ONA, Ohio Nurses Association, is the largest nursing union in Ohio. Established in 1904, over 180,000 nurses are represented by this union. The ONA works as a collective voice to ensure that nurses throughout the state are receiving fair wages and benefits, have proper collective bargaining tools, and represent in times of need. Ohio Nurses Association is unique in that it works to empower the nurses within the union and set forth change by example. One benefit of the ONA is that it specifically deals with nurses in Ohio. 

National Nurses United, NNU, is a nationwide nurses union that organizes and represents nurses throughout the country. Founded in 2009, NNU claims it is the most active and progressive nursing union in the U.S. With more than 150,000 members in every state it represents, it is the largest union and professional association of registered nurses. 

Part Nine Nursing Jobs In Ohio

As a skilled nurse, you are in control of your career. Check out the featured listings below or search thousands of job listings on our job board and get the pay and career path you deserve.

Search thousands more listings on the nation’s #1 job board for nurses. 

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