Resource Center: The Complete Guide to Nursing in Wisconsin

Published: June 15, 2020  Updated: May 17, 2023

If you’re interested in becoming a nurse in Wisconsin—or if you’re looking for nursing resources in the state—you’re in the right place. This page lists everything you need to know about nursing in the Badger State, including job outlook, nursing organizations, scholarships and more. Plus, explore online nursing programs for residents of Wisconsin.

smiling nurse with senior woman at a retirement home

Become a Nurse in Wisconsin

Nurses are in a unique position to make a difference in the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities.

To become a nurse in Wisconsin, you must complete an approved nursing education program and pass the licensing examination before obtaining a license.

As a nurse in Wisconsin, you may choose to pursue a nursing specialty or earn an advanced degree. The following sections include more information about Wisconsin nursing licenses and nursing jobs in Wisconsin.

How to Apply for a Nursing License in Wisconsin

To apply for a nursing license in Wisconsin by examination, you must complete and submit an application. The application requires the following:

  • Completed application: Fill out and submit the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) Application for Registered Nurse (RN)/Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), plus any necessary documentation and fees.
  • Statement of graduation and/or official transcripts: If you attend an in-state and Wisconsin Board-approved school, your school of nursing must submit a statement of graduation or completion. If you graduated from a nursing program outside of Wisconsin but within the United States, your school of nursing must send your official transcripts to the Wisconsin Board of Nursing.
  • NCLEX-RN® registration: Register for and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). It’s recommended that you register for the NCLEX-RN exam before your school sends your statement of graduation or official transcripts.
  • Temporary permit: Exam applicants must submit a temporary permit request application and $10 fee. Your temporary permit will be valid for 3 months or until you are notified of failing the NCLEX-RN exam.
  • Authorization for release of FBI information: Applicants must pass a criminal background check. The Authorization for Release of FBI Information must be submitted if you’re applying for a multistate license.
  • Fingerprints: You’ll receive instructions regarding how to get digital fingerprints after the Wisconsin DSPS has received your Authorization for Release of FBI information.

If you attend an in-state or out-of-state nursing school approved by the Wisconsin Board of Nursing, you can use the Online Licensure Application System (OLAS) to submit your Wisconsin nursing license application. Otherwise, you can mail your application to the Wisconsin State Board of Nursing.

Note that applicants who did not graduate from a U.S. nursing program have different requirements. For more information about how to apply for a Wisconsin nursing license, visit the Wisconsin DSPS page.

See Notes and Conditions below for important information.

Is Wisconsin a Member of the Nurse Licensure Compact?

Yes. Wisconsin is a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). The NLC makes it easier to practice nursing in Wisconsin and other NLC-participating states. When you have a multistate nursing license, you can skip the hassle of paying multiple renewal fees and going through a lengthy application process each time you move to a new state.

How to Look up a Nursing License in Wisconsin

You can look up a nursing license using the state’s free credential/license search tool. This is helpful if you’re looking for a Wisconsin nurse registry to check your license’s information or someone else’s.

Continuing Education Requirements

There aren’t any continuing education (CE) requirements for RNs or LPNs in Wisconsin.

Demand for Nurses in Wisconsin

The job outlook for nurses in Wisconsin is bright, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The agency projects that employment of registered nurses (RNs) in Wisconsin will grow 4% through 2030, adding an estimated 3,670 jobs a year.

Wisconsin State Board
of Nursing

Email for questions:
Phone: 608-266-2112

Address: Board of Nursing, DSPS, PO Box 8366, Madison, WI 53708-8366

Wisconsin Licensing Agency
for Nurses

Nurses in Wisconsin are licensed by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS).

Email for general credentialing questions:
Email list for specific health professions:
Phone: 608-266-2112
Hours: 7:45 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday
Walk-up counter hours (Madison office only): 7:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Monday – Friday

Address: 4822 Madison Yards Way, Madison, WI 53705

See Notes and Conditions below for important information.

Top Health Care Employers in Wisconsin

Below are some of the top health care employers in Wisconsin, according to the list regularly compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor. Explore each site’s career page to find nursing jobs in Wisconsin that interest you.

Nursing Organizations and Scholarships in Wisconsin

Professional Organizations for Nurses in Wisconsin

Specialty Nursing Organizations in Wisconsin

Nursing Scholarships for Wisconsin Residents

Online Nursing Programs: Wisconsin

Are you ready to further your nursing career? Purdue University Northwest (PNW) College of Nursing offers a flexible online RN-to-BSN program and online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program made to work with your busy schedule. If you want to earn a nursing degree in Wisconsin, expand your nursing skills and gain practical knowledge, request more information today.


For informational purposes only. Students should confirm stated information independently on their own.

Sample of employment and nursing scholarships listed above is for general reference and does not include all available sources. Purdue Northwest is not affiliated with and does not endorse any of the providers listed in the sample.

NCLEX Exam: NCLEX is a registered trademark of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc.

Job Growth Projections: Source: U.S. Department of Labor, O*Net, Wisconsin Employment Trends for Registered Nurses