Resource Center: The Complete Guide to Nursing in Wisconsin

Published: June 15, 2020

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.

smiling nurse with senior woman at a retirement home

How to Become a Nurse in Wisconsin

Here are the necessary steps to become a nurse in Wisconsin:

  1. Complete a nursing school program.
  2. Register for and pass the NCLEX examination.
  3. Obtain a Wisconsin nursing license.
  4. Procure a nursing job in Wisconsin.

Once you are 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:

  • Competed application: Finish the Wisconsin DSPS’ Application for Registered Nurse/Licensed Practical Nurse Licensure.
  • Application fee: NCLEX exam applicants must include the applicable fee.
  • Statement of graduation 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 U.S., your school of nursing must send your official transcripts to the Wisconsin Board of Nursing.
  • NCLEX registration: Register for and pass the NCLEX examination. It’s recommended that you register for the NCLEX 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 three months or until you are notified of failing the NCLEX exam.
  • Authorization for release of FBI information: 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 states. When you have a multistate licensure, 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 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 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 8% from 2018 to 2028 — faster than the average for all occupations — adding an estimated 3,600 jobs a year.

Wisconsin State Board
of Nursing

Email: Valerie Payne, Executive Director:
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).

Phone: 608-266-2112
Hours: 7:45 a.m. - 4:30 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 based on the U.S. Department of Labor’s list of the state’s largest employers. 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

Earn a Nursing Degree in Wisconsin

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


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