October 11, 2017
Sunset in downtown city in Georgia

Considering a nursing career in Georgia? Here's everything you need to know about being a nurse in the Peach State.

Part One Why Work In Georgia?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell metro area enjoy some of the highest employment levels in the nation. 

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Although Georgia nurses earn a moderate salary compared to other states, the cost of living is among the lowest in the U.S. 

Apart from the job market for nurses, Georgia is known for its safe neighborhoods, great sports teams, festivals, and warm, southern hospitality. 

If Georgia seems like it might be the right fit for you, read on to learn more. 

Part Two Demand and Outlook

Georgia currently has a very high demand for nurses. The state is currently experiencing a severe shortage due to a fairly rapidly-growing population, and an increase in the retirement of older nurses.

It’s also one of the few states still projected to have a shortage of nurses in the foreseeable future. As such, many travel nursing agencies have scores of openings in the state. See some of them on our job board.

Jacqueline Herd, chief nursing officer at Grady Health System in Atlanta says, “Those of us who have been in practice for a while have seen nursing shortages come and go. However, this is expected to be the worst ever.” 

Part Three Salary & Benefits

The Bureau of Labor Statistics most recent data reports an average annual salary of $69,590 for Registered Nurses in Georgia, with a range of $49,910 to $95,600. Average hourly wage is reported to be $33.46 per hour. Here’s a breakdown of average nursing salaries in Georgia:

Salaries By Practice Level

Practice Level Hourly Avg Annual Avg Annual Range
Registered Nurses $33.46 $69,590 $49,910 - 95,600
Nurse Anesthetists $83.80 $174,310 $137,140 - 191,040
Nurse Midwives $47.33 $98,440 $54,980 - 132,020
Nurse Practitioners $50.80 $105,670 $76,410 - 140,620
LPNs and LVNs $20.47 $42,570 $31,390 - $56,240

Metropolitan areas tend to pay more than non-metropolitan areas. Here are the highest paying cities for nurses in Georgia:

Highest Paying Cities For Georgia Nurses

Metro Area Hourly Avg Annual Mean Wage
Augusta-Richmond County $33.37 $69,400
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell $35.39 $73,610
Hinesville $33.61 $69,900
Savannah $30.80 $64,060
Rome $32.06 $66,690
Macon $32.22 $67,010
Athens-Clark County $32.97 $68,590
Columbus $30.05 $62,500
Warner Robins $31.24 $64,980
Dalton $30.08 $62,570
Brunswick $25.58 $53,200
Valdosta $30.57 $63,590

Pay varies by source of employment (outpatient vs inpatient setting), specialty area, ASN vs BSN degree, and geographical location. Typically, nurses work 3 12-hour shifts in a hospital setting or 4 10-hour shifts for outpatient centers. Georgia nurses who work 12 hours shifts (unless in the ED) typically work straight nights or straight days, rotating shifts are not common. 

Overtime is typically available to nurses by hourly rate past 40 hours/week. Due to the nursing shortage, it is common for hospitals to offer sign-on bonuses for specialty nurses for relocation to Georgia (up to $10,000). End-of-year bonuses and raises for nurses are often based on individual or facility performance as a percentage of annual salary.  


Benefits are available for Full-Time Registered Nurses, not typically Part-Time or Per Diem employment. For FT RN’s, benefits packages include the options of enrolling in health insurance, life insurance, short-term and long-term disability, dental, vision, cancer, and 401k retirement savings.

Benefits also often include discounts or assistance with child-care whether through the healthcare facility or associated third party.

Georgia does not have specific parental leave laws, so most RN’s use short-term disability insurance to cover maternity leave.  However, Georgia has the Family Care Act often referred to as the “Kin Care” law which dictates that employers that offer paid sick leave must permit all employees to use the leave privelege for the care of immediate family members, not just personal illness or injury.

Part Four Georgia State Board Of Nursing

The Georgia Board of Nursing licenses, monitors, disciplines, educates and, when appropriate, rehabilitates its licensees to assure competence in providing health care services for the people of Georgia. 

Contact Information




The Georgia Board of Nursing receives administrative support from the Professional Licensing Boards Division of the Office of Secretary of State Brian P. Kemp.  

You may contact the call center for the Professional Licensing Boards Division at 478-207-2440 or 844-753-7825.  Select “Option One” for the Board of Nursing.

A call center agent will provide assistance to you and escalate the call to the Board staff if necessary.


You may fax information to 877-371-5712.  Please note that this is a digital fax system and immediate confirmation of the receipt of documents is not possible.  Please allow up to ten business days for correspondence to be processed.


You may mail information to:

Georgia Board of Nursing
237 Coliseum Drive
Macon, Georgia 31217


You may email information to nursing@sos.ga.gov.  Please allow up to ten business days for correspondence to be processed.

Part Five Georgia Nursing Licenses

As a current member of the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC), Georgia issues nursing licenses that are valid in many other states. These include:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Florida 
  • Georgia 
  • Idaho 
  • Iowa 
  • Kentucky 
  • Maine 
  • Maryland 
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi 
  • Missouri 
  • Montana
  • Nebraska 
  • New Jersey
  • New Hampshire 
  • North Carolina 
  • North Dakota 
  • Oklahoma 
  • South Carolina 
  • South Dakota 
  • Tennessee 
  • Texas 
  • Utah 
  • Virginia 
  • West Virginia 
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

*States with pending eNLC legislation

If you don’t live in a compact state, or you’re applying for your first nursing license, you have two options:

  • Licensure By Exam (first-license)
  • Licensure By Endorsement (out-of-state transfer)

Most applications are processed through the Georgia Board of Nursing online portal, but you may also submit paper applications by mail, but expect longer processing times.

RN and LPN by Examination

Graduates of Traditional Nursing Education Programs In Georgia

For in-state graduates of Georgia Board of Nursing Approved Schools, follow these steps:

  1. Register with Pearson Vue (www.pearsonvue.com/nclex). Use the same name when registering as the one you’ll use to apply for licensure.
  2. Register with COGENT Systems for fingerprinting and criminal background check. (www.ga.cogentid.com). 
  3. Submit the following online or by mail:
    Completed application
    Non-refundable application fee of $40.00
    Completed criminal background check
    Any other additional information requested by the Board
    Note: Graduates from Georgia Board of Nursing Approved Schools in the State of Georgia are not required to submit transcripts as part of the application process.

Graduates of out-of-state nursing education programs

Nursing students from other states must apply for licensure by submitting a paper application

  1. Register with Pearson Vue (www.pearsonvue.com/nclex). Use the same name when registering as the one you’ll use to apply for licensure.
  2. Register with COGENT Systems for fingerprinting and criminal background check. (www.ga.cogentid.com). 
  3. Submit a completed licensure by examination paper application by mail and include a request for accommodations (if applicable) and other documents noted below.

Nursing Application Forms

Here are the forms you will need to complete:

RN Licensure By Exam Paper Application (must be completed, signed, and notarized)

Completed Criminal Background Check (Fingerprint card)

Request for Accommodations (for those with documented disabilities)

Other Documents You Must Provide

Official transcripts from your nursing education program. You may submit as part of your application or have them sent electronically to  nursing@sos.ga.gov. Nursing education programs must meet the requirements of O.C.G.A. §43-26-2(1.2)

Certified copies of documents relating to any previous arrests and discipline by regulatory boards. These should be the official documents showing the final disposition of the incident as well as a detailed letter regarding each incident.

Secure and verifiable documentation regarding your United States citizenship status. This may include but is not limited to: a copy of your driver’s license, United States passport, or green card. See a complete list of secure and verifiable documents on the Board’s website: sos.ga.gov/admin/files/svd2013.pdf

Total Fees (as of Oct 2017):

  • $200 for cost of examination to Pearson VUE, Testing Vendor
  • $40 for application and licensing fee to Georgia Board of Nursing
  • Cost varies by fingerprinting service provider

RN Licensure by Endorsement

Nurses from states outside the Nurse Licensure Compact must apply for licensure by endorsement in order to practice in Georgia. Those seeking this type of licensure must have completed one of the following:

  • Graduation from a nursing education program within four years of the date of application OR
  • 500 hours of practice as a registered nurse within the four years preceding the date of application

Here are the steps to obtain licensure by endorsement in Georgia:

  1. Complete the paper application: RN Licensure by Endorsement Application
  2. Submit verifications of licensure for your original and current state of licensure. If your state utilizes Nursys.com for verification, make the request through Nursys. Paper verifications are only accepted from jurisdictions that do not provide verifications through Nursys.
  3. Submit official transcripts from your nursing education program which led to your initial licensure.
  4. Have your employer complete and notarize the “Verification of Employment” form found in the Endorsement Application.
  5. Provide certified documents relating to any previous arrests and disciplinary action that show the final disposition of the incident as well as a personal, detailed letter of explanation regarding each incident.
  6. Provide secure and verifiable documentation regarding United State citizenship status. This may include but is not limited to: a copy of your driver’s license, United States passport, or green card. See a complete list of secure and verifiable documents on the Board’s website: sos.ga.gov/admin/files/svd2013.pdf
  7. Have your completed and signed application notarized.
  8. Complete a criminal background check.
  9. Put your completed application and other documents into a 9x12 envelope. Do not fold or staple any of the documents.
  10. Mail the completed application and documents to:

    Georgia Board of Nursing
    237 Coliseum Drive
    Macon, GA 31217

Total Fees for Licensure by Endorsement (As of Oct 2017):

  • $75 for application and licensing fee to the Georgia Board of Nursing
  • Cost varies by Livescan Service Provider

How long does it take for an application to be processed? 

The Georgia Board of Nursing website states that applications are reviewed on a first-in/first-out basis which typically takes less than 15 business days. 

Submitting a complete application packet with all necessary documents will ensure the most efficient processing time.

License Renewal

Nursing Licenses in Georgia are renewed every two years. All renewals are completed through the online portal. To renew your license, you must complete the continuing education requirements as noted in the Continuing Education section and upload proof of completion to CEBroker.com.

Here are the steps to renewing your license:

  1. Register with CE Broker to create your free account and upload documentation of completion of one of the five continuing competency options.  Click here for instructions on creating your free account with CE Broker.
  2. Use your User ID and Password to log into the online renewal system.  Please note, if you do not have a User ID and Password you may click on the links to register.  You may also reset your User ID and Password by clicking on the appropriate links and following the onscreen directions.
  3. Once you have logged into the renewal website you will see a summary of your license information.  Click on the “Renew License” button from the menu on the left-hand side of the page.
  4. Select the license you would like to renew and click “Continue.”  Please note, you must renew each license or authorization individually.  Also, if you are an advanced practice registered nurse, please renew your registered nursing license first and then return to the renewal site to complete the renewal process for your advanced practice authorization.
  5. Please carefully read the instructions regarding any required renewal documentation.  Once you have read all instructions select the link “Click here to begin” and proceed with your renewal application.  You will be asked to complete a short survey to provide the Board and other stakeholders with workforce data.
  6. Update your person and license demographic information.  Please review the information carefully and ensure that you update your email address as well.
  7. Read and answer all renewal questions carefully.
  8. Review the transaction summary to ensure all demographic information is provided and all renewal questions have been answered correctly.
  9. Enter your payment information using the instructions provided.
  10. Print a copy of the receipt for your records. Visit the Board’s website and use the “Licensure Search” feature to verify that your license status is “Active” and your license expiration date has been updated.
    If your renewal is not completed within five business days please contact the Professional Licensing Boards Call Center at 478-207-2440 and select Option Remember, please keep a copy of all documentation that you submit to the Board.

Part Six Top Nursing Programs in Georgia

Considering furthering your nursing education in Georgia? Our panel of registered nurses reviewed nursing programs across the state based on their reputation, NCLEX pass rate, tuition, and accreditation status. See the top 10 listed below, and get additional details in our Top 10 Best Nursing Schools in Georgia guide.  

  1. Georgia Southwestern State University
  2. Emory University
  3. Georgia State University
  4. Mercer University
  5. Augusta University
  6. University of West Georgia
  7. Columbus State University
  8. Kennesaw State University
  9. Georgia College & State University
  10. Georgia Southern University

Part Seven Best Hospitals For Nurses

Nurse.org analyzed 1,579 surveys of nurses from 130 hospitals in Georgia to rank the best hospitals to work for in the state of Georgia.

Top hospitals to work in Georgia in 2017 badge

1. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite Hospital

Atlanta, GA

4.6 Average Rating
100% Recommended

“Everyone is here to help you succeed and provide excellent care to our patients and there isn’t a judgment for not knowing something.”

“The nurses are very helpful to one another. It’s a great team environment and that’s huge for success in our department.”

“Most of the nurses there are passionate about helping kids. It helps make a great company culture.”

Read Reviews

2. Tanner Medical Center

Carrollton, GA

4.3 Average Rating
100% Recommended

“The people who work there are very accepting and love to teach.”

“Great teamwork, friendly staff, and a great environment to work in.”

“They seem to care about the nursing staff.”

Read Reviews

3. Northeast Georgia Medical Center Gainesville

Gainesville, GA

4.3 Average Rating
97% Recommended

“They value their nurses. Doctors are easy to work with and they let you do self scheduling.”

“You will be working in a team environment.”

Read Reviews

4. Piedmont Fayette Hospital

Fayetteville, GA

4.3 Average Rating
95% Recommended

“Management is very approachable and helpful.”

“The culture of [the] unit is very positive and uplifting.”

“Great team work on night shift and good support from charge nurses.”

Read Reviews

5. Colquitt Regional Medical Center

Moultrie, GA

4.2 Average Rating
100% Recommended

“Real family environment with special emphasis on excellent patient care. Great benefits!”

“They try to make feel the staff appreciated.”

“Everyone helps each other as a team. No bullying is acceptable at our hospital.”

Read Reviews

See the complete list of best hospitals in Georgia as voted by nurses here.

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Part Eight Magnet Hospitals in Georgia 

The American Nurses’ Credentialing Center (ANCC) awards hospitals who demonstrate a high degree of quality nursing, according to set standards, with the Magnet status.

Nurses who work at Magnet hospitals report higher job satisfaction, fewer injuries and more opportunities for advancement. These hospitals represent some of the most renowned facilities in the country, which also means that they have a highly competitive hiring process that only selects the best of the best. 

Hospital City
Atlanta VA Medical Center Decatur
Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital Atlanta
Emory University Hospital Atlanta
Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital Tucker
Saint Joseph’s/Candler Hospital Savannah
The Medical Center, Navicent Health Macon
University Hospital Augusta

Part Nine Continuing Education Requirements

Continuing Education is a condition of license renewal for Georgia nurses. Proof of continuing education completion must be uploaded to CEBroker.com. Instructions for creating an account and uploading your documents can be found on the Board of Nursing’s website.

To meet Georgia’s continuing education requirements, registered nurses have the following options:

Option One

Completion of thirty (30)continuing education hours by a Board-approved provider

Option Two

Maintenance of certification or recertification by a national certifying body recognized by the Board.

Option Three

Completion of an accredited academic program of study in nursing or a related field as recognized by the Board.

Option Four

Verification of competency by a health care facility or entity or by a physician’s office that is part of a health system and at least five hundred (500) hours practiced as evidenced by employer certification.

Option Five

Completion of a Board approved reentry program or graduation from a nursing education program. Reentry programs are also known as refresher programs. 

Part Ten Labor Unions

Georgia is a right to work state which means no one can be forced to join a union as a condition of employment.

Labor unions are not common practice in Georgia and there can be pervasive anti-union sentiment. That said, the biggest active union nation-wide is National Nurses United (NNU).

Related: Pros/Cons of Nursing Unions 

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