Traveler Tips//April 07, 2022

How to Get a California Nursing License


Next Move is thrilled to announce we’ve expanded and are now staffing in the great state of  C-A-L-I-F-O-R-N-I-A! Yahoo!

If you don’t hold a California nursing license – it can take anywhere from 5-15 weeks  to obtain a California Nursing License (depending on the type of license you desire) – and there is no time like the present to get started!

Here’s what you need to know: 

How to Get a California Nursing License?

picture of palm trees with the words

If you do not have a California state nursing license – here are some things you need to know:

  • California is not a compact state
  • You will need a California state nursing license to practice nursing in this big, bad, beautiful state
  • Getting a California state nursing license is not as hard as you might think

How to Get a California State Nursing License

Getting a California state nursing license is not as hard as you might think and if it has always been your dream to travel nurse in the Golden State – here is how to get there:

First Step: Fingerprints

Probably the biggest barrier to getting your California licensure application started,  is getting your fingerprints taken. The California Board of Nursing won’t process any licensure application until AFTER fingerprints are received.

If you’re physically located in California,  you can get fingerprinted by “Livescan” which will speed up the process a whole bunch.  Otherwise you’ll need to request a “hard card,” which the Board will send to you for free. Then it’s up to you to go get fingerprinted (which you can normally have taken care of at your local Police Station).

See link for more information on getting fingerprinted:

Cost: $49
Time to Process: 2-4 weeks to process fingerprint results

Second Step: Get a California State Nursing License by Endorsement

Non-compact states will often have a path to licensure that includes a nursing licensure by state endorsement. To qualify for endorsement an RN will:

  • Need to have an active nursing license
  • Provide license verification either though an official document or online at (If you have already taken an acceptable licensing exam (e.g., NCLEX), you will not be required to do so again.)

Every state will have their own application process for licensure by endorsement. For a rather thorough, step-by-step guide for how to apply for a license by endorsement in California, check out this helpful PDF created by the California Board of Nursing!

Cost: $350
Time to Process: 10-12 weeks

Third Step: Get a Temporary California State Nursing License

If ten to twelve weeks (the amount of time to acquire a California state nursing license by endorsement) sounds like a lifetime to you, and two to three weeks sounds a whole lot better, you can apply for a temporary California State nursing license.

One thing to note – In order for your temporary California nursing license to process you will need to have an application in for licensure by endorsement. A temporary license is not available on its own. You do need to apply for both. But two to three weeks is sure a heck ton better than ten to twelve!

Cost: $100
Time to Process: 2-3 weeks

Q&A: Getting a California Nursing License

Question: How long does it take to get a license by endorsement?
Answer: 10-12 weeks

Question: How long does it take to get a temporary California nursing license?
Answer: 2-3 weeks.

Please Note: An application for a temporary California nursing license will not be processed unless you can provide a copy of your application for licensure by endorsement. It is not possible to solely  obtain a temporary nursing license in the state of California.

Question: How much does a nursing license by endorsement cost?
Answer: $350

Question: How much does a temporary California nursing license cost?
Answer: $100

Question: How much experience do I need to apply for licensure by endorsement?
Answer: In general, you’ll need at least 320 hours of employment in a nursing capacity within the last two years. But to travel nurse, specifically, you’ll need at least 2-years of nursing experience within your specialty.

Question: Do travel nurse agencies reimburse these licensing fees?
Answer: Well, the good ones will reimburse you for your licensing fees! And the best ones guide you through the entire process of obtaining your licensure by endorsement so you don’t have to figure it all out by yourself. Next Move does both!

Please Note: Next Move will reimburse California licensure fees for any RN that accepts a contract with us and wasn’t previously licensed in California.


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