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Things to Do With a Nursing Degree Without a License

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The time and dedication required to finish nursing school often pays off in the end. Sometimes, you may put in the hard work and not be able to obtain a license. If this is the case, don’t panic. There are other positions available that allow you to care for patients or work with the public while utilizing your nursing knowledge.

Reasons for Not Getting License

After graduating from an accredited licensed practical or registered nursing program, the next step is to apply for your nursing license through the state board of nursing. At this time, you also report any and all criminal convictions, chemical dependencies, and functional ability deficits, as stated by the All Nursing Schools website. The board of nursing then gives you permission to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) exam. If you fail to pass the exam or fail to meet the board’s requirements, you are not eligible to get your license.

Nursing Assistant

Working as a nursing assistant is an option to still provide patient care if you have your degree but no license. Most states allow you to sit for the nursing assistant certification exam after completing the majority of your nursing education. You generally submit proof of your clinical training along with a copy of your college transcripts along with the exam application. Contact the licensing and certification division in your state for details.

A Career in Sales

A degree in nursing leaves you with a great deal of medical knowledge, including the understanding pharmacology. Putting the knowledge to use as a sales representative is an option if you are unable to obtain your nursing license. Pharmaceutical companies and medical supply companies hire representatives who distribute information about their products to doctors, hospitals and other medical professionals.

Additional Options

Several positions are available in nursing research with textbook companies and through other venues, like magazines, blogs and nursing information websites. Also, after completing nursing school, your state may allow you to take the phlebotomy certification exam. This allows you to take blood and start intravenous therapy on patients in a blood donor center or work in a laboratory setting. Check local job boards at the hospital and your local health department for positions, such as family planning or medical records, that may not require a license as well.


Amanda Maddox began writing professionally in 2007. Her work appears on various websites focusing on topics about medical billing, coding, real estate, insurance, accounting and business. Maddox has her insurance and real estate licenses and holds an Associate of Applied Science in accounting and business administration from Wallace State Community College.

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