Pathways for Nigerians to become highly paid nurses in the United States 

The nursing profession in Nigeria is a vital component of the healthcare system, providing essential services and care across various medical settings.  

However, the sector faces several challenges, including limited resources, inadequate training facilities, and the migration of skilled nurses to more developed countries in search of better opportunities.  

The allure of a lucrative career in nursing in the United States has captivated many Nigerian nurses and aspiring healthcare professionals.

The U.S. offers not only competitive salaries but also a wealth of opportunities for professional growth and development.  

For a Nigerian nurse looking to transition to the U.S., or for someone in Nigeria aspiring to start a career in nursing, understanding the necessary steps and associated costs is crucial.  

This feature story explores these pathways that Nigerians can take to become lucrative nurses in the United States.  

Transitioning from a Nigerian nurse to a U.S. nurse 

Nigerian nurses typically hold a diploma or degree in nursing from an accredited institution.  

However, to practice in the U.S., one must have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or an equivalent degree.  

Nurses who possess a diploma or an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) are advised to enrol in a bridging program to obtain a BSN.  

Those with a bachelor’s degree in Nursing are to apply for a nursing license in the preferred state in the U.S, where they plan to work.  

  • Before applying for licensure in the U.S., your nursing credentials must be evaluated to ensure they meet American standards.  
  • The Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) is one of the agencies that offers credential evaluation services for Nigerians.  
  • This process involves submitting your academic transcripts including secondary school transcripts, and proof of your nursing license. The evaluation by the CGFNS costs $485. 
  • Proficiency in English is mandatory. Nigerian nurses need to pass an English language proficiency test such as the TOEFL or IELTS. The cost of these tests is $250. 
  • The National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) is an exam that assesses your readiness to practice nursing in the U.S. Nurses from Nigeria need to pass this exam to obtain a U.S. license. The exam costs $200.  

Each U.S. state has its nursing board, and every nurse must apply for a license in the state where they plan to work.  

This process involves submitting your credential evaluation report, proof of English proficiency, and passing the NCLEX-RN. Licensing fees vary by state but typically range from $100 to $300. 

Nigerian nurses would then apply and obtain a visa to work in the U.S.  

Starting a nursing career from scratch 

Nigerians who wish to practice nursing but haven’t studied nursing have two options. They can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in an accredited Nigerian university and follow the pathway for transitioning.  

The second option is to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the United States. After completing your education in the U.S., you take the NCLEX-RN exam to obtain your license.  

Pathway to becoming a lucrative or highly paid U.S. nurse 

To become a lucrative or highly paid nurse in the United States, you must specialise in a high-demand field such as critical care, anaesthesia, nurse midwifery, oncology, paediatrics, psychiatry, emergency nursing.  

All specialisations in nursing require you to either obtain a master’s degree, doctoral degree or 1-2 years of certification and training in the speciality of your choice.  

The estimated salaries of specialist nurses range from $70,000-$150,000 per annum, depending on the competitiveness of the speciality.  

  • Nigerian nurses who have successfully transitioned to the United States and obtained a nursing license in a state in the U.S. must work as registered nurses to gain practical experience for at least a year.  
  • To become a lucrative nurse, you must enroll in a Master’s or Doctoral program in the United States, specific to your chosen specialty. 
  • Obtain certification from relevant bodies like the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or specialty-specific organizations. 
  • Nurses are encouraged to engage in continuous education to maintain certification.  

What you should know  

Nursing in Nigeria is regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN), which sets the standards for education, practice, and professional conduct.  

Despite the critical role nurses play in the healthcare system, the profession is often plagued by low wages, poor working conditions, and a lack of career advancement opportunities.  

These issues contribute to a high turnover rate and the continuous search for better prospects abroad. 

In response to the growing trend of nurse migration, the Nigerian government implemented a rule mandating that nurses must obtain at least two years of clinical experience within Nigeria before they are eligible to practice abroad.  

This policy aims to ensure that the local healthcare system retains experienced professionals who can provide quality care and contribute to the development of the sector. 

This rule has garnered mixed reactions. On the one hand, it helps maintain a stable workforce in the country, ensuring that new graduates gain practical experience and contribute to the local healthcare system before considering opportunities abroad.  

On the other hand, it is seen as a hindrance by many aspiring nurses eager to move to countries like the United States, where they can earn significantly higher salaries and enjoy better working conditions. 



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