Skip to main content

How to work as a registered nurse in the UK, US and Australia

Are you interested in working as a nurse overseas? With the right qualifications, your passion for nursing could help you begin a new chapter in Australia, the US, or the UK.

In this guide, we’ll learn about what you’ll need to do to work as a registered nurse in each country, as well as what employment opportunities waiting for you abroad. Let’s explore:  


Nursing in Australia: requirements 

Australia is a beautiful country to live, work, and study in. It boasts quality education, a relatively affordable cost of living, and breathtaking beaches. Even more, healthcare in the country is world-class. Back in 2017, researchers at the Commonwealth Fund based in New York ranked Australia’s healthcare system as the second-best among developed countries – beating places like Canada, Norway, and New Zealand.

For this reason, the requirements for a registered nurse in Australia are quite strict. The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) oversee the registration of internationally qualified nurses and midwives in the country.

There is a lengthy list of things you’ll have to do before being able to register as a nurse and emigrate to Australia. Both NMBA and AHPRA will review whether you meet the edibility requirements.

When you first apply to register the NMBA will investigate:  

  • How proficient you are in English 

  • How recently you practiced nursing

  • Your professional indemnity insurance arrangements

  • If you have a criminal record

Additionally, they will review your qualifications to see if they line up with those of Australian nurses. You’ll then have to write an exam. If successful, you’ll then be able to register as a nurse or midwife. 

After this, you can apply to immigrate to Australia. ANMAC reviews whether you have the experience needed to apply to migrate under the Australian Government’s General Skilled Migration Program. You can learn more about that here. For official information on how to register as a nurse or midwife in Australia, visit NMBA’s website.  

Where to look for work 

At the current rate, Australia will have a shortage of 109,000 nurses by 2025 – meaning there could plenty of opportunities for nurses from abroad. To find a position, Nursing Jobs Australia is a great website to visit. You can also search for jobs on employment sites like Indeed or Seek.

To learn more about what it’s like to be a nurse in Australia, visit the government website Job Outlook. It offers advice, explores sought-after skills, and outlines job prospects across the country.  


Nursing in the UK: requirements 

Did you know that in the UK 94% of nursing students get a job within six months of graduation? Nursing in the UK is an incredibly sought-after skill, making it a wonderful place to work for international nurses, as well.  

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) oversees registering nurses in the UK. On their website, they offer a personalized tool that helps you discover exactly what you’ll need to register – and if you’re eligible.  

To apply, you’ll have to: 

  • Complete an eligibility and qualification application, where you’ll need to include a copy of your nursing certificate. 

  • Take the Test of Competence. There are two parts to the test: the CBT and OSCE. The CBT is a computer-based multiple-choice exam, while the OSCE is a practical test that assesses your skills in a clinical setting. 

  • Complete a  registration application, where you’ll have to supply information about things like your health, character (including a police certificate), and English-language proficiency. 

It takes about 30 days to hear if you’ve been successful. 

To work in the UK, you can apply for a Health and Care Worker visa. This allows you to work with the NHS, which is the UK’s publicly funded healthcare system.  You can also apply for a Skilled Worker visa. Nursing is on the UK’s Shortage Occupation List, which gives you an advantage when applying.  

Where to look for work 

There has long been a nurse shortage in the UK; in fact, about 15% of nurses in the UK are trained abroad. A great website to check out for jobs is You can begin to look for work on popular UK employment websites like Reed or Jobsite.  

Nursing in the US: requirements 

There are more than 3.8 million registered nurses working in the US; in fact, nurses make up the biggest part of the country’s healthcare workforce. So, how can international nurses get their qualifications recognized?

In the US, each state has its own Board of Nursing, so it’s a smart idea to choose where in the country you want to work before applying. Not each state follows the same process, but many of the requirements are similar. To register as a nurse, you’ll likely have to: 

  • Get your credentials reviewed by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS), which is a non-profit that evaluates people’s healthcare qualifications to ensure they are in line with US standards.

  • Write an English-language proficiency test

  • Take the CGFNS’ Qualifying Exam, which assesses your theoretical nursing knowledge. Some states require this test to sit your final exam.

  • Sit the final NCLEX-RN exam, which is run by The National Council of State Boards of Nursing

  • Apply for licensure with your state board. 


Where to look for work 

The US government estimates there will be more than 200,000 registered nursing positions created each year between 2016-2016. To find work, we recommend searching through websites like NurseRecruiter and Once you have a job offer, your employer can sponsor you for an occupational visa (such as an H-1B visa). 

Being a qualified nurse makes you highly employable. And while registering as a nurse can be a multi-step process, it’s a fantastic opportunity to start a new chapter of your life abroad.  


Our English language proficiency test, PTE Academic, is fast, fair, and accepted by governments around the world for immigration purposes. Learn more today! 

We are not immigration agents. For all up-to-date information about visa rules and regulations, see the official guidelines on the AustralianUK, and US government websites.