How to become a telehealth nurse: Education, careers & salaries

telehealth nurse confers with patient on computer with headset

Telehealth nurse career overview

Where you’ll work: Hospitals, outpatient settings, home health, long-term care facilities, correctional facilities, schools, government agencies and more.

What you’ll do: Provide care to patients virtually and/or utilize various telehealth technologies in a variety of settings and specialties.

Minimum degree required: ADN or BSN to qualify for licensure. Some individual employers may prefer or require their nurses to have a BSN.

Who it’s a good fit for: Nurses who prefer more autonomy in their day-to-day routine and who may want the flexibility to work from home.

Job perks: Some nurses performing telehealth services may be able to do so from the comfort of their own home. In addition, telehealth services are not confined to one specialty.

Opportunities if you pursue a higher degree or certification: Nurses that earn a graduate degree in nursing can become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). These roles bring a broader scope of practice, more professional responsibility and a higher salary.

Median annual salary: $81,220

Telehealth nursing, which is speculated to originate as far back as the 1800s with the invention of the telephone, has expanded drastically over the last few decades. When the Covid-19 pandemic changed the way nurses deliver care practically overnight, this became even more true. Many nurses today provide virtual care in some form, and some employers even seek out nurses to fill roles that provide telehealth services exclusively.

“I think the champions for telehealth is in nursing. It’s not physician driven. It is nurse driven,” said Dr. Carolyn Rutledge, Professor and Associate Dean of Nursing at Old Dominion University (ODU).

What is telehealth nursing?

Rutledge wrote that telehealth nursing describes, “nursing professionals who care for patients from a geographical distance via audio or visual modalities,” in her paper, “Preparing Nurses for Roles in Telehealth: Now is the Time!

Telehealth nursing is not an actual specialty itself and it does not require any special license to practice. It is a type of care that can be present in just about any medical setting. Most regular nurses today conduct some form of telehealth nursing in their jobs.

Steps to become a telehealth nurse

Graduate from an accredited nursing program.

nurse holds school books with trio of diverse nurses behind her

The first step to becoming a nurse of any kind is to earn a degree from an accredited nursing program. Nurses have the option to earn either an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) to qualify for licensure. Associate degrees tend to cost less and take less time to complete, but a BSN may increase your job prospects since some employers require their nurses to have at least a BSN.

Get licensed as a registered nurse (RN).

nurses compare notes during nclex training class

Nurses must take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam in order to earn their license as a registered nurse (RN). This exam is typically taken shortly after graduation from a nursing program. Be sure to check out the licensing requirements in your state to determine if there are any additional steps, such as background checks, jurisprudence exams and more.

Gain experience.

nurse training class with group of white coated nurse students

With your well-earned RN license in hand, it’s time to start applying for nursing jobs and gaining experience. There is no benchmark of experience you must pass in order to start delivering telehealth services to clients. Eventually, you may wish to seek out jobs that emphasize virtual telehealth services as part of your nursing practice.

Consider getting certified through a training program.

nurses working together on tablets

Some schools and independent training organizations offer telehealth training programs. Participating in these can help hone your skills and build your confidence in using telehealth technology. Many of these training programs can also be applied to any continuing education requirements you may have for your RN license.

What do telehealth nurses do?

Telehealth nurses have many of the same responsibilities of regular nurseshow they may carry out those responsibilities, however, is where telehealth nursing diverges.

Telehealth nurses have many of the same responsibilities of regular nurses—how they may carry out those responsibilities, however, is where telehealth nursing diverges.

Common telemed duties & responsibilites

Here are some examples of a nurse’s duties and how they may be conducted in a telehealth setting:

  • Patient educationReview test results with patients and provide appropriate health education; review data uploaded by the patient; Help with medication reconciliation
  • Direct patient care → Conduct virtual visits with patients; facilitate rounds and family contact for isolated patients; assess biometric data from wearables and other home-monitoring devices
  • Record patient progress → Document patient progress in an electronic health record system (EHR)
  • Triage → Triage patients calling about emergency visits; collaborate with providers to arrange patient transfers between facilities
  • Care coordination → Coordinate interprofessional collaborations between other nurses, physicians and providers in numerous settings
  • Case management → Make sure patient has virtual access to case management activities such as intake, scheduling, documentation and payment

Individual nursing roles can be incredibly varied. One nurse may do a little of everything listed above, while others may be focused on one particular aspect of patient care—it all depends on who you work for and your particular job scope.

Remote patient monitoring and education

“One thing that I think is becoming more and more popular and is an excellent way to improve patient care and patient outcomes is through remote patient monitoring,” Rutledge said. “To give you an example of some of the remote patient monitoring, many people who have dealt with heart problems have had on the Holter monitors, or have a defibrillator and pacemaker. These recordings can be sent to the cardiologist’s office and it’s usually the RN that will use these recordings and need to note whether there’s an abnormality and notify someone if that needs an action needs to be taken.”

In addition to doing remote patient monitoring, Rutledge said that she sees a lot of potential for telehealth regarding patient education. “This is an area that I really would like to see a lot of expansion occur in. It could be the patient that just been discharged from a hospital, and if you think about the patient in the hospital, they are getting ready to leave. They’ve just been hospitalized for something concerning and you try to do patient education as you they are going out the door. How much of that do you think will really stick? And there’s so many times that I think a patient should get a 24-hour follow up to see if they had any questions about the discharge planning or if they had been able to pick up the medications that they needed.”

Telehealth nursing jobs: Where you’ll work

Telehealth technology and services are utilized in just about every nursing specialty. Telehealth nurses can find employment anywhere other nurses do, such as: 

  • Hospitals
  • Ambulatory care settings
  • Urgent care settings
  • Government health systems
  • Home health
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Jails and prisons
  • Schools
  • Behavioral health facilities
  • Military
  • Insurance companies

When conducting telehealth services—from remote patient monitoring, to phone triage, to care coordination between providers—nurses may perform these tasks in an office setting at their place of work, or in some cases from their own home. It depends on the needs of their particular employer, and where their expertise is needed most.

Education needed to become a telehealth nurse

The education required to become a telehealth nurse is no different from the education needed to earn a registered nurse (RN) license. To become an RN, you must graduate from an accredited nursing program:

Associate degree in nursing (ADN): These programs typically take two to three years to complete and focus more closely on the nursing curriculum, as opposed to taking additional liberal arts classes.

Bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN): Bachelor’s programs can usually be completed in about four years and include classes in other subjects for a more well-rounded education.

Bridge or accelerated programs: Bridge programs such as LPN-to-RN or an accelerated bachelor’s of science in nursing (ABSN) are also acceptable paths to licensure. These kinds of programs take into account the education you may already have.

Nursing students are exposed to some telehealth training in their degree programs, but you’ll also gain a lot of this experience on the job once you get your license and start working.


The process for obtaining a nursing license generally begins as you are finishing your nursing degree. Although the process may vary a bit between states, the essential steps remain the same: 

  1. Graduate from your nursing program
  2. Apply for a license with your state’s nursing regulatory body (NRB)
  3. Register for and pass the NCLEX-RN exam 

In addition to the above, your state’s NRB may require that you submit and/or complete a few other steps as part of the application process, such as a criminal background check, jurisprudence exam or English language proficiency exam if you were educated outside of the United States. Once your state’s NRB verifies that they have received all relevant application materials (including your transcript and passing NCLEX scores), you should receive your RN license provided there are no deficiencies in your application.


Unlike specialties such as geriatric nursing, psychiatric nursing, pediatric nursing and more, you cannot get board certified in telehealth nursing. However, there are numerous different telehealth training and certification programs out there for you to improve your skills. These are typically offered by universities or independent training providers. Going through a training program or earning a certification is not required to perform telehealth activities in your practice, but it has the potential to make you a better nurse and improve your job prospects if you want to move into a role that is focused on telehealth. Plus, they may award you with a certification, continuing education credits or both.

“We at ODU actually run three different telehealth training programs that are being used all over the country. It’s being used by federally qualified health care centers, it’s being used by nursing schools, and it is also interprofessional,” Rutledge said. These programs are provided by ODU’s Center for Telehealth Innovation, Education, and Research (C-TIER), of which Rutledge is a co-director.

One of these programs that can be really beneficial to RNs is focused on the role of the telepresenter: someone who is facilitating in-person examinations with a patient (either from their home or a medical facility) while the provider or physician communicates virtually.

“It could be your home health nurse that is in the home with a patient and connects back to a provider at a distance. They’re using the equipment at the site and are able to show a wound and decide okay, what should we do now with the wound that isn’t healing. Even connection with a physical therapist—if there’s no physical therapist there, let’s show the patient ambulating through video conferencing with the nurse.”

Here are a sampling of other independent providers that offer telehealth training and/or certification programs: 

What it takes to be a telehealth nurse

Even though most nurses today have some experience using telehealth services, Rutledge said there are a few things nurses should know and understand if they want to create the best patient experience possible and have the best outcomes.

Before you can do anything else, nurses need to know how to use the technology itself. “You don’t want to get on a telehealth visit and that be the first time you’ve touched the equipment.” After that, nurses should understand best practices for how to use that equipment.

“If a nurse is not trained in how to do telehealth appropriately, it can be very problematic. ODU coined the term telehealth etiquette, which talks about how you approach the patient through telehealth. Part of that is things like having the patient hold up their ID to make sure you’re actually talking to the correct patient. People don’t think about things like this: lighting, the sound on the computer, can the patient be heard and can the nurse be heard.

“If a nurse is not trained in how to do telehealth appropriately, it can be very problematic.”

“Second is empathy, really helping nurses learn how to portray empathy when they’re doing a visit with the patient through telehealth. And that can be things as simple as when we can’t reach out and hug the patient or touch a patient, but we can say to the patient ‘I wish I was with you because I would love to give you a hug.’ That can make a huge impact.”

Telehealth nurse salary

The median annual salary for registered nurses is $81,220 according to the 2022 Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Nursing jobs will grow by 5.6% through 2032, the BLS says, due largely to the growing number of older Americans.

The top-paying states for RNs are concentrated on the coasts (e.g. California, Hawaii, Oregon, Alaska, Washington, New York). The top five states that employ the most nurses in the country are California, Texas, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania.

Registered Nurses

National data

Median Salary: $81,220

Projected job growth: 5.6%

10th Percentile: $61,250

25th Percentile: $66,680

75th Percentile: $101,100

90th Percentile: $129,400

Projected job growth: 5.6%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alabama $63,090 $48,820 $82,760
Alaska $102,260 $80,950 $127,280
Arizona $82,330 $66,040 $105,520
Arkansas $64,130 $37,630 $83,700
California $132,660 $84,700 $177,670
Colorado $82,430 $66,130 $107,260
Connecticut $95,210 $71,050 $119,600
Delaware $82,230 $64,100 $101,110
District of Columbia $98,970 $66,260 $135,260
Florida $77,710 $61,190 $100,060
Georgia $79,440 $60,400 $118,270
Hawaii $120,100 $76,640 $137,710
Idaho $77,940 $61,530 $100,440
Illinois $78,980 $62,180 $102,080
Indiana $73,290 $55,200 $95,600
Iowa $65,000 $56,330 $83,360
Kansas $66,460 $52,010 $93,120
Kentucky $75,800 $56,120 $98,540
Louisiana $73,180 $57,500 $95,540
Maine $77,340 $61,170 $100,910
Maryland $83,850 $64,680 $106,910
Massachusetts $98,520 $67,480 $154,160
Michigan $79,180 $64,270 $100,920
Minnesota $84,060 $65,500 $107,960
Mississippi $63,330 $49,980 $84,030
Missouri $71,460 $51,440 $94,340
Montana $76,550 $62,930 $98,970
Nebraska $74,990 $58,900 $93,230
Nevada $94,930 $74,200 $130,200
New Hampshire $80,550 $62,790 $104,270
New Jersey $98,090 $76,650 $118,150
New Mexico $81,990 $64,510 $106,300
New York $100,370 $64,840 $132,950
North Carolina $76,430 $59,580 $100,430
North Dakota $69,640 $60,780 $91,150
Ohio $76,810 $61,860 $98,380
Oklahoma $74,520 $53,560 $97,520
Oregon $106,680 $81,470 $131,210
Pennsylvania $78,740 $61,450 $101,450
Rhode Island $85,960 $65,260 $104,790
South Carolina $75,610 $52,620 $93,190
South Dakota $62,920 $51,240 $80,860
Tennessee $65,800 $51,270 $95,490
Texas $79,830 $61,950 $105,270
Utah $77,240 $61,850 $98,000
Vermont $77,230 $60,900 $101,570
Virginia $79,700 $61,970 $104,410
Washington $101,230 $77,460 $131,230
West Virginia $74,160 $47,640 $96,470
Wisconsin $79,750 $65,110 $100,820
Wyoming $77,730 $60,910 $102,010

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2022 median salary; projected job growth through 2032. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Why is telehealth important to nursing?

Telehealth nursing expands access to healthcare. Patients who have difficulty leaving their home, live in rural areas or simply need more flexibility in accessing care have more options when telehealth services are available. Telehealth also has the potential to improve health outcomes when used properly.

For example, a physician or nurse may be able to check in with a patient after they’ve left the hospital to make sure they are doing well at home and answer any follow up questions they may have. These are just a few examples of how telehealth has changed healthcare for the better, and while in-person healthcare remains a necessity, the synthesis of both options provides the greatest accessibility to the most people.

Do telehealth nurses work from home?

It depends—nurses may be able to find telehealth nursing roles that can be done exclusively from home. There are also many telehealth nursing roles that are still conducted in a healthcare setting.

Can an LVN be a telehealth nurse?

Yes, licensed practical/vocational nurses (LPN/LVNs) can provide telehealth services within their scope of practice.

When is telehealth nursing not appropriate?

It’s true that virtual healthcare has its limitations. Telehealth is ideal for non-emergency health visits. Patients who need immediate care still need to see a provider in-person.

kendall upton

Written and reported by:

Kendall Upton

Staff Writer

With professional insight from:

carolyn rutledge

Dr. Carolyn Rutledge, PhD, FNP-BC, FAAN

Professor and Associate Dean of Nursing, Old Dominion University (ODU)