dcsimg

How to Become a Registered Nurse (RN)

Registered nurses are always in high demand. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these professionals constitute the largest occupation in one of the largest industries in the country. Registered nurses help save lives by providing patients and their doctors with critical support. Here, find out how to become a registered nurse.

Step 1: Make the Decision on How to Become a Registered Nurse (RN)

For those who are on the fence as to whether or not they want to become a registered nurse, a little research can go a long way. Some food for thought:

  • Demand: RN jobs are expected to grow 26 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS.
  • Salary: The median RN salary was $64,690 in 2010 (BLS).
  • Flexibility: RNs can work virtually anywhere.
  • Benefits: Many employers offer flexible scheduling, childcare, education benefits, and bonuses.

When it comes to making major career decisions, one can never do too much research. Volunteering in a hospital to get a feel for what RNs do is recommended, as is requesting information from nursing school to learn more about their programs.

Step 2: Pursue a High School Diploma or GED

Those who haven't already earned a high school diploma or general education diploma (GED) should know that it's a requirement for enrolling in nursing schools. According to the California Department of Consumer Affairs' Board of Registered Nursing, many of the general education courses that are needed in nursing school can be taken while still in high school. These include:

  • English: 4 years
  • Math: 3-4years, including algebra and geometry
  • Science: 2-4 years, including biology and chemistry; physics recommended
  • Foreign Language: 2 years; recommended, but not required

Step 3: Choose an RN Education Path

Education requirements for RNs vary from one state to the next, so the state's board of nursing should be consulted for details. In general, however, there are 3 types of RN degree programs:

  • Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN): This program generally takes 2 to 3 years to complete and is offered through many community colleges and career training schools. This training prepares individuals to work as an entry-level RN in a variety of settings.
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): Requiring 4 years to complete, BSN programs are offered through a number of public and private nursing schools, colleges, and universities. A BSN prepares individuals for RN careers in a variety of settings with the potential to advance to administrative and leadership positions.
  • Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN): This program typically takes 1-2 years in addition to the prerequisite BSN degree. A MSN offers the greatest salary and advancement potential.
  • Step 4: Find the Right Nursing School

    Once the type of RN program one would like to go after is established, it's time to hit the pavement (or Internet) to find a school. While all nursing programs will prepare individuals for an RN career, they vary in other ways. Here are some things to consider:

    • Degree options
    • Admissions requirements
    • Tuition
    • Program length (Note: Some schools offer accelerated programs)
    • Setting (online vs. traditional classes)
    • Schedule Flexibility

    Once a target school or two has been selected, potential nursing school students should find out if there are any additional admissions requirements, such as taking the SAT, ACT, or the National League for Nursing's Pre-Admission Exam. If all requirements are met, the next step is to submit the application by the specified deadline. Nursing school applicants might want to apply to more than one school in order to expand their options.

    Step 5: Obtain Licensure to Become a RN

    According to the BLS, all states require RNs to be licensed. While licensure requirements vary from one state to the next, most call for potential RNs to:

    • Pursue a ADN, BSN, or MSN
    • Pass a criminal background check
    • Pass a national licensure exam, such as the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)

    Step 6: Refresh Skills with Continuing Education

    Continuing education not only boosts salary and advancement potential--say, advancing from an AND to BSN, or BSN to MSN--it is also mandatory in many locations. Many employers and state nursing boards require continuing education courses (CECs) to maintain employment and licensure.

    Nursing Schools
    Refine School Matches
    Hide filters
    • SUBJECT Clear All

      See More

    • DEGREE

      See More

    • PROGRAM TYPE

    • START TIME

      LOCATION
      Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
              Results open in new window

              Searching Searching ...

              Matching School Ads
              Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing
              • Ranked one of the Top Public Schools in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
              • Founded in 1766 as a public institution; it has a main campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey and offers many programs online.
              • Has an average freshman retention rate of 91.8%.
              • Its student-faculty ratio is 14:1, and 38% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
              • Has famous alumni including chef and restauranteur Mario Batali, author Junot Diaz, actor James Gandolfini, and former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky.
              Show more [+]
              • Online Courses
              • Flexible Scheduling
              • Accelerated Programs
              • Financial Aid
              • Transferable Credits
              RN to BS

              • Offers accredited online bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctor of nursing programs to help both working professionals and recent graduates advance their careers.

              • Provides graduate nursing programs that teach cutting-edge professional knowledge and skills to prepare students for today’s dynamic, evolving health care industry.
              • Teaches through an online learning system that allows students to complete coursework with the flexibility to fit their schedule, while a cohort structure helps them to collaborate with fellow students.

              •Provides scholarships, grants and other forms of financial aid to those who qualify.

              Show more [+]
              • Online Courses
              RN to BSN

              Iowa Wesleyan University is a transformational learning community whose passion is to educate, empower and inspire students to lead meaningful lives and careers.

              Learning in Community: An Academic Vision

              The story of Iowa Wesleyan University is a story of community; its founding, an act of community; its long history, an affirmation of community. Its defining vision draws on a community of memory even as it forges a dynamic future.

              • Online Courses
              B.S. in Nursing: RN to BSN
              • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
              • Founded in 1890, it has a campus in Waterbury, CT and offers online degree program in eight-week modules, six times a year.
              • About 800 students are enrolled at the main campus, and about half of them commute.
              • Online courses help make it possible for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in as little as 24 months and a master’s degree in 12-18 months.
              Show more [+]
              • Online Courses
              • Flexible Scheduling
              • Accelerated Programs
              • Financial Aid
              • Transferable Credits
              RN to BSN
              Good for Working Adults
              • Based on their 2014 graduate survey, 85.7% of graduates were employed in their chosen field or continuing their education within one year of graduation.
              • Offers academic assistance services for students, including tutors, personal advisors and SMARTHINKING, their 24/7 online learning assistance center.
              • 84% of surveyed graduates said they would recommend Central Penn College to a friend.
              • On-campus housing is provided through  apartments and townhouses, not dorms.
              • Accredited by the Middle States Commission on HIgher Education (MSCHE).
              Show more [+]
              • Accredited
              • Online Courses
              • Flexible Scheduling
              • Financial Aid
              RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing

              Grow Your Career with the University of Saint Mary

              The University of Saint Mary is a Catholic institution in Leavenworth, Kansas, that has been educating students since 1923. Guided by the vision of its founders, the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, USM seeks to inspire students and to prepare them for value-centered lives and careers that will benefit our global society.

              • Online Courses
              Health Care Management - AAS
              • Boost, a student assistance program, is available for online students, and offers counseling services, a personalized web portal, and more.
              • All online students are assigned a personal advisor that works with the student until graduation.
              • Online students have 24/7 access to course materials and IT support.
              • Online programs are offered in Texas, Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Virginia.
              • Accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
              Show more [+]
              • Online Courses
              Medical Assisting - Administrative, Associates Degree
              • Helping students achieve their education and career goals since 1963.
              • Offers online demos on how to access Daymar College Online, complete and submit assignments, interact with your teachers and fellow students, and more.
              • Provides lifelong learning credit for graduates to return to review or audit previously taken courses without an additional cost.
              • Offers numerous scholarships opportunities for eligible students.
              • Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
              Show more [+]
              • Online Courses
              • Flexible Scheduling
              • Financial Aid
              • Transferable Credits
              A.S. - Healthcare Management
              • Offers special tuition pricing for Veterans, Active Duty Military and spouses/qualifying dependents of all Active Duty, National Guard and Reserves.
              • Works closely with an advisory board from the medical community to ensure that their curriculum, equipment and instruction are current.
              • Allows students to complete assignments on the go with its Blackboard Learn mobile app.
              • Gives online students live student support for technical or course questions.
              • Has campus locations in Florida as well as online learning programs.
              Show more [+]
              • Online Courses
              • Flexible Scheduling
              • Financial Aid
              • Transferable Credits
              Medical Assisting Online

              Fortis Institute can give you the skills you need to train for a career in the healthcare field.

              * Programs vary by location

              * Please contact each individual campus for accreditation information

              Please call on  844-252-4552 to talk to a respresentative.

              • Online Courses
              • Financial Aid
               
              Featured Schools
               
              Nursing Career Profiles