How to Become a Registered Nurse - RN

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Registered nurses hold seniority over other nurses, including licensed practical nurses and nursing assistants.[1] They earn, on average, more than $64,000 annually, and are part of a profession that is the fasting growing in the United States. Registered nursing jobs are expected to increase by 26 percent by the year 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.[2]


Flickr: U.S. Embassy Jakarta, Indonesia
Education Associate's degree[2]
Starting pay $44,190[3]
Median pay $64,690[2]
10 yr growth Faster than average[2]
Related professions Licensed practical nurse, paramedic, EMT[4]
Author Allison Hughes

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Registered Nurse Job Overview

Registered nurses are employed in a variety of places, including hospitals, nursing care facilities, patients' homes, and physician's offices. Some of a registered nurse's duties include:[5]

  • Providing patients treatment and medications
  • Consulting with doctors regarding patients
  • Administering diagnostic tests
  • Helping patients and families manage an illness
  • Setting up a patient care plan

Registered Nurse Education

Registered nurses must have advanced training to qualify for a license and to be hired. One way for them to do is to pursue a bachelor's of science degree in a nursing program (BSN). Students may also opt to get their associate's degrees in nursing. The final option is a diploma from a nursing program that has been approved from the state in which the applicant plans to work.[6]

Most nursing programs require students to take courses in nursing and nutrition, chemistry, microbiology, anatomy, psychology, and physiology. Students pursuing their bachelor's degrees typically spend four years before graduating, while students who choose an associate's degree or diploma program spend two to three years studying.[6]

Registered Nurse Training

Training for registered nurses is available while they are still in college. All the available programs offer clinical experience through hospitals. Some programs offer experience in long-term facilities, ambulatory clinics, public health departments, and home health agencies. Additional training is typically available on the job, with experienced nurses providing guidance for new hires.[6]

Registered Nurse License

Nursing licenses are mandatory in every state, as well as in the District of Columbia. Applicants are eligible for licensure once they have completed an approved program in nursing and have successfully passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).[6] Additional requirements for a license may be imposed, as each state sets its own guidelines. For example, in California applicants must also pass a criminal background check to become licensed.[7]

Becoming a Registered Nurse

Information on how to become a registered nurse

Also See: How to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse - LPN, How to Become a Doctor, How to Become an EMT, How to Become a Pharmacist, How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist, How to Become a Physical Therapy Assistant, How to Become a Medical Assistant, How to Become a Chiropractor, How to Become a Physician Assistant, How to Become an Occupational Therapy Assistant, How to Become a Surgeon


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