How to Become a Registered Nurse (RN)
What Is a Registered Nurse?
Difference between Registered Nurse and Nurse Practitioner
Educational Requirements to Become a Registered Nurse
Does an RN need a Nursing Master’s Degree?
How Many Years Does it Take to Become an RN?
3 Common Steps to Becoming a Registered Nurse
While everyone’s journey to a career in nursing is different, there are three common steps that many take to become a registered nurse.
- Get an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited program
There are a few ways to complete this first step. Students who are starting their college career can simply enroll in a nursing program. While only an ADN is required to take the NCLEX-RN exam, some may choose to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Students who hold an associate’s degree in nursing may wish to go on to earn what’s known as an RN-to-BSN degree (a two-year associate-to-bachelor’s program).
Learn more about online bachelor’s in nursing programs.
- Register for state licensure through your state board of nursing
After obtaining an ADN or bachelor’s degree in nursing, the graduate must register for licensure with their state. This is a prerequisite for signing up to take the NCLEX-RN exam. Each state’s nursing board has its own rules and requirements for licensure, so check with your state’s board for specific guidance. Check the National Council of State Boards of Nursing for more information.
- Pass the NCLEX-RN examination
Once the student has registered for state licensure, they may register for their Authorization to Test, which is required to schedule an NCLEX-RN exam session. One way to start preparing is to check outUse the exam prep materials available on the NCSBN website.
Once a new nurse has fulfilled these three requirements, they are eligible to apply for nursing jobs. With demand for registered nurses expected to grow faster than average, new nurses often have many job opportunities to choose from when they are entering the field.
Registered Nurse Careers
Types of Registered Nurses
- Cardiac care nurse
- Emergency room nurse
- Flight nurse
- Intensive care unit nurse
- Labor and delivery nurse
- Oncology nurse
- Pediatric nurse
- Psychiatric nurse
- Substance abuse nurse
- Surgical nurse
- Trauma nurse
- Travel nurse
How Much Does an RN Make?
Should You Become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)?
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), who deliver anesthesia to patients undergoing surgeries, monitor the patient’s airway and vital signs during surgery, do pre- and -post operative rounds to check on patients, and administer epidurals to women in labor.
- Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM), who provide prenatal care for pregnant women, support women going through perimenopause or menopause, and assist women through the labor and delivery process. Some CNMs treat women and their partners for sexually transmitted diseases, and some states allow CNMs to prescribe medications.
- Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), who work with a medical team to coordinate care and improve patient outcomes, and serve as liaison between the medical team and the patient and/or their family. CNSs usually specialize and work with specific populations, such as pediatrics, psychiatry or emergency care.
- Nurse Practitioner (NP), who deliver care directly to patients by conducting examinations, ordering diagnostic tests and prescribing medications. NPs also choose a specialty; a common specialization is family health, and a common workplace for NPs is private primary care practices. Learn more about the differences between an RN and a nurse practitioner.