How to Become a Nurse – 9 Steps to Consider
Step 1: Make Sure a Career in Nursing is Right for You
Step 2: Find Out Which Type of Nurse You Would Like to Become
Step 3: Explore What Type of Education is Needed
Step 4: Complete Prerequisites and Apply to Schools
Step 5: Complete Your Nursing Program
Step 6: Choose a Specialty and Earn a Certification
Step 7: Obtain the Proper Licenses & Credentials in Your State
Find Out How to Become a Nurse in Your State
Step 8: Find Employment
Step 9: Continue to Advance Your Career
Beginning Your Journey as a Nurse
The journey to becoming a nurse will provide you with more than just clinical expertise. It will teach you valuable skills that are applicable to an array of roles. If, after obtaining your degree, you decide the traditional route isn’t for you, opportunities await at pharmaceutical companies, schools, research laboratories and other settings.
The aging population in the U.S. has created a positive outlook for the nursing industry. Between 2020 and 2030, the field of registered nursing is projected to grow by 9%, adding an average 194,500 jobs each year.
Depending on the certifications and designations you plan to obtain, becoming a nurse could take anywhere from a single month to four years. The fastest route into nursing is through a certified nursing assistant (CNA) course, which provides a basic foundation of the field in four to eight weeks. The Red Cross offers such CNA courses. Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) can complete their training in as little as 12 months, while registered nurses (RNs) may earn an associate degree in nursing. That typically takes 18 to 24 months to complete.
For aspiring nurses who plan on advancing to senior roles, a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree can make it easier to apply to graduate school down the road. This is also the typical route for those hoping to become advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).
In addition to having multiple job opportunities, nurses can make above-average salaries. Of course, that depends on factors such as location, employer and education level. In 2020, the BLS reported that the median pay for registered nurses was $75,330 per year. The median annual salary for nurse practitioners in 2019 was $117,670.
LPNs typically make $48,820 per year. Generally, nursing assistants make significantly less—$30,850 per year on average, according to the BLS.
Like most higher education opportunities, nursing school can be pricey. Luckily, there are a number of nursing scholarships available to help you manage costs. Consider applying for a few—any amount of money can make a huge difference in getting you closer to your goal of becoming a nurse.