How to Become a Registered Nurse (RN)
Steps to Become a Registered Nurse
- Complete an accredited nursing education program. You will need either a nursing diploma from an accredited RN program, an associate degree in nursing, or a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
- Prepare to sit for the nurse licensing exam.
- Take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN).
- Obtain licensure in the state where you wish to practice. Requirements vary by state. Learn more about state-by-state requirements for RN licensing.
What is a Registered Nurse?
Types of Registered Nurses
Critical Care Nurse / ICU Nurse
Occupational Health Nurse
Public Health Nurse
What do RNs do?
Clinical Responsibilities of RNs
- Assessing patients’ conditions and vital signs
- Giving medications and treatments prescribed by doctors and other healthcare providers
- Contributing to and setting up patients’ care plans
- Consulting and collaborating with other healthcare providers
- Operating and monitoring medical equipment
- Performing and analyzing diagnostic tests
- Educating patients and their families
Administrative Responsibilities of RNs
- Recording medical histories and symptoms
- Directing and supervising other healthcare professionals, such as LPNs, CNAs and medical assistants
Where do RNs work?
- Hospitals — 60%
- Doctors’ offices, home health and outpatient care — 18%
- Nursing care facilities — 6%
- Government — 8%
- Education — 3%
Registered Nurse Salary and Career Outlook
- California – $124,000
- Hawaii – $106,530
- Oregon – $ 98,630
- District of Columbia – $ 98,540
- Alaska – $ 97,230
Registered Nurse FAQs
You can become an RN in two years through an accredited associate nursing degree, but the length of time to become an RN will also depend on what kind of RN you would like to be. While some careers only require an associate degree in nursing, other RN careers may require a bachelor’s in nursing.
Becoming a registered nurse requires the completion of an accredited nursing program. An accredited program includes an associate in nursing degree, a nursing diploma from an RN program, or a bachelor’s in nursing (BSN).
The largest difference between a nurse practitioner and a registered nurse is their education requirements. While a registered nurse only needs to complete an RN program, a nurse practitioner must also complete a nurse practitioner program and meet certain certification and licensure requirements.