How to Become a Registered Nurse

How to Become a Registered Nurse

A career in nursing can be both challenging and fulfilling. Our nurses are our “front line” of patient care, providing the minute-to-minute medical and emotional care that patients need, and bridging the communication gap between patient and doctor. If you are interested in pursuing a career in nursing, you should familiarize yourself with the process of how to become a registered nurse. Depending on your commitment to education, and on whether you are interested in a nursing specialty and higher education, there are a number of paths you can follow to become a nurse.

Educational Requirements

There are three standard ways that a person could become educated to work as a registered nurse.

One could choose to obtain a bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN) through a four year program at a college or university, an associate degree in nursing (ADN) through a two or three year program at a community college, or the less common nursing diploma through a three year hospital program.

While all three of these education paths qualify the individual to sit for the national licensing exam, NCLEX-RN, in order to gain registered nurse status, RNs with the BSN degree tend to qualify for more positions and tend to be given more leadership roles than those with an ADN degree or a hospital program diploma. Oftentimes, individuals pursue the ADN or diploma in order to enter the workplace (and generate some income) sooner, and then pursue the BSN later through an RN-to-BSN program. Some employers may even offer financial assistance to their RNs who are pursuing a BSN degree.

You want to become an RN but already have a differentĀ bachelor degree? An acceleratedĀ nursing program may be the right path for you

If you are considering changing your career path to nursing and already have a bachelor degree, accelerated nursing programs are also available, and will likely require a one to two year commitment.


Aside from successful completion of one of the three types of nursing programs described above, a candidate must also pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) as well as meet any other state requirements as outlined by the applicant’s State Board of Nursing. Locate your state’s requirements via the State Board of Nursing directory.

Other Resources

Online nursing schools with contact information.

RN jobs search and nursing salary information.

Student nursing forum.