Why Become a Registered Nurse

Are you thinking about pursuing a career as a Registered Nurse, or RN? There are plenty of compelling reasons to do so, including excellent job security, superior pay, and lots of advancement opportunities.

  • Career Outlook

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for RNs is expected to grow by 19 percent between 2012 and 2022.

  • Job Security

    Aging baby boomers, universal healthcare, and other factors are steadily increasing demand for skilled RNs, so this is a great field to enter.

  • Compensation

    According to the BLS, median pay for an RN in 2012 was $65,470 a year, which equals $31.48 per hour.

  • Advancement Opportunities

    As RNs progress in their careers, they can pursue various advancement opportunities and earn specializations in various areas to command higher pay.

How to Become a Registered Nurse

Become a Registered Nurse in your state by following these steps:

  • 1

    Complete an RN Program

    There are three main types of RN programs: diploma/associate degree programs, bachelor's degree programs, and master’s degree programs.

  • 2

    Apply for an RN License

    Aspiring RNs typically apply for their RN licenses from their state board of nursing about six to eight weeks before completing their programs.

  • 3

    Pass the NCLEX-RN

    To be eligible for your RN license, you must pass the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. Successful completion of your RN program will prepare you for it.

  • 4

    Get Your RN License

    Your state's board of nursing should issue your RN license. You are now eligible to apply for RN jobs.


Kick-start your search for an RN program by considering these schools:


Get answers to the most common questions about becoming a Registered Nurse:

  • What are RN courses all about?

    The types of RN courses you'll have to take depends on which program of study you choose. In an Associate Degree in Nursing, or ADN program, for instance, you're typically required to have completed some prerequisites before you begin. Since it's just a two-year program, you immediately start taking courses pertaining to registered nursing. In a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, or BSN program, on the other hand, your first two years mostly consist of meeting general education requirements. You declare your major and join the nursing school, and that's when bona fide RN courses typically begin. Similarly, the colleges/universities that offer Master of Science in Nursing, or MSN, programs for people with undergraduate degrees in another discipline also require you to complete certain RN courses.

  • Where can I find RN programs?

    ADN programs are offered by community colleges as well as universities. Some vocational schools offer diploma programs and ADN programs as well. Colleges and universities with schools of nursing offer BSN and MSN programs. Online versions of all of these options are available as well, and they are great options for working adults with busy schedules.

  • What can I expect from my RN program?

    That depends on the type of program you choose. Generally speaking, however, you can expect to study anatomy, physiology, and a wide range of healthcare-related topics in the classroom. You can also expect to complete clinical work at local hospitals and other facilities as a part of your training.

  • What will I learn in my RN program?

    In addition to learning about human anatomy and physiology, you will be introduced to the everyday work handled by RNs. You will be taught about medical ethics and how to communicate with and care for patients. You will also be introduced to common RN tools and equipment.

  • How much will my RN education cost?

    Again, this depends on the type of program you choose. ADN and diploma programs are the most affordable. BSN programs cost more, but they open up advanced employment opportunities that often lead to higher pay. The same goes for MSN programs. It should be noted here that numerous scholarships, grants, and other types of financial aid are available and worth pursuing.

  • What are the requirements for being admitted to an RN program?

    For an ADN program, you'll need a high school diploma or equivalent. You may have to complete a few prerequisite courses first, or you may have to complete a TEAS, or Test of Essential Academic Skills, to demonstrate your proficiency in various subjects. For a BSN program, you must meet the general admission requirements of the college or university that offers the program and that you choose. The college or university's school of nursing may have additional requirements as well. The same goes for an MSN program.

  • How long will it take to complete my RN program?

    It takes around two years to complete an ADN program, about four years to complete a BSN program, and around two years to complete an MSN program. If you are already an RN with a diploma/ADN and want to do a BSN or an MSN, you can opt for schools that offer accelerated BSN/MSN or RN-to-BSN/RN-to-MSN programs for current RNs to advance your education.

  • How difficult are RN programs?

    Whether you're completing a diploma, an ADN, a BSN, or an MSN program, you can expect the coursework, exams, and clinical work to be rigorous. A lot of material must be covered in a limited period of time, so it is crucial to remain focused and diligent from beginning to end.

  • I've completed my RN program. Now what?

    After earning your diploma, ADN, BSN, or MSN, apply for your RN license and take the NCLEX-RN exam. In no time, you will receive your license and can start applying for jobs as an RN. Soon enough, you'll be working as an RN, and your nursing career will be well underway.