The registered nurse (RN) career is one of the most rewarding and lucrative careers in the healthcare industry. If you want to become an RN, this guide will explain everything you need to know.

The registered nurse (RN) career is one of the most rewarding and lucrative careers in healthcare. You can work in hospitals and clinics with an RN degree, helping patients with medical conditions. You will be responsible for administering medications and monitoring patients' health throughout their hospital stay.

RNs also perform educational tasks such as explaining treatment plans to patients or their families. If you want to know how to become a Registered Nurse (RN) because you enjoy helping people and want to make a difference in the lives of others, this guide will explain everything you need to know.

What Are the Steps to Becoming a Qualified Registered Nurse?

Regardless of where you choose to work as an RN, there are some common steps you'll need to take to become licensed. Here's what you need to do:

Earn a High School Diploma or GED

The first step toward becoming an RN is earning your high school diploma or GED (General Education Diploma). You'll need this for admission into an accredited nursing program. In addition, many schools require a minimum GPA (grade point average) of 2.5 on a 4-point scale. If you don't already have your diploma, you must take the time now to complete this requirement before applying for admission.

Earn a BSN or an ADN Degree

Once you've completed your secondary education requirements, it's time for RN training! The next step is to enroll in a registered nurse program at an accredited college or university that offers a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN) or associate degree in nursing (ADN).

You'll spend four years studying subjects like anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, genetics, and pathophysiology—all with an emphasis on patient care. 

Once you've earned your RN degree from an accredited school, it's time for clinical training!

Pass the NCLEX Exam

After obtaining your degree, you need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to become licensed as a registered nurse. You can take the NCLEX exam in many different settings. 

The NCLEX covers pediatric care, medical ethics, and pharmacology. You must score above 75% to pass this exam.

Obtain Your Registered Nurse License for the Particular State You Wish to Work In

Once you've passed, you can apply for your license with the state board of nursing where you wish to practice. Each state has its requirements for obtaining an RN license; however, most states require candidates to have graduated from an accredited school of a nursing program and passed their NCLEX exam before applying for their license. Some states also require applicants to submit proof that they have completed continuing education courses related to their field of practice (i.e., cardiac care).

Find Employment as Registered Nurse

After getting your certifications, it's time to find employment. You can reach out to local hospitals, clinics, schools, or even private practices. Hospitals often have their training programs, but most nursing schools offer them. You can also work as a CNA (Certified Nurse Assistant) for a while before entering an RN program; this will help you gain experience and make it easier to transition into your chosen field after graduation.

Earn Board Certification

Once you have earned your BSN or ADN, you must pass an exam administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). Once this is done, you will be able to apply for jobs as an RN!

Are the Steps to Become an RN Different in All States?

The steps to becoming an RN in the United States vary by state. In addition, each state has its own licensing requirements, which can vary widely.

For example, some states don't require a bachelor's degree in nursing or any other education to get licensed as an RN. But other states require that you have at least a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN) before being certified as an RN.

You'll also need to pass a national exam called the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses). This exam is the same test that most students take when they finish their BSN program and before they graduate—the only difference is that you take this test after graduation instead of before graduation.

Once you've passed the NCLEX-RN exam and met any other requirements for your state, you'll be ready to apply for a license!

Can You Become an RN Online?

It is possible to become a Registered Nurse (RN) online. However, it is essential to note that you must meet specific requirements before obtaining your license. 

  • Completed a bachelor's degree before being eligible for licensure

  • Must be at least 21 years of age or older when applying for licensure

  • Passed a criminal background check and drug screening test

Two types of schools offer online RN programs: for-profit and nonprofit/public. For-profit schools are more likely to offer accelerated programs, which can help you get your license faster than other programs. Nonprofit schools tend to have smaller class sizes and offer more individualized attention from professors and counselors.

It's important to note that just because a school offers an online program doesn't mean the NCSBN or other organization accredits it. Therefore, you should always check with the NCSBN to see if they recognize the school you're considering attending before enrolling in one of their programs!

Furthermore, it is important to note that there are many different types of nursing schools available today, including diploma programs and associate degree programs. These programs will take anywhere from one year up to four years, depending upon which program you choose and whether or not you attend full-time or part-time classes while enrolled at school.

Can You Progress From Being an RN to Any Other Nursing Position?

Yes, you can progress to any other nursing position.

There are many different paths for registered nurses. For example, you may decide to work in oncology or pediatrics. Or you may want to work in a different setting, like an outpatient clinic or urgent care center. If you're going to stay in the hospital, you can pursue additional training and education in cardiology or surgical nursing.

You can even continue your education and become an advanced practice nurse (APN), licensed to provide independent clinical judgment and decision-making authority in specific areas of expertise such as prescribing medications or providing patient education.

There are many different specialties within the scope of practice for RNs. These include:

  • Clinical Nurse Specialist

  • Cardiovascular/Electrophysiology Nursing

  • Critical Care Nursing

  • Emergency Nursing

  • Gerontological Nursing

  • Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing

  • Oncology Nursing

  • Operating Room/Laboratory/Procedure Room (OR/LR/PR) Nursing

  • Outpatient Clinic (OPC) Nursing

  • Palliative Care Nursing

Do Your RN Exam Qualifications Expire?

No, they don't. Your license is valid for two years, and you can renew it before the expiration date if you meet any of the following requirements:

  • You completed an approved refresher training program in the United States during the past two years; or

  • You completed an approved refresher training program outside of the United States during the past two years; or

  • You have been licensed as a registered nurse for at least five years; or

  • You have worked full-time as a registered nurse for at least three years within the past five years.

The first time you renew your license, you'll have to take a course and pay a fee. After that, it's just a matter of renewing your license and paying the fee. 

So how do you know it's time to renew your license?

Each state has its requirements for maintaining an RN license. In most states, it's as simple as checking the list of approved continuing education courses online or asking your employer what classes they offer for license renewal. But some states require more work than others.

For example, California requires you to retake the NCLEX-RN exam if your license has expired for more than two years. Michigan will let you take an exemption test instead of classes if you have been out of school for at least ten years, and Illinois requires a criminal background check every time you renew your license.

It's essential to check with the board in your state before starting any coursework or taking any tests—and definitely before applying for jobs as an RN!

How Much Do RNs Make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a Registered Nurse (RN) in 2021 was $77,600. This is an increase of 3% since 2008, which is well within what we would expect. However, The BLS notes that some specific factors can influence how much you make as a nurse, including what area of the country you work in and your experience level.

For example, if you work somewhere with high demand for nurses—for example, New York City or San Francisco—you might be able to earn more than someone who lives elsewhere. On the other hand, if you're new to the industry, your salary will likely be lower than someone working for many years.

How Long Does It Take to Become an RN?

Becoming a registered nurse (RN) takes time, effort, and dedication. Most RN programs last about four years, though some schools offer accelerated programs that can be completed in as little as one year.

The most important thing you can do is choose a school with high job placement rates and good reviews from students. You'll also want to make sure the Accrediting Commission accredits them for Education in Nursing (ACEN), which certifies nursing programs.

The length of time it takes to become an RN varies depending on where you are in life before starting college, how many credits you already have under your belt, and whether you choose to get started right away or wait until later on down the road. However, the consensus is that most students begin with about 120 credits before becoming licensed as an RN (80 of these credits will go toward your bachelor's degree).

Is It Possible to Work as an RN Without a Degree?

Yes, it's possible to work as an RN without a degree, but having one will make it easier to get hired and advance in your career. Your options include completing an associate's degree or continuing your education with a bachelor's or master's program.

What Are Some Other Ways to Become an RN?

There are also options for people who already have bachelor's degrees in another field.

Some programs offer accelerated programs for students with a bachelor's degree in another field who want to become nurses quickly; others require students to complete additional coursework before beginning their clinical rotations. If you're considering these types of programs, make sure that they'll give you enough hands-on experience so that when it comes time for clinical rotations (which is when students work directly under the supervision of experienced nurses), you'll be ready for them!

What Are the Duties of Registered Nurses

Registered Nurses provide direct patient care. They assess patient needs and develop nursing care plans to meet those needs. Their duties may vary depending on their job setting and state regulations, but they generally include:

  • Performing health assessments of patients

  • Administering medications and treatments as ordered by doctors

  • Monitoring vital signs such as blood pressure, temperature, and pulse rate

  • Assisting with medical procedures such as administering an IV or drawing blood from patients to test for diseases or check for other medical conditions

Bottom Line

If you're looking for a rewarding career that allows you to make a difference in people's lives, becoming a Registered Nurse (RN) may be the right choice. You'll get fair compensation in this career, learn new things, and develop your skills. Plus, you can work anywhere in the U.S., and many nurses choose to travel around. At the same time, they're young and single, which means there are many opportunities for travel nursing jobs and international travel nursing jobs.

If you have obtained your RN certifications and would like to start working in as little as 24 hours, download our ShiftMed App and submit your application. We have numerous shifts, and we will match you with one near your area. So Apply today and get the next day's pay!