Nurses studying together for nursing school

Depending on your degree, the time it takes to become a registered nurse in the United States can range from 16 months to four years.

How Long Each Nursing Position Takes to Become Qualified

In the healthcare industry, nursing is a significant occupation. Below is a breakdown of how long it takes to complete various nursing courses before attaining the relevant qualification.

How Long Does Becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Take?

Under the immediate guidance of a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) assists patients with activities of daily life and other medical services. A CNA can also be a nurse's assistant, a patient care assistant (PCA), or a nursing assistant.

CNAs help in the smooth running of a nursing unit. It's beneficial for nurses with multiple patients with complex medical issues. 

Some of the responsibilities of a CNA include but are not limited to:

  • Turning and repositioning patients

  • Gathering medical supplies for the Registered Nurse or Medical Doctor

  • Measuring vital signs as protocol dictates

  • Responding to patient calls and bells

  • Documenting all information obtained from patients

The program duration takes 4 to 8 weeks, considering the location and class size.

Recommended Reading - How to Become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)?

How Long Does It Take to Become A Licensed Practical Nurse?

Pursuing a diploma in Licensed Practical Nursing is the speediest way to kickstart your nursing career. You can obtain a hands-on nursing diploma between one and two years, considering the institution and the number of semesters the school requires. In addition, a technical school or a college can provide LPN programs. 

However, your state's nursing board must approve them. Compared to earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, pursuing an associate nursing degree is not the swiftest way to becoming a registered nurse. 

An associate nursing degree fulfills the requirements of becoming a registered nurse. However, many employers now require you to have a BSN to become a registered nurse.

The curriculum for obtaining a diploma comprises both class instruction and practical skills. As a result, diploma programs in nursing are quicker than other kinds of degrees. This procedure ensures aspiring nurses meet reasonable-level competencies. 

Although this is a quicker path toward becoming a nurse, students need to know that fewer career options may be available. LPNs may help other nursing staff with regular medical tasks. They may also give patients basic care.

Recommended Reading - How to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) in the USA.

How Long Does It Take to Become A Registered Nurse?

A nursing student can take about three years to be a licensed registered RN. 

The process occurs after you successfully complete the core curriculum at an accredited higher learning institution.

You must have the qualifications for an accelerated nursing program. These programs recognize general education credit points from other studies. This saves you from taking multiple semesters of classes. The estimated time required to complete an expedited nursing degree is one and a half years.

Irrespective of the program you select, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLE) to be a registered nurse. Students are expected to submit their application to a state-based nursing board in addition to taking the exam. Therefore, it is crucial to prepare for the exam adequately. Passing this vital exam could affect the period it takes to become a certified RN.

Recommended Reading - Everything You Need to Know to Become a Registered Nurse (RN) in the USA

How Long Is an RN to A BSN Program?

According to Laboure, the average time to earn a BSN in nursing is four years. Therefore, a BSN is the best option for those wanting to learn about the full range of nursing's professional specialties as a vocation. In addition, more employment and pay opportunities might be available with a bachelor's degree in nursing.

Bachelor's degree-holding Registered Nurses (RNs) are much more inclined to work in healthcare facilities such as hospitals. This is in comparison to working in clinics or other environments. With a bachelor's degree in nursing, one can also qualify for higher salaries during entry. A BSN also offers more opportunities for higher education.

LPN-BSN or RN-BSN programs generally take between one and three years. The programs may be available to Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) or Registered Nurses (RNs) interested in obtaining a bachelor's degree. 

These candidates can complete their bachelor's degree before other candidates complete a conventional 4-year BSN program. That's because they already possess prior schooling and nursing licensure.

How Long Does Becoming an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Take?

To become an Advanced Practice Nurse, one can pursue a Master of Science in Nursing, a Doctor of Nursing, or a Nurse Practitioner Program.

Through a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program, Nursing students can specialize in fields like:

  • Health research

  • Treatment of particular patient populaces or medical conditions

  • Hospital Administration

A graduate nursing degree can boost one's earning potential. It also provides access to jobs in public health and services. You will need 2-3 Years to attain a Post-Graduate Program for a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). For the Post-Graduate Program for a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), you will need 3-4 years.

Doctor of Nursing Practice-educated nurses is at the pinnacle of nursing knowledge and leadership. They may play multiple roles, including:

  • Administration

  • Education 

  • Clinical settings

  • Healthcare policy

Another type of Advanced Practice Registered Nurse is the Nurse Practitioner. It is open to graduates of either an MSN program or a Doctor of Nursing Practice program. A nurse practitioner can work in various specialties, including cardiology, family medicine, psychiatry, pediatrics, and gerontology. Upon acceptance into the Nurse Practitioner program, completion typically takes two to four years.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree should be the minimum requirement for direct care Advanced Practice Nursing roles, although this requirement is not yet in place. However, DNP degrees command respect in inadvertent healthcare settings, such as nursing informatics, organization culture, and health care policy.

Recommended Reading - How To Become An Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)

Levels of Nursing Degrees

Contingent on their immediate and lengthy career objectives, various levels of education are available for trained nurses. The scope of nursing is wide-ranging. It includes everything from helping doctors with routine tasks to sitting on hospital boards with executive authority. 

According to Laboure, there are various nursing degree levels, including:

A Practical Nursing Diploma

This diploma provides the fastest way to kickstart your career. Attaining this diploma gets you closer to reaching your License as a Practical Nurse. Typically, it will take you 24 months to complete the certification. The period is dependent on the school and the required number of semesters.

Associate Degree in Nursing

Associate Degree in Nursing is an entire two-year program that allows students to become registered nurses. The program will help you earn RN credentials. It is a step toward pursuing a dedicated profession in nursing. 

Bachelor's Degree in Nursing

Bachelor's Degree in Nursing is a four-year program. It is ideal for those students seeking to become nursing professionals. It offers additional salary and job opportunities.

Graduate Level Degrees

Not everyone will follow this path because you can secure a job with other nursing degrees. Graduate-level degrees include the Post Graduate Program for Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), taking around 2 to 3 years, and the Post-Graduate Program for Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), taking 3 to 4 years.

Factors That Can Affect How Long It Takes to Become A Nurse

Nurse celebrating graduating from nursing school

The decision on whether to become a nurse is an exciting one. First, however, you should consider factors determining how long it takes you to fulfill your dream. 

Some of these factors include:

  • The type of Nurse you want to be

  • The modalities of earning your nursing degree

  • Whether you’re going to school full-time or not

  • How you will take your classes, online or in-person

  • The need for hands-on experience before taking up more responsibilities

If You Study Part-Time or Full-Time Will Affect How Quickly You Can Become Qualified

According to Nurse, you will finish a program in the shortest amount of time if you can devote yourself to it full-time, but your financial state or other obligations may prevent you from doing so.

Fortunately, part-time study provides an answer to both of those problems. First, it lowers the costs, giving you the freedom to keep working, taking care of the family, or attending to other obligations.

Taking Breaks Between Qualifications

Additionally, many people think it's beneficial to spend time between each level of education they complete. It's an approach that gives them enough time to gain expertise in the field. The time also ensures they investigate various specialties and hone their interests.

Whatever nursing program you select, your training will position you for a fulfilling career. The career will allow you to collaborate with others and improve patients' quality of life. It will also help you provide for your own needs in a way you are proud of and develop.

Your Previous Level of Education and Requirement to Pass Pre-Requisite Qualifications

Concordia states that your previous level of education directly impacts whether you can become a registered nurse. All ABSN@CTX students, for instance, must first satisfy the qualifying conditions of Concordia University in Texas, which include;

  • GPA requirements

  • Passing the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS VI) a year after the application deadline 

  • Fulfilling other enrollment requirements

Compared to several other ABSN pathways, which might need completion of a non-nursing bachelor's degree for enrollment, these requirements are more manageable for students. 

Additionally, ABSN@CTX students must have earned a minimum of 60 credits before enrolling. The students must attain this through prior academic experience or by finishing the prerequisite online courses at Concordia University Texas.

How quickly did you study and pass the NCLEX-RN exam?

The National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-RN) is a requirement nationwide to practice as a nurse lawfully. It is essential in making you a practitioner nurse. 

After receiving your degree, you can use the abilities and knowledge you've developed for the exam, hopefully succeeding on your first try.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Duration of Nursing School

How Long Are Nursing Clinical During Nursing School?

According to Quora, nursing clinical refers to the practical, hospital-based, "on-the-field" part of nursing school. It typically lasts four semesters United States (2 years.) You spend the first two years studying the sciences and taking pre-requisite classes. 

The final two years are studying nursing with a focus on medical-surgical, mental health treatment, labor and delivery, family medicine, critical care, emergency, geriatrics, pediatrics, perioperative, and public health.

You can expect to spend a certain amount of clinical days in the hospital per week, based on the nursing program at your school.

Clinical typically takes place two days a week. You spend the remaining days in the lab and classroom. 

What Is the Fastest Way to Become A Registered Nurse

Countless people believe earning an associate's nursing degree, compared to a 4-year BSN, is the fastest path toward becoming a registered nurse. After all, it typically takes two years to finish an associate's degree in nursing. 

An associate's degree in nursing may satisfy the technical specifications for becoming an RN. However, an increasing number of firms now demand that all new hires complete their BSN if the firms are to consider them for an RN position.

If speed is essential to you, enrolling in an expedited BSN program, which will enable you to complete your nursing undergraduate in less time than the typical four years, is sure to be in your best interests.

Choosing the Right Program

Before deciding whether to go for a four-year BSN, an accelerated degree, or an MSN, you must do your homework first. The task ensures you make the right decision to help you achieve your goals. 

Ideally, the best program would offer a curriculum to help you pass your NCLEX exams. However, according to Regis College, choosing a program that allows you to interact with staff members already practicing in the nursing field is essential.