How to Become a Registered Nurse (RN) in 2024

August 31, 2020

Are you interested in becoming a registered nurse? Better yet, are you wondering if a career in nursing is even worth it? Maybe you’re having a hard time deciding which school to go to and what program is best. You may also have questions concerning financial aid available for nursing students.

Read on below for answers to these questions, and more. By the time you finish, you’ll be more than prepared to begin your nursing school journey. But before we dive in, let’s take a quick look at what it means to work as a registered nurse.

Nurses serve the community and assist physicians, doctors, and account for some of the sharpest minds in medicine today. They are central to the medical process, providing care for the patients that enter clinics, hospitals, and other medical facilities.

Today, there is a remarkably high demand for nurses across medical institutions. The reasons why are varied.

As noted by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics  (BLS), the aging baby boomer population will need increasing levels of medical care as they grow older.

There is also the need to replace those who are aging out of the profession and preparing for retirement. As such, future demands for qualified nurses will only continue to grow. 

Steps to Becoming a RN

Once you’ve committed to pursue a career in nursing, the steps to becoming a registered nurse are pretty straightforward. From education to experience, graduation to exams, discover what it takes to become an RN in just a few simple steps.

Step 1: Fulfill the Prerequisites

To pursue an Associate in Science Degree in New England Tech, candidates must have a high school diploma, a recognized equivalency diploma (GED), or fulfill the federal home school requirements.

Related article – Nursing school requirements

Step 2: Enroll in a Registered Nursing Program

Before you can participate in the nursing profession, you need to gain the knowledge and skills needed to assess patient conditions and perform certain procedures. To do so, you can enroll in nursing school to earn your degree. 

There are professional nursing opportunities all over the country, and you will be able to find an accredited program to suit your needs. The process takes just a few years to complete. Upon graduation, you’ll need to pass a few additional exams. From there, you’ll be able to join the world of professional nursing. 

The Degrees You Can Pursue

There are many degrees available to aspiring nurses, including an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), etc. 


Earn your degree in Nursing from NEIT and begin your new career path today!




You can earn these through nursing programs and partner programs. It’s essential to pass the Registered Nurse Exam that NCLEX offers, but we’ll get more into that later.

A nursing student

Diploma in Nursing

A diploma or certificate course are two entry-level options for individuals interested in becoming a nursing practitioner.These programs only cover the necessary topics in primary nursing care.

While a certificate program in nursing offers the fastest way to become a registered nurse, it will only qualify you for the licensure examination National Council Licensure Examination NCLEX-PN for practical and vocational nurses. A licensed practical nurse (LPN) certificate is an example of an entry-level nursing program.

This qualification means you will only be able to apply for the most basic nursing job options, such as licensed vocational nurses and certified nursing assistants (CNAs). Please note that a certified nursing assistant or a licensed vocational nurse is not an RN.

Nurse practitioners who graduate from a diploma course need to complete further training and education to become an RN, such as an associate program in nursing or BSN degree, to qualify to apply for RN licensure. 

Associate Degree in Nursing

Associate’s Degree in Nursing programs is the second rung of collegiate nursing education required to become an RN.

The requirements for these courses are the same as that of a diploma. Both take around two years to complete. 

There are many jobs available to those who graduate with this degree. The positions and responsibilities that graduates can access are also more advanced than those available to diploma students.

Most medical offices require candidates to have at least an associate’s degree before scheduling them for an interview and considering them for the role. 

Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

A bachelor’s degree in nursing usually demands about 120 credits in place of the 60 credits typically assigned to associate’s degree programs.

Bachelor’s degrees provide a more comprehensive level of education to students. Nursing schools that offer this program provide a solid foundation in different areas of nursing and inpatient health specialities. 

Say you’ve completed your associate degree in nursing or some other field from a school and are looking to gain a bachelor of science degree after registering as a nurse. In that case, you can explore RN to BSN options at this degree level.

RNs with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing can enjoy advanced practice opportunities, a quicker growth rate, better nursing positions with higher wages, and possibilities of jobs at superior care facilities and nursing homes.

The bachelor’s degree requirements for nursing programs aren’t too different from other options on this list. However, the GPA requirements to become a Registered Nurse with a bachelor’s in nursing are usually higher – around the 3.0 mark.

Nursing Students

Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Because of the worldwide demand for nursing professionals, the Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) has become one of the most popular degrees in the field.

This type of education allows RNs or BSN graduates to further their careers, helps students specialize in various areas, and is necessary for doctorate studies in nursing.

While most postgraduate nursing degrees take around 1-2 years to complete, some MSN courses require three years.

Doctorate Degree in Nursing

A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a practice-oriented doctorate program for registered nurses (RNs) who want to become advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) or nurse administrators.

Nurses usually obtain a DNP to gain advanced preparation to provide safe, effective patient care. This terminal degree for advanced practice nurses helps them develop their knowledge while engaging in evidence-based research and teaching.

Step 3: Qualify as a Nurse Registered with the Specialist Examination; NCLEX-RN

The National Council Licensure Examination is required to become an RN in the USA and a few other countries.

Of all the RN programs, this is one of the more essential nursing programs for prospects to pursue to continue with a career in nursing. 

Completing the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-RN, will also help you meet licensure requirements – a crucial aspect of the nursing-careers process that should not be taken lightly.

How to Become a Registered Nurse : Academics

Step 4: Acquire Hands-on Experience

Most healthcare professionals graduate from their programs ready to tackle real-life situations, armed with the critical thinking, actionable knowledge, and nursing competencies that comprehensive nursing programs provide. 

Still, it’s important to commit time to learning on the job. Practical nursing care programs can help you find internship and observation opportunities at outpatient care centers, physicians’ offices, hospitals, clinics, home healthcare services, and more.

Learning on-site helps RNs navigate the patient landscape and exercise on-the-spot solutions that can keep patients healthy, and alive. 

A nurse measuring the vitals

Step 5: Find Your First Job

Finding your first nursing job can be intimidating, but it’s easy with the right preparation. Here are some interviewing tips:

Read the Job Description and Learn the Requirements

Study everything you can in advance about the prospective employer. Learn as much as you can about their facilities, management, staff, policies, and more. Consider your strengths and weaknesses as they relate to this particular job.

Rehearse Your Nursing Interview Questions

It is best to consider all the possible questions that the interviewer could ask and prepare your responses in advance. A few questions you might be asked include:

  • How would you deal with someone who isn’t satisfied with your patient care?
  • Why did you decide to be a nurse?
  • What do you find rewarding about this job?
  • What do you think is your most excellent skill as a nurse?

Take Care of Yourself

Make sure to eat well, get a good night’s sleep, and hydrate before the interview. It does not help to show up tired, weary, anxious, or unprepared for your interview.

Dress for the Part

It is advisable to wear more formal attire in muted colors. Be modest and well-groomed.

Arrive Early

Be calm and collected. Arrive early, maintain eye contact, and take along a copy of your résumé.

Pay Careful Attention

Arrive early and take a few moments to absorb what you are seeing. Pay close attention to the atmosphere, get a sense of the work culture, the dynamics you see playing out. Once the interview begins, carefully consider the types of questions your interviewer asks.

Take Your Time

Sailing through an interview isn’t about briskly giving answers to questions. Think of it as more of a conversation, so consider what you are saying and make sure you’re representing yourself in the best light possible.

Ask Pertinent Questions

When asked if you have any questions for the interviewer, it is best to have a few ready. You could ask about their work culture, overtime and scheduling. Candidates who don’t ask questions aren’t as likely to leave an impression as those who do. 

Be well-prepared with these answers so you can tackle them without hesitation. You can even talk with people who have already given interviews, ask your mentor or watch a few YouTube interviews for inspiration.

Additional Training, Nursing Specialties, and Education Options

There’s been a heavier emphasis on occupational specialization as of late. Those exploring a certain area within their bachelor’s, associate’s, or master’s programs should keep an eye out for any developments concerning this space and act accordingly.

There is also plenty of room for growth. Listed below are a few options to consider even after becoming an RN.

Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN)

An RN to BSN program helps registered nurses to advance their careers in the healthcare field.

This program also allows RNs to improve patient outcomes and community health. It also allows you to enhance your résumé and increase job security. 

You can pursue online RN to BSN programs designed for working registered nurses (RNs) who have an ADN or nursing diploma. Such RN to BSN degree programs can more easily fit into the RN’s schedule.

Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Nursing MSN programs typically require the candidate to choose from a scope of nursing specialties. You can become an advanced practice registered nurse, a nurse practitioner, nurse-midwife, nurse educator, nurse anesthetist, gerontology specialist, and more.

Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

This program focuses on developing the knowledge and skills necessary to deliver advanced practice nursing services throughout the lifespan, including diverse and under-served populations.

This program includes health promotion, disease prevention, assessment, and management of common acute and chronic illnesses across the health spectrum.

Whether you choose an associate degree or a two-year bachelor’s RN program, and regardless of whether you decide to pursue a master’s degree in the field, as long as you do your job with the right level of passion and energy, you are sure to succeed.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Registered Nurse?

An associate’s degree in nursing is the minimum educational requirement for becoming a registered nurse.

You can complete the New England Institute of Technology’s AS in Nursing in as little as 18 months.

Once you receive your RN, you can enroll in our accelerated programs to achieve your BSN. While traditional BSN programs can take up to 32 months, you can obtain your RN-to-BSN at NEIT in just eight months or two semesters so long as you have cleared all the GE requirements before enrollment!  Here’s an interesting read – How hard is a nursing school?

A Snapshot of the Job Outlook and Salaries

The projected job outlook data for nursing from 2018-28 is 12%, which is much faster than the average for all industries. As for the pay scale of the nursing field in the US, the median salary amount for registered nurses in 2019 was $73,300.

So, if you wish to enter the healthcare space and become a registered nurse or RN, now is a great time to do it as the industry is on the cusp of significant growth.

A career as a registered nurse (RN) is both challenging and fulfilling in equal measure. The pay is nearly double that of the national median, so there’s nothing lacking on the money and salaries score. There’s no shortage of RN job opportunities either, and the job market is only set to improve, so career prospects are covered too.

Add to that the job satisfaction of helping those that are in need of treatment and care, and making a positive contribution to society.

There are specific steps that you need to follow to become a registered nurse or an RN who has the necessary credentials and qualifications to enter into the healthcare system as a professional.

So, if getting a nursing degree is part of your career goals, follow these steps to accomplish your goal.

Salary Outlook

As for the pay scale of the nursing field in the US, the median salary amount for registered nurses in 2020 was $75,330 per annum and $36.22 per hour.

Based on the median wages, the highest 10 percent earned more than $116,230, while the lowest 10 percent earned less than $53,410.


If you’re interested in becoming a registered nurse, the right education is the first and foremost requirement for becoming a registered nurse. After completing your education, you must pass your NCLEX-RN licensure exam and gain relevant work experience to make a fulfilling career in this field.

Ready to get started on this career path?

The New England Institute of Technology was named as the best nursing school in Rhode Island and continues to provide online and offline education to prospects. Our fully-equipped labs and highly-trained faculty can help you understand the critical details in the field.

With an AS in Nursing from the New England Institute of Technology, you become eligible to appear for the National Council licensure exam.

We also offer a comprehensive RN-to-BSN program to help you advance even further in the profession. 

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Earn your degree in Nursing from NEIT and begin your new career path today!





What Is the Fastest Way to Become a Registered Nurse?

Acquiring an ADN or an Associate’s degree in Nursing is the fastest direct route to your career as a registered nurse. Only a few people realize that the title of an RN can be earned with either a diploma, an associate or bachelor’s degree. By going for an ADN, you can launch your career as a registered nurse (RN) in as few as 18 months.

How Many Years Does It Take to Be an RN?

This depends on your level of dedication and the kind of degree you’re opting for. An associate’s degree program, that provides entry-level opportunities, takes approximately 2 years whereas a bachelor’s degree program takes up to four years. Additionally, a bachelor’s degree with direct entry typically takes approximately 3 years.

Can You Become an RN Online?

Yes, you can become an RN through an online nursing degree. There are many full-time and part-time courses available. You can do your research and try looking for a course that matches your nursing goals.

What Are the Highest Paying Specialties in Nursing?

According to, some of the highest paying jobs are:

  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
  • General Nurse Practitioner
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Certified Nurse Midwife

Does My Nursing License Transfer Between States?

Transferring your RN license from state to state isn’t as complicated as you may think, thanks to the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). The NLC allows nurses to have one license that is valid in multiple states – up to 25 states and counting. If you want you can even get a multi-state license.

What Are the Things to Look for in a Good Degree Program?

If you’re planning to become an RN, here are some tips that should help you choose your nursing school and degree program.

  • Costs and fees of courses and availability of support including everything from scholarships, grants, and financial aid to loans
  • The overall school rankings
  • Recognized nursing practice accreditation and certifications
  • Competition for seats, length of wait-lists, and past performance in terms of exams and results
  • Availability of learning resources like community centers and high-technology
  • Chemistry, biology, anatomy, and nutrition labs with a nursing specialty focus
  • Presence of clinical, nursing research facilities, instructors, and quality of classroom experience
  • Location of campus, and proximity to areas that offer travel flexibility in terms of both the state and zip code of the campus
  • Ratings of administration, leadership, staff, and school board on student recommendation websites
  • Placements and job choice and prospects for people that have passed out from the institute.

Is a Bachelor’s Degree Necessary for Registered Nurses? Or Will an Associate’s DegreeWork?

An Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) is enough for you to gain the title of a Registered Nurse (RN), but a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) can help you secure jobs with higher responsibilities such as clinical nurse specialists, advanced practice registered nurses, and more.

Naturally, you’ll have higher pay and more career stability when you pursue more advanced roles in nursing care facilities.

Can You Become an RN Without a Degree?

Registered nurses must acquire their RN license to work in nursing organizations and hospitals. Passing the NCLEX-RN exam is the first step for applying for licensure. Students must complete the prerequisite education to become eligible for the NCLEX exam. In other words, there is no way to become an RN without a degree.

Can You Become an RN Online?

You can apply for online associate programs in nursing to fulfill the eligibility requirements for your licensure examination. However, most programs require you to complete a specific number of practicum hours to meet your clinical experience requirements.

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