Nursing is one of the most rewarding professions you may choose. The Medscape Nurse Career Satisfaction Report 2020 polled 10,494 nurses, and 98 percent of RNs and 99.5 percent of nurses reported being content with their careers. So, how long does it take to become a registered nurse?
Nurses are well compensated and have various choices for furthering their careers. According to a Gallup poll conducted in 2018, nurses are among the most well-liked professionals in the country.
It’s normal to want to know how long you’ll need to attend school or university to receive your degree if you’re thinking about becoming a nurse.
However, determining which degree to pursue, how long it will take, and how to obtain a license can rapidly become daunting. The answer to the question “how long does it take to become a nurse?” is determined by the degree you pursue.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Job as a Nurse?
The time it takes to become a nurse is determined by your short- and long-term employment aspirations. A registered nurse can be obtained in as little as two years. However, if you choose to work in a magnet-designated medical care facility, you must complete a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.
- Typically, associate degree programs last two years.
- Bachelor’s degree programs require four years to complete.
- Typically, a bachelor’s degree with straight entry takes three years.
- The transition from LPN to RN takes between one and two years.
- A typical RN to BSN curriculum lasts around two years.
Nursing is a large field. A nurse can work in hundreds of different specialties. And obtaining employment in various specialties involves a variety of different skills and certifications.
As a result, the time required to become a specialty nurse varies by position. Additionally, depending on your aim, you may need to get a master’s or doctoral degree.
There are various degrees of nursing and numerous routes to becoming a nurse. I’ve broken down the various stages below to help you visualize the impact schooling will have on your career as a nurse.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse?
To become an LPN, it takes approximately 12-24 months. If you’re looking to jumpstart your nursing career, being a licensed practical nurse is an excellent choice.
While LPNs do many of the same responsibilities as RNs, they are not responsible for advanced functions such as care planning and often report to a supervisory RN or physician.
Practical Nursing Diploma
Obtaining a Practical Nursing Diploma (PN) is the best path to becoming an LPN. For part-time students, earning a diploma in practical nursing may take up to two years. However, if you enroll in the appropriate school, you may be able to earn your license and become a Licensed Practical Nurse in less than a year (LPN).
Bear in mind that regardless of the type of nurse you wish to become, you must have completed your high school education prior to enrolling in a registered nursing program. If you have not completed high school, you can acquire a GED and then pursue a diploma or degree to become an RN.
LPN programs train students to fill critical positions in medical care facilities by equipping them with the necessary classroom and clinical abilities. A Licensed Practical Nurse who successfully completes an LPN-BSN program can earn their BSN afterwards. These programs are completed in three years because the credits earned in the LPN program apply toward the BSN degree.
Students must pass the NCLEX-PN exam after completing the program and receiving their certificate in order to obtain their licensure and begin working as nurses.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Registered Nurse (RN)?
A registered nurse takes between two and four years to complete. Earn an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing to become an RN (BSN).
Associate and bachelor’s degree nurses have a larger scope of practice than LPNs. Additionally, your position may vary by location, including hospitals, ambulatory care, and clinics, depending on your degree.
Nursing Associate’s Degree
Historically, an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN or ASN) degree has been a two-year college-level course of study.
Earning an associate’s degree qualifies you to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing administers it, and passing it earns you your registered nurse (RN) license.
Obtaining an associate’s degree in nursing, however, is merely the first step toward a career in nursing. The majority of firms prefer to hire nurses with a Bachelor of Science degree.
To improve your career and gain employment in larger care facilities, you must earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. This can be accomplished by enrolling in a two-year bridge RN-BSN program following completion of this degree. The credits earned by successfully completing the degree program and becoming a registered nurse will apply toward your Bachelor’s Degree, helping you to obtain it more quickly.
If you earned sufficient credits during your ADN program, you may be able to complete your BSN in one year rather than two.
If you choose to get an associate’s degree in order to become an RN quickly, ensure that the program is allowed by your state’s board of nursing.
Nursing Bachelor’s Degree
A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is the most effective path to become a Registered Nurse (RN). BSN programs normally last four years. They equip you with the education and training necessary to work as a registered nurse in any hospital in the country or abroad.
If you’re serious about learning the full scope of nursing, the BSN is the degree you need to get. Registered nurses with a BSN degree have an advantage over individuals who hold a nursing diploma or associate degree. The reason for this is that they have more work opportunities and earn more money.
Apart from being a prerequisite for becoming an RN and working in a magnet-designated hospital, a BSN is required to qualify for specialized training and admission to master’s and doctoral programs.
It’s worth mentioning that some nursing schools permit part-time study and require the majority of courses to be completed online. However, these students must complete their study by gaining essential practical experience at a neighboring medical care center.
Bachelor’s Degree Programs with Direct Admission
It is critical to note that if you currently hold a bachelor’s degree in another discipline and wish to change careers, you must enroll in a Direct Entry Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.
In some instances, you will not be required to complete your degree in four years. Direct entry programs last around 18 months. After completing the 18-month training program, you will be qualified to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam and obtain your licensure.
Bachelor’s Degree Accelerated Programs
If you are currently a registered nurse, you may enroll in an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program to obtain your BSN.
In some instances, you will not be required to complete your degree in four years. Accelerated nursing programs last only 18 months. After completing the 18-month training program, you will be qualified to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam and obtain your licensure.
How Long Does It Take to Earn an APRN Credential?
After earning your BSN, it takes around 18 months to become an APRN. You’ll need a graduate degree, such as a Master of Science in Nursing, to do so (MSN).
Graduate-level programs are frequently specialized. They are not intended to prepare you for every graduate-level position, such as that of a nurse anesthetist. As a result, the majority of general MSN programs prepare nurses for positions as nurse administrators, nurse managers, and other leadership positions.
What Is the Time Commitment to Becoming a Nurse Practitioner?
If you already have a BSN, becoming a Nurse Practitioner takes roughly 18 months.
The nurse practitioner (NP) position is in high demand. Indeed, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the profession will expand by an astonishing 52% by2029, making it one of the fastest growing in the country.
As an APRN, you’ll require a master’s degree with a concentration in nurse practitioner. When enrolled full-time, a direct-entry nurse practitioner program can take between 18 and 36 months to complete. Additionally, a nurse practitioner bridge program might take approximately 36 months, depending on the specialty chosen.
The BLS reports that registered nurses make a median annual salary of $75,330. If you wish to specialize and cater to a certain patient population or assist patients in recovering from a specific condition, gaining a master’s or doctoral degree and obtaining necessary certifications is the best course of action.
Obtaining a graduate-level degree from the appropriate institution or university enables you to pursue any nursing position you desire. You can concentrate in health research or train to become a hospital administrator, for example.
Earning potential is increased by obtaining a graduate degree. It will also enable you to begin a career as a leader in public health or a related field if you so desire.
Obtaining Financial Assistance
Whatever type of nurse you wish to be, you can receive financial assistance for your nursing study. Additionally, you can receive financial assistance to attend university if you are already employed as a Registered Nurse (RN).
You have two options: apply for a grant or receive a scholarship. Applying for both is a good idea if obtaining training is financially prohibitive.
How to Apply for a Grant
To be eligible for a grant, you must complete the FAFSA. If you (and your family, if you are a dependent) demonstrate financial need, you may be eligible for government assistance. Applying for FAFSA also provides information about your financial situation to the institution or university where you wish to study.
If the school or university deems it necessary, it will provide you with the additional financing necessary to become a registered nurse or graduate. You may be eligible for aid from a variety of sources, including institutional grants and scholarships.
A student may be eligible for two types of government aid, depending on their financial need. Several types of government grants are available to you, including the following:
- The Pell Grant is available to students and families with an annual income of $25,000 or less. Thousands of students receive it each year, and as long as you maintain a satisfactory academic standing, you will continue to receive aid until you obtain your degree.
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant: Filing the FAFSA also qualifies you for FSEOG help. The scholarship gives financial assistance to students who demonstrate an exceptional financial need.
- State grants: While the majority of states provide financial aid to nursing students upon completion of the FAFSA form, states such as Texas and New York require students to submit a separate application to be considered for a state award.
Additionally, nursing organizations and colleges provide financial aid to students in need. Thus, even if you are an undergraduate student, it is worthwhile to inquire at the university where you wish to study.
How to Apply for a Scholarship
Scholarships are not the same as grants. To qualify for a government grant to pursue a career as a Registered Nurse (RN), students must demonstrate financial necessity. By contrast, private organizations, institutions, schools, and communities frequently award scholarships based on merit or a certain lifestyle.
In other words, you may qualify for financial aid if you are a mother returning to school or if you are a male nurse interested in becoming an RN. You can conduct an internet search for scholarships that you are eligible for.
Applying for both grants and scholarships is the most effective strategy to alleviate some of the financial strain associated with university attendance.
How to Choose the Appropriate Nursing Program
Due to the great need for trained health care professionals, you are likely to find multiple nursing schools in your area.
Ascertain if the program in which you’re interested is accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
The organization maintains a searchable database of programs that you can filter to locate the appropriate curriculum. It’s available on their website or here.
When selecting a nursing school, it is critical to consider the following:
- The nursing school’s accreditation;
- class schedules
- classroom requirements
- practical requirements
- credit transfer policies
- future opportunities offered by the school.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are approximately 3.1 million nurses employed in the United States. According to the bureau’s report, the medical industry anticipates adding 221,900 nurse jobs by 2029. Another study predicts a registered nurse workforce deficit until 2030.
In other words, there has never been a better moment to pursue a career as a nurse.
Persistence is required to become a Registered Nurse (RN). However, the good compensation and experience gained from mending patients justify completing nursing school and obtaining an education.