How to Become a Nurse in the US

Learn how to become a nurse in the US, in the detailed guide below, complete with information on the education and licensing requirements. Find out about the salary and career outlook for nurses in the US as well, along with a discussion on the steps to become a nurse in the US.

Should I Become a Nurse?

There are several types of nurses in this broad profession, including Registered Nurses (RN), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN), Nurse Practitioners (NP) and Advance Practice Nurses (APN). Nurses can also be defined by the patient group they work with. For instance, addiction nurses would care for patients who need to overcome addictions, while critical care nurses would work in intensive care units.
If you think you have the right amount of compassion, organizational skills, physical stamina and interest in the healthcare field, then a career in nursing might be for you. The following table provides further details of this career. The data provided below is for Registered Nurses.

Education Required Bachelor’s Degree
Training None
License/Certification Required in all States
Key Skills Critical-thinking Skills, Attention to Detail, Physical Stamina, Compassion, Emotional Stability
Annual Mean Salary (2019) – National $77,460
Job Outlook (2018-2028) 12%

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Outlook for a Nurse in the US

The career outlook for registered nurses in the US is quite bright. The growth of 12% in the number of jobs is much higher than the average for all occupations. This growth will add 371,500 new jobs between 2018 and 2028.

Steps to Become a Nurse in the US

1. Complete an Accredited Nursing Program :Students can complete an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree or a diploma from an accredited program. Typical coursework in these programs would include anatomy and physiology, chemistry, healthcare and law, microbiology and psychology.

2. Clear the NCLEX-RN Exam:Registered Nursing programs typically prepare students to pass the NCLEX-RN exam, which is a compulsory component in the process of becoming a registered nurse. Candidates should register with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing for the exam. The test will consist of around 119 questions and would be six hours long.

3. Get a License:All states in the US require registered nurses to be licensed. Students should check with their local nursing boards for further details.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Nurse in the US?

In order to become a registered nurse, students will typically have to complete a 4-year long bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree. Following this, the licensing process would take a few months. The timeline to become a nurse would vary according to the educational choices you make, along with requirements of the local nursing board.

What Are the Requirements to Become a Nurse in the US?

In order to become a licensed registered nurse in the US, aspiring candidates typically have to fulfill the following criteria:

  • Complete a nursing program through an accredited institute
  • Take and pass the NCLEX-RN
  • Look for a job in your local healthcare facilities

How Much Does a Nurse Earn in the US?

As per 2019 data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses made an annual mean income of $77,460. The earning potential for nurses varied according to location, industry of employment and education level.
Business Support Services, which paid an annual mean wage of $92,200 to registered nurses, was the top paying industry for this occupation. The top paying state for registered nurses was California, paying an annual mean wage of $113,240, followed by Hawaii, which paid $104,060 and District of Columbia, which paid $94,820 in 2019.

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