How long does it take to become a registered nurse (RN)? That’s a common question that people ask me when they develop an interest in becoming an RN. The answer is that it depends on a few things. I’ll try to explain how long it takes to become a registered nurse, and then I’ll share how long it took me to become an RN.
How Long It Takes to Become an RN
The time it takes to become a registered nurse will largely depend on the type of degree program you choose to pursue. There are three basic ways you can become a registered nurse in the United States.
- You can complete a diploma program. Diploma programs aren’t as common as the other two methods below, but they do still exist as of this writing. These are usually offered by hospitals, and they take approximately 2-3 years to complete.
- You can complete an associate’s degree in nursing, also called an ADN degree. An associate’s degree is usually offered by technical schools or community colleges, and they generally take 2-3 years to complete.
- You can complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing, also called a BSN degree. A BSN degree is offered by the traditional colleges and universities, and they typically take about four years to complete.
See also: ADN vs BSN degree
In summary, it takes about 2-4 years to complete the educational requirements to become an RN (depending on which degree type you pursue), and after that, you’ll have to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. Once you pass the NCLEX-RN exam, you’ll be licensed to practice in your state.
Accelerated Degree Programs
If you already have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in another field, but you’d like to go back to school to earn your nursing degree, there are accelerated or “second degree” programs offered by many community colleges and universities. These can save you time and money by allowing you to skip some of the required core classes that you’d have to take otherwise.
So if you already have a degree but plan to go back to nursing school, you definitely want to see if your local nursing schools offer any accelerated or second degree programs, for that can make your nursing degree easier to obtain.
How I became a Registered Nurse
I graduated high school in the spring of 2005, and in the fall of 2005, I began attending a local university that offered a traditional 4-year BSN program. I thought that I’d get to jump right into the nursing program, but it usually doesn’t work that way in a traditional BSN program. During the first two years, I had to complete the basic core classes, such as history, English, anatomy and physiology, and so forth.
Once my core classes were completed, I had to apply to the actual nursing program within the university, which I did around my sophomore year. Once accepted, I began taking nursing classes. (And let me tell you, nursing classes were quite different than the core classes, because the nursing classes were much more in-depth and technical.)
I graduated from nursing school in the spring (May) of 2009. I took my NCLEX-RN exam that following June, and I passed the NCLEX in 75 questions. (Yay!)
So, after I graduated high school, it took me four years to complete my BSN degree and pass the NCLEX exam.