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How Long to Become a Registered Nurse?

As a person considering the career option of becoming a registered nurse, you will naturally be asking yourself how long does it take to become a registered nurse. Any person considering a certain career will first be interested in knowing how long would the studies and preparations for this career take.

The actual duration of studies in order to become an RN will vary from one person to another depending on their education path and the speed of their study courses. In addition, it will also differ because of the state control and licensing which determines how long a person takes to enter into the nursing profession. Once one has finished the prerequisites needed to enter a registered nurse program, it will usually take between two to four years to become a registered nurse. The choice of nursing course to take will determine how long it will take a person to become a registered nurse.

In order to become a registered nurse one has to pass the NCLEX-RN licensure test. One is qualified to take this test after obtaining a preliminary degree, which can be one of three options: A Bachelor of Sciences in Nursing degree, an Associate of Nursing degree, or a Nursing Diploma. The choice of degree will be the main factor determining how long it would take to become a registered nurse.

The longest and most intensive option of the three would be to obtain first a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. If you do not have a previous degree in a different field, following a bachelor's program will usually take 4 years. A person who has already graduated with a bachelor degree in a different field will often be qualified to an accelerated program which takes only 1 to 2 years to complete.

Becoming an Associate of Nursing (ASN or ADN) is the easier option. This course will usually take 2 years, after which one is qualified to take the registered nursing licensure exam. A person following this program can, if interested to broaden his or her career options, take later a bridge RN to BSN program in order to complete the Bachelor's degree.

A diploma in nursing is a more rare option, which had been more popular in the past but now is usually found only in hospital-based schools. Obtaining a diploma in nursing will usually take between 2 and 3 years.

Apart from ADN and BSN nursing programs, a person aspiring to become a nurse can decide to first become a licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) after a one-year study (or, in some cases, an 18 month program) and then later further his/her studies to become a registered nurse, after working a few years as a practical nurse. This bridge program will often taking another 2 years.

As mentioned before, after completing the degree program, the registered nurse candidate has to pass in the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in order to qualify to be a registered nurse. One has to apply to the state's board of nursing in order to get the ATT (Authorization to Test), which will be given only if the candidate has completed an accredited program in one of the options above.

Although a shorter ASN degree is enough in order to become a registered nurse, a higher degree which takes four years will also be essential for those aspiring to become a more competitive nursing practitioner. The question of which program to take should depend not only on the question of how long to become a registered nurse, but also on your future aspirations.

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