Whether you've dreamed of becoming a registered nurse (RN) or you're looking at the job opportunities, there are a number of different registered nurse degree programs to fit your goals. Once you are in school, you might get a better idea of where you want to work after graduation. RNs work in hospitals, offices, clinics, schools, home health care, research, to list a few.
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How To Become a Registered Nurse
There are different paths to a Registered Nurse degree:
- Traditional RN diploma or degree
- Accelerated RN program
- LPN to RN, if you are a licensed practical nurse
- LVN to RN, if you are a licensed vocational nurse
Most RN educational programs are taught in community colleges or universities rather than in hospital schools. You can obtain an Associate Degree Nursing (ADN), which usually takes two or three years or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), which usually takes about four years.
You must complete your education from an accredited nursing program, either on campus or online. If you do go with an online nursing program, you still need to do clinical, hands-on work under an instructor's supervision. After training, you must take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) and pass it before your state Board of Nursing will grant you a nursing license.
As older nurses and baby boomers retire and the general population ages, more nurses are needed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the need for registered nurses will rise by 22% between 2008 and 2018. RN salaries vary greatly based on location, type of work, and experience. Earning a registered nurse degree will give you a leverage to negotiate both salary and advancement opportunities. In 2008, the median annual salary for registered nurses was approximately $62,000, with salaries ranging between $40,000 and $70,000.