If you’re interested in nursing as a career, now is the time to become an RN. The demand for Registered Nurses (RNs) is strong and growing.
To be a Registered Nurse in the United States, you must pass the relevant National Council Licensure EXamination (NCLEX). This means that you would have to first undertake and pass a suitable education and training program, either an associate degree or bachelors degree, in preparation for the the exam.
But what is the difference between getting registered and getting a bachelors degree (RN vs BSN)? What can you expect to earn as an RN? This page tells you about the pathways to nursing registration, helps you to find suitable programs to prepare you for the NCLEX nursing licensing exam, and more …
Studying to become an RN (Registered Nurse) in the USA
The NCLEX-RN is taken by both Associate Degree (ADN) and Bachelors Degree (BSN) prepared nurses and the pass rates are about the same for both ADN and BSN prepared nurses. Make sure that your chosen program prepares you for the NCLEX Nurse Registration exam.
There are basically three types of program you can take depending on your qualifications and the time you want to spend:
- If you don’t yet have a degree, then the two-year online Associate Degree in Nusing (ADN) is one program you could take. The Associate Degree has been the main route to becoming a registered nurse for many years.
- If you don’t yet have a degree, the other program you could take is the four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). The popularity of the BSN as a route to registration is growing quickly, both with nurses and with employers.
- If you already have a non-nursing degree, the paths to becoming an RN are called “second degree accelerated” BSN programs, and “direct entry” MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) programs.
Preparing for the NCLEX-RN Exam
The NCLEX-RN exam is a computer based test designed to measure if you have the knowledge and problem solving skills needed to provide adequate health care to patients and is needed in order to work in any health care facility. The length of time it takes you to complete the test will depend on if you get the correct answers. Each time you do, the computer software gives you a question at a higher skill level, whilst a wrong answer will mean going down to a lower level. The software will keep providing new questions until it is clear that you have or do not have the competency at the level required.
The subjects covered include care and comfort; safety; infection control; health promotion and maintenance; psychosocial integrity; pharmacological therapies; and reduction of risk potential.
StudyGuideZone.com provides further information, together with a free, downloadable Study Guide for the NCLEX-RN exam.
Summary of how to qualify as an RN
If you don’t yet have a degree:
If you already have a non-nursing degree:
- Take the “second degree accelerated” BSN or take the “direct entry” MSN
- Take the examination for registration (NCLEX-RN in the USA).
What can you expect to earn as an RN?
Your salary will obviously depend on your experience, qualifications and which role you pursue. But in the US, the median salary range for an RN with 1 to 4 years experience is $40,000 – $59.000 (source: PayScale).
List of schools and programs
- Gain Knowledge and Skills While You Earn Your Nursing Degree at Fortis!
- PN RN Associate Degree Bridge Program
- Associate Degree in Nursing
- Practical Nursing
- 100% online programs at associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level.*
- Transfer up to 90 credits into an undergraduate degree program.
- Up to 50% of your master’s degree can be transferred in to help maximize the credit you previously earned.
- *Excludes licensure, certification, and some doctoral programs
- Master of Science in Nursing: Nursing Administration
- Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Educator
- There's still time to apply to Grand Canyon University and pursue your education. Learn more today!
- Study on your schedule - GCU offers many programs 100% online to fit your busy lifestyle.
- GCU offers a variety of opportunities to reduce the cost of furthering your education. Campus students may qualify for scholarships, while online students can take part in limited special offers.
- A regionally accredited university, GCU also holds specialized accreditations and approvals for some of our core program offerings.
- Degrees in business, education, nursing, humanities and social sciences, theology and more. Find the degree that fits you.
- Talk to us today to learn more about financial aid and start dates!
- Doctor of Nursing Practice with an Emphasis in Educational Leadership
- M.S. in Nursing: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems
- Flexible, online RN-BSN and MSN programs available
- RN-BSN program is designed to help registered nurses earn their bachelor’s in as little as 9 months
- Courses designed to expand on student’s prior knowledge and enhance their patient care skills
- Master of Science in Nursing - Nursing Administration
Abilene Christian University is a national leader in Christian higher education and a place where students, faculty, staff and alumni make a real difference in the world.
- Doctor of Nursing Practice
Kaplan University is focused on recognizing the achievements of military and veteran students and offers the flexibility of an online education. Eligible students can receive college credit for prior military experience and coursework—up to 75 percent of the credit needed for a Kaplan University undergraduate degree.*
- MS in Nursing
- Master of Science - DNP Path (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
- Master of Science in Nursing-Family Nurse Practitioner
- And more...
Experience the Rewards of Caring, With ECPI’s Medical Careers Institute, you can Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree in 2.5 Years or Your Associate’s Even Sooner through Our Year-Round Schedule!
- Nursing (RN) - Associate's
- Practical Nursing - Diploma
Established in 1897, Bradley University is a private, independent institution of higher learning in Peoria, Illinois. Inspired by our founder, notable philanthropist Lydia Moss Bradley, we pursue excellence in teaching, research, scholarship and service; and we celebrate leadership, integrity, diversity and collaborative learning. Today, we offer an impressive array of more than 130 undergraduate, graduate and continuing education programs across five colleges and the Graduate School.
- Online Doctor of Nursing Practice - Leadership Track (MSN to DNP)
- Online Master of Science in Nursing (BSN to MSN-FNP)
- Online Doctor of Nursing Practice - Family Nurse Practitioner Track (BSN to DNP)
- And more...
Centura College, with campus locations in Virginia, South Carolina and Florida, is dedicated to helping students gain the skills and attitudes necessary to succeed. Drawing from over 30 years of career school experience.
- Practical Nursing Diploma
Earn your graduate degree online with Northcentral University. We offer online programs focused on doctoral and master’s degrees in the schools of business and technology management, education, psychology and marriage and family sciences.
- Doctor of Education - Nursing Education