How to Become A Registered Nurse

As a registered nurse, you would be joining the largest healthcare occupation, already accounting for 2.7 million jobs, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and projected to grow much faster than the average between 2010 and 2020. The following are some career specialties you may consider and their basic job descriptions:

    1. Nurse practitioners provide nursing and healthcare services in a variety of areas.
    2. Nurse-midwives monitor future moms and assist in labor and delivery.
    3. Nurse anesthetists assist with anesthesia during surgery.
    4. Critical care nurses care for patients with serious illnesses in intensive care hospital units.
    5. Home healthcare nurses care for patients after discharge from hospitals.
    6. Clinical nurse specialists care directly for patients in areas such as psychiatric-mental health.


      As a registered nurse, you could specialize in the treatment of a particular ailment, such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, or cancer; or a particular organ or body system, such as the heart, the skin, or the reproductive system. You could also provide preventive and acute care to a specific population, such as babies or the elderly; or treat military personnel or under-served communities worldwide. You could even assist with criminal investigations, become a medical writer or a public policy adviser.

      Nursing schools

      To become a registered nurse, you should possess a diploma, associate or bachelor's degree from one of the approved registered nursing schools, as well as a registered nurse license. Advance practice nurses, including clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, nurse-midwives, and nurse practitioners, must have master's degrees. It may take you two to three years to complete diploma or associate degrees and four years to finish a bachelor's degree.

      If you already possess a bachelor's degree in another field and are interested in becoming a registered nurse, schools often provide accelerated bachelor's degree programs that can be completed in 12 to 18 months, or master's degree programs that can be completed in about two years. It is important that you pass a national licensing examination, known as the National Council Licensure Examination or NCLEX-RN, in order to obtain a registered nurse license in the United States.

      Registered nurse: salary expectations

      For a registered nurse, salary depends on the level and the location of the job within the United States. In 2011, the BLS reports the following mean and top-paying annual wages for nursing careers:

        1. U.S. average--$69,110
        2. California (highest paying state)--$90,860
        3. Vallejo-Fairfield, CA (highest paying metropolitan area)--$120,540


          As a RN, your salary should increase as you advance in your career. You could start as a staff nurse in a hospital and become chief of nursing. You could also pursue a master's degree and become an advance practice nurse. You may also have the option to move into the business side of healthcare, managing ambulatory, acute, home-based, or chronic care businesses, or marketing pharmaceutical or insurance company products or services. Teaching potential registered nurses or conducting research are two other career paths that you may also consider as a RN.

          Bureau of Labor Statistics, OOH, 2013, Registered Nurses: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Registered-nurses.htm
          Bureau of Labor Statistics, OES, 2013, Registered Nurses: http://www.bls.gov/oes/2011/may/oes291111.htm

          Program outcomes vary according to each institution’s specific curriculum, and employment opportunities are not guaranteed.

          Registered Nurse Training

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                    Associate of Science in Nursing
                    Unitek College , Sacramento
                    • Offers programs in nursing, medical assisting, pharmacy technology, dental assisting, and more.
                    • Six Campuses across Northern CA: Fremont, San Jose, Sacramento, S. San Francisco, Hayward, and Concord.
                    • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, with programmatic approvals from the California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians and the Board of Registered Nursing.
                    • Approved by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) with an A+ rating since 2010.
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                    • Flexible Scheduling
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                    Vocational Nursing Program*
                    Platt College , Alhambra
                    • A Los Angeles-based private college offering programs in medical sciences, legal studies, and graphic design since 1985.
                    • Has weekend programs, including certified  veterinary technology, nurse assistant, and hemodialysis technician.
                    • Showcases visual communication students’ artwork and design through campus magazine.
                    • 3 campuses in Southern California.
                    • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
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                    • Accredited
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                    Bachelor of Science in Nursing
                    • Began in 1909 as a single classroom in Los Angeles.
                    • Offers no-cost dental clinic in Anaheim, where students gain experience by offering a selection of free dental services.
                    • Involved in philanthropy, through partnerships with several organizations, such as the California Institute for Nursing and Healthcare (CINHC) and Shriner’s Hospital.
                    • Accredited by The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission.
                    • Has 4 California campuses and 2 other campuses in Florida and Texas.
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                    RN to BS

                    • Offers accredited online bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctor of nursing programs to help both working professionals and recent graduates advance their careers.

                    • Provides graduate nursing programs that teach cutting-edge professional knowledge and skills to prepare students for today’s dynamic, evolving health care industry.
                    • Teaches through an online learning system that allows students to complete coursework with the flexibility to fit their schedule, while a cohort structure helps them to collaborate with fellow students.

                    •Provides scholarships, grants and other forms of financial aid to those who qualify.

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                    Master of Science in Nursing - Nursing Administration
                    • Its Fast Track program enables qualified students to save up to 30% on tuition and graduate up to 30% faster.
                    • Its online MBA program was named by the International Graduate Forum as a top 10 Online MBA Program in 2012.
                    • Listed as a military friendly school by G.I. Jobs magazine in 2014.
                    • Lets students watch, view, read, or hear content through its program, My Unique Student Experience (M.U.S.E.).
                    • Has additional campus locations near military bases in Colorado Springs and Denver.
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                    Doctor of Nursing Practice

                    •        Ranked among the top 20 Regional Universities in the West in 2015 by U.S. News & World Report.

                    •        Listed as one of America’s Best Colleges by Forbes Magazine in 2014.

                    •        More than 97% of tenure-track faculty holds a terminal degree in their field.

                    •        Student to faculty ratio of 15:1, and 47.5% of classes have fewer than 20 students.

                    •        Accredited by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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                    About Brightwood College

                    Brightwood College offers accelerated programs that combine flexible schedules and professional instruction to create a rewarding learning experience for individuals focused on gaining the skills for specific careers. Brightwood College is owned and operated by Education Corporation of America.

                    About Education Corporation of America

                    Education Corporation of America's institutions broaden access to postsecondary educational opportunities.

                    RN to BSN
                    • Ranked among the Best National Universities in 2015 by U.S. News & World Report.
                    • Receives more than $110 million in sponsor support each year, creating valuable research and experience opportunities for students.
                    • Designated as a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
                    • Offers more than 200 degree programs across 15 colleges and schools.
                    • Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
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                    Doctor of Education - Nursing Education
                    • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor's Programs in 2014 by U.S. News & World Report.
                    • Implements a one-to-one teaching model, partnering one student with one faculty member in each course.
                    • 100% of faculty members hold doctoral degrees.
                    • No physical residency requirements, allowing students to pursue their degree online.
                    • Committed to innovation, diversity, excellence, and accountability since its founding in 1996.
                    • Offers several programs in business, education, psychology, and more.
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                    Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing
                    • Ranked one of the Top Public Schools in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
                    • Founded in 1766 as a public institution; it has a main campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey and offers many programs online.
                    • Has an average freshman retention rate of 91.8%.
                    • Its student-faculty ratio is 14:1, and 38% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
                    • Has famous alumni including chef and restauranteur Mario Batali, author Junot Diaz, actor James Gandolfini, and former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky.
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                    • Online Courses
                    • Flexible Scheduling
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                    • Financial Aid
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