How to Become an RN

There's a reason this job ranks #1 for honesty and ethics of any profession.

How to Become an RN

Follow these steps to be an RN.

When you learn how to become an RN, you’re embarking on one of the most honored career paths. In the past two decades, nurses rank in the #1 spot for honesty and ethics of any profession.

As a registered nurse, you'll care for patients and educate them and the public about their health conditions. Plus, consider this: You're often the first face a patient sees in a doctor's office, clinic, or hospital, so you set the tone for compassionate care.

If you're thinking about a career as an RN, employers are ready for you. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 7% growth in employment for registered nurses over the next ten years. Start your journey right here.

What Does a Registered Nurse Do?

A registered nurse is one of several types of nursing areas you can pursue, though all branches of nursing provide you with the opportunity to focus on your passion for serving others. You can be a generalist who treats a variety of patients, or you can specialize in specific areas such as:

  • pediatrics
  • oncology
  • rehabilitation
  • addiction
  • critical care

An RN works with a patient to assess a condition, administer medications and treatments, and set up a patient's treatment plan. They advise a patient's family on how to manage a loved one's health condition and often are a great resource to provide emotional support for those struggling with illness.

Some other duties of a registered nurse include:

  • Record patients' medical histories and symptoms.
  • Observe patients and record the observations.
  • Consult and collaborate with doctors and other healthcare professionals.
  • Operate and monitor medical equipment.
  • Help perform diagnostic tests and analyze the results.
  • Explain what to do at home after treatment.

Have a look at Monster's registered nurse job description to see other RN duties.

Where Do Registered Nurses Work?

RNs work in hospitals, outpatient clinics, and medical offices, as well as for home health care services and nursing home facilities. But that's not all. Remember the school nurse? Schools, college health centers, and large employers can also have a registered nurse on staff.

Some nurses travel to places where there are not enough health care workers, especially during times of crisis. Other nurses are involved in education, working for state and local government or non-profit or private businesses.

How Many Hours Do Nurses Work?

Registered nurse hours in a doctor's office are most often a typical 40-hour work week when the practice is open. But if you work in hospitals, clinics, or nursing care facilities, the shifts vary. Some RNs work three 12-hour days in a row and then are off for four days.  Shifts can range from 6, 12, or even 16 hours. Other RNs work on-call overnight and on weekends and only go into work when they are needed.

What Education Is Needed to Become a Registered Nurse?

You'll learn how to become an RN through a specialized curriculum and clinical experience. Nursing classes include sciences like anatomy, microbiology, physiology, and pharmacology. Social science classes in ethics, leadership management, and nursing fundamentals are also required.

Nursing Schools and Nursing Programs

When you're thinking about how to become an RN, you have four choices for education:

  • Bachelor's degree from a college or university nursing school
  • Associate degree from a college or university nursing school
  • Diploma from a nursing program in a hospital or medical center
  • Degree or diploma from a nursing program online

Need some help paying for your schooling? Check out these nursing scholarships that can cover some of the costs of your education.

Nursing Exams

Once you have received your nursing degrees or diplomas, you must pass NCLEX-RN nursing exams, administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

The next step is to apply for a nursing license in the state you plan to work. Several national organizations, such as The American Society of Registered Nurses, have advice when you are considering a nursing career. These orgs can help you prepare for the NCLEX-RN and lend support throughout your nursing career.

How Long Does It Take to Become an RN?

That depends on the school you attend and the degree you earn. Some nursing schools offer programs that are only 18 months from start to finish. Others follow a typical two- to four-year format.

Other organizations that have information about how to become an RN include:

How Much Does a Registered Nurse Make?

Monster data shows the median hourly RN salary is $34.94. Salaries range from $52,080 to more than $111,220, according to the BLS.

Pay will vary depending on where you live and work. You can look up the average salary for RNs in your location by using the Monster Salary Guide.

How Much Do RNs Make an Hour?

If you are not on salary, you'll earn about $35.24 per hour as an RN. Again, your wages will be affected by your location and the type of facility that employs you.

How to Find RN Jobs

When you're ready to start searching for jobs, the first thing you'll want to do is get your RN resume and RN cover letter in top shape. You can be tailor made for a job, but if your qualifications aren't presented properly, you'll have a harder time getting noticed. Be sure that your passion for a career in nursing shines through your resume.

That said, employers are eager to hire, so submit your applications to registered nurse jobs on Monster with confidence.

According to the BLS, these are the top five states with the hottest markets for registered nurses:

Top five areas:

Get a Jump-Start on Your Future as a Registered Nurse

After you learn how to become an RN, you'll want to keep your finger on the pulse of the job market. Upload your resume to Monster for free so that recruiters can find you for the top nursing jobs in your area. You will soon be on your way to a career you love and the world respects.