A registered nurse or an RN is a licensed healthcare professional responsible for providing and assisting in patient care. The RN takes care of patients by administering medication and other treatments, consulting with other medical staff members, updating patients' records, predicting patients' needs, and educating patients and their family members on relevant conditions. These nurses must be licensed and have to have earned a bachelor, an associate's or similar degree in a nursing university or other program.

To become a registered nurse, you usually need a associate degree and 1-2 years of experience. The most common jobs before becoming a registered nurse are staff nurse, licensed practical nurse, and certified nursing assistant. Hiring managers expect a registered nurse to have soft skills such as communication skills, compassion, and detail oriented.

The Registered Nurse license requirements vary by state. 43 states require registered nurses to have licensure for their work.

The national average salary for registered nurses is $73,349, but with the right certifications and experience, they can make up to $117,000. Getting a certification as a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) will help you to earn more as a registered nurse.

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 12% and produce 371,500 job opportunities across the U.S.

How to become a Registered Nurse in 6 steps:

  • Step 1: Explore registered nurse education
  • Step 2: Develop registered nurse skills
  • Step 3: Complete relevent training/internship
  • Step 4: Obtain the necessary licensing
  • Step 5: Research registered nurse duties
  • Step 6: Prepare your resume

Key Steps To Become a Registered Nurse

  1. Explore Registered Nurse Education

    If you're interested in becoming a registered nurse, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 43.5% of registered nurses have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 4.7% of registered nurses have master's degrees. Even though some registered nurses have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

    Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a registered nurse. When we researched the most common majors for a registered nurse, we found that they most commonly have nursing, nursing science and psychology.

    Registered Nurse Degrees


    45.6 %


    43.5 %


    4.7 %

    Registered Nurse MajorPercentages
    Nursing Science3.10%
    Other Degrees9.10%

  2. Develop Registered Nurse Skills

    It'll be a good idea to develop registered nurse skills before applying for a job. Here are some skills commonly requested in registered nurse job descriptions:

    Acute Care4.88%

  3. Complete Relevent Training/Internship

    Registered nurses spend an average of 1-3 months on post-employment, on-the-job training. During this time, new registered nurses learn the skills and techniques required for their specific job and employer. The chart below shows how much time it takes to gain competency as a registered nurse based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data and data from real registered nurse resumes.

    Average Amount Of Time At Training

    Less than 1 month

    1-3 months

    3-6 months

    6-12 months

  4. Obtain The Necessary Licensing

    Becoming a licensed registered nurse usually require a college degree. However, you need to pass an exam to become a licensed registered nurse in most of states. 43 states require registered nurses to have license for their work. You can see the list of states below.

    StateEducationExamLicense Url
    AlabamaDegree requiredState exam requiredRegistered Nurse (RN)
    AlaskaDegree requiredThird-party exam requiredNurse, Registered
    ArkansasDegree requiredThird-party exam requiredRegistered Nurse (RN)
    CaliforniaDegree requiredThird-party exam requiredNurse, Registered
    ColoradoDegree requiredThird-party exam requiredRegistered Nurse

  5. Research Registered Nurse Duties

    When you decide to become a registered nurse, It's important to know what duties and responsibilities are required for this position. Some common responsibilities are a part of most registered nurse jobs. Here is a list of the main duties that define the role:

    • Manage patient care for individuals with multiple diagnoses including COPD, diabetes, stroke and cardiac issues.
    • Organize and manage regular clinics involving external physicians, including ophthalmology, ENT, Med/Surg, orthopedics, and podiatry professionals.
    • Manage surgical recovery patients including vascular, ENT, GI urological and neurological cases, coronary bypass surgery patients.
    • Manage patient pain relief and sedation by providing pharmacological and non-pharmacological intervention, monitor patient response and record care plans accordingly.
    • Provide care for cardiac patients in arrhythmia critical care unit, providing patient education and monitoring telemetry
    • Re-Cover surgical patients immediately after heart and vascular surgery until transfer out of ICU.

  6. Prepare Your Resume

    Finally, when you already have checked the skills and responsibilities for this role, you can start creating your resume. Everything that goes into creating a perfect resume can take hours, days, or even weeks. No worries, we created a resume builder to make this process as easy as possible with tips and examples of skills, responsibilities, and a summary.

    Choose From 10+ Customizable Registered Nurse Resume templates

    Build a professional Registered Nurse resume in minutes. Browse through our resume examples to identify the best way to word your resume. Then choose from 10+ resume templates to create your Registered Nurse resume.

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  7. Apply For a Registered Nurse Job

    With your ready resume, it's time to start searching for a new job. Consider the tips below for a successful job search:

    1. Browse job boards for relevant postings
    2. Consult your professional network
    3. Reach out to companies you're interested in working for directly
    4. Watch out for job scams

    Registered Nurse Jobs

  8. How To Become a Registered Nurse
    How To Become a Registered Nurse Career Overview

Average Salary for a Registered Nurse

Registered Nurses in America make an average salary of $73,349 per year or $35 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $117,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $45,000 per year.
Average Registered Nurse Salary
$73,349 Yearly
$35.26 hourly

What Am I Worth?


Becoming a Registered Nurse FAQs

What Should I Study To Become A Registered Nurse?

To become a registered nurse, you should study nursing basics and courses on such subjects as:

  • Physiology

  • Organic chemistry

  • Psychology

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