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What Education Is Needed to Become a Rehabilitation Nurse?

To become a rehabilitation nurse, you need at least a two-year degree such as an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing. You could also pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, which means four full-time years of college. Read on to learn more about what is required to join this occupational group.

Career Overview

Rehabilitation nurses are registered nurses (RNs) with two or four years of education. This is followed by passing the NCLEX-RN exam and getting licensed by the state. Like most registered nurses, rehabilitation nurses are in high demand and will continue to be. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the employment of registered nurses in general, including rehabilitation nurses, will likely grow about 15% between 2016 and 2026, which is much faster than the national average. Nurses' median annual earnings in 2018 were $71,730, according to the BLS. RNs employed by outpatient care centers, such as rehabilitation centers, earned an average of $79,230 a year in 2018, per BLS records.

Important Facts About Rehabilitation Nurses

Work Environment Healthcare Facilities
Key Skills Attention to Detail, Interpersonal Communication, Proficiency in Math and Science
On-The-Job Training None
Similar Occupations Dental Hygienist, EMT, Paramedic, Physician Assistant

Education

Educational expectations have changed. Many registered nurses used to begin their careers with a nursing diploma from a hospital-based training program. Most employers now require or prefer a college education leading to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Some employers may accept a two-year associate's degree, such as the Associate of Science in Nursing. All registered nurses (RNs) must pass the NCLEX-RN test.

Field of Rehabilitation

After obtaining RN status with either a two-year or four-year education, a nurse may work in a rehab facility for a period of time. In some states, he or she can then apply for state certification as a rehabilitation nurse. The RN can also take courses and earn a certificate in rehabilitation nursing. Certificate programs are offered by the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses and by some colleges, including online schools.

Specialties

The Association of Rehabilitation Nurses lists 13 specialty roles that rehabilitation nurses may fill. These job descriptions sometimes specify that a Bachelor of Science in Nursing is expected. Two specialties within rehab nursing, Advanced Practice Rehabilitation Nurse and Rehabilitation Nurse Researcher, require a graduate education.