What Are the Requirements to Be a Certified Registered Nurse?

To become a certified registered nurse (RN), you must graduate from a state-approved nursing school, pass a licensure exam, then pass a specialty certification exam. Read on to learn more about the requirements to be a certified registered nurse. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Program Preparation

Entrance into a registered nursing training program at the associate's or bachelor's degree level requires at least a high school diploma or GED. There are also training programs for registered nurses at the master's degree level that require a bachelor's degree for admission. In addition to these RN educational requirements, registered nurse training programs may have other requirements such as:

  • CPR certification
  • An entrance exam, like the PAX or the NAT
  • Prerequisite courses in math and science with a satisfactory GPA

Important Facts About Certified Registered Nurses

Median Salary (2014) $66,640
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 16% growth
Work Environment Hospitals, physicians offices, nursing and residential care facilities, home healthcare services, government agencies
Similar Occupations EMTs, paramedics, nurse practitioners, physicians assistants, nurse midwives, licensed practical nurses

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Types of Programs

There are several types of degrees that prepare you to be an RN, but the most common are the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees. An ADN degree takes two years to complete and a BSN degree takes four years to complete. A BSN is usually required for higher-level registered nurse jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), four-year RN training programs include more clinical training in a greater variety of settings, giving students much-needed experience. Regardless of the type of degree program you choose, all registered nurse training programs include courses about topics like these, which are tested on the RN certification exam:

  • Mental health nursing
  • Health assessment
  • Nursing care of adults and children

Earning Certification, Registration or Licensure

Graduates of state-approved registered nurse training programs are eligible to take the NCLEX-RN exam that is offered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. By passing this exam, you can become certified as a registered nurse in the state in which you studied. If you move to another state, your RN certification may travel with you if attended a registered nurse training program that has been approved by a national accrediting organization. Otherwise, you may have to re-certify by passing a certification exam in your new state of residence.

Voluntary Certification

Additionally, if you're interested in voluntary specialty certification as a registered nurse, you can earn certifications through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Specialty certifications are available in several fields, including ambulatory care and cardiac rehabilitation. Each specialty certification has specific education and training requirements.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Purdue University Global

    Purdue University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Purdue University Global:

    Online Programs Available

  • Capella University

    Capella University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Capella University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Independence University

    Independence University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Independence University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Keiser University

    Keiser University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Keiser University:

    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Fortis College

    Fortis College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Fortis College:

    • Associate Programs
    • Certificates

    Campus-Based Programs Available:

    View All Locations
    • Arizona: Phoenix
    • Florida: Phoenix, Cutler Bay, Orange Park, Port St Lucie
    • Indiana: Phoenix, Cutler Bay, Orange Park, Port St Lucie, Indianapolis
    • Ohio: Phoenix, Cutler Bay, Orange Park, Port St Lucie, Indianapolis, Centerville, Cuyahoga Falls
    • Pennsylvania: Phoenix, Cutler Bay, Orange Park, Port St Lucie, Indianapolis, Centerville, Cuyahoga Falls, Scranton
    • South Carolina: Phoenix, Cutler Bay, Orange Park, Port St Lucie, Indianapolis, Centerville, Cuyahoga Falls, Scranton, Columbia
    • Tennessee: Phoenix, Cutler Bay, Orange Park, Port St Lucie, Indianapolis, Centerville, Cuyahoga Falls, Scranton, Columbia, Nashville
    • Utah: Phoenix, Cutler Bay, Orange Park, Port St Lucie, Indianapolis, Centerville, Cuyahoga Falls, Scranton, Columbia, Nashville, Salt Lake City
    • Virginia: Phoenix, Cutler Bay, Orange Park, Port St Lucie, Indianapolis, Centerville, Cuyahoga Falls, Scranton, Columbia, Nashville, Salt Lake City, Norfolk
  • Herzing University

    Herzing University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Herzing University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Next »