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.
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 (2018)||$71,730|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)||15% 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.
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.