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How to become a Registered Nurse

Registered nurses usually take one of three education paths: a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN), an associate's degree in nursing (ADN), or a diploma from an approved nursing program.

In all states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories, registered nurses must have a nursing license. To become licensed, nurses must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

Nurses may become certified through professional associations in specific areas, such as ambulatory care, gerontology, and pediatrics, among others. Although certification is usually voluntary, it demonstrates adherence to a higher standard, and some employers require it.

Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

How to become: Registered Nurse - Operating Room · Nurse · Clinical Nurse · Registered Nurse - Medical/Surgical · Licensed Practical Nurse
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What skills help Registered Nurses find jobs?

  • Acute care
  • Bilingual
  • Care plans
  • Communication skills
  • Computer literacy
  • Computer skills
  • Critical care experience
  • Customer service
  • Data collection
  • Discharge planning
  • Documentation review
  • EMR systems
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Career progression for Registered Nurse

Education levels for Registered Nurses

Based on the requirements of Registered Nurse job openings on Indeed in the United States within the last three years.
required level of educationpercent of job openings
Bachelor's degree44.7%
Associate's degree38.4%
Master's degree8.5%
High school diploma or GED7.5%
Doctoral degree0.8%
Bachelor's degree0.0%
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Expected salary by experience

Based on resume data from Indeed users who reported working as a Registered Nurse in the United States within the last three years.
Years of experienceAnnual salary in USD
0 - 4$59,100
4 - 8$62,300
8 - 12$63,500
12 - 16$64,500
16 - 20$65,500
20 - 24$65,600
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Common qualifications for Registered Nurses

  • ACLS Certification
  • AHA Certification
  • APRN
  • BC/BE
  • BLS Certification
  • CCRN Certification
  • CDL A
  • CHPN
  • CNA
  • CNOR
  • CPI Certification
  • CPR Certification
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Common questions about career advices for a Registered Nurse

Is nursing considered an ‘in-demand’ occupation?

Yes. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an increased demand for registered nurses (RNs). Additionally, according to Indeed's Hiring Lab, the top job title search in 2019 among employers was for registered nurses.

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What are some nursing skills to put on a resume?

Registered nurses should include the following skills on their resume if applicable:

  • Attention to detail.
  • Teamwork.
  • ICD coding.
  • Patient care.
  • Acute care.
  • Triage.
  • Leadership
  • Dialysis experience.
  • Utilization review.
  • Empathy.
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What other jobs can I do with a nursing degree?

If you have a nursing degree and don't want to be a registered nurse, here are some other career options to consider:

  • School Nurse.
  • Telehealth Nurse.
  • Research Nurse.
  • Legal Nurse Consultant.
  • Forensic Nurse Consultant.
  • Camp Nurse.
  • Case Manager Nurse.
  • Health Coach.
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Is a registered nurse (RN) a good career?

Once I become a registered nurse, can I practice in all 50 states?

What certifications are needed to become registered nurse (RN) from certified nursing assistant (CNA)?

How much more I can earn if I become a registered nurse from a certified nursing assistant?

How fast can you become a registered nurse (RN)?

What is a nursing residency?

As a registered nurse, how do I list my nursing skills on my resume?

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