How Long Does it Take to Become a Registered Nurse?


Generally, a registered nurse refers to the person who has completed at least an associate degree in nursing (ADN), or a Bachelor of Science course, and has successfully passed the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN).  Depending on the career path you pursue, becoming a registered nurse may take two to four years of education. Nevertheless, here are some options that you may wish to consider in deciding which career path you really want to get into.

Associate degree in nursing (ADN). The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN/ANURS) is a two-year, or four-semester, nursing program that aims to equip its students with the knowledge and skills  to be competent and be qualified for the licensing examination to become a registered nurse.  It specifically focuses on the practical applications of nursing. This explains why graduates of this course have far more actual or hands-on experience in patient care than fresh BSN graduates could display.

Likewise, it is important to note that an associate degree is never an inferior course compared with the four-year nursing program.  In fact, most expert nurses in the field began their career with the associate degree. Students who have not previously enrolled in any nursing program are eligible to take the associate degree course.  It offers several advantages, including but not limited to:

  • Shorter period to finish the course;
  • Less expensive compared with the four-year program;
  • Since it takes only a short period to finish the course, you have the advantage of getting employed sooner than when you take the four-year course;
  • You have an option to pursue another course of study while fully employed, or to further your career by obtaining a bachelor’s degree.
  • The ADN course is usually available at local community colleges, making it convenient for you.

student nurse

The basic differences between an ADN course and a BSN (or Bachelor of Science in Nursing) are the length of time to take to course, and the amount of credits or subjects required to complete the program.  Requirements for admission to the Associate Degree in Nursing differ from one school to another.  It is recommended, therefore, that you inquire personally or online from the school you want to take the course at.


Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). A BSN degree, which takes four years to finally complete, equips you with the skills and credentials for career advancement.  It prepares you for a higher level degrees should you decide to pursue a master’s or doctoral courses in nursing. Basically, a bachelor’s degree in nursing sets a foundation for your eventual entry to the real nursing world, particularly in inpatient and community environment, such as in hospitals, nursing care facilities, home health services, and/or physician’s offices.

During your first two years, you will be taught general education subjects in fulfillment of the college requirements. Then, as you advance into your third and fourth years, you will be taught the so-called major subjects in nursing, which cover the science of nursing, principles of nursing, and other associated subjects. There are two ways to obtain a BSN degree: either you take the associate course in nursing, or the ADN, first and then proceed to BSN; or you may go straight to BSN course after your high school education.

Either you opt for the associate degree or the BSN course, what is basically important here is that you put your heart into it.  When you finally are a RN (Registered Nurse), you now have the option to proceed to an advance practice in nursing (APRN) or specialize on a certain field of nursing that you love to do the most.

Registered nurses have a wide range of job opportunities – from a hospital setting to a commercial establishment, to other service-oriented organizations.

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