How Many Years Does It Take to Become a Nurse?

How Many Years Does It Take to Become a Nurse?

Now that you have decided to pursue a career in nursing, you’re probably thinking, “How long is this going to take?” Unfortunately, this question does not have an easy answer. It really depends on the amount of responsibility and oversight you are hoping for along with the minimum qualifications at the facility where you work. Further, if you’re hoping to hit the ground running quickly, you can consider the different degrees as stepping stones and you can advance from one to the other over time and at your own pace.

If you are looking to enter the workforce as soon as possible, you can consider being a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). A diploma program to become an LPN usually takes between 12 and 18 months and, at the end of the program, you will need to pass the NCLEX-PN® exam. The duties of an LPN include many common activities such as taking vital signs, monitoring patients, and sometimes administering medications. However, LPNs do not determine patient care plans and usually report to a supervising Registered Nurse (RN). Also, LPNs may not be eligible to work in some specialty areas, such as the ICU.

If you are looking for a more independent nursing practice, you may want to consider becoming an RN. You can accomplish this by completing an Associates Degree in Nursing, which typically takes 2 years and requires passing the NCLEX-RN® exam. Registered nurses have more advanced responsibilities than LPNs and may also go into specialty areas.

Many facilities encourage registered nurses to have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN). This degree is obtained from a 4-year institution. You can receive this degree as an undergraduate, or, if you already have an associates degree, you can enter an RN to BSN program, which typically takes 1 to 2 years. Your opportunities as an RN will improve with a BSN, especially if you are pursuing a career at a prestigious hospital with Magnet designation.

If you have a BSN and are still looking for more advancement, you can pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), which will allow you to become a nurse manager, nurse educator, nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, or a clinical nurse specialist. An MSN typically can be completed within 2 years and allows the nurse to practice at the highest possible level.

During your nursing education journey, be sure to look for free test prep for both the NCLEX-PN® and NCLEX-RN® at our Union Test Prep website. We also have test prep for other tests you may have to take while training for work in the nursing/medical field—think HESI®, TEAS®, and medical assistant.

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