Education & Training
To work as a registered nurse, you typically need to:
- have a high school diploma or GED;
- graduate from a nursing program;
- complete supervised clinical work experience; and
- have a license.
Education after high school
There are three training options for registered nurses. One, you can earn an associate degree in nursing (AND). Community and two-year colleges offer these two-year programs. Two, you can earn a bachelor's of science degree in nursing (BSN). Colleges and universities offer these four-year programs. Three, you can earn a diploma. Hospitals offer these two to three year programs.
In general, graduates of any of the three types of programs qualify for entry-level positions. However, you must also pass national and state exams. Nurses who have a bachelor's degree have more options for jobs.
As a nursing student, you study anatomy, physiology, and chemistry. Near the end of training you complete a supervised work experience in a hospital. During your clinical work experience you work in several hospital departments, such as surgery, emergency, and pediatrics.
You can volunteer in a nursing home or other medical setting to get experience.
New nurses generally receive some training on the job. Training varies by employer, but often lasts up to six months.
Some branches of the military offer training in nursing specialties to people who are already licensed as a registered nurse. Training lasts 14 to 27 weeks, depending on your specialty. Additional training occurs on the job.
Related Programs (Current training programs available)
- Nursing - Registered Nurse Training (RN, ASN, BSN, MSN)
- Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse
- Nursing Administration
- Nursing Administration (MSN, MS, PhD)
- Adult Health Nurse/Nursing
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Family Practice Nurse/Nurse Practitioner
- Family Practice Nurse/Nursing
- Maternal/Child Health and Neonatal Nurse/Nursing
- Nurse Midwife/Nursing Midwifery
- Nursing Science
- Pediatric Nurse/Nursing
- Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse/Nursing
- Public Health/Community Nurse/Nursing
- Perioperative/Operating Room and Surgical Nurse/Nursing
- Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Critical Care Nursing
- Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing
- Nursing, Other
- Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research and Clinical Nursing, Other.
Fields of Study (What to study to prepare for this career)
Click on any of the Fields of Study listed below to find out more about preparing for this career.
- Dialysis Technology
- Emergency Medical Care
- Genetic Counseling
- Health Services Administration
- Medical Office Management
- Missions and Missionary Studies
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Nurse Midwifery
- Nurse Practitioner
- Nursing Administration
- Physician Assisting
- Public and Community Health
- Registered Nursing
- Respiratory Therapy
Level of Education
The table below lists the level of education attained by a subset of workers in this occupation. The workers surveyed were between age 25 and 44.
|Education level attained||Percentage of workers in this occupation*|
|Less than high school diploma||0|
|High school diploma or equivalent||1|
|Some college, no degree||6|
|Doctoral (Ph.D.) or professional degree||3|
* National data for registered nurses (SOC 29-1111).
Helpful High School Courses
In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum may be different from your state's graduation requirements.
You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.
Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this occupation include:
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Computer Applications
- Health Education
- Introduction to Health Care
- Safety and First Aid
The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.
You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.
Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career.
Source: Minnesota Department of Education.