nurse how long does it take

Becoming a Registered Nurse How Long Does it Take: (Complete Guide)

Medical personnel in demand include registered nurses. Find out more about nurse how long does it take to graduate from nursing school and begin your new profession.

Being a registered nurse might take anywhere from 18 months to 4 years (RN). That includes the time needed to acquire the necessary education and work experience to enter the field. But, how long it takes you will vary depending on your present qualifications, career objectives, and nursing program of choice.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Nurse?

Depending on the kind of nursing program you choose to enroll in to prepare for the profession, the time it takes to become a registered nurse varies. ADNs can be earned in as little as two years, compared to the four years it can take to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

The nursing profession is continually changing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, new technologies, and nurse shortages. Nursing might be the best option for you if you want to start out in a subject that is in demand and make a difference. But what kind of work chances will be available and how long does it take to become a nurse?

Whatever nursing specialty you’re interested in, job prospects are expanding quickly. The employment of registered nurses is anticipated to increase 9% between 2020 and 2030, with roughly 194,500 new jobs being added annually to the sector, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Professional nurses have strong salaries. In May 2021, the median annual wage for registered nurses was $77,600. In the same year, licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses made an average salary of $48,070.

If you’re prepared to enter this expanding sector, the first step is to become familiar with the educational paths you can follow and the length of time it takes to become a nurse.

How many years is the nursing program?

Depending on the nursing degree you acquire and the kind of nursing job you want to secure, your journey might take longer, but you might start working as a nurse in as little as two years.

Although training to become a registered nurse is one of the most prevalent nursing career paths, there are many additional nursing alternatives that may affect the amount of schooling you require and the time it takes to launch your career.

Typical nursing credentials, certifications, and specialties include:

  • Nursing assistants with certification (CNA)
  • professional nurses (LPN)
  • Licensed nurses (RN)
  • RNs with advanced practice levels (APRN)
  • leaders in clinical nursing
  • Nursing professionals
  • nurse instructors
  • Anesthetist nurses

Starting off in school, becoming a CNA or LPN often takes less time than becoming a registered nurse or seeking a leadership position in nursing.

Regardless matter which of these jobs you choose, there are generally three main phases to becoming a nurse:


Become a Nurse How Long Does it Take

You could work at hospitals, doctors’ offices, nursing homes, care facilities, and many other sorts of organizations with a job as a registered nurse.

The typical time to become a registered nurse is between two and four years. But, the length of time it will take you will vary depending on the degree program you select, the amount of clinical experience you have, and the state licensure criteria.

Alternatives for Nursing Degrees for RNs

Most registered nurses start their careers with either a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or a two-year Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) (BSN).

The quickest and frequently least expensive route to becoming a registered nurse is to earn a nursing associate degree. The average length of an ADN program is two years, and it trains you to pass the NCLEX exam to become a registered nurse.

Typically, a BSN curriculum lasts four years. It will take you longer to finish than an ADN, but it also offers a certificate that is in great demand.

Bachelor’s-educated nurses are in high demand. According to studies, nurses who earn a BSN degree typically provide safer, more efficient care. The BSN is also advised by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) as the entry-level nursing degree since BSN graduates are better prepared to fulfill the demands of the developing healthcare industry.

Many colleges and institutions offer accelerated programs that expand on your current nursing credentials if you are already employed as an RN. Often transfer-friendly, these courses include the following:

  • RN to MSN,
  • LPN to BSN,
  • RN to BSN

For instance, you can transfer up to 45 extra credits into the RN to BSN program at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) and receive 45 credits toward your degree with an unencumbered RN license. You might finish a BSN degree in as little as one year if you transfer the maximum 90 credits.

Acquiring Clinical Experience

Completing clinical hours is a crucial part of becoming a nurse. These practical learning experiences, which can be carried out at a hospital, doctor’s office, nursing home, or other care facility, are normally finished near the end of your degree program.

The needed number of clinical hours varies between programs. Similar to this, data from NurseJournal shows that while some jurisdictions have a set criteria for clinical hours to become eligible for nurse licensing, other states do not.

Getting your RN license

After completing your courses, completing your clinical hours, and receiving your degree, how long does it take to become a nurse? When you apply for and take the licensing exam will determine when you become licensed.

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) states that in order to be qualified to take the NCLEX exam, nursing graduates must submit an application for licensure to their state nursing regulatory board. Once you are declared test-eligible, you can sign up for the NCLEX test at a location close to you and begin studying for the exam.

According to NCSBN, the official NCLEX results are made public roughly six weeks after the exam. You will receive a state-issued RN license if you pass the test and satisfy all other prerequisites. If you don’t pass, you’ll have to wait 45 days before you can retake the exam.

Your Nursing Career: Advancement

The conventional nursing career path may involve working as a registered nurse, but your career doesn’t have to end there. Once you’re employed in the field, there are a variety of advanced nursing positions you might investigate.

These jobs include, among others:

  • leaders in clinical nursing
  • Nursing professionals
  • nurse instructors
  • Anesthetist nurses

How long does it take to obtain another advanced nursing position, such as nurse leader? Your past experience and planned professional path will determine this.

Most of the time, earning an advanced nursing degree like a Master of Nursing is necessary in order to enhance your career (MSN). You could concentrate your studies for an MSN in any of the following nursing specialties:

  • Family Nurse Practitioner with an MSN
  • Healthcare Quality and Safety on MSN
  • MSN in Nursing Education MSN in Nurse Leadership
  • Population Health on MSN

The average master’s degree program lasts two years to finish. You might be able to finish your degree more quickly depending on your prior academic and professional experience. You might need more than two years to get your degree if you take fewer courses each semester.

After earning an MSN, you might also need to apply for more certificates and licenses, depending on your job path. For instance, you need to pass an NP licensing exam in order to become a nurse practitioner (NP).

See Yourself Nursing Success

No matter what objectives you have as a nurse, you should prepare to dedicate at least two years to pursue a new career.

With an associate’s degree in nursing, you can enter the field more quickly and acquire the skills and information needed to work as a registered nurse (RN), practical nurse (PN), or nursing assistant. By obtaining a bachelor’s degree in nursing, you can acquire an important qualification that is in demand in the healthcare sector. These degrees can help students realize their ambitions of becoming nurses, despite the fact that there are a number of alternatives.

Whatever route you take, you’ll be entering a field where possibilities for nursing professionals are expanding, giving you the chance to have a positive impact on your neighborhood.


In conclusion, the length of time it takes to become a nurse varies depending on the type of nursing program and level of education pursued. Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) programs can take a few weeks to a few months, while Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) programs typically take around 12-18 months to complete. Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) programs usually take 2 years, Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs take 4 years, and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs take 2-3 years to complete. It’s important to note that some programs offer accelerated options or credit for prior education and work experience, and some states may have additional requirements for licensure.

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