How to Become a Nurse in USA in 2023 – Requirements and Steps to Becoming a Registered Nurse in the USA

Are you interested in knowing how to become a nurse in the USA? If yes, then this comprehensive guide will be of benefit to you.

Nursing is one of the most sought-after jobs in the world today, and the demand for more nurses is increasing because nurses are often on the frontlines of patient care and provide healthcare, treatments, and management of the entire patient experience.

Sometimes, a nurse may even perform the same responsibilities as a doctor. The job requires solid medical knowledge, empathy, respect, and compassion to help ensure the patient gets the best care possible.

Therefore, if you’re thinking of becoming a nurse, it’s expedient that you know that nursing is a noble profession.

Multi-ethnic group of doctors, physicians, and nurses, both male and female. Isolated on a white background.

In this article, we have carefully compiled and outlined all you need to know to become a nurse in the USA, the requirements needed to become a registered nurse in the USA, nursing jobs in the USA without NCLEX, and a step-by-step process that will make you a nurse in USA faster.

Let’s get started!!!

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How to Become a Nurse After High School in USA

When you think of becoming a nurse, the first thing that should cross your mind is getting a solid education in science and being intentional and passionate about what you want to study.

I’d like you to know that nursing is a big deal; it takes more than just anticipation but passion and empathy for human life.

To become a nurse, you must be very strategic from high school; how do you achieve this?


Be Intentional

You can start preparing for a career as a nurse early in high school. You can do this by being strategic with your academics and extracurriculars. With academics, focus on advanced science and math courses that will build your knowledge level early on, particularly anatomy courses that might not be in your school’s required curriculum.

This applies to both choosing your classes and where to focus your time doing schoolwork. With extracurriculars, look for science- and medicine-based activities at your high school, like HOSA or organizing blood drives.

If your school has no good options, consider starting your own club. You can also look outside your school: volunteer at nursing homes or hospitals, get involved with community organizations devoted to medical causes, or get a job in the field—some nursing homes hire high school students to work in a non-medical capacity without any training, or you can look into becoming an LNA and become certified to provide basic services in hospice care, nursing homes, and more.

If you aren’t sure you want to be a nurse, you can explore the career through shadowing or informational interviewing. In “shadowing,” you would observe a nurse at work, following them throughout the day. For informational interviewing, you would chat with a nurse about their career, asking them any questions you have.

How can you find a nurse to contact, though? You can try calling your doctor’s office to see if you could speak with a nurse about shadowing or informational interviewing. You can also ask your school counselor or parents if they have any resources or connections. Once you’re done with high school, the next is to choose a career path: Nursing.

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Choose a Nursing Path

Nursing can take you in many directions, from starting as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) or staff nurse to working your way up to nurse administrator. When choosing your career path, consider the type of work environment you prefer. For example, RNs can be found in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and other medical settings, but certified nursing assistants often work in nursing homes. What type of setting will inspire you most?

Earn a Degree

The career path you’re interested in pursuing will typically dictate the type of nursing degree you need. Nursing programs include classroom instruction as well as clinical experience. The latter will allow you to gain hands-on knowledge, ask questions in real-life scenarios, and connect with nurses.

The following list details the types of nursing degrees available:

  1. Nursing diplomas are offered at community colleges and vocational schools.
  2. An associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) can be earned at community colleges.
  3. Bachelor’s degrees in nursing (BSN) are available at colleges and universities.
  4. Master’s degrees in nursing (MSN) are available at colleges and universities.
  5. Doctoral degrees (DNP, ND, Ph.D., DNSc) are available at colleges and universities.

Get Licensed

To practice as a Nurse in the USA, you need to be licensed, and exams are prerequisites to getting licensed. Once you complete your education, you’ll need to take an exam to demonstrate your knowledge and nursing skills. The NCLEX exams, other certification exams, and the topics covered differ based on your chosen career path.

To become a licensed Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), you’ll need to pass a state competency exam.

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN).

Registered nurses and all advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) must take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to earn licensure.

Nurse practitioners must pass a national certification exam by a professional organization, such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

Upon completing their education, nurse midwives should pass the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) exam. In contrast, nurse anesthetists must pass the National Board of Certification and Recertification exam for Nurse Anesthetists.

Following these processes will make you a certified and licensed nurse whom any hospital in the USA can employ with no restriction on the level of practice. These processes will waste time, resources, and effort without following the US standard requirements for becoming a nurse.

Below you will discover the requirements needed to become a Nurse in USA.

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What are the Requirements Needed to Become a Nurse in USA?

According to the US standard, individuals interested in entering the nursing field may become registered nurses (RNs) or licensed practical nurses (LPNs), also called licensed vocational nurses (LVNs).

Educational requirements differ depending on the type of nursing program you choose. Becoming an LPN or LVN requires the least formal education, a year-long training program, and state licensure. In contrast, individuals interested in becoming advanced practice nurses must complete a master’s degree program and obtain state licensure.

The programs in nursing include

LPN and LVN Training Programs

Entry-level training for licensed practical and vocational nurses can be obtained via 1-year educational programs offered at technical schools, vocational schools, or community colleges. LPN/LVN programs involve lecture-type classes and hands-on clinical practice in a hospital or clinic. Typical courses include anatomy, first aid, nutrition, and physiology.

Associate’s Degree in Nursing:

To become an RN, candidates need to have earned a minimum Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN). Completing this degree program allows graduates to take the licensing examination to become RNs. Common courses include anatomy, nutrition, adult care, and medical practices.

Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree programs allow nursing students to learn about providing care and obtaining work experience in medical settings. Common courses include human development and healthcare, nursing theory, chemistry, and infant care.

Master’s Degree in Nursing

Another type of registered nurse, an advanced practice nurse, must complete a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program. Some MSN programs accept applications only from licensed RNs. Advanced-practice nurses include nurse midwives, anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists, and nurse practitioners. Courses in graduate nursing degree programs vary because they are usually focused on the area of concentration.

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What Education is Needed to Become a Registered Nurse in USA?

Registered nurses are in high demand for many reasons, including the development of new technology, an aging population, and the retirement of current nurses. Viewing all of these factors alongside the satisfaction of helping people, the benefits of becoming a registered nurse have never been better.

To enjoy this satisfaction and benefit, you must become a registered nurse. Depending on the career path, as stated earlier, the education needed to become a registered nurse differs from other forms of Nursing.

Steps to become a Registered Nurse in USA in 2023

These are the steps to becoming a registered nurse in USA in 2023

Complete an Accredited Registered Nurse Program

To become a registered nurse, students must graduate from an accredited program. Several options are available, including nursing diplomas, associate degrees, or bachelor’s degrees.

An associate degree in nursing typically takes two years to complete. In comparison, a bachelor’s degree in nursing takes about four years of full-time study or two years for those in an associate to bachelor’s RN program. Another expedited option is to attend a school that offers a “second-degree” program for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing.

Take and Pass the NCLEX-RN Examination

Registered nursing programs should help prepare students to pass the NCLEX-RN examination. Upon graduation, aspiring RNs should register with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing to sign up for the exams. Candidates will receive an Authorization to Test notification when it is time to sign up for the examination.

This computerized test has an average of 119 questions and must be completed within six hours. Those who do not pass must wait at least 45 days to retake the exam. The national average NCLEX-RN passage rate is around 70-75 percent.

Obtain a State License

Every US state and territory, as well as the District of Columbia, requires employed registered nurses to have proper licensure. Mandates vary by state, so students should contact their state board of nursing to see if there are any additional steps, such as a background check.

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Obtain Employment as a Registered Nurse

With a degree, a pass on the NCLEX exam, and a license, registered nurses are quickly employed. Registered nurses are in high demand, so recent graduates from RN programs often have multiple options when deciding where they would like to work. Students should remember that much of what it takes to be a registered nurse or any other medical professional is learned through experience.

Pursue Additional Training or Education

If a registered nurse decides to become an advanced practice registered nurse and specialize in their knowledge, a master’s degree will be needed. After completing this education, graduates can apply for roles as certified nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, and nurse midwives.

Those who want to go further might choose to enter a doctoral program. DNP or Ph.D. programs are appealing to those aspiring to positions as scientific researchers or university professors in the nursing sciences. RNs may also undertake further certifications in critical care, acute care, or nursing management.

How Much do Nurses Make in USA?

When you talk about a job with pleasant pay, you talk about nursing. The average salary for a registered nurse varies from state to state. According to, the highest in California is $102,700, while the lowest is in South Dakota at $57,010. That’s quite impressive.

Nursing is a profession with high job security and will always be needed; thus, considering the nursing profession is a wise decision.

How to Work in the USA as a Foreign Education Nurse

If you recently immigrated to the United States and are a nurse, you will likely want to practice. Mind you, you cannot just dive into one hospital and say, “Hey, here’s my resume; I am applying as a nurse.”

There are steps you must follow to work as a foreign-educated nurse in the USA. To obtain a position as an RN in a U.S. hospital, you must;

  • Meet the educational requirements
  • Take and pass an English language proficiency test if mandated.
  • Obtain credential evaluation
  • Pass your National Council Licensing Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX – RN)
  • Find a nursing recruiting agency or US-based employer
  • Apply and obtain an RN immigrant visa/green card
  • RN visa interview and medical examination
  • Accept an RN position

You might also need to see this: How to Become a Nurse in USA– Requirements and Steps to Becoming a Registered Nurse in the USA

How Long it Takes to Become a Registered Nurse in USA?

The time it takes to become a registered nurse will largely depend on the type of degree program you choose to pursue. There are three basic ways to become a registered nurse in the United States.

  • You can complete a diploma program. Diploma programs aren’t as common as the other two methods below, but they do still exist as of this writing. Hospitals usually offer these, which take approximately 2-3 years to complete.
  • You can complete an associate’s degree in nursing, also called an ADN degree. Technical schools or community colleges usually offer an associate’s degree, which generally takes 2-3 years to complete.
  • You can complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing, also called a BSN degree. Traditional colleges and universities offer a BSN degree, typically taking about four years to complete.

In summary, it takes about 2-4 years to complete the educational requirements to become an RN (depending on which degree type you pursue), and after that, you’ll have to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. Once you pass the NCLEX-RN exam, you’ll be licensed to practice in your state.

I believe this article will guide you into becoming a Nurse in the USA without stress.

Is Studying Nursing in the USA Hard?

Studying nursing is not easy in any part of the world, so if you want to become a nurse in the USA, you must be prepared for rigorous study and work. Exercise; you may have to study as much as 40 hours a week to be at the top of your game.

Conclusion: How to Become a nurse in the USA

Becoming a nurse may not be a very easy course. Still, there are certainly a lot of benefits to this noble profession, from monetary ones to the personal satisfaction that comes with seeing your patients improve. This article will guide you into becoming a nurse in the USA without stress.

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1 comment
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