How Do You Become A Nurse? For Beginners


A pre-nursing student should know all the pathways to become an RN, APN or NP.

What I’ve learned by reading dozens of articles and even a book (Professional Nursing: Concepts and Challenges, Beth Perry Black) is that the first step to these careers is getting an Associates Degree. If you want to become an RN right out the door, this should be in Nursing Science (an ADN). If you’re aiming to get a Bachelors Degree of Science Nursing (a BSN), it can be in anything.

I recommend getting a BSN instead of stopping at the ADN. The job outlook is better and most hospitals will hire someone with a BSN before the person with an ADN under normal circumstances. 

You can start this path by enrolling in a community college or private college. You can start taking classes that are required to take before enrolling as a nursing student. Colleges that offer a nursing program usually require you to take all General Ed courses ( in order to start on an associated degree, this takes two years).

  • You should enroll to get an Associates in a related field (for instance I’m getting an Associates in Allied Health). However, this isn’t required.
  • You’ll be required to take additional courses that are required before enrolling in a nursing program; Nutrition, Physiology, Anatomy, Microbiology etc.
  • These courses are at the beginning of the ADN. Theoretically, the nursing program should only take you an additional year to complete after this point.

Before you start on this path, ALWAYS talk to an academic counselor at the prospective college. You can always make appointments and most colleges let you do this even before you’re a student.

After gaining the ADN, you’ll have a choice to take the NCLEX (the big exam that makes you an RN if you pass), or you can continue going to college and get into a BSN program. The BSN program is usually offered at the same colleges that offer the ADN programs. If not, you can look up colleges in your area that offer them. Again, you should call the college’s counseling office and see what your options are since requirements differ from school to school. 

After passing the NCLEX, you are an RN who makes an average of $65,000 yearly. From this point, you can work in hospitals, in-home care, or a range of other options as a registered nurse.

There’s plenty of options to move up from here. You may want to continue going to school and/or gaining new certificates. This is when an RN becomes an APRN, they make an average of $96,000 a year. APRNs can become Nurse Administrators, management, researchers, anesthesiologists and more.

One type of APRN pathway involves earning a Nurse Practitioner Mater’s Degree. Nurse Practitioners make an average of $97,000 a year.

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