Aspiring registered nurses must complete an Associate Degree in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, pass the NCLEX-RN exam and obtain licensing from their State Boards to become certified. Registered nurses can further their education by obtaining a Master of Science in Nursing degree.
Aspiring registered nurses can begin their education at a two-year or community college, where they can earn an Associate Degree in Nursing. Some nurses choose to use their employers' tuition assistance programs to enroll in an RN-to-BSN program. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree typically takes four years to complete, but nurses with a BSN degree typically have more job opportunities than those with an ADN degree.
A student becomes a registered nurse by passing the National Council Licensure Examination. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing administers this exam, and it is accepted in all 50 states. Students take the exam on the computer, and it consists of 119 questions that must be completed in six hours. The pass rate is 70 to 75 percent, as of August 2015.
All 50 states require registered nurses to obtain state licenses. Each state has different requirements, so nurses must contact their State Board for details. Some states require an additional background check before someone can work as a registered nurse.