The websites of nursing schools, nursing organizations and most states' boards of nursing websites outline steps to become a registered nurse. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also provides information about the necessary educational and certification requirements a person need to complete before becoming an RN.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a person interested in becoming a registered nurse may choose one of the three pre-licensure education paths: a vocational diploma from an accredited nursing program, an associate's degree in nursing or a bachelor of science degree in nursing. An associate's degree usually takes two to three years to complete and can be taken in accredited community colleges. A vocational diploma can take approximately 18 to 24 months while a bachelor's degree normally requires four to five academic years of university academic credit. Most employers prefer bachelor's degree graduates, and many diploma and associate's degree holders choose to pursue higher education to be eligible for career advancement.
Becoming a registered nurse requires a degree from an approved nursing program or college and a passing score on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. The eligibility requirements to take the exam vary by state. The Board of Registered Nursing of a specific state can provide eligibility information for that particular state.