Applicants for nursing programs are required to have a high school diploma or General Educational Development certificate. Many nursing schools also require applicants to have excelled in biology, chemistry, physics, algebra and selected English courses.
Nursing assistants are only required to complete a one-year coursework and obtain a Certified Nursing Assistant certificate. Licensed practical/vocational nurse aspirants should apply for a nursing program in a state approved institution. Graduates should sit and pass the National Council Licensure Examination before practicing as practical nurses.
Registered nurse aspirants have to take an associate degree in nursing, which takes two to three years to complete. Alternatively, taking a four-year bachelor's degree in nursing leads the student to become a registered nurse. Students must pass the NCLEX-RN examinations to qualify for certification. The bachelor's degree is a prerequisite when applying for specialized programs in the nursing field. Nurse practitioners, educators, researchers and specialists must first complete a bachelor of science in nursing program.
Individual state nursing boards oversee certification for the different nursing programs. Licensure can either be through examination or by endorsement. Nurses must renew their licenses after a duration specified by the individual nursing boards. Some states require nurses to complete hours of continuing education courses before renewing their certificates.