Steps to Becoming a Registered Nurse

When it comes to getting a college degree, you need to be as shrewd as a businessperson to ensure you get the best value for your time and money.

Steps to Becoming a Registered Nurse
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When it comes to getting a college degree, you need to be as shrewd as a businessperson to ensure you get the best value for your time and money. The tuition costs for higher education at both private and public universities in the United States are enough to cause prospective students to be anxious about attending college.

With affordability being such a major issue for many prospective students, you would be wise to search out the degree programs that offer the best return on investment. Nursing is one of the fastest-growing and most in-demand careers in the country, and it pays well! Continue reading to learn how to become a registered nurse.

Determine what kind of nurse you want to be

There are many different avenues you can take in the nursing field but before choosing one, you need to know that you have what it takes to be a nurse. Being a nurse requires a natural penchant for nurturing and being attentive to the needs of others. You have to be empathetic, have a high tolerance for stress, and live a healthy lifestyle for the safety of your patients.

If you feel like you have the innate gifts that are necessary for nursing, then it's time to decide what kind of nurse you want to become. Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) go through the least amount of training of any nursing field—they can become certified after as few as eight weeks of training. You can become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) in about a year without completing any degree programs. However, to become a registered nurse, you will need to get an associate's, bachelor's, or master's degree in one of the nursing disciplines.

Getting a degree and becoming a registered nurse opens up a world of opportunities. According to the U.S. News' rankings, a registered nurse is the 13th best job in the country with a median salary of over $70,000 and an expected growth rate of 12.1%. That growth rate is more than two times the national average for jobs in the U.S. With only a 1% unemployment rate for registered nurses, you won't have to fret about being able to pay off student debt.

Pick the right school

Choosing the right school to get your education is as key to your success as performing well in the classroom. It's important that you get the best value for the thousands of hours of study and tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars you'll invest in your education.

When choosing a school, there is a myriad of factors that you need to consider. Do you want to attend a private or public university? You also have to factor in tuition and financial aid. Do you want to go to school on campus? Maybe you're already knee-deep in adult life and you're better suited for a school that offers online programs.

With so many variables to take into account, you need to be able to compare and contrast schools and degree programs side-by-side. Websites like ValueColleges are ideal for prospective students who are trying to chart out their higher education journey.

Value Colleges offers rankings on everything from tuition to the best online programs. To speak to their authority, both the World Report and U.S. News agree with Value Colleges' ranking of the University of Florida as the #1 best value college in the nation.

Get licensed

Even after you've completed your degree, you'll still need to get licensed by the state in which you desire to practice. To get your license, you have to take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

You should spend from a month to two preparing for the exam, but there's a phrase in card-playing that translates to your exam: "Study long, study wrong." You don't want to spend so much time studying that you develop anxiety about your exam, so take it as soon as you're ready. There are practice exams you can take online to assess your readiness. You'll have to pay a $200 fee before taking the exam.

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Read next: The Unconventional College Life
Casey Chesterfield
See all posts by Casey Chesterfield