How Long Does It Take to Become an RN

You’d like to pursue a nursing career, and you’re thinking about becoming a registered nurse. So, how long does it take to become an RN? Usually, it takes 4 years, but you may be able to finish in as little as 16 months. Here’s an overview of possible paths.

What Type of Degree Do You Need?

Registered nurses must hold either an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). The ADN takes one and a half to two years to complete while the BSN takes four. However, most employers prefer RNs with bachelor’s degrees. Also, nurses with four years of education tend to make more money and have greater opportunities for advancement.

How Do You Complete Your RN Certification?

Besides earning a degree, RNs must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). This computerized test has between 75 to 265 multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, and drag-and-drop questions. Official results are sent within approximately six weeks. After passing the NCLEX, candidates must apply for licensure in the state where they wish to practice. Depending on the number of applications, this can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

Different Timeframes to Becoming an RN

You may be able to earn your RN certification faster if you have previous education and/or experience. Let’s consider a few scenarios.

If you are…

  • A High School Graduate
    High school graduates could pursue a two or four-year degree. Successfully completing the NCLEX exam and licensure requirements will add a few more months to the process.
  • A CNA
    CNA-to-RN programs allow certified nursing assistants to enroll in RN programs without repeating unnecessary courses. This can reduce certification time by as much as six months.
  • An LPN or LVN
    LPN-to-ADN and LPN-to-BSN programs also build off the existing education of licensed practical and vocation nurses. As a result, these programs may take half to three-quarters as long to complete.
  • A Non-Nursing College Graduate
    College graduates switching into a nursing field potentially can finish the BSN coursework within 16 months to 2 years. These accelerated programs transfer general education credits and thus allow candidates to jump right into a nursing curriculum.

What’s the Cost?

The cost of RN certification varies depending on the program and the institution. The typical ADN program requires 70-75 credit hours whereas the typical BSN requires 120. In-state universities often charge $300-$500 per credit hour, but private institutions could charge over $2,000. Plus, students who live on campus will have room and board fees. Of course, high school graduates need to start from the beginning. On the other hand, CNAs, LPNs, LVNs, and individuals with non-nursing college degrees would have transfer credits. Finally, it costs around $200 to take the NCLEX-RN exam, and many states charge licensure fees.


Are You Searching for the Right Nursing Job?

BOS Medical is hiring CNAs, LPNs, and RNs in the greater Atlanta area. Our recruiters will match you with good-paying, career-building opportunities, so you can continue your education. Browse all our available openings discover your next nursing role today!

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