How to Become a Registered Nurse in 3 Simple Steps

What is a Registered Nurse ?

Registered nurses are at the front line of health care. They are the ones you’ll meet when entering the emergency room or getting your annual physical. They’re the ones who walk you through your medical history, fill out your paperwork, and examine you before the doctor meets with you.

Becoming a registered nurse is a selfless act. You become the carer and protector of patients, often working long hours and comforting a patient’s family as they go through medical care. You’ll be an educated and actionable part of the medical team that works every day to save lives.

If you’re interested in learning how to become a registered nurse, then this article is for you! You’ll find the information you’ll need to set your course for this valuable career, including the education requirements and the top skills necessary to be a valuable registered nurse, no matter where you work.

Top 5 Duties of a Registered Nurse

  1. Observe and record patient behavior.
  2. Administer medication.
  3. Assisting doctors with procedures.
  4. Treating and caring for patients upon arrival.
  5. Perform preliminary physical exams and health history sessions.

Work Environment and Hours

Registered nurses can work in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities.

According to the National Institutes of Health, about a quarter of all nurses work mandatory overtime; however, because there is no set standard for work hours, nurses can work eight-hour or 12-hour shifts with a massive amount of flexibility in their schedule.

Top 5 Skills For Registered Nurses

1. Communication Skills

When you become a nurse, you’ll see that effective communication is key to health care. As a nurse, you’re crucial in letting the doctors and patients know what’s going on; this also getting information from family members about your patient’s medical history, which can help save their lives.

2. Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is an absolute requirement for nursing and can make a true difference.

Understanding the many different treatment options available and deciding what is the best avenue of care for your patient is important, especially since you’ll need to make the right decision for your patient within moments of admittance.

3. Attention to Detail

Attention to detail is a core skill for registered nurses; this is because not paying attention to even the smallest of details may harm a patient. You’ll need this skill when recording a patient’s symptoms and administering medication, so it’s important to work on this skill often.

4. Flexibility

Flexibility is a skill you’ll need in order to be a valuable nurse. No two work days are the same, and you’ll be required to juggle paperwork, team meetings, and patients’ families. Staying flexible helps out your team and will give you greater control over your career.

5. Stress Management

Stress management is an integral skill for registered nurses. You’ll be required to work long hours and fight losing battles; being able to manage your stress will help you become a more efficient nurse and enable your employer to trust in your work.

What is a Registered Nurse

Becoming a Registered Nurse

Step 1: High School Requirements

High School Courses


Students who want to become registered nurses will benefit from taking biology at the high school level. Biology is a great place to start because it will teach you the fundamentals of medicine and nursing before you get to college. Take this course at the AP level for college credit.


Generally an elective provided in high school, taking psychology will help you learn how to read people’s emotions and act accordingly. In your work as a registered nurse, you’ll no doubt work with traumatized patients, so a little background in psychology will give you great bedside manners.


Chemistry is critical to your education early on; your work will require you to administer medications to patients. Learning about chemical reactions will empower you to make better choices for your patients once you’re in the field. It will also provide you with a strong foundation for more advanced college courses.

Step 2: Get Official Training

Associate’s Degree in Nursing

An associate’s degree in nursing is the first educational step to becoming a registered nurse. Students must have a GPA of 2.5 or better and some science courses, including Biology and Chemistry.

Students will complete 60 credit hours of work for graduation, including labs and a practicum, in order graduate.


General Education Requirements (31 Credits)

  • Information Literacy
  • Written English
  • Humanities
  • Life Span Developmental Psychology
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Mathematics

Core Courses (36 Credits)

  • Health Safety
  • Health Differences
  • Health Differences Across the Life Span 1
  • Health Differences Across the Life Span 2
  • Health Differences Across the Life Span 3
  • Head-to-Toe Assessment and Nursing Process
  • Managing Multiple Patients/Working with Interdisciplinary Team

The calculated cost of an associate degree program in nursing is $27,170- $48,145.

Click the button below to find the best programs near you.

Step 3: Get Certified


According to UNC-Chapel Hill, you must meet three requirements in order to take the NCLEX-RN exam: you must register with the Board of Nursing, register for the exam with Pearson Vue and complete the ATT.

The NCLEX-RN is a multiple choice exam that has between 75 to 265 questions, with an algorithm determining the number of questions you answer. The NCSBN states that the exam costs $200.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Registered Nurse and How Much Does it Cost?

Degree Time Cost
Associates Degree2 years$27,170- $48,145
Certification $200
Total 2 years $27,370- $48,445

Registered Nurse Training Video

Noel Griffith, Ph.D.
Noel Griffith is a Doctor of Philosophy with a strong interest in educational research. He has been an editor-in-chief of since 2014. Noel is an avid reader (non-fiction), enjoys good food, live theatre, and helping others make wiser career decisions.

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