How to Become a Registered Nurse

How to Become a Registered Nurse
Registered Nurse: A Quick Look
Median Salary $65,470 per year or $31.48 per hour
Entry-level Education Associate’s degree
On-the-job training None
Primary employers Hospitals, clinics, doctors offices, schools
Number of positions (U.S.) 2,711,500
Job Growth (2012-2022) 19% (Incredibly faster than the national average)
New positions (2012-2022) 526,800

Registered Nurse Job Description:

How to Become a Registered NurseThe registered nurse job description includes giving and coordinating care for their patients. Registered nurses are also referred to as RNs. They may work with patients’ family to convey information or they may provide educational training on various diagnoses and health concerns. Registered nurses typically work closely with other nurses, physicians, patients, and their families. RNs typically maintain their patients’ records, give medication and other treatments, assist in conducting diagnostic tests, etc. Some registered nurses’ job responsibilities vary depending upon the setting in which they work and the area in which they specialize (if they work in a particular setting that deals with one part or system of the body).  You can discover more about the typical Registered Nurse job description here.

Registered Nurse Salary:

Data from the BLS indicates that the median value of a register nurse salary is currently $65,470 per year (or $31.48 per hour) as of 2012. The top 10 percent of registered nurses earned more than $94,720, and the lowest 10 percent earned less than $45,040. Registered nurses who work for the government earned the top salaries based on industry at $68,540. The registered nurse salary of RNs who work in a physician’s office are the lowest at $58,420. Learn more about the registered nurse salary here.

How to Become a Registered Nurse:

At this point you might wonder How to Become a Registered Nurse. To become a registered nurse, you must typically pursue one of 3 educational routes. You can pursue a certificate in nursing from an accredited program, you can pursue an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), or a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). If you’re interested, you can learn about How to Become a registered nurse here.

FIND LOCAL & ONLINE REGISTERED NURSE SCHOOLS

Registered Nurse Job Outlook:

As per BLS data, the Registered Nurse job outlook is projected to grow by about 19% between the years 2012 through 2022. That rate of growth is quite fast. The rate of growth for the registered nurse profession will grow more quickly than the average of all other professions. The following guide will tell you all about the registered nurse job outlook. Read more here.

Registered Nurse Salary:

The latest data calculated at a national level by the BLS, shows that the median registered nurse salary is $31.48 per hour per hour for a total annual salary of $65,470 per year. The median salary shouldn’t be confused with an average of all salary earnings in an occupation. This median value reflects the exact ‘middle’ of all the salaries in the field; half of all registered nurses earn a little less than the median, and the other half of them earn more than this figure. Registered nurses tend to have opportunities for salary increases. If a nurse goes on for more education and becomes a nurse practitioner, he or she can expect to earn an even higher salary. The average Registered Nurse salaries for job postings nationwide are approximately 7% higher than average salaries for all job postings throughout the United States. Here are the higher vs. lower pay brackets for the salary of a registered nurse:
  • The lowest 10 percent of registered nurses earned less than $45,040
  • The top 10 percent of registered nurses earned more than $94,720
The registered nurse salary may vary due to the following influencing factors: the amount of previous work experience, education level, the industry which employs them, and the geographical location in which they are employed.
  • The highest-paid registered nurse positions are in California. Specifically, they are in the metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Vallejo, and San Jose.
  • Registered nurses who work in San Francisco typically earn $127,670 annually, registered nurses who work in San Jose, California tend to earn approximately $123,190 annually. For registered nurses working in Oakland, California, the average annual salary is $121,040, and registered nurses who work in Vallejo, California typically earn $121,670 annually.
  • As of October of 2014, Clinical Nurse Managers earned an average of $69,000, RN First Assistants typically earned an average of $65,000, and Cardiovascular Operating Room Nurses earned an average of $64,000. Other professionals in this field typically earned somewhere between $57,000 and $66,000.
  • The industry which employs the registered nurses influences salary. Registered nurses who work for the government typically earn an average annual salary of $68,540, Registered nurses who work for state, local, and private hospitals typically earn an average annual salary of $67,210, registered nurses who work for home health care services typically earn an average annual salary of $62,090, RNs who work in nursing and residential care facilities typically earn an annual salary of $58,830, and RNs who work in physicians’ offices typically earn an annual salary of $58,420
Registered nurses who have a bachelor of science in nursing can expect to earn more money than registered nurses with an associate’s degree or a certificate in nursing. RNs with higher levels of education are qualified for supervisory or leadership positions that are also higher paying. Also, seasoned nurses tend to earn higher salaries than newer nurses due to opportunities for promotions and raises. Registered nurses can also choose to go back to school to obtain a master’s degree in nursing or a nursing doctorate. Both of these levels of higher education typically yield higher nursing salaries.

How to Become a Registered Nurse:

Do you want to learn how to become a registered nurse? Of course you do. That's probably why you're reading this guide. To become a registered nurse, you must typically pursue one of 3 educational routes. You can pursue a certificate in nursing from an accredited program, you can pursue an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), or a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). Regardless out the educational route taken to become a registered nurse, all nursing students take core classes on human anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry, nutrition, social sciences, and psychology. Additional classes may be required for nursing students pursuing a bachelor’s degree. Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs are typically completed in 4 years, whereas the associate’s degree in nursing and certificate programs can typically be completed within 2 to 3 years. Nursing students must also complete clinical rotation experiences as part of their educational experience. These clinical rotations may be in psychiatry, pediatrics, intensive care, medical/surgical, labor and delivery, oncology, and geriatrics. A bachelor’s degree is typically necessary (or beneficial) if a nurse wants to teach, conduct research, or advance to an administrative or leadership position. Nurses must be licensed by the state in which they are employed. In order to become licensed, nurses must graduate from an accredited nursing program and pass a licensing exam. Additional requirements for nurses vary from state to state. Certification in specialized areas is an option for registered nurses.

Registered Nurse Job Description:

The registered nurse job description will vary based on the setting in which the nurse works, the patient group the nurse works with, and the level of experience the nurse has. For example, a neonatal nurse will complete tasks related to the care of babies, whereas a cardiac nurse will complete tasks related to the care of patients who have heart conditions. Some basic tasks will be required in both nursing positions (such as taking a pulse and blood pressure, completing physical examinations), but other more specific tasks will vary. Registered nurses can choose to specialize in a specific area such as oncology, dermatology, psychiatry, pediatrics, labor and delivery, gerontology, neonatology, nephrology, cardiology, etc. Nurses work under the direction of physicians, but they also work collaboratively with them and other health care professionals. Registered nurses may oversee other nurses such as licensed practical nurses (LPNs) or nursing assistants (NAs). Nurses can work in a variety of settings including hospitals, doctors offices, schools, skilled nursing facilities, correctional facilities, or for the government or the military. Common tasks completed by registered nurses include:
  • Give patients medications and other medical treatments
  • Monitor and observe their patients and take note of any changes in condition
  • Document symptoms, vital signs, medical histories, and other pertinent information
  • Complete or modify plans of care for patients
  • Assist with diagnostic tests and analysis of test results
  • Work collaboratively with physicians and other nurses
  • Operate various types of medical equipment
  • Educate patients about their illness or disease and teach care management
  • Educate families on how to complete necessary continual care at home
Some key qualities of a registered nurse include: being a critical quick thinker, ability to pay close attention to small details, being physically fit and have some degree of physical stamina as nurses are often on their feet, possess strong communication skills, good organizational skills, ability to cope with stress and trauma, and natural concern about others well being.

Registered Nurse Job Outlook:

The Registered Nurse job outlook is projected to grow by about 19% between the years 2012 through 2022. The demand for nurses will continue to grow as the population changes and ages. As the baby boomer generation ages, their need for healthcare services will increase. Also, more individuals and families will likely seek medical services since the Affordable Healthcare Act passed. There will also continue to be a demand for nurses due to the focus on preventative care. Also, as chronic disease rates increase in the U.S., so will the demand for registered nurses to care for the diseases. It is anticipated that there will be various job opportunities for registered nurses seeking employment. Registered nurses who have higher levels of education (such as the Bachelor of Science in nursing) will have the best job prospects. Also, employers may prefer to hire registered nurses who have previous work experience. As nurses retire, positions will open up for younger nurses to fill. *All numeric data in this post has been provided by courtesy of the BLS (the government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics), unless explicitly otherwise mentioned. The data has been calculated last in May 2014.

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