How Long Does it Take to Become a Nurse?

Time to Become a NurseNursing is a rewarding career for those who enjoy caring for others and making a real difference in the lives of those in their community. If you are thinking about becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Registered Nurse (RN), or Nursing Practitioner (NP), you’ve probably considered the amount of time and training involved in achieving this career goal. While nursing jobs are at an all-time high, you may even be concerned that time is of the essence. While it’s true that the industry is dynamic, experts agree that the nurse profession will continue to thrive well into the future.

So, how long does it take to become a nurse? This question is best answered with another: what type of nurse do you wish to become? Additionally, consider where you are in your career today. If you have never had formal training and no experience in the field, it will take longer to become a Nurse Practitioner than someone who is already a Registered Nurse. Nonetheless, pursuing advancement in this career field is a smart choice – even if you’ve never stepped foot in a class.

Becoming a Nurse with No Nursing Background

CNA training provides quick entry into the field of nursing. Although this is an entry-level position, formal training and certification is required. Training last from 3 weeks (for accelerated programs) to a full semester at a nursing school.

LPNs can achieve training and certification in as little as one year, earning more as an entry level professional. Depending on the setup of the program, either CNA or LPN training may take longer to achieve.

RNs earn more annually and can achieve greater degrees from a nursing school. There are several types of degrees for this type of professional, as well as plenty of specialty certifications available. Without extra specialty training, however, an RN designation can be earned in 2 to 4 years. Students may achieve a nursing diploma, an associate’s degree, or a bachelor’s degree.

Becoming an NP takes the longest amount of time because it requires the most formal education credits as well as more experience in the industry. A full-time student will spend up to five years earning a master’s degree for this position. However, bridge programs are a popular option for students who wish to enter the workforce while earning their degree.

Moving Up in Your Existing Career

Many nursing schools provide ‘bridge’ programs to help you achieve your desired career goals. These are programs that build on the education and experience you’ve already achieved in your career. With a bridge program, the general timeframe from start to completion is considerably shorter than it will be for a new student. The following programs are typical of nursing schools:

  • RN to BSN (2-years, full time)
  • BSN to MSN (2-years, full time)
  • RN to MSN (3-years, full time in an accelerated program)

For more information about becoming a nurse using a bridge program, or just to review your local education requirements, visit the American Nurses Association.

Are you ready to start working on your nursing degree or certification? Nursing Schools Direct can help! To find opportunities in your community or across the nation, simply  Search by State or use the form on the right to Find a Nursing School near you. Once you’ve found a school, click the Request Info button and fill out the form to learn more. You will be contacted by a school representative who can answer any questions you may have. Access to our network of schools, career information, and more is available for free. You are under no obligation to act on the information you receive, so contact as many schools as you’d like!