Nursing Degrees / Education Requirements

All nursing careers require specialized training. Most of this education will be in a school setting, but not all nurses are created equal. With the wide variety of nursing jobs in the U.S. comes an equally wide variety of training.


Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Education Requirements:



It is important to know that every state is different in regards to amount of time required for training and testing and the type of environment you'd like to work in. If you are hired at a healthcare facility, you will have to submit to a background check and a drug test.

Often, local healthcare facilities especially nursing homes will advertise free classes or "Be paid while you learn." These classes are offered usually to those with no prior healthcare experience and can run anywhere from 2-6 weeks fulltime. These facilities will require that you work at their site for a certain amount of time in exchange for this training and sometimes will also pay for the state test.

Another option for training is to attend CNA classes at a local community college or become trained through the Red Cross (community organization). These classes generally last longer possibly up to 6 months and can cost anywhere from $300 to $600 for training. The main benefit is that your training is more extensive and some CNA's are more confident due to feeling better prepared. Many CNA's quickly learn that on the job training is what matters most and although this holds true for many jobs it is especially important in health care settings.

After all the training, you will need to take the state test to become certified and it is usually done at a specific place and on a specific date pre- arranged by your trainer. Some places will allow you to work, upon completion of your CNA training, up to three or four months after classes without your certification. The test includes a written and clinical portion. Back to top

Read More About: CNA / Certified Nursing Assistants


Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)/ Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) Education Requirements:



LPN nursing schools typically involve one year of study and training at a hospital, community college or technical vocational school. Students should know that the program they choose must be approved by their state's Board of Nursing in order for them to qualify for a nursing license.

After earning a nursing degree through a state-approved program, graduates must pass the National Council Licensure Examination. Individual states administer this exam to qualifying candidates.

Depending on the school, tuition costs for LPN degrees start in the $2,000 range, and many schools offer financial aid, grants and other avenues to help nursing students fund their education.

If later on in your career you decide to become a registered nurse (RN) through a program for LPN to RN or LPN to BSN program, you can receive credit for the course work you completed during your licensed practical or licensed vocational nurse training. Back to top

Read More About: LPN Licensed Practical Nurses / LVN Licensed Vocational Nurses


Registered Nurse (RN) Education:



Most Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs at four year colleges require you to first apply to the college or university, and then after completing prerequisite courses at the school you can apply to the college of nursing. Most every state college has nursing degree programs and many community or junior colleges offer the first two years of study for this degree.

Each state has a Board of Nursing which is responsible for setting requirements and licensing nurses who practice in that state. To earn a professional nursing license, you must pass a comprehensive nursing test, called the National Council Licensure Examination. But to qualify to sit for the NCLEX examination, you must first complete a nursing education program that is approved by your state's Board of Nursing. Many states also require continuing education after you are licensed to keep your nursing license current.

Here are some general guidelines for what to expect nursing school requirements:
  • SAT or ACT exam, minimums vary widely by school
  • GPA range from 2.0-3.25, depending on the school
  • 3 years of math, including geometry and algebra II
  • 3 years of science, including biology and chemistry
  • 4 years of English
  • 2 years of foreign language

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Read More About: RN / Registered Nurses

Advanced Degree Nursing:



In addition to a four year college level of nursing, there are many advanced degrees in the nursing field which require a masters of nursing degree or a doctorate degree. In addition to nurse practitioner, other licenses within this field include clinical nursing, nurse anesthetics , psychiatric nursing and nursing midwifery. Back to top


Nurse Practitioner (NP) Education:



Becoming a nurse practitioner requires at least a master's degree and licensing according to state regulations.

Aspiring nurse practitioners can begin their education by earning an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing. Completion of an undergraduate degree prepares students for entry-level positions in clinical settings and meets state requirements for licensure as a registered nurse.

Every state requires a practicing nurse to first pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Additional licensing and registration requirements, which typically include background checks and fingerprinting, may be required at the state level. Before continuing to pursue a graduate degree or advanced nursing licensure, an RN license is required.

Registered nurses with a bachelor's degree who are interested in becoming NP can qualify for the position by earning a master's or doctoral degree in nursing. Many nurse practitioners specialize in a specific area of medicine, such as pediatrics or family medicine, during their graduate study. These programs typically take 2-3 years and require students to take courses, seminars and lectures in addition to completing a clinical residency.

Most states require additional licensure to work as an advanced practice nurses. Some states require nurse practitioners to obtain special licensing in order to prescribe medication. The most common requirements include a minimum of a master's degree in advanced nursing, a valid RN license and passing a national certification or state-issued examination. Many states require continuing education classes or maintenance of a national certification to renew a license.

The successful completion of a graduate degree program and licensure requirements prepare graduates to sit for certification examinations specific to their careers. The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) are two organizations that offer national certification commonly recognized by state nursing boards. Certification usually requires passing an examination, and most organizations mandate continuing education to maintain the credentials. Back to top

Read More About: NP / Nurse Practitioners


Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) Education:



Certified nurse - midwives need an advanced degree in order to practice. You can begin this advanced degree with either a bachelor degree in nursing or bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field. Once you earn a BS in either nursing or a non-nursing field, you can apply to a master's or doctorate program for a midwife degree.

Typical entrance requirements for those who want to learn how to become a nurse - midwife include an active registered nursing license (RN) in the state where the school is located, some work experience in labor and delivery, generally up to a year, completion of the GRE (graduate school admissions test) with satisfactory score, completion of a statistics course with a satisfactory grade, letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose describing why you want to become a certified nurse - midwife

You may qualify for a different route if you are currently an RN and apply for a Masters in Nursing. If you choose an RN to MSN program, you won't need to have a bachelor's degree or to have taken the GRE. If you are in a "direct entry" program and have a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field, a nursing license will not be required to begin this advanced degree program. Back to top

Read More About: CNM / Certified Nurse Midwives


Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) Education:



A Registered Nurse (RN) who specializes in certain areas of nursing is a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS). CNS's generally focus on one area of practice such as pediatrics, geriatrics, oncology or gynecology. They may also choose to focus on surgical skills in these areas, teaching, research or clinical duties needed. They are truly specialists in all areas of nursing and they get paid for having these skills. One of the most important factors in becoming a CNS is education. There are several ways to achieve the needed educational requirements to become a CNS.

A Registered Nurse (RN) who specializes in certain areas of nursing is a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS). CNS's generally focus on one area of practice such as pediatrics, geriatrics, oncology or gynecology. They may also choose to focus on surgical skills in these areas, teaching, research or clinical duties needed. They are truly specialists in all areas of nursing and they get paid for having these skills. One of the most important factors in becoming a CNS is education. There are several ways to achieve the needed educational requirements to become a CNS. Back to top

Read More About: CNS / Clinical Nurse Specialists


Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) Education:



Like all other advanced nursing degrees, CRNA's must first earn a degree as a registered nurse (RN). Therefore they must have a bachelor's degree in nursing or other applicable field, and be a licensed RN by passing the NCLEX-RN, the national licensing exam. Once licensed as an RN, they must have at least one year of nursing experience before gaining admission into a graduate nurse anesthetist program, according to the AANA. This also requires completion of the GRE (graduate school admissions test). Most nurse anesthetist programs take two or three years to complete after the Bachelor degree level. After completing the graduate education, one must pass the national certification exam in order to practice legally as a CRNA. Back to top

Read More About: CRNA / Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists