Registered Nurse (RN) Career Information

The following information is from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Registered Nurses. Please visit the website for a more comprehensive breakdown of the data.


Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their families.

Job Duties

  • Assess patients’ conditions
  • Record patients’ medical histories and symptoms
  • Observe patients and record the observations
  • Administer patients’ medicines and treatments
  • Set up plans for patients’ care or contribute information to existing plans
  • Consult and collaborate with doctors and other healthcare professionals
  • Operate and monitor medical equipment
  • Help perform diagnostic tests and analyze the results
  • Teach patients and their families how to manage illnesses or injuries
  • Explain what to do at home after treatment


National Average Annual Pay (2019): $77,460

Top 5 States

1. California


2. Hawaiʻi


3. Massachusetts


4. Oregon


5. Alaska


Bottom 5 States

50. South Dakota


49. Mississippi


48. Alabama


47. Iowa


46. Arkansas



There are several routes to become a Registered Nurse (RN):

  1. Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): This is a 4 year program

  2. Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN): These programs take around 2-3 years to complete

  3. Earn a diploma from an approved nursing program – these programs are less common than BSN or ADN/ ASN programs but usually are offered at hospitals and medical centers.

  4. LPN or LVN to RN Program: If you already are a licensed practical or vocational nurse, there are programs specifically designed for you to make the transition to an RN.

All of these options should make you eligible for entry-level jobs as RNs. A BSN is usually necessary for administrative positions, research, consulting, or teaching. Nurses who get an ADN or ASN also will have the option to earn their BSN in specialized education programs.

After completing the education program, you will take the national examination to become an RN called the NCLEX-RN. Then you will become a licensed RN.

You will have the option to be certified through professional associations in other areas to show your advanced knowledge. These areas can include gerontology, ambulatory, and pediatrics.

There are several options that you will have to advance your career. One option is supervisory positions that you can work towards as you gain experience as an RN. Another option is to pursue become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) in which you will need a master’s degree.

  • 1. Enroll in an RN Education Program

    ADN/ ASN programs take 2-3 years to complete.
    BSN programs take about 4 years to complete.

  • 2. Take the National Exam

    To become a licensed RN, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

  • 3. Get a Job as an RN!

  • 4. Advance Career to an APRN

    There are several ways to advance your nursing career, one of which is become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). You will need a master’s degree for this specific advancement.



Registered nurses must be able to communicate effectively with patients in order to understand their concerns and evaluate their health conditions. Nurses need to clearly explain instructions to their patients. They must work in teams with other health professionals and communicate patients’ needs.

Emotional Stability

Registered nurses need emotional resilience and the ability to cope with human suffering, emergencies, and other stressors.

Organizational Skills

Nurses often work with multiple patients who have a variety of health needs. The ability to coordinate numerous treatment plans and records is critical to ensure that each patient receives appropriate care.


Registered nurses should be caring and empathetic when working with patients.

Physical Stamina

Nurses should be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as lifting patients. They may be on their feet for most of their shift.

Detail Oriented

Registered nurses must be precise because they must ensure that patients get the correct treatments and medicines at the right time.

Critical Thinking

Registered nurses must assess changes in the health status of patients, such as determining when to take corrective action.

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