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How Long Does It Take to Become a Nurse?

Mark S. Hayes

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May 25, 2023
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Nursing is one of the most rewarding fields in the medical profession, and it's also one of the most in-demand. Becoming a nurse requires a commitment of time and dedication. So, how long does it take to become a nurse? Let's take a look at the time needed to reach your goal of becoming a nurse, from completing your prerequisites to getting your nursing license.

1. Prerequisites: Before you can become a nurse, you must complete certain prerequisites, such as a high school degree or GED, college courses in anatomy, physiology, and chemistry, and any other courses required by your state. Depending on the program you choose, these prerequisites can take anywhere from one to four years to complete.

2. Nursing Program: Once you've completed your prerequisites, you'll need to enroll in a nursing program. The length of a nursing program varies depending on the type of program and the state you're in. Most nursing programs are two to four years long.

3. Clinical Experience: After completing your nursing program, you'll need to gain clinical experience before you can become a registered nurse. This usually involves working in a medical setting under the supervision of an experienced nurse. Clinical hours vary depending on the type of program and the state you're in, but it typically takes one to two years to complete.

4. NCLEX-RN Exam: Once you've completed your nursing program and clinical hours, you'll need to take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam in order to become a registered nurse. The amount of time it takes to prepare for the exam and pass it varies from person to person, but it typically takes several months of study and practice.

5. Licensure: Once you've passed the NCLEX-RN exam, you'll need to apply for licensure in the state you're practicing in. This usually takes two to four weeks to process, depending on the state.


Becoming a nurse is a rewarding and challenging journey that requires dedication and hard work. It typically takes three to five years to complete the prerequisites, nursing program, clinical experience, and NCLEX-RN exam before you can become a registered nurse. However, the rewards of being a nurse are worth the effort. So, if
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