Registered Nurse Careers

Learn about the most versatile nursing profession

What They Do

Becoming a registered nurse (RN) is an exciting way to pursue a lucrative and in-demand career path while also making a huge difference in people’s lives. These medical professionals play an essential role in every type of healthcare setting in locations all across the country. The work that they do is instrumental in helping people overcome illness and injury. If you are looking for a career that is rewarding in every way, consider becoming an RN.

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There are multiple categories of nurse. A registered nurse is not the highest or the lowest level, but occupies a middle ground that makes them indispensable in all healthcare settings. They work closely with doctors and other medical specialists to ensure that patients receive the care and attention they require.

In many cases, the work of an RN is clinical and involves administering medications, monitoring a patient’s status, and supervising the efforts of lower-level nurses. There is also a lot of administrative work involved, including updating patient files in medical records software, planning and recording treatments, and passing complex information along to other healthcare workers.

The work of a RN is closely related to the kind of patients they work with and the needs of the medical staff around them. More than anything else, it is the job of a registered nurse to be adaptable, capable, and dependable when it matters most. When there is a need, an RN must respond quickly, carefully, and completely.

Responsibilities

A big part of why working as a RN is so interesting is because every day is a little bit different. No two patients are exactly alike, and every healthcare setting will have different needs from its nurses. However, these are the kinds of daily responsibilities that most RNs will be asked to take on:

  • Perform physical exams on patients of all types
  • Develop detailed health histories
  • Administer medications, care for wounds, and provide personalized treatment to patients
  • Analyze patient information and determine a course of action in critical situations
  • Coordinate patient care along with a wide variety of other medical professionals
  • Oversee the work of other nurses such as LPNs and nurse’s aides
  • Conduct research with the goal of improving patient care and treatment outcomes
  • Carry out special assignments at the direction of doctors and administrators

Ideal Candidates

CNA-image-personalityConsidering that the work of an RN can be fast-paced, high-stress, and highly-sensitive, not everyone is suited for this career path. These are the personal and professional qualities that define the ideal candidates:

  • Communication Skills:
    Be able to learn and communicate complex information to a wide variety of audiences using all available mediums.
  • Stable Emotions:
    RNs must be able to deal with very demanding and often very sad situations without compromising their performance.
  • Empathy:
    Have the ability to understand the thoughts and feelings of patients who are struggling with major and minor health issues.
  • Flexibility:
    Adapt to changing circumstances involving both the care of patients and the organization of hospitals and clinics.
  • Focused:
    Possess an excellent attention to detail and an ability to concentrate on the most important information in any situation.
  • People Skills:
    Be able to work and interact with people of all types, especially during difficult situations.
  • Endurance:
    Have the strength and stamina to perform physically-demanding work over the course of a long shift.
  • Problem Solving Skills:
    Know how to find the best available solution when unexpected or uncertain situations arise.
  • Speed:
    Have the capacity to work accurately and effectively in situations where every second counts.
  • Respect:
    Treat patients, peers, medical staff and administrators with the respect that they deserve.

Career Outlook

There has always been a high demand for qualified RNs, and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this pattern is not likely to slow down anytime soon. In fact, with a 16 percent job growth rate through 2024, registered nurse careers surpass the national growth rate average for all professions (7 percent).

RNs

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All careers

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States with the Highest Employment of Registered Nurses

CALIFORNIA

midwife-california
255,010

NUMBER OF RNs

TEXAS

texas-map
198,650

NUMBER OF RNs

NEW YORK

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171,880

NUMBER OF RNs

FLORIDA

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168,870

NUMBER OF RNs

PENNSYLVANIA

pennsylvania-map
136,090

NUMBER OF RNs

Salaries for Registered Nurses

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook says registered nurses earned a median annual wage of $67,490, with the highest 10 percent in the profession earning over $101,630. If you’re considering where to practice, the BLS cites the five highest paying states as following for RNs:

States with the Highest Annual Wage for Registered Nurses:

State Annual Mean Salary
California $101,260
Hawaii $90,130
Massachusetts $88,650
Alaska $88,510
Oregon $83,800

How to Become a Registered Nurse

There are several ways to become an RN, with lots of options available to job seekers regardless of where they are located. Each state sets different requirements for becoming a RN, but most establish these two basic requirements:

Education

An aspiring RN will need to complete either a two-year Associate’s Degree in Nursing, or a four-year Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. The programs must be offered through an accredited college or university. Due to the popularity of this career path, there are a number of education options available for people who cannot commit to being a full-time or traditional student. It is faster to complete an associate’s degree, but a bachelor’s degree is preferred by most employers.

Certification and Licensing

After earning a nursing diploma, an aspiring RN will need to pass the national NCLEX-RN examination. The exam has 119 questions and covers the skills and information most relevant to the work of a registered nurse. After passing the test, most professionals will be qualified to earn a state license to work as a RN, although some states have established additional requirements. Once a license is obtained, an RN will be legally permitted to work in any healthcare setting where they can obtain employment.

Pass the Exam

Get Your License

Start Your Career

An aspiring RN will need to complete either a two-year Associate’s Degree in Nursing, or a four-year Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. The programs must be offered through an accredited college or university. Due to the popularity of this career path, there are a number of education options available for people who cannot commit to being a full-time or traditional student. It is faster to complete an associate’s degree, but a bachelor’s degree is preferred by most employers.

Join the Nursing Field as a Registered Nurse

Registered Nurses hold down the fort and as such are indispensable members of the healthcare team. As an RN you can take your career almost anywhere with the right education. Why not be part of an in-demand career that needs you now? Tell us a little about yourself and we’ll connect you with schools that offer registered nurse (RN) degree programs.

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