The best things in life are worth waiting for.
You’ve heard it a million times, but this old adage just doesn’t sit right with you. You know what you want, and you’re not one to wait around for it. You prefer life in the fast lane, plus you have a family depending on you. You simply don’t have the luxury of waiting.
With above-average earning potential and steady growth, it’s no surprise that a go-getter like you is interested in a nursing career. But spending several years in school is the last thing you want.
You’ll be happy to hear that nursing is a field with plenty of entrance options to suit your preferences. So if you want to become a nurse quickly, you can find an option to fit your needs. And once you’re working, you can always go on to advance your education further in the future.
Keep reading to learn how to become an RN fast and see which path sounds like the best for you.
1. LPN lane: The ultimate fast-track
Typical time to completion: 12 months1
If you’re serious about getting your feet wet in the nursing field as fast as possible, then the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) route is your best bet. While you wouldn’t actually be an RN, you could be launching your career in as few as 12 months.1 This would allow you to start gaining experience (and earning a paycheck) with the option to work toward RN status later on.
What do LPNs do?
LPNs are valuable players on the nursing team. But what exactly do they do? These healthcare professionals are responsible for taking patient vitals, distributing medications and administering basic patient care, such as changing bandages and IV drips, among other duties.
They typically work under the supervision of a registered nurse (RN) or doctor and are sometimes responsible for overseeing nursing aides. The most common place of employment for LPNs is nursing and residential care facilities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Other employers include hospitals, offices of physicians, home healthcare services and government facilities.
Career advancement opportunities for LPNs
LPNs who wish to advance their education can go on to apply their knowledge in a bridge program to earn their Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN). This would earn them the title of registered nurse (RN).
LPN salary and job growth
The median annual salary of LPNs in 2015 was $43,170, according to the BLS.2 Demand for LPNs is projected to grow 16 percent through 2024, which is much higher than the national average rate of 7 percent. In fact, 187,773 LPN jobs were posted in the past year alone.3
2. ADN avenue: A speedy alternate route to your nursing career
Typical time to completion: 18-24 months1
If you have your sights set on the coveted role of RN, acquiring an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) will be the fastest route to your career as a registered nurse. Many don’t realize that an RN title can be earned with either an Associate’s degree or a Bachelor’s degree. By opting for your ADN, you could be launching your nursing career in as few as 18 months.1
What do RNs do?
It’s one of the most prevalent professions, but what exactly do registered nurses do? RNs work under the supervision of physicians and are responsible for many patient care duties. This includes creating care plans, performing diagnostic tests and teaching patients how to manage their diagnosis. Most RNs are employed in hospitals, according to the BLS. They can also work in a variety of other settings, including nursing homes, private practices, schools, prisons and more.
Career advancement opportunities for RNs
Many RNs with an Associate’s degree choose to build upon their education and experience by enrolling in an RN to BSN program, which can be completed in as few as 12 months.1 Many schools offer these programs online to make it convenient for working RNs to advance their education.
RN salary and job growth
RNs earned a median salary of $67,490 in 2015, according to the BLS.2 Continued demand drives growth in the field, with a 16 percent increase projected through 2024, which is much higher than the national average rate. More than 1.5 million registered nurse jobs were posted in the past year throughout the US.4
3. A-BSN: Recalculating the fastest route to your career in nursing
Typical time to completion: 18 months1
The last accelerated option for becoming a nurse is for individuals who already hold a Bachelor’s degree of some sort. If you fit this category, even if your degree is in an unrelated subject, an Accelerated Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (A-BSN) degree is the optimal choice for you. If you’re looking to change careers and become an RN fast, this option could allow you to do so in as few as 18 months.1
What do RN-BSNs do?
BSN nurses typically perform the same duties as the ADN duties mentioned above. However, this degree qualifies them to take on greater responsibilities and could open doors for many interesting nursing specialties. RNs with a BSN have the advantage of qualifying for more job postings, especially within large, urban or magnet hospitals, some of which require all RN candidates to hold a BSN. Some specialties, such as school nursing and public health, typically require a BSN also, as do most nurse manager roles.
Career advancement opportunities for BSN degree-holders
Obtaining your BSN isn’t the end of the line in the nursing field. In fact, a BSN opens many more doors should you seek advancement in your career. Some registered nurses go on to obtain their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Degree, which can propel you to lead in administrative specialties or teach future generations as a nurse educator.
RN salary and growth
As stated above, RNs earn a median annual salary of $67,490 and face a faster-than-average rate of growth at 16 percent, as reported by the BLS.2 RNs with a BSN tend to earn slightly more than RNs with an ADN, though the true opportunity for increased earning potential comes from the array of nursing specialties and managerial roles open to nurses with BSN degrees.
What are you waiting for?
Now that you know how to become an RN fast, what are you waiting for?
If you’re still unsure which path is the best choice for you, learn a bit more about the nuances of each educational options. See which would best suit your priorities and preferences with our flowchart, Types of Nursing Degrees: Diagnosing Your Ideal Healthcare Career [Infographic].
1Time to complete is dependent on accepted transfer credits and courses completed each quarter.
2Salary ranges represent national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and include workers at all levels of education and experience. Ranges do not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.
3Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 187,773 LPN job postings, March 01, 2015–February 28, 2016).
4Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 1,523,353 registered nurse job postings, March 01, 2015–February 30, 2016).