Advice » Career Development» Education & Training » Career Changers Can Take ...
Career Changers Can Take Varied Educational Paths into Nursing

Career Changers Can Take Varied Educational Paths into Nursing

A profession needing to hire more than 581,000 new workers and replace hundreds of thousands of additional workers leaving the field by 2018 can get creative about helping career changers break into the field. That's exactly why diverse educational options are available to mid-career workers who want to switch gears and pursue a new career in nursing.

"The variety is needed to avoid duplicative education efforts on the part of second-career students and to feed the nursing pipeline," says Susan Odegaard Turner, a healthcare consultant and nurse with 30 years of wide-ranging experience in healthcare.

If you're looking to transition into nursing, check out the varied educational paths you can explore.

The LPN/LVN Path

With at least a high school diploma, you can obtain one year of training at a hospital, vocational-technical school or community college and become a licensed practical nurse (LPN), known as a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) in some states.

But know in advance, Turner says, that as an LPN/LVN you'll be limited in the on-the-job activities you can perform. Equally important, she says, is the fact that you'll likely earn $10 to $15 an hour less than registered nurses (RNs), whose practice scope is wider. "An LVN is a great stepping-stone to RN, but the roles are not interchangeable," she says.

Once you finish your training, you'll need to pass your state-administered National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) to obtain your LPN/LVN license.

The RN Path

If you'd rather go straight for your RN, you can get there via several paths:

  • Diploma in Nursing: Heavy on clinical experience and light on theory, diploma programs are usually hospital-based, although these days some hospitals run programs in collaboration with local community colleges, Turner says. You'll need a high school diploma or GED to enroll, but whatever your educational background, you'll need two to three years to get your diploma and become eligible for RN status.
  • Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN): Offered through community and technical colleges, an ADN can be completed in as little as two years if you took all the science prerequisites (typically microbiology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, algebra and psychology) in high school. It will take you three or even three-and-a-half years if you need the science prerequisites, which are part of every nursing program, to complete your ADN.

    Once you've finished your ADN, which is also known as an associate of science (AS) or associate of applied science (AAS), depending on the school, you'll be eligible to become an RN.


  • Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN): Because of its educational depth, the BSN has become the degree employers prefer. As Turner points out, it often takes about the same amount of time to complete, practically speaking, as it would for you to fulfill all of your science prerequisites and get an ADN. So in the end, she says, the BSN gives you "more cluck for your buck."

    If you don't already have a bachelor's in another field, you'll need four years to complete a BSN. But if you do have a bachelor's, look into:

    • Accelerated Programs: If you have a bachelor's in a non-science-oriented field like English and want your BSN as quickly as possible, you can enter one of the country's more than 200 accelerated BSN programs and earn your degree in two to two-and-a-half years. If your first bachelor's is in a science-oriented field like biology, you'll probably be able to complete an accelerated BSN program in 12 to 18 months, since you already will have taken some or all of the BSN program's science prerequisites.
    • Regularly Paced Programs: These programs cover the same ground as the accelerated BSN programs at a normal pace. If your first bachelor's is not in a science-oriented field, you're looking at three years to completion. With a science-oriented bachelor's, you can finish in two years.

Of course, you'll also need to pass your state's National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to get your state RN license.

Whatever your current situation, you can find an educational path into nursing that makes sense given your background and time frame. The industry definitely needs you.

Articles in This Feature:

Latest Jobs

Cynet Systems Inc
Posted: 05/22/2015
Irvine, CA
Posted: 05/22/2015
York, PA, 17406
Posted: 05/22/2015
Posted: 05/22/2015
Posted: 05/22/2015

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile


Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
Create and connect.
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.


100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2015 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2015.8.0.34-212