Nursing Requirements on the Career Ladder

There are multiple nursing requirements that you must meet along the ladder to a successful nursing career. Knowing what the nursing requirements are for each degree on the ladder will help you to prepare to advance to the next step.

Licensed Practical Nurse Requirements (LPN)

Meeting the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) requirements begin with earning a high school diploma or equivalent. The next step is to complete a training program accredited by the State Board of Nursing. LPN training programs are offered through vocational schools, community colleges and some hospitals and can often be completed in about one year. You must pass the NCLEX-PN certificate exam to receive your license to practice nursing.

Registered Nurse Requirements (RN)

One way to meet nursing requirements to become a registered nurse (RN) is to earn an Associateís degree which takes two to three years of college education. A second way to become an RN is a four year college degree also known as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). After satisfactory completion of either degree the next step is to take and pass the national licensing exam or NCLEX-RN to become a registered nurse.

Master of Science in Nursing Requirements (MSN)

A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) requires 18 to 24 months of education beyond a BSN degree. Most programs require applicants hold a BSN, an RN license and meet minimum GPA and GRE scoring. Joint degree designations at the Masterís level involve earning a Master of Science in Nursing in combination with a Masterís degree in Public Health (MSN/MPH), or Business Administration (MSN/MBA), or health administration (MSN/MSHA).

Post Masterís Certificate Nursing Requirements

The American Nurses Credentialing Center offers specialized certifications that demonstrate expertise, beyond that of an RN, in a particular field. Candidates usually hold a Masterís level designation and sit for the exam pertaining to their specialization area. Generalist, advanced practice and clinical specialist certifications are offered in nearly thirty areas.

Doctoral Nursing Requirements (ND), (DNP) or (DNSc)

Doctoral nursing requirements vary according to the program that you choose but in many cases earning a doctoral degree, to become a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), Doctor of Nursing Education (ND), Doctor of Nursing Science or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) requires an additional three to six years of education. These advanced level degrees provide training in research methods and pave the way to clinical research, advanced clinical practice and executive nursing.

Itís very important to identify your area of interest and level of commitment to the nursing field and then formulate a plan that will help you meet the nursing requirements to get you to the career level you desire.