Associates Programs for Becoming a RN

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a registered nurse. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about associate's degree programs, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

Essential Information

Registered nurses (RNs) work directly with patients, providing care and support to both the patients and their families. They may note symptoms, give out medication and perform tests. Additionally, they educate patients and their families on medical conditions and recommend techniques to manage illness or pain at home. RNs can earn an associate's degree in nursing to become licensed.

Required Education Associate's degree
Other Requirements Licensure through NCLEX
Projected Job Growth 19% between 2012 and 2022*
Median Salary (2013) $66,220*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Associate's Programs

There are three main types of associate's programs for becoming a RN. Although these degree programs vary in name, they generally last two years, have similar curriculum and offer students similar results. Graduates may take licensing exams to become registered nurses.

Associate of Science in Nursing

Students looking to become a RN may consider earning an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN). ASN degree programs combine courses in pharmacology, anatomy and physiology with education in a real nursing practice. Some of the practical areas that may be covered in these programs include disease prevention, health promotion and bedside care techniques. Students also receive training in how to record patient data, manage patient records and track progress during the course of a patient's treatment regime.

Associate Degree in Nursing

The most common of all nursing programs is the Associate Degree in Nursing, also known as the ADN. ADN programs may be completed in two years and prepare graduates to enter careers as registered nurses with courses that focus on the fundamental aspects of nursing practice. Students receive a combination of hands-on clinical experience and classroom education. Coursework may cover areas in medical-surgical nursing, types of patient care and clinical decision-making.

Associate of Applied Science in Nursing

Students wishing to earn an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing (AASN) must complete in-class education and training in a healthcare setting. Aspiring nurses learn to calculate doses, understand legal rights of patients and complete courses in pathophysiology. Nursing skills courses may also cover topics in women's health, child birth and client care.

Licensing Information

Graduates of all associates programs in nursing studies must successfully pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) before applying for work as a registered nurse. This is a computer adaptive test taken over the course of a single day and those who receive a passing grade may begin work in their state of choice.

Continuing Education

To keep up with technological, medical and legal changes, states may require RNs to complete continuing education. RNs may receive continuing education credits for completing courses in nursing administration, nutrition and nursing skills among a host of other topics.

Registered Nurse Salary and Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates 19% job growth for all RNs in the decade 2012-2022. A rising elderly population contributes to this faster than average job growth. In May 2013, RNs earned a median income of $66,220 annually, per the BLS.

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