How to Become a Registered Nurse in Less Than 18 Months Online

Taking an accelerated path online to become a registered nurse requires a major commitment.
i Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images
Taking an accelerated path online to become a registered nurse requires a major commitment.

Nursing is an attractive career option. The average salary for a registered nurse is nearly $65,000 and the opportunities are growing due to a greater emphasis on preventative care and the aging baby-boomer population. If you are highly motivated and committed, you can become an RN in less than 18 months through an online nursing program. This is a challenging endeavor that requires choosing an appropriate web-based resource and the right curriculum. No avenue of study guarantees you'll become an RN. You'll also need to pass a comprehensive exam after successfully completing your studies.

    Establish the necessary educational prerequisites. If you are still in high school, focus on math and science. Typically, you'll also need to complete college-level classes in biology, chemistry, human anatomy and microbiology. Strong written and verbal communication skills are also essential.

    Contact the board of nursing in the state in which you plan to practice to find out what the requirements are to obtain an RN license. This will help you choose the best online course of study. Familiarize yourself with the NCLEX-RN, which is the national licensing examination for nurses. Tests are only administered to those who complete a state-approved nursing program.

    Determine what type of online courses you wish to pursue. If you have a bachelor's degree that includes nursing course prerequisites, consider an entry-level master's degree program in nursing, which can be completed in as little as one year. Another option is a two-year online associate of science in nursing degree program that can be condensed into 18 months if you include summer school sessions.

    Contact community colleges and other educational facilities that offer online nursing programs. Learn about their specific requirements and their approach to the curriculum. Ask if instructors are available for individual conferences through Skype or on the phone. Determine costs and the time commitment needed. Focus on course work that offers a timetable no longer then 18-months, and prepares you for the tests required to become an RN.

    Select online nursing courses suited to your needs and set your school work as a top priority in your daily routine. Develop a study schedule and acquire text books and resource materials that will allow you to study with or without you computer. Network online with others pursuing a similar course of study for encouragement and support. Treat you schoolwork no differently that you would if attending a brick and mortar school of nursing.

    Apply for the required licensing exams well in advance to assure you can take them immediately upon completion of your online classwork. Take preparatory tests using conditions and time constraints similar to the actual exam. If you have applied yourself to your nursing studies, and adequately prepare for the exams, you will achieve your goal of becoming an RN in less than 18 months through online studies.


    • Look for online courses certified by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

      When considering an online school, ask what percentage of students pass the licensing exam on the first attempt.

      Students enrolled in online nursing courses are eligible for loans and financial aid. Ask the school for assistance in these areas.


    • Online classes may not provide hands-on experience working with patients in a clinical setting. This is a requirement for many nursing jobs.

      Chemical dependencies and criminal convictions are likely to disqualify you from working as an RN.

      Lack of computer skills or the absence of a high-speed internet connection will undermine your efforts.

2016 Salary Information for Registered Nurses

Registered nurses earned a median annual salary of $68,450 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, registered nurses earned a 25th percentile salary of $56,190, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $83,770, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 2,955,200 people were employed in the U.S. as registered nurses.

the nest