If you dread getting up for work every morning, then remember that it’s never too late to change your career! Training for a new career can be an exciting way to challenge yourself, increase your job satisfaction, and boost your long-term earning potential. Online qualifications have made it easier than ever for people to retrain and pursue nursing as a second career.

Making a career change to nursing could be a great option if you feel unfilled in your current job role and want to make a positive impact. Nursing is rewarding, and you will have the opportunity to join a growing industry that offers an array of benefits, including job security, a competitive salary, and career advancement.

Here are the steps you should follow if you want to pursue nursing as a second career.

7 Steps to pursue nursing as a second career

Learn about the role of a nurse

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Switching careers and training as a nurse is a big decision that you should give lots of thought to. You must research the role of a nurse and have a realistic understanding of what the job entails. Working as a nurse is rewarding, but it is also challenging, and you need to ensure that a career in nursing is right for you before you start the process of switching careers.

You can find lots of useful information about nursing and the role of a nurse by visiting websites like registerednursing.org and nursingworld.org. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) also provides relevant information on nursing careers and industry news. Take the time to research the nursing profession before you commit to training as a nurse.

Research nursing degree programs

If you pursue nursing as a second career, you will need to complete an accredited nursing degree program. A nursing degree will teach you specialist nursing skills, knowledge, and expertise and prepare you to become a practicing nurse.

There is a massive variety of nursing degree programs to choose from. Most people switching careers in later life choose online programs as they offer the flexibility to fit learning around their existing commitments. You may also have the option to complete an accelerated nursing program via distance learning if you have a bachelor’s degree.

Elmhurst University offers online accelerated BSN programs for non nurses that leverage your existing education and experience. The course is specially designed for professionals wanting to launch a second career in nursing. You can complete the program and be ready to sit the NCLEX-RN exam in as little as 16 months.

Speak to an admissions representative

You should speak to an admissions representative once you’ve found a nursing degree program that suits your needs. An admissions representative will help you decide if the course is right for you and guide you through the application process. Get the most out of the first call with your admissions representative by having important documents to hand, e.g., college transcripts.

Fulfill outstanding ABSN prerequisites

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You will need to fulfill any outstanding ABSN prerequisites and requirements before you can enroll in a nursing program. The prerequisite courses you need to complete will depend on your academic background and experience. For instance, applicants with a related degree such as science typically have to fulfill fewer prerequisites than applicants with an art degree.

You can contact your nursing program provider to check the admission requirements and find out what ABSN prerequisites you will need to fulfill before you apply. Most non-nursing applicants are required to complete a number of science and non-science prerequisite courses to meet the admission criteria.

Earn your nursing degree

Once you have completed the required ABSN prerequisites, you will be able to enroll in your chosen nursing program. Earning a nursing degree is hard work, and you will need to be fully committed to your studies. Get organized early and follow a strict study schedule to keep on top of your coursework and assessment deadlines.

If you choose to complete an online nursing degree program, you must make a detailed study plan, set clear learning goals, and carefully manage your time. According to Good Colleges, you should “treat study like a job and make school your top priority every day” and take advantage of any support available and connect with peers and professors online.

Sit the NCLEX exam

Sitting the NCLEX exam is the last hurdle to becoming a registered nurse. You must pass the NCLEX exam before you can apply for a nursing license. The exam is designed to check that you have the skills and knowledge to practice as a nurse in a clinical setting. You can sit the NCLEX exam three times a year, and the majority of the test questions are multiple-choice.

It is a good idea to complete practice questions and papers to help you prepare for the NCLEX exam. Look at this article by Nurse.org for useful tips on passing the NCLEX exam the first time. You should receive your results within six weeks of taking the test.

Apply for a nursing license

Apply for a nursing license

You can apply for a nursing license once you have passed the NCLEX exam. Every state sets its own requirements for licensure, so make sure you find out what is required in your location. You can check this by visiting Nursing License Map. You can apply for registered nursing positions once you have received your nursing license.


More and more people are deciding to pursue nursing as a second career later in life. Nursing makes a great second career as you will have a wealth of skills and experience that will benefit the job role. If you’re questioning your career choices, then switching to nursing could be a great way to boost your job satisfaction and achieve your professional goals.

Training to become a nurse is a big commitment, but it can lead to a rewarding career with plenty of attractive job perks. If you’re interested in switching to nursing, then follow the above steps to start your career as a nurse.

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