How to Become an RN in New York – A Simple Guide

How to Become an RN in New York - A Simple Guide

 Becoming an RN in New York is a great idea! 

There are a lot of opportunities in New York for RNs… and who wouldn’t want to work in this exciting place?

But the question is… How do you become one???

Different states have different processes and requirements, so it can get confusing if you want information specific to New York.

But that’s why we’re here!

We’ll walk you through the details of how to become an RN in New York.

We’ll also answer relevant questions related to this topic, such as: 

  • What do RNs do?
  • Where do RNs usually work?
  • What is the job outlook for RNs in New York?
  • How much do RNs earn in New York?
  • Is New York a Nursing Licensure Compact State?

The journey to becoming an RN is not easy, but it’s worth it.

So, if you’re ready, let’s begin! 

How to Become a Registered Nurse in New York: A Simple 4-Step Guide

Here are 4 simple steps to becoming an RN in New York:

  1. Choose the Best Nursing Program and School for You 
  2. Obtain Your Registered Nursing License in New York
  3. Keep Your RN License Active 
  4. Consider Pursuing a Specialization or Becoming an APRN

Every journey begins with a single step, so let’s dive deeper into each step. 

Step #1: Choose the Best Nursing Program and School for You

The first step to becoming an RN is to get the proper training. 

You need to enroll in a nursing education program. 

You can choose between an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). 

Both degrees can qualify you to take the national examination and become an RN, but they also have peculiar pros and cons. 

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)

The ADN is faster and cheaper than the BSN because it only takes two years to complete this program. 

The faster you finish and qualify for a nursing license, the faster you can work as an RN and start earning. 

However, because it only takes two years to complete, the scope of what an ADN can do is not as wide as that of a BSN.

Most big hospitals prefer to hire BSN-RNs. 

Most master’s and doctoral programs also require your minimum educational background to be a BSN.

However, one option you can take is to first finish an ADN, and then proceed to an RN to BSN bridge program while working. 

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

The BSN degree takes four years to complete. 

Although it takes twice as long as an ADN, it also has its advantages in terms of greater chances of employment, bigger salaries, and more career advancement opportunities. 

This is because the training to become a BSN is more rigorous and in-depth. 

It can also prepare you for advanced studies later on. 

Common Requirements for Enrollment

Different schools have different enrollment requirements, so it’s important to check with the specific nursing school you want to attend. 

However, as a general picture, these are some of the requirements you may be asked to submit:

  • ACT or SAT score requirements
  • High school and/or previous college transcript
  • Application letter
  • Application interview
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Background checks

Important Considerations in Choosing the Best Program for You

How do you choose the best nursing program for you?

It will ultimately depend on your preferences, resources, location, available time, etc. But there are a few important considerations that will help you when selecting a nursing school. 

The most important consideration is whether the program is accredited or has state approval. 

It MUST be accredited by the New York State Department of Education. If not, you will just be wasting a lot of time and money, since your program will not be recognized at all. 

You can check the accreditation status of the school you are interested in here

Other important considerations include:

  • High NCLEX passing rate 
  • Well-rounded clinical and lab experiences
  • Online learning accessibility
  • High-quality faculty and instructors

Step #2: Obtain Your Registered Nursing License in New York

The next important step is to obtain your RN license in New York.

You cannot practice as an RN without obtaining a license. 

Depending on what stage you are in in your nursing journey and what your background is, there are several ways to gain an RN license in New York.

In general, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) requires that you must:

  • be of good moral character;  
  • be at least eighteen years of age;
  • graduate from a nursing education program acceptable to NYSED;
  • complete New York State required infection control coursework and child abuse reporting coursework;
  • pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) or another license examination acceptable to NYSED; and,
  • apply for an RN license with NYSED. 

Pathway 1: For Those Who Have Never Been Licensed as an RN and are Graduates of New York State Approved Nursing Schools 

If you graduated from an approved nursing education program in New York, but have never been licensed as an RN before, then this is the route for you.

To apply for a license using this method, you need to:

  • Submit the Online Form 1 – Application for Licensure – RN.
    • To fill up this form, you will need to indicate your basic information, contact information, social security number, and any information about any criminal or professional disciplinary action. 
    • If you hold other professional licenses, you will also need to enter the license name, number, issue date, and jurisdiction. 
  • Pay the $143 license and first registration fee by credit card.
  • Register with Pearson Vue to take the NCLEX-RN.

The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) ensures that all aspiring RNs meet the requirements to work as entry-level nurses. 

The NCLEX is developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) and administered by Pearson Vue. 

Once you receive authorization to test (ATT), you can schedule your NCLEX exam.

If you pass your exam and all other requirements… CONGRATULATIONS! You will be given a license parchment and a registration certificate from the NYSED.

Pathway 2: For Those Who Have Never Been Licensed as an RN and are Graduates of Nursing Schools in Other States or U.S. Territories

This is the route for those who are not yet licensed and who studied in a nursing school outside of New York (but still within the U.S. or its territories). 

To apply for a New York RN license, you must:

  • Pay the $143 license and first registration fee by credit card.
  • Register with Pearson Vue to take the NCLEX-RN.

Pathway 3: For Those Who Have Been Licensed in Another State or U.S. Territory and Who Graduated from a Nursing School in the U.S.

This is for those who graduated from a nursing school in the U.S. and already became registered nurses in another state but want to transfer to or work in New York. 

To apply for licensure through this route, you need to:

  • Pay the $143 license and first registration fee by credit card.

Pathway 4: For RN Applicants with Recent Canadian BSN, BN, or NScN Degrees 

This is for those who graduated from Canadian Nursing Programs approved by a Canadian province (other than Quebec) or a Canadian Nursing Program approved by the NCSBN.

  • Pay the $143 license and first registration fee by credit card.
  • Register with Pearson Vue to take the NCLEX-RN (if you haven’t taken the NCLEX yet).

Pathway 5: For Graduates from Foreign Nursing Schools Outside the U.S.

This is for those who graduated from a nursing program outside of the U.S. or its territories. 

  • Pay the $143 license and first registration fee by credit card.
  • Have your foreign nursing credentials verified.
  • If you haven’t taken the NCLEX yet, you will need to register with Pearson Vue to take the NCLEX-RN by logging in to or by calling Pearson VUE at 1-866-496-2539. 

To read more about these 5 different pathways, you can visit the NYSED website

Step #3: Keep Your RN License Active

Once you become an RN in New York, you can start looking for the RN job that best suits you. 

We suggest that you gain experience in the clinical setting before branching out into other RN jobs. 

If you want to specialize in a particular field, you should try to find a job that will give you hands-on experience in that field. 

You will usually need at least 1-2 years of work experience before being allowed to gain certification or proceed to become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). 

License Renewal Requirements for RNs in New York

While working and building up your career, it’s also important to remember that you need to keep your RN license active. 

You will need to renew your license every 3 years, starting from the year your license was first issued. 

New York only requires 3 contact hours in Infection Control and Barrier Precautions from an approved provider to be completed every 4 years. 

It has a one-time requirement of 2 contact hours in Child Abuse Identification and Reporting. 

Although New York’s continuing education requirements are not as rigorous as other states, it’s still advantageous to continually update yourself. 

The medical field is always advancing. There may be new medicines, protocols, equipment, laws, etc. 

You can process your license renewal online, and pay a fee of $73. 

Step #4: Consider Pursuing a Specialization or Becoming an APRN

Becoming an RN is not necessarily the end of the road for you. 

There is still a lot you can do to advance your career and pursue higher education. 

Consider Pursuing a Specialization

Aside from general continuing education updates, you can also specialize in a certain field or population. You can gain certifications in that field from various organizations. 

Becoming certified increases your credentials and opens more doors of opportunities for you. 

Some possible specializations you can look into include:

  • Cosmetic nurse
  • Burn care nurse
  • Cardiac care nurse
  • Developmental disability nurse
  • Emergency room nurse
  • Geriatric nurse
  • Hospice nurse
  • Labor and delivery nurse
  • Medical-surgical nurse 
  • Oncology nurse
  • Postpartum nurse
  • Rehabilitation nurse
  • Wound care nurse

There are so many kinds of nurses out there! You can read this article for more ideas on possible future specializations and how to get there. 

Consider Becoming an APRN 

Another way to upgrade your career is by becoming an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). 

There are four types of APRNs:

  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
  • Certified Nurse Midwife
  • Certified Nurse Practitioner
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist 

Becoming an APRN requires either an MSN or a DNP, taking a national exam, and getting an APRN license from your state. 

Although the requirements to become an APRN are more rigorous, they are also among the most sought-after and well-paid healthcare professionals. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming an RN in New York

We’ve already looked at the process of how to become an RN in New York. 

Let’s now focus on some questions that you might have about being an RN in New York. 

What do RNs do?

RNs provide and coordinate the care of patients in clinical or community settings. They also educate the patients, their families, and the public about the prevention and treatment of various diseases. 

Their tasks are varied and also depend on where they are working, what their positions are in their workplace, and whether or not they have a specialty. It also depends on the laws governing nursing practice in their state. 

But some duties of RNs may include:

  • Getting patients ready for exams or treatments
  • Recording medical histories and symptoms
  • Assessing and prioritizing patient care needs
  • Helping to set up plans of care
  • Monitoring the patient’s condition and vital signs
  • Updating medical charts
  • Administering medicine and treatments according to the physician’s orders
  • Using and monitoring medical equipment
  • Teaching patients and their families how to manage conditions and give post-treatment care
  • Coordinating care between doctors and other healthcare professionals
  • Controlling safety and infection
  • Supervising LPNs, CNAs, and medical assistants

Where do RNs usually work?

RNs can work in a LOT of different settings, but they are most commonly found in hospitals, offices of physicians, home healthcare services, outpatient care centers, and nursing care facilities.

Other possible places they can work include:

  • Government offices
  • Community centers
  • Prisons
  • Schools or the academe
  • Research centers 
  • Military 
  • Private businesses

What is the job outlook for RNs in New York?

The job outlook for RNs is great overall, including in New York.

RNs form the backbone of the healthcare system, and we know that everyone will need to avail of healthcare services at some point in their lives. 

That means we will never run out of need for RNs!

And not only that, the demand for RNs is even expected to increase by 6% from 2021 to 2031, according to the BLS.

This means that there will be about 203,200 job openings for RNS each year over the decade. 

This is mainly because of the growing number of elderly patients with chronic diseases, and the growing need for preventive healthcare. 

RNs can also earn a rewarding salary, aside from having a meaningful career. 

Not only that, New York is one of the metropolitan areas with the highest level of employment of RNs. 

How much do RNs earn in New York?

Nationwide, the mean annual salary of RNs is $82,750, according to the BLS

In New York, the mean annual salary of RNs is $93,320! That’s higher than the national average!

Is New York a Nursing Licensure Compact State?  

No, New York is not a nursing compact state, although they are taking some steps to become one. They already have pending legislation for it. 

The Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) is an agreement made among several states to credit the RN license of one NLC state in another NLC state. 

This allows the RN to have a multistate license and practice as an RN in all NLC states without having to apply for individual RN licenses in each state. 

It would be best to keep updated on the status of New York in terms of its implementation of the NLC. 

In Summary

We’ve discussed the 4 steps of how to become an RN in New York. 

Although it requires time and effort, the process itself is pretty straightforward. 

We also answered some questions related to being an RN in New York. 

We saw what RNs do, where they usually work, what the job outlook for RNs in New York is like, and how much they earn!

And it looks very promising for RNs in New York! The demand and level of employment are high and they usually earn higher than the national average. 

It’s also nice to know that New York is working on their NLC status. That will open up even more job opportunities for RNs in the future when they can have multi-state licenses.

So, if you’re hoping to become an RN in New York, we’re cheering you on! 

We hope this article will help you on your journey! 

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