How To Become A Nurse With A Non-Nursing Bachelor’s Degree?


Written By: Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA


Are you a college graduate with a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field now considering a career in nursing? Do you wish you could start over and become a registered nurse, but ask the question, “Can someone tell me how to become a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor's degree?”

It is common for people to want to earn a new degree or transition their career paths after earning a different degree. In this article, I will share 12 steps to become a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree in another field. As you read on, you will find information about the cost and length of two options to become a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor’s. I will also provide you with information about earning potential, job outlook, job options, and answer some frequently asked questions.



CAN YOU BECOME A NURSE IF YOU ALREADY HAVE A BACHELOR’S DEGREE IN ANOTHER FIELD?


Yes, it is possible to become a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor's degree. There are many colleges and universities that offer programs for college graduates with no nursing degree or experience to pursue and accomplish the dream of becoming a nurse.



CAN YOU BECOME A NURSE WITH A NON-NURSING BACHELOR’S DEGREE IN ANY FIELD?


Becoming a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree in any field is possible. The classes you must take and the number of credits you need to earn your nursing degree may vary, depending on the type of bachelor’s degree you now hold. As you research and find programs that interest you, I recommend talking with academic advisors at those schools. Academic advisors can review your unofficial transcripts and help you decide which path is best to pursue your nursing degree.



WHAT NON-NURSING BACHELOR’S DEGREES ARE MORE SUITABLE FOR A DEGREE IN NURSING?


There are many non-nursing bachelor’s degrees that are suitable for transitioning to a nursing degree. Some of the most suitable and more common include social work, public health, and research. Keep in mind, however, that as long as you meet the admission criteria for the programs and meet all the program competencies, you can become a nurse with any non-nursing bachelor's degree.



TOP 5 ADVANTAGES OF BECOMING A REGISTERED NURSE WITH A NON-NURSING BACHELOR’S DEGREE


So, you think you want to become a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor's degree? Having been a nurse for more than 25 years, I naturally think being a nurse is an excellent option. However, I believe it is essential that you consider the pros and cons before pursuing any degree, especially one that involves transitioning your entire career path. The following are the top five advantages of becoming a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor's degree.

ADVANTAGE #1: You can earn your nursing degree in less time than a traditional nursing program.

One of the main advantages of becoming a registered nurse with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree is that many of the credits you earned in your previous degree will transfer. Depending on the number of credits you transfer, you could reduce the time it takes to earn your nursing degree by a year or more, which means you can complete the program, become licensed, and begin practicing nursing in less time.

ADVANTAGE #2: Nursing is a versatile field with many opportunities for advancement.

The bachelor’s degree you have now may be in a field with great potential for advancement. Becoming a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree is a great way to create more opportunities for career growth and advancement. With either an Accelerated BSN or a Direct-Entry MSN program, you can take on roles in leadership and administration, which are excellent for career growth!

ADVANTAGE #3: You could earn a significantly higher salary.

When you become a nurse with a bachelor’s degree in another field, it is a win-win for you but also for potential employers. Many healthcare facilities see the value in having employees with multiple degrees and do not mind compensating you for your knowledge and expertise. Depending on your current specialty and experience, you could see a significant increase in your earning potential when you become a registered nurse.

ADVANTAGE #4: You make yourself a more attractive candidate for jobs.

Another excellent advantage of becoming a nurse with a bachelor’s degree in another field is that with multiple degrees, you could be a more viable candidate for some jobs. For example, if you have a bachelor's degree in social work and become a registered nurse, you may find an administrative job for the nursing department of a local school district or become a hospital or nursing home administrator.

ADVANTAGE #5: You do not have to settle for one job or career path.

Perhaps becoming a nurse has been a long-time dream of yours, but your love for historical things led you to earn a degree in history first. One of the advantages of earning a second degree in nursing after earning a non-nursing bachelor’s is that you can have the best of both worlds. Whether you work in one field full-time and the other part-time or work two part-time jobs, one in each field, you have options that some individuals with only one degree may not have.



TOP 5 DISADVANTAGES OF BECOMING A REGISTERED NURSE WITH A NON-NURSING BACHELOR’S DEGREE


You can think about the advantages of becoming a nurse with a bachelor’s degree in another field all day, but unless you weigh them against the disadvantages, you may be shocked by how you feel later. The following are a few of the top disadvantages of earning your nursing degree after earning a non-nursing bachelor’s.

DISADVANTAGE #1: Some of the credits from your previous bachelor’s degree may not transfer.

If you want to become a nurse with a bachelor’s degree in another field, one of the perks is that some of your classes could transfer. “Could" is the operative word here. You need to prepare yourself for the possibility that all of your credits may not transfer. Being the optimistic person I am, though, I want to encourage you to look on the bright side. Even if the minimum number of credits from your first degree transfer, that still means fewer classes to take to earn your nursing degree!

DISADVANTAGE #2: You may find that nursing school is much more stressful than your first degree program.

Any time you go to school to learn a new trade or skill, it is natural to experience a bit of anxiety or stress. As a nurse and nursing instructor, I can tell you from experience that nursing school can take the meaning of stress to a whole new level. The long-term rewards of nursing, in my opinion, far outweigh what you go through in the program, but you must be determined and work hard to succeed.

DISADVANTAGE #3: You must be committed to lifelong learning.

The field of healthcare changes constantly. Because of the ever-changing landscape, it is essential for nurses to adopt a commitment to continual learning. You must be diligent to stay abreast of current knowledge. You will be required to earn continuing education credits as a condition for keeping your RN license active.

I recommend all nurses join professional nursing organizations, which offer continuing education opportunities and conventions where you can learn about the newest research, medications, and treatments and expand your professional network. There are also several excellent free online nursing journals and podcasts.

DISADVANTAGE #4: You may find it difficult to grasp the required content as quickly as necessary.

Accelerated BSN and Direct-Entry MSN programs allow you to earn a nursing degree in less time than a traditional BSN or MSN program. However, because of the nature of the programs, you may feel overwhelmed and struggle to absorb the intense levels of information the programs involve.

One thing I like to suggest is that you develop a study group, whether in-person or online, where you can meet with classmates and study content together. Sometimes hearing someone else's view can help you get a better grasp on things.

DISADVANTAGE #5: You will be exhausted!

I may be plain-spoken, but the simple truth is, if you want to become a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor's degree, the program options you have will leave you feeling exhausted. You must complete coursework and clinicals at an accelerated pace, which can not only be emotionally and mentally tiring but can also leave you feeling physically drained. It is essential that you practice self-care so you can recharge your body and mind throughout your program.



WHAT ARE THE TWO TYPES OF NURSING PROGRAMS AVAILABLE TO BECOME A NURSE WITH A NON-NURSING BACHELOR’S DEGREE?


There are two types of nursing programs that allow you to become a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor's degree, an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program (ABSN) or a Direct-Entry Master of Science in Nursing program (DEMSN). These programs are referred to as prelicensure nursing programs, which means they are designed for students who do not have a current nursing degree or registered nurse license.

1. Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program (ABSN):

An accelerated BSN program is a baccalaureate nursing program that is offered in a fast-track format. It is possible to complete the program at an accelerated speed because students have a previous bachelor’s degree and have typically completed some, if not all, of the necessary prerequisites.

2. Direct-Entry Master of Science in Nursing Program (DEMSN):

A Direct-Entry Master of Science in Nursing program is another type of accelerated nursing program. This program is designed for students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree who wish to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing and become a registered nurse or advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). Many Direct-Entry MSN programs allow students to bypass earning a bachelor’s degree and go straight to the MSN.



HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO BECOME A NURSE WITH A NON-NURSING BACHELOR’S DEGREE?


You can typically become a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree in as little as one year or up to three years. Accelerated BSN programs are shorter and usually offered only in a full-time format. Direct-Entry MSN programs take longer because they are a higher degree level and involve advanced, graduate-level coursework and additional clinical hours.

1. Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program (ABSN):

Accelerated BSN programs typically take a year to a year and a half (18 months) to complete. The time it takes you to graduate will likely be impacted by the number of credits you transfer from your non-nursing bachelor's degree. For example, at the Northeastern University Bouve’ College of Health Sciences, you can complete the accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 16 months. Creighton University offers a 12-month program.

2. Direct-Entry Master of Science in Nursing Program (DEMSN):

Direct-entry MSN programs take an average of two years to complete. However, this time may vary, depending on the number of credits you pursue each semester and whether you enroll part-time or full-time. For instance, the University of California-Davis offers a DEMSN program that takes 18 months (about one and a half years) to complete. On the other hand, at the University of Vermont, students may choose to pursue the degree part-time or full-time and graduate in two to three years.



HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO BECOME A NURSE WITH A NON-NURSING BACHELOR’S DEGREE?


The cost of becoming a nurse with a bachelor’s degree in another field varies. Depending on whether you choose to earn an ABSN or Direct-Entry MSN, you can earn your degree from $10,000 to more than $100,000. As you research different schools and programs, you may find that some schools charge tuition on a per-credit basis while others list a "total program cost." Also, some schools have different rates based on whether you live in the state or are an out-of-state student.

1. Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program (ABSN):

Accelerated BSN programs can cost as little as $10,000 to more than $80,000. At Wayne State University, the ABSN program costs between $28,600 and $73,646, depending on whether you live in-state or out-of-state. The University of Massachusetts-Boston charges a flat, per-credit tuition rate, with the program costing approximately $30,004.

2. Direct-Entry Master of Science in Nursing Program (DEMSN):

Direct-Entry Master of Science in Nursing programs are more expensive than accelerated BSN programs, costing anywhere between $50,000 and $100,000 or more. Azusa Pacific University offers a DEMSN program that costs an average of $98,040. (The price varies, depending on the number of credits you need.) At Rush University, you can complete the Direct-Entry MSN program for around $79,000.



4 WAYS NON-NURSING BACHELOR’S DEGREE HOLDERS CAN DECIDE WHICH PROGRAM (ABSN OR DEMSN) IS RIGHT FOR THEM?


If you are trying to decide if becoming a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor's degree is right for you, it is likely that you have several questions. Although there are many things to consider, the following are four ways to help you decide if this is the right path for you to follow.

WAY #1: Think about whether you want a leadership or administrative role.

Becoming a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree can lead to leadership roles for those who are interested. With a BSN, you may get a job as a Director of Nursing or charge nurse. However, if you want a better-paying, upper-level administrative position, the Direct-Entry MSN program may be the better option.

WAY #2: Decide what level of independence and the scope of practice you hope to achieve.

With a baccalaureate degree in nursing, you may work as a registered nurse, nurse leader, charge nurse, or Director of Nursing, which are excellent job options. These roles come with a lot of independence. However, if you want the highest level of autonomy in nursing, earning a graduate degree is the best option. With a Direct-Entry MSN, you can become a nurse practitioner and treat patients independently or in collaboration with an attending physician or work in another advanced practice role.

WAY #3: Consider the cost of each program.

One of the most critical factors would-be students consider when choosing which degree program to pursue is the cost. If you are limited to the amount you can spend on your degree, you may decide that the less expensive ABSN program is the better choice for you.

No matter which program you choose, keep in mind that there are many resources for financial assistance that can eliminate much of the cost of the programs. For example, the Foundation of the National Student Nurses’ Association General Scholarship is a scholarship option that awards up to $10,000 to eligible applicants planning to work in oncology, population health, critical care, or emergency nursing. The National Healthcare Heroes Grant for Nurses is a $1,000 grant that was created to help reduce the nursing shortage in the U.S. and is open to applicants seeking any nursing degree. Finally, I encourage you to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine if you are eligible for government grants and loans.

WAY #4: Determine how much time you can dedicate to earning your degree.

Another factor to consider on your journey to becoming a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor's degree is how quickly you hope to earn your nursing degree and become a registered nurse. Accelerated BSN programs are typically shorter than Direct-Entry MSN programs. So, if you want to earn the fastest degree, the ABSN may be a good option for you. Accelerated BSN programs are usually formatted to be full-time programs. Therefore, you should consider whether you can commit to school on a full-time basis. If you need a little more flexibility, a Direct-Entry MSN program with a part-time option may suit you best.



HOW TO BECOME A NURSE WITH A NON-NURSING BACHELOR’S DEGREE?

(The following are the 12 steps to successfully become a registered nurse with a bachelor's degree in another field.)


STEP #1: Decide Whether you want to pursue a bachelor's or master's degree in nursing.


About the Step:

The first step in becoming a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree is to decide which type of program you want to pursue.

PRO TIP:

If you think about what you want to do as far as work after earning your degree, it can make deciding on the ABSN or DEMSN easier. For example, if you prefer to work in a clinical role that may or may not offer some management opportunities, you may be happy with an Accelerated BSN program. Conversely, if you want more independence and options to work in your own practice, a DEMSN program could be the best choice.


STEP #2: Research Different Schools


About the Step:

There are many program options to become a nurse with a bachelor’s degree in another field. Once you decide whether you want to complete an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing or a Direct-Entry MSN program, you can then begin researching schools that offer the type of program you want.

PRO TIP:

While researching schools and program options, one important thing to keep in mind is that your program will require you to complete a clinical component. With that in mind, be sure to get clarification about who arranges clinicals and where you must complete them. It is crucial that you choose a school where you know you can meet clinical requirements, as clinical hours in the program are required to qualify for graduation and licensure.


STEP #3: Fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid


About the Step:

Paying for your nursing degree can cost tens of thousands of dollars. While not all schools require you to complete the FAFSA, most strongly recommend doing so. If you want to qualify for federal grants or loans, you must complete the application.

PRO TIP:

It has been my experience that it is best to fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible. Even if you have not decided on a definite school, you should still apply early. The application asks for school codes for the school(s) you are interested in attending. However, listing those schools does not restrict you to receiving aid for only those schools. Once your application is processed, you will receive an award letter, which you can give to the financial advisor at any school you are applying to.


STEP #4: Gather essential application documents.


About the Step:

Once you find schools you think you would like to attend, the next step is to apply for admission. Applying to college can feel like a daunting task, regardless of the type of program you choose. Each school will require information, such as copies of transcripts from your previous school(s) and other supplemental documentation.

PRO TIP:

Although the information you need to submit for each school may vary, most schools require similar documents to complete the application. Gather essential documents and make copies of them to include in each application packet you submit.

For example, although schools may require official transcripts to be sent directly from your previous institution, you can obtain copies of unofficial transcripts to submit for review. Also, most accelerated BSN and Direct-Entry MSN programs ask applicants to prepare a Statement of Intent and to provide a professional resume or curriculum vitae. These are things you can prepare and have on hand ahead of time, which makes the process smoother.


STEP #5: Apply for Scholarships and Grants


About the Step:

Becoming a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor's degree can be costly. You may be able to offset the cost of earning your degree by taking advantage of scholarships and grants. There are many reputable sites that provide information and links for applying for financial assistance opportunities. For example, Johnson & Johnson's website lists over 300 scholarship opportunities. Also, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing has information for scholarships, grants, fellowships, and other financial aid options.

PRO TIP:

I always encourage prospective students to apply for every scholarship or grant opportunity they can find. There is usually no limit to the number of scholarships, grants, or other aid you can receive. So, apply to as many as you can find and as often allowed.


STEP #6: Schedule an appointment with an academic advisor.


About the Step:

Another important step in becoming a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree is to meet with an academic advisor to discuss your degree plan. An academic advisor can review your transcripts from your previous degree program to determine which credits will transfer to your ABSN or DEMSN program. After determining how many credits are transferable, you can work with the advisor to find out how many credits you need to earn your degree and map out a prospective degree plan.

PRO TIP:

Keep a binder with important documents, including any post-secondary transcripts, for easy access. If you have your information on hand, you do not have to worry about whether the advisor has received official transcripts yet.


STEP #7: Apply early to as many programs as interest you.


About the Step:

If you genuinely want to become a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, do not limit yourself to only one school. Instead, find several schools that interest you close to the geographical region where you want to study and apply to them all.

PRO TIP:

When you apply to multiple programs, you increase the chance of being accepted into at least one or two. This is an important step because, if you choose to apply to only one program, you may face being wait-listed if other applicants are accepted before you. Also, applying early means admissions counselors will review your application before candidates who wait until the last minute to send in their applications.


STEP #8: Choose a specialty.


About the Step:

Depending on whether you pursue your degree through an accelerated BSN or Direct-Entry MSN program, you may or may not be required to choose a specialty. Most MSN programs offer different specialization options, and you may need to choose your specialization to have an individualized study plan. Even if the school does not require you to choose a specialization, both BSN and MSN nurses have the option of specializing.

For example, BSN nurses may choose from specialties, including Cardiac Care Nurse, Gerontology Nurse, Labor & Delivery Nurse, or Pediatric Nurse. There are also several MSN specialties. You may choose from an advanced practice nursing specialty, such as Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, Family Nurse Practitioner, or Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. You may also pursue a non-APRN specialty such as Nursing Research, Nursing Informatics, or Clinical Nurse Leader.

PRO TIP:

Choosing a specialty does not limit you to only one field of nursing. In fact, one of the things I love most about nursing is that you can specialize in almost anything you wish. A benefit of specializing is that your certification may make you a more attractive applicant to prospective employers, and you can use that to your advantage when negotiating your salary.


STEP #9: Prepare for your admissions interview.


About the Step:

After your application is reviewed and it is determined that you meet admission criteria, you can expect the final step of the process of beginning your journey to becoming a nurse with a bachelor’s degree in another field to be an admissions interview with program faculty. The admissions interview is an opportunity for faculty to meet you and get to know you face-to-face after reading your admission essays and personal statements. You may meet with the program director, a few faculty members, or a panel of faculty members, depending on the school.

PRO TIP:

If I can give you any advice about your admissions interview, it is to prepare for this interview as if your future career as a nurse depends upon it. You can have excellent grades from your previous degree program, write a stand-out admissions essay, and top-notch professional recommendations, but if you cannot articulate your thoughts about becoming a nurse to faculty, your chances of admission may be at risk. Prepare for your interview by going over potential interview questions and practice answering them. Remember, preparation is key!


STEP #10: Complete an Accelerated BSN or Direct-Entry MSN Program


About the Step:

After you have followed the tips, steps, and protocol to get into a nursing program, the next step to become a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree is to complete a program. The programs can be challenging for several reasons. First, you are transitioning from a non-nursing degree to a nursing degree, which requires developing a nursing mindset. You must dedicate significant time to studying and completing clinical practicums.

PRO TIP:

If you want to become a nurse, the challenges will be well worth the hard work you put into earning your degree. As a nurse and allied health educator, one of the most important tips I can give you is to never give up. Keep a vision of what you want to accomplish as a nurse in your mind, and when you get discouraged or feel overwhelmed, remind yourself of why you chose this new career path.


STEP #11: Take the NCLEX-RN


About the Step:

After graduating from an ABSN or DEMSN program, your next step is to obtain licensure as a registered nurse by taking the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The NCLEX-RN exam is a standardized test that all nursing graduates must take and pass to legally practice as a nurse. When you pass the exam, you will become licensed in the state where you reside. Depending on where you live, you may have the option of choosing a multi-state license. Your state of residence must be part of the Nurse Licensure Compact to qualify for a multi-state license. Otherwise, if you choose to practice in another state, you must apply for an individual license in that state.

PRO TIP:

There are several resources available to help you study and prepare to take and pass the NCLEX-RN. You can find NCLEX prep books, sample questions, and exam previews on the NCSBN website and other pro tips for passing the exam. I suggest investing in your test preparation as soon as possible. You may not understand some of the content in books in the beginning, but the further you get in the program, the more things will make sense, and the better prepared you will feel.


STEP #12: Take your certification examination.


About the Step:

If you have chosen a specialization, after graduating, you will also take your exam to obtain national certification in your specialty. The American Nurses Credentialing Center administers a variety of certification exams and offers excellent resources to help prepare for certification testing.

PRO TIP:

Program faculty and academic advisors help students prepare for graduation and registration for licensing and certification exams. So, be sure to keep up with the deadlines they give you to turn in the necessary paperwork and documentation for both exams. Currently, the ANCC takes approximately ten business days to process applications for testing. The Center recommends that applicants apply to take certification exams approximately one month before graduating.



3 MAJOR CHALLENGES YOU WILL FACE IN BECOMING A NURSE WITH A BACHELOR'S IN ANOTHER FIELD


All college degree programs come with some challenges, including programs that allow you to become a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. Knowing what challenges lie ahead can help you prepare and focus on overcoming challenges as they arise. The following are three major challenges you may face in an accelerated BSN or Direct-Entry MSN program if you have a non-nursing bachelor's degree.

CHALLENGE #1: Accelerated BSN and Direct-Entry MSN programs require sincere dedication.


What is it:

While obtaining any college degree requires hard work and dedication, becoming a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor’s in another field demands a significant time commitment. ABSN programs are usually full-time, which is why they can be completed in such a short time. Although some DEMSN programs offer part-time options, the curriculum is still rigorous, which also requires dedication.

How to Overcome:

Dedication is as much a frame of mind as it is an action. The best way to face the challenges you face in your program is to be intentional. Be intentional about studying, about being present for class and clinicals, and intentional about continuous learning.


CHALLENGE #2: Developing a Nursing Mindset.


What is it:

Another challenge you may face when you decide to become a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor's degree is learning to think like a nurse. You already have a college degree and know how to study, but the nursing school requires you to "think outside the box," which can be difficult for some students, especially if your first degree did not involve some type of clinical role.

How to Overcome:

The first step in overcoming this challenge is to be kind to yourself. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn from your instructors and preceptors. Their knowledge and experience will be instrumental in helping you develop critical thinking and decision-making skills, which are critical for working with a nursing mindset.


CHALLENGE #3: The curriculum is content-heavy and rigorous.


What is it:

At first, the curriculum for your accelerated BSN or Direct-Entry MSN program can be a little scary. After all, you are transitioning from a non-nursing path to a degree and career path that involves the health and well-being of others. The curriculum for both types of programs includes in-depth content such as Anatomy and Physiology, Pathophysiology, Psychology, and Evidence-Based Practice.

How to Overcome:

You cannot change the curriculum, but you can change your approach. Instead of giving in to misgivings about your decision to pursue a nursing degree, start with a plan and put that plan in motion. Once your class and clinical schedules are determined, create a study plan that works for you. Make it clear to family and friends that school is a priority and know that it is okay to hold them accountable for staying within boundaries so you can succeed.

Finally, take time to care for yourself. Get plenty of rest and sleep, eat a balanced diet, and exercise. These steps will help keep you physically and mentally fueled and well.



5 BEST JOBS FOR REGISTERED NURSES WITH A NON-NURSING BACHELOR’S DEGREE


When you become a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor's degree in another field, you will have a wide variety of job options. Once you graduate and pass your licensure exam, you can work any job other registered nurses work if you meet the hiring criteria. The following are five jobs I believe are excellent job options after completing an ABSN or DEMSN program.

JOB #1: Medical Surgical Nurse

Med-Surg nurses collaborate with interprofessional team members to deliver safe, effective patient care and promote positive outcomes. In this role, you will assess patients, create nursing care plans, administer medications and other treatments, and educate patients and their caregivers about their illnesses, treatment plans, and ongoing care.

JOB #2: Gerontology Registered Nurse

Many new nurses work in settings such as long-term care facilities or assisted living facilities where most patients are older adults. Geriatric nurses provide care designed to meet the physical and psychosocial needs of clients. This job will focus on maximizing your client’s potential to provide self-care as well as promote, maintain, and restore their mental, emotional, and physical health.

JOB #3: Emergency Room Registered Nurse

If you enjoy working in a fast-paced setting and like the idea of seeing patients of all ages with different illnesses or health conditions, the emergency room could be the perfect place for you! As an emergency room registered nurse, you will quickly and thoroughly evaluate patients with acute illnesses or injuries that require emergency care. In this job, you will work closely with emergency room physicians or nurse practitioners to provide rapid care. You may provide wound care, administer IV medications, administer oral medications, and assist with minor procedures.

JOB #4: Intensive Care Unit RN

Another excellent job to consider after becoming a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor's degree is ICU-RN. In the intensive care unit, you will monitor and care for patients with serious illnesses or injuries requiring more acute care. As an ICU registered nurse, you will provide constant support to clients throughout their recovery until discharge or their transfer to a step-down unit or regular hospital unit. The ICU is an excellent place to hone assessment skills and learn about various treatments, as patients require continual monitoring for even the slightest changes.

JOB #5: Operating Room Registered Nurse

If learning about and participating in surgical procedures interests you, becoming an operating room RN is a great option after graduating from an ABSN or DEMSN program. As an OR nurse, you will work closely with the surgeon and other members of the surgical team. Your role will involve promoting quality control in the operating room. You may also follow the patient to provide post-operative care during the initial phase of post-surgical recovery before the patient is discharged to home or moved to the hospital floor.



WHAT IS THE DEMAND LIKE FOR REGISTERED NURSES WITH A NON-NURSING BACHELOR’S DEGREE?


The demand for registered nurses with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree is positive. An increase in jobs of 6.24% between 2023 and 2031 is expected, which indicates good opportunities for graduates to find gainful employment after completing their nursing program.

2021-31
6.24%



WHAT IS THE STARTING SALARY FOR REGISTERED NURSES WITH A NON-NURSING BACHELOR’S DEGREE?


The starting salary for ABSN students who become a nurse with a bachelor’s degree in another field is $28.17 per hour, $1,127 weekly, or $4,880 per month. This salary averages $58,590 annually. Graduates of Direct-Entry MSN programs earn approximately $84,920 yearly. The salary for DEMSN graduates equals about $40.83 per hour, $1,633 per week, or $7,080 per month.

Type ABSN DEMSN
Hourly $28.17 $40.83
Weekly $1,127 $1,633
Monthly $4,880 $7,080
Annual $58,590 $84,920



WHAT IS THE AVERAGE SALARY FOR REGISTERED NURSES WITH A NON-NURSING BACHELOR’S DEGREE?


The average income for RNs who become nurses with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree ranges from $85,150 and $121,224, depending on which degree they earn. The graduate of the accelerated BSN program earns an average of $40.94 per hour, $1,638 weekly, or $7,100 monthly. Graduates who complete Direct-Entry MSN programs earn an average of $58.28 per hour, $2,331 per week, or $10,100 per month.

Type ABSN DEMSN
Hourly $40.94 $58.28
Weekly $1,638 $2,331
Monthly $7,100 $10,100
Annual $85,150 $121,224



BONUS! 7 WAYS TO KNOW IF BECOMING A NURSE WITH A BACHELOR'S IN ANOTHER FIELD IS RIGHT FOR YOU


Deciding to become a nurse with a bachelor’s degree in another field can be a tough choice. Naturally, you want to know if nursing is the right career path before transitioning. The following are seven qualities of a good nurse that could be signs that nursing is the right choice for you.

WAY #1: You love caring for others.

Nursing is a career that requires a true passion for caring for others. If you desire to have a long-term career where you can provide care and support for patients of all ages and want to transition from your original career path, becoming a nurse with a bachelor’s in another field could be right for you.

WAY #2: You are detail-oriented.

One of the most important characteristics of good nurses is to be detail-oriented. As a nurse, you must pay attention to all aspects of your patient's condition and follow through with tasks and assignments with efficiency and accuracy. Being detail-oriented could mean the difference in whether you notice significant changes in your patient, which could impact their health outcomes. If you are detail-oriented and want to work in healthcare, nursing is a good career to consider.

WAY #3: You do not mind standing up for others.

All nurses are expected to advocate for clients. Advocacy is defined as the act of being supportive of someone in a way that promotes their well-being in a way they understand and desire. If you are comfortable with speaking on behalf of others and standing up for their wants and needs, even if it goes against what others may think or believe is right, choosing to become a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree could be a great option!

WAY #4: You are truly compassionate.

Another quality of good nurses is the ability to show compassion. A few ways we show compassion include intentionally practicing good manners, trying to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes to see how they feel, or showing a genuine interest in others. If you care about how others feel and are motivated by a desire to help ease their suffering, pain, or turmoil, nursing could be an excellent career for you.

WAY #5: You know how to persevere.

Nursing takes dedication and hard work. If you have the determination to pursue your goals, despite obstacles, that is known as perseverance. The ability to persevere is an essential characteristic of nurses because it demonstrates the ability to work to overcome obstacles and find solutions to problems so you can provide quality patient care. If you have an attitude of perseverance and a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, you may want to consider becoming a nurse with a bachelor’s degree in another field.

WAY #6: You have a good work ethic.

One of the most important characteristics of good nurses is a good work ethic. Patients and team members depend on nurses to show up and perform their jobs to the best of their ability. Without a good work ethic, patient outcomes and prognosis are negatively impacted, healthcare teams become overwhelmed, and organizations suffer. If you are truly dedicated to your cause and have a strong work ethic, the nursing workforce needs you!

WAY #7: You have a passion for learning.

As a nurse, I can tell you that those of us who are good at our jobs never stop learning! Nurses must stay abreast of changes across the healthcare spectrum, and the healthcare landscape changes quickly. From the introduction of new medications and treatments, the discovery of new illnesses and diseases, and technological advances, there is always something to learn. To be effective in nursing, you must dedicate yourself to lifelong learning.



MY FINAL THOUGHTS


When you discovered this article, it may have been by happenstance, or perhaps you were searching for someone to answer the question, “Who can tell me how to become a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor's degree?” In this article, I addressed that question by sharing 12 steps to become a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree in another field and telling you about what it costs to earn your degree, the advantages and disadvantages of this type of career transition, and giving some insight into career opportunities.

If you have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing but genuinely desire to enter the healthcare arena as a nurse, I encourage you to research available accelerated BSN and Direct-Entry MSN programs for non-nursing majors. There is exciting potential in the nursing industry and no time like the present to get started!



FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY OUR EXPERT


1. Do Non-Nursing Bachelor’s Degree Holders Require Work Experience To Apply To A Nursing Program?

Non-nursing bachelor’s degree holders typically do not need work experience to apply to a nursing program.


2. Do Non-Nursing Bachelor’s Degree Holders Need Clinical Experience To Apply To A Nursing Program?

No, non-nursing bachelor's degree holders do not need clinical experience to apply to a nursing program.


3. As A Bachelor’s Degree Holder In Another Field, How Can I Prepare For A Nursing Program?

As a nursing and allied health educator, I suggest if you want to become a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, you first research different programs and job options to see if this is something you truly want to pursue. Then, consider visiting schools that offer ABSN or DEMSN programs to visit with faculty and academic advisors to get their insight.


4. Can I Specialize In Any Area Of Nursing With A Bachelor’s In Another Field?

Yes, there are many options to choose from to specialize if you have a bachelor’s in another field. Each school may offer different specialization options. Additionally, you may take classes after completing your nursing degree to earn a certificate in a specialty area.


5. Are There Any Online Nursing Programs For Someone Who Wants To Become A Nurse With A Bachelor’s In Another Field?

There are some online nursing programs for someone who wants to become a nurse with a bachelor’s in another field. Keep in mind, however, that although you may complete your classes online, you must complete hands-on clinical practicums to be eligible for licensure.


Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years of experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels. Because of her love of nursing education, Darby became a test-taking strategist and NCLEX prep coach and assists nursing graduates across the United States who are preparing to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).