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Registered Nurse

If you can assess a situation and recommend critical changes, have great attention to detail and are compassionate and emotionally stable, then a career helping others as a registered nurse may be the right career choice for you.

Time to degree

Most diploma and associate nursing programs usually take about two years to complete, making nursing a popular occupation among military spouses. The shorter education requirements typically allow a spouse to complete his or her studies before relocating, earning a highly respected and portable degree.

The education requirements are different for finding employment as a nurse, depending on your specialty and career field. You may be expected to meet one of the following requirements.

  • Staff nurses must have a diploma from an approved nursing program and typically work in hospitals or community health settings.
  • Assistant unit managers, head nurses or charge nurses typically require an associate degree in nursing or Bachelor of Science in nursing, and typically work in hospitals or community health settings.
  • Senior-level administrative nursing roles, including director of nursing and chief nursing officer, typically require a master’s degree or doctorate in nursing or health services administration.

Regardless of your specialty field, all states, the District of Columbia and U.S territories require registered nurses to pass the NCLEX – RN, the National Council Licensure Examination and obtain a nursing license.

Finding a nursing program

Access the Department of Education College Scorecard to help you find a school or nursing program that is a good fit for you. You can search based on factors most important to you – location, size, degree, major and more. You can also visit the Scholarship Finder on MySECO to help you find ways to fund your courses.

Finding Employment

Once you've met the education requirements to become a registered nurse, it’s time to find a job. One of the first places to look is the Military Spouse Employment Partnership Job Search. Hundreds of partner employers have made the commitment to recruit, hire, promote and retain military spouses in portable careers. Check the MSEP Job search or visit the website for the company of interest to find available positions.

Another way you can search for employment as a registered nurse is to check out your local state and national job bank. By entering your state or ZIP code and using the job title 'nurse,' you can browse vacant positions with both public and private companies, as well as positions with the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Through the MySECO Job Search Tools, you have access to resources to assist you in your job search. You can find the most current information about the following resources.

You can find employment as a registered nurse within your local community, but your job search may require more persistence and legwork to track down vacant positions. You should check your local newspapers, job boards, websites and human resource departments for vacant positions at any of the following places:

  • State, local and private hospitals
  • Nursing and residential care facilities
  • Physicians’ offices
  • Home health care services
  • Correctional facilities
  • Schools
  • Clinics

Professional organizations and networking

Join a professional organization in the nursing field to better understand current industry practices and policies. Network with other professionals in your industry to find the connections you need to get an interview at your new location.

They may provide important information about the nursing field, such as new technology, continuing education and practicing self-care while helping others. Read The Value of Professional Associations for more information on how becoming a member can help enhance your career.

Career portability

Each state has licensure restrictions for practicing nurses. You can use the CareerOneStop License Finder tool to research your state’s rules and regulations for the required licenses for nurses. Be sure to visit the Department of Labor Military Spouse License Recognition Map for up-to-date legislation and licensure information for your specific state.

For additional information on key issues that affect service members and military families and efforts to address those issues on a state level, visit the Military State Policy Source website. You can learn about key issues and use the site's Status Tracker for information about specific efforts in each state. 

To explore additional information related to starting your career in the nursing profession, check out the Research Occupations tool on MySECO. Enter the keyword 'registered nurses' to learn more about the occupational overview for your specialty field. If you need additional information on obtaining the proper license or certification as part of your specialty field, visit the Advantages of Licensure article in the Licensures and Certifications section of the Education, Training and Licensing lifecycle stage of MySECO.

If you move due to a PCS, your service branch can now help reimburse licensure and certification costs up to $1,000. Each service has its own procedures for reimbursement, so be sure you know what your branch requires.

You can also speak with a SECO career coach by calling Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or use the Live Chat feature on MySECO to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.

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