Make a Career Change to Nursing in 5 Steps

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Making a career change to nursing is smart. You’ll be entering an in-demand field with opportunity and competitive pay. By choosing an accelerated BSN track, you can graduate in as few as 16 months and transition to nursing as a second career in less time.

Concordia Texas ABSN students in sim lab

Are you considering nursing as a second career? Going back to school to become a nurse is an excellent decision, as nursing offers you the chance to make a real difference in people’s lives daily. You’ll have the opportunity to be actively involved in your patients’ care daily.

It’s never too late to make the career change to nursing, especially with the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track at Concordia University Texas (CTX). Our 16-month ABSN track leverages your prior non-nursing bachelor’s degree or college credits to help you graduate sooner.

Below, we’ll discuss why changing careers to nursing is an excellent decision and then walk through the steps for transitioning to nursing.

Why Choose Nursing as a Second Career?

Going back to school for nursing has become common as people turn to nursing to get out of an unfulfilling career and enter one where they can make a real difference. Nursing is not just another job but a field where professional and personal benefits abound.

Here are a few of the reasons why you should consider making the career change to nursing:

Career Advancement Opportunities

Careers don’t have to remain stagnant. As a nurse, many advancement opportunities are available for you to grow your scope of practice and earn a higher salary. Nurses who earn their BSN can pursue graduate degrees to qualify them for advanced nursing positions. For example, earning a graduate degree from an accredited program makes the career change to nurse practitioner or nurse educator possible.

Nursing Specialization

Nursing is a diverse field with many specialties for you to explore. As a nurse, you can specialize in conditions and populations, such as critical care, dialysis, neonatal, and gerontological nursing, to name a few.

Nursing students have a unique opportunity to explore nursing specialties while in school. Clinical rotations offer a window into what it’s like to work as a nurse, helping you network and plan your career after graduation. While clinical rotations don’t expose you to all nursing specialties, they can help you discover which specialty best suits you early on.

Once established in your career, you can seek certifications to qualify for certain specialties should you decide to specialize. You’re never set in stone as a nurse. You’ll be free to shape your career into something to be excited about.

Diverse Employment Options

Nurses work in a variety of environments, not just hospitals. As a nurse, you can work in patients’ homes as a home health nurse or in long-term care facilities, schools, emergency transport helicopters, and even cruise ships.

nurse leader meeting

Nursing can also serve as a jumping-off point if you realize you’d prefer to work away from the bedside. For example, nurses can become forensic nurses, clinical research nurses, or academic nurse writers. There are many possibilities open to those with a nursing education.

High Demand for Nurses

A nationwide nursing shortage has created a high demand for nurses. The shortage is partly due to retirements outpacing new nurses and an aging population’s increasing healthcare needs. As a result, becoming a nurse means entering a workforce that needs your skills and knowledge. Ultimately, now is an excellent time to become a nurse.

Registered nurse employment in the U.S. is expected to grow over the next ten years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Texas employs the second-highest number of nurses and is projected to grow 17% between 2020 and 2030, considerably faster than the national average.

How to Make the Change to Nursing in 5 Steps

If you’re interested in changing careers to nursing, here is the pathway that will lead you to your new dream job. Remember that it’s never too late to start a new career; the rewards of becoming a nurse will make the hard work worthwhile.

1. Research Accelerated Nursing Programs

The first step to becoming a nurse is researching your program options and finding the right one for you. While becoming a registered nurse with an associate degree is possible, a bachelor’s degree is the preferred pathway for most students. That’s because having a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree gives access to more job opportunities, a higher salary, and greater career growth.

CTX ABSN students looking at lab supplies

Why is a BSN in nursing important? Here are 11 reasons a bachelor’s degree will help you advance.

You can opt for a traditional or accelerated format when considering nursing programs. A traditional four-year nursing program will be ideal if you don’t have prior college experience. However, if you have earned a bachelor’s degree or have at least 60 non-nursing college credits from a regionally accredited college or university, an ABSN track will help you save time.

The ABSN track at Concordia University Texas leverages your prior college credits to help you graduate in as few as 16 months. If nursing is your second career, you likely want to start as soon as possible; an accelerated program helps you do that.

Learn more about the differences between a traditional vs. accelerated nursing program.

ABSN student working with simulation manikin

Talk with an Admissions Counselor

Once you find the program that resonates with your goals and educational background, it’s time to contact an admissions counselor to learn more. At Concordia Texas, our admissions counselors are committed to helping you with every step of the admissions process.

Your counselor will schedule a time to talk with you over the phone about whether you’re a fit for the ABSN track. They will review your transcript and support you in forming a plan for completing any necessary admissions requirements or prerequisites. You’ll work together to decide on a goal start date for nursing school.

3. Finish Prerequisites and Admissions Requirements

Once you’ve formed a plan with your admissions counselor, you may need time to complete prerequisite courses. You can take these courses through Concordia Texas or another accredited institution. Check with your admissions counselor about transferability before registering for classes at another school.

You may also need to meet other admissions requirements, such as improving your overall GPA or passing the Test of Essential Academic Skills (ATI TEAS) with a score of at least 67% or higher.

CTX nursing students at table studying together

Once you are in your final semester of prerequisite courses, you can submit your application for the ABSN track at Concordia Texas. Your admissions counselor will be available to walk you through this process. The application includes an online component plus supplemental documents, including your official college transcript. Remember to submit your completed application before the deadline.

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, so you’ll hear back with our admissions decision a few weeks after you submit your application.

4. Graduate and Earn Your BSN

Once you’re enrolled in the ABSN track, the hard work begins. You’ll need to dedicate the next 16 months to your studies. We advise that you consider nursing school a full-time job, so expect to spend more than 40 hours each week studying and completing in-person activities.

The ABSN track uses a hybrid approach, which consists of:

  • Online classes: You will use our intuitive e-learning platform to learn foundational nursing concepts at the best time and place for you, provided you meet deadlines.
  • Skills and simulation labs: In these in-person labs, you’ll practice technical nursing skills and respond to various healthcare scenarios in a safe and risk-free environment.
  • Clinical rotations: In-person clinicals at local healthcare facilities let you apply what you’ve learned to real-world patient care settings.

5. Pass the NCLEX and Earn Your Nursing License

After finishing nursing school and earning your BSN, you must jump one more academic hurdle before earning your nursing license. The National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX) is a rigorous exam that covers the entire nursing curriculum. You’ll need to learn to identify the best answer even when choosing between multiple valid answers.

ABSN student writing on dry erase board

Preparation for the NCLEX begins on the first day of nursing school, but you’ll start spending additional time studying for the exam during your final semester of the ABSN track. Then, after graduation, devote a few weeks to studying for the exam so you have enough time to prepare thoroughly.

Once you pass the NCLEX, you can apply for your nursing license at your state’s board of nursing. Ensure you are licensed in the state where you plan to practice as a nurse. Check with your state’s board of nursing for any specific requirements for RNs in your state.

Map of Compact State Nursing License states

Wondering how RN licensing works in Texas? Learn more about the compact state nursing license and how to navigate the licensing process.

Common Questions About Switching to a Career as a Nurse

Returning to school for nursing is exciting — you’re answering your calling to become a nurse — but it can also be intimidating. Switching careers is a significant life change, so it’s normal to have a few questions. Below are some common questions about making the career change to nursing.

Is Nursing a Good Career?

Concordia Texas nursing student working with sim manikin

As mentioned earlier, nursing offers job stability; however, that’s not the only reason why nursing is a good career. It also has lucrative earning potential. According to the BLS, nurses make a median salary of $81,220 annually as of 2022. While pay depends on the state, healthcare facility, and nursing experience, becoming a nurse can provide a comfortable living.

Salaries can also increase depending on the specialty and nursing level. For example, returning to school to earn a graduate degree and become a nurse practitioner yields higher earning potential.

Is it Too Late to Become a Nurse?

It’s never too late to become a nurse. If you are already established in your career and wish to pivot to nursing, it’s possible to transition without returning to school for another four years. Through the accelerated BSN track at Concordia Texas, students can earn their BSN in as few as 16 months.

While returning to nursing school is both a time and financial commitment, it sets you up for a successful and rewarding career. If you feel called to become a nurse, it’s not too late to answer. Provided you are driven and passionate about delivering patient-focused care, you can find success as a nurse.

If you’re considering returning to school after some time away, know you’re not alone. Concordia Texas ABSN student Michelle Wilson also decided to make a career change. Here is her story:

What is Going Back to School for Nursing Like?

Returning to school after time away can be daunting, but it can be achieved. Going back to school for nursing means you must reacquaint yourself with college-level coursework, study for exams, and juggle schoolwork with your personal life, which can be challenging.

Consider your prerequisites as an opportunity to familiarize yourself with nursing school. These will be your first taste of what it will feel like to be a student again. Consider problem areas as you progress through your prerequisites and look for solutions or strategies to prepare and learn when you enter your nursing classes.

Remember that support services are available to help you navigate nursing school. The faculty at Concordia University Texas are dedicated to helping you succeed. Contact your professors for assistance or guidance, and lean on your support system. Going back to school can be challenging, but the career and opportunities ahead make it worth it.

What is nursing school like? Here’s your guide to the ABSN track at Concordia University Texas.

CTX ABSN students working in sim lab

Start Your Career Change to Nursing at Concordia Texas

Now that you see how attainable it is to pursue nursing as a second career, it’s time to get the ball rolling. At Concordia Texas in Austin and Dallas, Texas, we’re committed to helping you transition smoothly to your nursing career.

To learn more about the ABSN track and how to take the next step, reach out to our admissions counselors today. We’ll be here to guide you on transitioning your career to nursing.