Nursing can be a career that is both fulfilling and easily transportable.  Two things that are not easily achieved by military spouses in their career pursuits. We’ll get you started on how to become a nurse as a military spouse.

Unique Career Challenges for Military Spouses

Finding a job that meshes well with your military life is a challenge that military spouses face all the time.  Frequent moving and a lack of a local network can present hurdles to the career of your choice.  Nursing is one of the careers that by nature is in high demand all over the country and as a result is easily transferable.

First, let’s explore how to become a nurse…  

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 2.7 million registered nurses (RNs) are employed in the United States, and approximately 60 percent work in hospitals. RNs may also find themselves in clinics, physician’s’ offices, home health care settings, critical and long-term care facilities, governmental organizations, the military, schools, and rehabilitation agencies. The demand for registered nurses is expected to continue growing swiftly.

Licensed Practical Nurse vs. Registered Nurse

The difference between a vocational or practical nurse and a registered nurse is significant.  Note: some states refer to practical nurses as ‘vocational’.  These are essentially the same thing – entry level nurses with practical education & training.

military spouse nurse

(Courtesy: Healing Health)

Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) generally have a year of nursing education. Registered Nurses (RNs) have at least a 2-year degree or 3-year diploma, although many have bahcelor’s degree.

Registered nurses are more likely to be employed at a hospital whereas LPNs are more likely to work at long-term care facilities. Although both fields are continually growing, the registered nursing field is growing faster.

Becoming an LPN requires less training than it is required to become an RN. A screening process as well as background check is required to become a nurse in either field. Then to become either an LPN or RN one must take the NCLEX exam. There are RN and LN versions, the RN requiring more complex, critical thinking.


How to Become an LPN

  • Step 1: Complete high school
  • Step 2: Complete a year of full-time nursing education

**Important note: You must attend a program that is board approved in order to be licensed. Accreditation is not as important as being board approved.

  • Step 3: After graduating, you must take the NCLEX-PN (A national exam that you don’t have to take in the state that you wish to be licensed in.)
  • Step 4: Once the candidate receives his/her license, they will find it relatively easy to be licensed in other states. (For military spouses, this is especially important considering how often military families move.)

For more details on the process of becoming an LPN, click here

military spouse nurse

(Courtesy: digitalplanetdesign)

How to Become an RN

  • Step 1: Complete high school.
  • Step 2: Complete either an ADN or BSN program. (The ADN is an associate’s degree and the BSN is a bachelor’s degree. The BSN has more academic learning and coursework involved as it is a longer program. If the option of getting a higher degree after this to advance your nursing career is a thought, getting a BSN will get you closer to that goal. Nurses who already have an LPN usually have an option to do an LPN to RN bridge program.)
  • Step 3: Take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam. 

Once applicants pass the exam they become licensees.  Similar to LPN licenses, RN licenses are highly transferable.  This is key for military spouses and their families.

For more specific information on how to become a registered nurse, click here.