How to Switch to a Nursing Career

Many people choose to change career paths later in life. It could be because the job role they thought they wanted didn’t turn out the way they expected, it could be the need for change, or because they want to have more options for progression. Whatever the reason, switching careers can be challenging, but it’s worth it if you’re currently unhappy in your current role. If you’re thinking about making a change and would love to help people in your new role, swapping your current job for a nursing career could be right for you. If this sounds appealing, below are a few tips you can use to help you change careers.


It’s smart to do some research before you decide for sure about switching careers. Although you might know your current role isn’t right for you, it’s important to learn as much as you can about the career you’re interested in pursuing as there might be certain things involved in the new role that you won’t like. Before you start your journey to become a nurse, read up on what kind of education you’ll need, the various types of roles in nursing, salaries, and perhaps even reach out to some nurses you know, or on online forums, to get more tips and advice.


When looking to apply for a new job, refreshing your resume is a must. If you are interested in following a nursing career, but your current and previous roles seem completely irrelevant, don’t panic. Although you might not have previously worked in a healthcare setting, you will likely have transferrable skills that you can highlight on a professional resume to prove how adaptable you are. For example, nurses must have excellent communication skills, be able to work as part of a team, be detail orientated, and be good at time management and organization. Consider times in your current and past roles where you have had to utilize these skills and talk about that in your resume. You can use a professional resume writing service, such as ARC Resumes, to boost your resume and help to ensure that it is as attractive as possible to future employers.


If you want to become a nurse, you will have to get a nursing degree. This does mean that you’ll have to go back to college, and usually, a bachelor’s degree can take four years to complete. If you have an undergraduate degree, you can look at some second degree nursing programs that could accelerate this study time. Some courses you can complete online, which can offer a more flexible approach to your studies if that suits your lifestyle better. You can also explore nursing apprenticeship programs as an option.


Although your transferable skills will look good on a resume, getting some work experience within a healthcare environment will be greatly beneficial. Volunteering at your local clinic or hospital is a good way to get some experience, but it could also help you make up your mind about whether you truly want to pursue a nursing career. Even doing helping out with administration tasks or keeping patient’s company is a good way to get a taste of what your new career might be like. Alternatively, you could try to get a full-time or part-time job at your local healthcare clinic, hospital, or another relevant establishment while you study to get experience before you graduate.

Shadow a Nurse

If you can do this before you apply for a nursing degree program, it would be a good idea. Shadowing a nurse at a hospital or clinic for the day will help to give you a glimpse into what a day in the life of a nurse will be like. Contact local healthcare establishments to see whether or not they’d be willing to let you do this or ask a friend or relative if they work in healthcare. You could also ask to shadow a nurse during your studies if you would find this easier.

Get Your License

Once you have completed your nursing degree, you will need to get your license to become a fully-fledged registered nurse. You will need to take the NCLEX exams for this, and each state has different rules about what you need to get your license, so you need to find out what laws are in your state.

Prepare for the Unexpected

Finally, prepare for the unexpected once you complete your degree and obtain your license. While you will have had some experience as you trained to become a nurse, many newly qualified nurses do find it difficult making the transition from student to professional. It can be a stressful job, so make sure you’re taking care of yourself and remember that you’ll always be learning on the job.

If you have been considering a career in nursing and are ready to make the switch, use the tips above to help you begin your journey.