What Age Is Too Old to Become a Nurse? | Aging Greatly (2023)

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Not everyone decides their career right out of high school or college – or sticks with the one they picked initially. And, nursing is an essential and popular job for many, all at a variety of ages.

You can become a nurse anywhere from age 18 to age 50 or so. As long as you are in good health, and can work in a fast-paced environment, you can be a nurse. The age isn’t hard and fast, but it depends on the type of nursing and your personal qualities and qualifications.

Read on to learn more about when you can become a nurse, different nursing professions, and what they entail, and what to expect while in nursing school.

When Can You Become a Nurse?

What Age Is Too Old to Become a Nurse? | Aging Greatly (1)

Nursing is a great profession for almost any stage in life. Young adults, just out of high school, can register in a nursing school and begin to practice as early as just one or two years (depending on what level of nursing they do) after.

Additionally, if you’re looking for a later-in-life career change, plenty of nurses are older. And there’s no age limit, really, for enrolling in nursing school. 30 years old? Sure! 50? Fine – you just need to be prepared to be in school with younger students, and to be kept on your toes.


The one limit is that you’re going to need good eyesight, hearing, and people skills to work in nursing. A 70 or 80-year-old nurse may move too slowly for the fast-paced life of hospital workers and may be better suited to a less stressful career.

If you’re worried about being too old to become a nurse, talk with an experienced nurse to learn more about what the profession entails, and personal experience. You may find that you’re perfectly suited to the job, no matter your stage in life.

Types of Nursing Professions

There are plenty of types of nurses, and each specific job has different requirements and levels of experience and pay. It’s important to decide which type of nurse you’re aiming to become first because that will change how you attend school and how long it will take you. It will also affect the pace and difficulty of the job, as well as how much you get paid. As a general rule of thumb, the longer you spend in training, the more your eventual position will pay.

Registered Nurse

Job Description: RNs work with a team of other nurses and doctors to coordinate a patient’s care. Your job is to keep the patient clean and comfortable. You also will do basic medical procedures, such as giving shots or changing dressings.

Education: A RN is the most common type of nurse. You’ll need an associate’s degree, which can be earned at a community college, online course, or at some four-year universities, as well as clinical shadowing experience.

How Soon You Can Work: To be an RN, you can start work after two to four years, much faster than many other medical professionals. No med school needed for nursing!

Critical Care Nurse

Job Description: CC nurses are like RNs but work in urgent care. They are critical to the well-being of patients who are seriously injured, and hospitals have a huge need for them.

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Education: Your education will be similar to an RN’s, but more training may be added to prepare you for what to do in more urgent situations. This can include wound closure, and training on pain and how to manage your emotions in the face of difficulty.

How Soon You Can Work: Typically after three to five years of schooling and training (this includes nursing school and clinic work).

Nurse Practitioner

Job Description: Practitioners do more with patients than RNs- they can diagnose and treat illness, provided they are consulting with a doctor. They’re also among the highest-paid nurses, with a typical salary of about $100,000, and room for pay upgrades.

Education: NPs must finish a doctoral degree course after their base education in nursing school. Additionally, these nurses continue to undergo clinical training while working to keep their practice sharp.

How Soon You Can Work: After base training for around four years, an additional two to four years are needed for specialized training (4-8 years total).

Licensed Practical Nurse

Job Description: An LPN is the most basic of nurses since it takes the least amount of training time. These nurses record a patient’s vitals, administer IVs, and change bandages. They typically work under the guidance of an RN.

Education: A high school diploma, then intensive basic nursing school. A GED will also suffice if you did not receive a typical high school education. Note that you must be at least 18 before practicing.

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How Soon You Can Work: To work as an LPN, you only need about a year of hands-on nursing school. However, many people who choose this path go on to receive more education in order to move up to become an RN.

What to Expect in Nursing School


To become a nurse, you do need to actually go to school. Just like a typical high school or college, you take classes ranging from basic anatomy and physiology to advanced clinical problem-solving. Additionally, you must pass tests and exams along the way in order to graduate. The classes follow a typical college schedule- with a couple of hours dedicated each day to instruction, and more for homework.

The number of years you spend in school depends on how specialized your career is. But the typical range is from 1-4 years.


After some level of basic training, upcoming nurses will have to go do “clinicals,” where they shadow a registered nurse or help them with their duties. The nurse is graded on her abilities by a clinical instructor.

In a blog post, one nurse reported that newbies are graded on their participation and preparedness and if they did their homework. Previously, a nursing student might look at a patient’s chart in order to know what needs to be done for them.

After a while, a nurse will begin to have patients on their own, guided by their experiences doing clinicals.

After Graduating

Upon graduation, a nurse will receive either a Bachelor of Science degree or an Associate’s degree, depending on the program.


To be an RN, you will take a standardized exam, typically called the NCLEX-RN Exam. You can register online.

After passing the test and earning your degree, you can start looking for jobs! Emailing a hospital manager, or applying through a hospital or care center website is a great way to start.


Nursing is a profession that people of many different ages, from just 18 to pushing 60 or 70, hold. Before entering nursing school, make sure you’re physically well enough to care for others and have the time and energy to start a new career.

The type of nursing you want to do will influence how long you’ll stay in school. The most basic and quick path leads to a job as a licensed practical nurse. And the most time-intensive path can lead to jobs as a nurse practitioner or a nurse with a specialized focus.

In nursing school, you’ll need to be prepared to take classes and do homework for a few hours a day, as well as be able to pick up new information on the job while doing clinical assignments.

Nursing is a valuable and rewarding profession for almost any age. Are you up to the challenge?



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