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How to Become a Nurse in Wisconsin, WI

If you want to become a nurse in Wisconsin, the first step is deciding what program to take. There are three common routes to becoming a Wisconsin nurse: a one year Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) diploma, a two-year Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), which leads to licensure as a Registered Nurse (RN), and a four year Bachelor of Science, Nursing (BSN), which also leads to RN licensure.

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When deciding which program to take, keep in mind that LPNs average around $41,000 per year in Wisconsin, while the average salary for RN is closer to $63,500 (according to For this reason, plus the wider range and greater number of available jobs, most aspiring nurses choose to pursue RN licensure.

Both ADN and BSN programs require students to complete a handful of prerequisites—around 5 to 10 courses—before applying directly to a college of nursing. Prerequisites cover basic introductory topics such as English, statistics, psychology and biology, and serve as a basis for evaluating applications. Essentially, good grades greatly increase your chance of being accepted into a Wisconsin RN education program.

Once enrolled in a Wisconsin nursing education program, the first year focuses on baseline patient assessment, care, and nurse management skills. The second year introduces broader concepts and theories of nursing, and BSN students move on to study advanced nursing skills, theories, research, and specialized topics in nursing that are of particular interest to individual students. This can open up a broader range of job opportunities, and allow nurses to increase their earning potential.

The last step to graduation and nurse licensure is the NCLEX exam. Those in LPN programs take a different version from prospective RNs, but both are nationally administrated exams that ensure students are ready to safely and effectively become practicing nurses in Wisconsin.
Beyond the Basics

For detailed Wisconsin nursing information, visit our Wisconsin nursing state page. There you will find in-depth discussion of how to become every level of Wisconsin nurse, alternative education programs, job prospect information, and more.