Becoming a registered nurse (RN) will put you at the top of the hierarchy in the medical nursing field above a licensed practical nurse and assistant nurse. A registered nurse can work in a variety of settings including clinics, hospitals or nursing home facilities. In 2012, Onet.com reported that 64 percent of all RNs had an associate degree and the annual median salary was $65,470. If you would like to be an RN, you will need a strong academic background in science and math as well as organizational and problem-solving skills.

High School Prep

Begin looking at potential nursing schools so that you can learn about their required plan of study. This will help you know more about appropriate preparatory classes you should take in high school. Since nursing requires a strong grasp of science and math, take algebra and geometry as early as possible. Follow the college prep track suggested by your high school. This will usually include two or three years of a foreign language, four years of English and three years of history. You should take science all four years in high school. Choose a computer course as an elective. Nursing is a competitive field, so try to achieve the highest grades possible.

General Education

Nursing education in college begins with general education. When you start your nursing major, you will take courses in English, psychology, sociology, math and science. This curriculum provides you with a general idea of other fields of study. They also provide a foundation for future courses in the nursing program. Before diving into specific nursing classes, you will take some fundamental courses such as human anatomy and human physiology. Many colleges require that you earn a certain grade-point average in these classes before being officially admitted to the nursing major.

Nursing Courses

The nursing curriculum will take you step by step through knowledge areas and skill-based classes. Some examples include nutrition, health assessment, chronic diseases and issues impacting health care. Specific content-related courses connect nursing with childbirth, older adults, children and surgery patients. You will be required to take nursing classes in a certain order, so meet with your academic adviser to formulate an academic plan.

Practical Education

Part of every nursing degree program is an opportunity to learn in a practical setting. In a clinic or hospital, you will learn about patient care. You will also witness and even be a part of simple procedures like checking blood pressure or giving vaccinations. Bringing classroom learning to life is the major emphasis of a practicum experience. Be ready for hard work and a true taste of what it will be like to be a nurse.