A common question often asked by nontraditional students is whether or not they’re too old to go to nursing school.

The short answer is that you’re never too old to go to nursing school. Even if you’re not physically able to do certain nursing jobs, there are other nursing specialties you’re going to be able to do.

*Disclosure: This article on am i too old to go to nursing school may contain affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. Please note salaries mentioned are based on averages. For more info, please see my disclaimer.

Video Overview

Here’s my video for this article. You can watch it and for more info scan the article. When you’re ready don’t forget to go here to search for nursing schools.

Can You Be Too Old For Nursing School?

Different people will have different takes on this, but I don’t believe you can be too old to go to nursing school.

Whether you’re in your 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond there’s an area in nursing that can suit you.

Will it Be Hard Going to Nursing School as an Older Adult?

Whether you’re 21 or 51, nursing school is going to be hard compared to other degrees. But here’s the thing being a nurse has many advantages that those other “easier” degrees don’t have. You, as an older nurse, have advantages that younger “traditional” students don’t have.

Here’s what I’m going to do. Below I’m going to list out the points that I think give you an advantage in nursing school compared to younger nursing students.

To make sure you make the best decision for yourself and your family, I’m also going to list some challenges I think you’ll have as an older nurse. These are challenges you can overcome, but they are challenges nonetheless.

If you’re on the fence about whether or not a career in nursing is even worth it. Make sure to check out the linked article that goes over that question.

Why Going to Nursing School as an Older Nurse is Easier

Here are the top advantages of being an older nursing student.

1. You Know What You Want

This is 1 of 2 of the biggest advantages I think an older nursing student will have over a student. Plain and simply, as an adult you know what you want (at least you’re more likely to). Having clarity in goals tends to be the opposite for students in their late teens and early 20s.

2. You Can Afford to Go to Nursing School

While this might not be the case for every older nursing student, I would venture to say it’s probably the case for many.

If you’re older, you’re probably coming into a nursing program as your second career with financial resources available to you that a 21-year-old probably doesn’t have.

Pro Tip:
If this isn’t you, no worries. Here’s an article on the different ways to pay for nursing school. Check it out and let me know what you think.

3. You’re Highly Motivated

I’m not saying young college students are not highly motivated (though I think you could argue how many of them are).

I am saying that compared to an adult who has a hectic schedule and is looking to go in and get out quickly, I don’t even think it’s anywhere close to a comparison.

4. You Already Know How to Prioritize

One of the hardest things I had to learn in my nursing program was how to prioritize. I had to learn it while in the program because not knowing it made passing difficult.

Learning to prioritize is so hard for many young students because most have never had to. It’s different for nontraditional students. You know why? Because you’re already doing it.

You’re juggling:

  • A spouse
  • Children
  • Aging parents
  • A full-time career

For many of you, the list will be so much longer than the 4 I listed. How many young college students do you think have even a fraction of those responsibilities?

5. You Have Wisdom Not Available to a Young Person

It might sound weird that I put this on here, but I think wisdom gets discounted too much. I’m not just talking about any wisdom.

I’m talking about the wisdom that comes with being old. In other words, wisdom that comes with just having more life experiences.

Why It’s Hard Being an Older Nursing Student

Let’s be honest. It’s not going to all gravy. While not impossible to overcome, there’ll be challenges that will still need to be dealt with.

1. You’ve Been Out of School for a Long Time

As someone who has been out of school for a couple of years and then went back, it sucked!

I can’t imagine going back after being out for 10+ years. It’s just hard to get back into the rhythm of being a student after you’ve been out of school for a while.

Some of the things I struggled with going back to school was:

The Fix:
Honestly, this is one of those things where time will be your friend. Give yourself time and grace to get back into rhythm.

2. School Can Disrupt Your Stable Lifestyle

If you’re an older nurse, you probably have a routine going. Between kids, sports, and social obligations, you probably already have a lot going on. Even if it’s for an online program, being a student nurse will still disrupt some parts of your life.

The Fix:
Planning. Planning. Planning.

You’re going to have your class schedule ahead of time. The busier and more rigid your schedule is, the earlier you need to begin planning.

Anybody can do just about anything for a short period. While school, it might feel like a long time is short relative to everything else.

Reasons You Should Consider Nursing as an Older Student

There’s a lot of great benefits to being a nurse. I went over a lot of them in the previously linked article. Below I’m going to cover the highlights of some of them.

1. Job Impact

As a nurse, you get to care for people in their hour of greatest need. The level of fulfillment and purpose you get from being a nurse is unmatched by most other careers.

2. Salary

As a nurse, you get paid pretty well also. A registered nurse (with either a bachelor’s degree or an associate degree) on average make about $73,300, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A licensed practical nurse (LPN), also called a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) can expect to make a little under $50,000 a year.

Keep in mind a couple of things.

  • The average pay for someone with a bachelor’s degree in the U.S. is about $59K.
  • It takes a little over a year to become an LPN, and they still end up making on average close to most people with a bachelor’s degree.
  • You can become a registered nurse with just an associate’s degree, and you still end up with an opportunity to make more than most professions with a bachelor’s degree.

Related: Do Nurses Make Good Money?

3. Job Opportunity and Diversity

There are many options out there for nurses, from direct patient care to administration or sales (to name a few).

I’ve gone from doing inpatient mental health to outpatient mental health. I’ve done case management. I’ve done leadership/administrative positions. I’ve worked in GI cases helping out with procedures. I’ve helped with some cardiac procedures as well.

The funny thing is that most nurses I know have career experiences a lot more diverse than mine.

4. Job Security

It’s healthcare. I’m not sure there’s much to say other than that. Whether recession or no recession, through the good times and the bad, if you’re sick, you’re still going to go to the hospital.

5. Job Growth

The nursing field is growing at a rate of 7% faster than the average of other professions (US BLS).

Common Myths About Being an Older Student

Here are some common myths that you’re probably telling yourself about why you should go to nursing school.

1. I’m too old to be in school.

I think the information we have above has already taken care of this myth. Being an older adult student gives you some advantages that younger nursing students will not have.

2. I’m going to be the only adult in my class.

Not true. Depending on what degree you’re getting, a lot of your student peers will be younger (under 25), but that doesn’t mean you won’t have adult student peers in your class

According to the data from the National League of Nursing (the data is a couple of years old) here’s the makeup of students graduating from a nursing program.

Licensed Practical Nurse | Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)

Age Range(%) Students Enrolled
Under 2542.2%
26-3025.3
31-4022.7%
41-508.4%
51-602.2%
61 and Over0.2%

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)

Age Range(%) Students Enrolled
Under 2537.4%
26-3025.2%
31-4025.4%
41-509.5%
51-602.5%
61 and Over0.2%

Registered Nurse (Diploma)

Age Range(%) Students Enrolled
Under 2551.1%
26-3027.4%
31-4014.7%
41-505.7%
51-601.0%
61 and Over0.0%

Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN)

Age Range(%) Students Enrolled
Under 2575.0%
26-3012.4%
31-408.7%
41-503.2%
51-600.6%
61 and Over0.1%

BSN to RN Programs

Age Range(%) Students Enrolled
Under 2513.9%
26-3022.1%
31-4033.4%
41-5021.4%
51-607.8%
61 and Over1.1%

Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Age Range(%) Students Enrolled
Under 2521.1%
26-3034.0%
31-4026.4%
41-5012.8%
51-604.9%
61 and Over0.5%

Doctorate Nursing Programs

Age Range(%) Students Enrolled
Under 257.2%
26-3010.7%
31-4032.6%
41-5025.2%
51-6021.4%
61 and Over2.5%

The point of showing you this is so you can see that you’re not going to be the only adult student in the class.

Something else to note is that if you’re very self-conscious about being the older guy or girl in a classroom of students in their early twenties you can sign up for an online nursing program. You can find online nursing programs here.

Good Careers for Older Nurses

1. School Nurse

A school nurse talking about what it’s like being a school nurse and what her schedule is like.

As a school nurse, you get to take care of school-age kids.

Depending on the district, you could be overseeing several schools at the same time.

While this position would benefit from a nurse with extensive experience, it’s not a must.

This position can be challenging, but it’s important to note the level of stress is generally not at the level of inpatient nursing.

Find school nurse job positions .

2. Psychiatric Nurse

A video on what it’s like being a psych nurse.

As a psychiatric or mental health nurse, your focus is on your patients’ safety and mental well-being. Find psychiatric nurse positions .

We have a separate article on the best nursing jobs for older nurses .

3. Nurse Educator

Another good option for an older nurse is to work as a nurse educator. As a nurse educator you’re job is to educate the next generation of nurses.

It’s a great career route that’s not as physically demanding as other nursing jobs. You can find nurse educator positions here.

Or go here to find nursing programs.

Final Thoughts

a nursing school book
Pin it!

I know being a nontraditional student sucks. I get it. What also sucks is doing something you don’t like or something you feel is not fulfilling or making a difference.

The thing about a nursing career is that you do get to make a difference. So while being an adult student might initially be frustrating, I think it’s worth it.

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions. Otherwise, you can go here to explore what nursing programs are available in the area you want.

Related Article

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the oldest age to become a nurse?

    As long as you’re mental and physically able to do the work, you can become a nurse at any age. There are plenty of nursing positions that are “desk jobs” and are less physically demanding than floor nursing.

  2. Is 37 too old to become a nurse?

    At 37, you’re not too old to become a nurse. As long as you’re physically and mentally able to do the work you can become a nurse at 37 and have a successful career.

  3. Is 30 too old for nursing school?

    At 30, you’re not too old to become a nurse. Plenty of students go through nursing school at an older age and go on to have a successful career.

  4. Is 50 too old for nursing school?

    Fifty is not too old to start and finish nursing school. I went to school with people who were older in age and they’re doing just fine

  5. Is 45 too old for nursing school?

    There’s not really an age that’s too old for nursing school. Whether you’re 26, 27, 42 or 45 you can be a nurse and be successful at it.

  6. Is 24 too old to start nursing school?

    Twenty-four is not too old to become a nurse. You’ll probably see students in your class who will be much older than 24 years of age.

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