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How to become an oncology nurse

Updated April 17, 2017

Oncology nurses specialise in treatment and care of cancer patients. They must complete the same educational and licensing requirements as other nurses, and though they need not obtain specific additional certifications, certification as an oncology nurse makes an individual more competitive in the field. Finally, after obtaining a job, like all nurses, oncology nurses must maintain licensure.

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  1. Apply to a vocational school, college, or university with a nursing program. The most prestigious of these are 4-year programs, which often have dual-track admission. These require separate admission to the nursing school after some time at the university. A 3-year training program in a hospital is another training option to become a nurse, but these programs are not widely offered.

  2. Complete requirements to graduate as a Registered Nurse with an associate degree or a bachelor of science degree in nursing, which is a more competitive degree.

  3. Study for, and pass, the National License Council examination for Registered Nurses (the NCEX), which grants nursing licenses.

  4. Complete all requirements for becoming a nurse in the state in which you would like to work, and apply to the state for a license.

  5. Get certified. Certification usually is not mandatory, but it is a strong tool to demonstrate qualification. Private companies grant certification; the Oncology Nursing Society runs the prominent Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC) (see resources.)

  6. Apply for jobs as an oncology nurse in hospitals, offices or clinics.

  7. Maintain nursing certifications to stay qualified to work as a nurse. Many states require continuing education courses, especially for advanced-practice nurses.

  8. Tip

    The most direct way to become an oncology nurse is to apply for jobs in the oncology field after becoming a nurse.


    States have different licensing requirements, so it is important to learn what your state requires for attaining and maintaining a license.

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