What Are the Different Types of Nursing Degrees and Careers?

If you're interested in becoming a nurse, you have many options available for the type of degree you'd like to receive. As a nurse, you can specialize in different disorders, body systems or populations. Read on to learn about the educational and occupational options available to nurses. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Nursing Degree Programs

Nursing education ranges from certificate programs to advanced graduate degree programs. Each program comes with different career opportunities. For example, an associate degree program may enable you to work as a registered nurse (RN), while a master's degree offers career opportunities in advanced practice.

Important Facts About Nursing Careers

Registered Nurse Licensed Practice or Vocational Nurse Nurse Midwife, Anesthetist, Practitioner
Key Skills Compassion, emotional stability, and critical-thinking skills Patience, interpersonal, and speaking skills Leadership, resourcefulness, and communication skills
Similar Occupations Paramedic, Dental Hygienist, Physician Assistant Surgical Technologist, Nursing Assistant, Occupational Therapy Assistant Physical Therapist, Audiologist, Speech-Language Pathologist
Median Salary (2014) $66,640 $42,490 $102,670
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 16% growth 16% growth 31% growth

Source: United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

Certificate Programs

Certificate programs in licensed practical nursing (LPN) typically last about one year and prepare you to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN), which is required to work as an LPN. An LPN certificate program teaches you how to provide basic care to patients in a variety of medical and healthcare settings.

Associate Degree Programs

Earning an associate's degree in nursing and acquiring a license is the most typical path towards becoming a RN. Lasting 2-3 years, an associate's degree program provides all of the essential knowledge necessary to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Clinical experiences are an important part of the curriculum, providing real-world experience in a medical or healthcare setting. Options are also available if you are an LPN looking to upgrade to RN status, supplementing knowledge already attained through an LPN program with more advanced training.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

If you acquire a bachelor's degree in nursing, you might be able to seek a wider range of nursing careers, including managerial positions and jobs of a more complex nature. A bachelor's degree program provides you with additional critical thinking and communication skills and incorporates more clinical experiences, sometimes in non-hospital environments. Bachelor's degree programs are available for you if you have no previous nursing education or if you're already a practicing RN.

Master's Degree Programs

A master's degree in nursing is required to become an advanced practice nurse. Concentrations are available in areas such as family nursing, gerontology nursing, pediatric nursing, psychiatric nursing, nursing administration and midwifery. Typically, a bachelor's degree in nursing is required for admission into a master's program, but some schools have options if you have a bachelor's degree in an area other than nursing.

Career Options

A variety of levels of employment exist within the broad category of nursing. For example, you could work as an LPN, RN or advanced practice nurse. Your job outlook and salary will vary depending on the nursing position you hold.

LPN

As LPN, you can monitor and care for sick or disabled patients. You'll typically work under the supervision of a physician or another RN. While your work may vary depending on your state, your responsibility is always to contribute to the comfort of your patients. This includes listening to their concerns and reporting these to your supervisor.

RN

If you become an RN, you'll work with a team of other RNs to treat patients, perform diagnostic tests and administer medication. You might also formulate care plans and instruct LPNs on properly carrying out those plans. You could choose to specialize in a specific field of nursing, including perioperative care, clinical care, home healthcare, radiology or diabetes management. Other options include dermatology, oncology, geriatrics and pediatrics.

Advanced Practice Nurses

As an advanced practice nurse, you work collaboratively with physicians to provide patients with primary care services. You'll also have the authority to prescribe medications to patients. There are four different types of advanced practice nurses, including clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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