Nursing is a demanding, yet rewarding career field that involves assisting patients and working closely with health care professionals. Below are some resources that can help you decide what kind of nurse you'd like to be and what level of education you'll need to reach your goal.
Is Nursing for Me?
If you consider yourself a natural caretaker and are able to remain level-headed, even in high stress situations, you may be suited for a career in nursing. You can tailor your nursing career based upon your interests. For example, if you like working with babies and small children, you may be interested in becoming a pediatric nurse or neonatal nurse.
Employment and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2013, there were over two million individuals employed as registered nurses (RNs), and they earned an average annual salary of $68,910. Nationwide, the BLS has projected a 19%, or faster-than-average, growth in jobs for RNs from 2012-2022. During the same 10-year period, a 25%, or much-faster-than-average, increase in jobs was expected for licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses. As of May 2013, the mean annual salary for an LPN was $42,910 (www.bls.gov).
How Can I Become a Nurse?
There are a variety of different positions in the field of nursing, and each requires its own specific level of education. All nursing education programs include a combination of classroom and hands-on training, but the specific requirements vary depending on the type of nurse you'd like to be. If you're hoping to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) or LPN, you'll most likely need to earn a certificate or diploma in nursing. RNs usually earn an associate degree in nursing.
Although a bachelor's degree is not necessary to become an RN, many RNs pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, either before or after they become nurses. Current RNs can complete an accelerated RN-BSN program, which could lead to advanced career opportunities.
If you're an RN who's interested in becoming an advanced practice nurse or nurse practitioner, you'll need a Master of Science in Nursing. Earning a master's degree can allow you to specialize in a specific area of medicine. Further specialization or research work may require a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Nursing.