The field of nursing can be very rewarding, but it may not be right for everyone. Read on to learn whether a career in nursing is right for you and to find out about the education you need to find a job.
Nursing is a dynamic field that offers career opportunities at many levels. A diploma that can be completed in under a year will let someone become a certified nursing assistant (CNA), while some nurses earn multiple degrees in order to become highly specialized nurse practitioners. In addition to earning a diploma or degree, individuals need to satisfy state certification and licensure requirements in order to work in the nursing field. For example, registered nurses (RNs) must pass the NCLEX-RN exam in order to earn their credential.
Whether you'd like to begin as a CNA or earn a bachelor's degree and become an RN, Study.com has all the information you need to make your career and education decisions.
The degree levels in nursing are closely aligned to career level and salary. Introductory programs like diplomas and certificates are usually designed for CNAs or licensed practical nurses (LPNs). The associate's degree is the basic level of preparation for a career as an RN, but many of these workers hold bachelor's or master's degrees. Nurses who specialize in a particular area of medicine (such as oncology or pediatrics) typically hold a master's degree or Ph.D. The following pages detail some of the most common education options in nursing.
- Diploma in Nursing
- Associate's in Nursing
- Bachelor of Nursing
- Master of Science in Nursing
- Ph.D. in Nursing
Although hands-on training in nursing can't be done through fully online programs, current nurses can earn advanced degrees through distance learning. Aspiring nurses complete hybrid programs in which they take some courses online and others on campus. RNs who would like to earn a bachelor's degree can find many Bachelor of Science in Nursing options through online schools. Check out the links below to learn more about some available distance learning opportunities in the field of nursing.
There are dozens of specialization options available for nurses at all levels. You can specialize in home care, critical care, pediatrics, oncology, etc; the list goes on. Here's a sampling of some options, but click around Study.com for information about many more specializations.
- Pediatric Nurse
- Cardiac Nurse
- Oncology Nurse
- Home Care Nurse
- Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse
- Emergency Room Nurse
Regardless of specific job titles or career levels, nurses share several characteristics. First, they're passionate about helping others. While working in a hospital or medical center, nurses assist doctors with tasks like taking blood and administering medicine. Nurses are often responsible for family and patient education and may explain how to take a particular medicine or follow a doctor's advice. Since nurses work directly with patients, they should have a warm demeanor and be comfortable interacting with people who are ill or injured.
The articles below are listed in order of required education and can help you decide which career path is best for you. A CNA can begin working after earning a diploma and getting certified, while a nurse practitioner needs at least a master's degree.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Overall, the job outlook for the nursing field is bright; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted employment of nursing assistants to increase by 21% from 2012-2022, while jobs for RNs were expected to grow by 19% during this time. As in many other professions, salaries for nurses increase based on level of education and experience.
In May 2013, RNs earned an average salary of $68,910 and worked in all sorts of medical facilities, including hospitals and doctor's offices. At the same time, CNAs working in general medical and surgical hospitals earned an annual average salary of $28,150 (about $13.53 per hour), according to the BLS.
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