Salary and Career Info for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing

An undergraduate degree in nursing prepares individuals for careers in the healthcare system. Continue reading for an overview of specializations and advancement.

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Nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing are highly trained nurses who are prepared for specialized nursing positions in the healthcare field. These nurses can pursue management or other advanced nursing positions.

Essential Information

Graduates who hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (BSN) generally have a greater opportunity for advancement and may draw a higher salary than someone with an associate's degree in nursing. The BSN is a 4-year program with courses in the humanities, arts and social sciences as well as nursing and the biological sciences. Graduates with this degree typically become registered nurses.

Career Registered Nurse
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree
Additional Requirements State nursing license
Projected Job Growth* (2014-2024) 16%
Median Salary* (2015) $67,490

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Options

After passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nursing (NCLEX-RN) and becoming a registered nurse (RN), graduates of a BSN degree program may apply for nursing jobs. Often RNs start out as staff nurses in hospitals and after gaining experience, advance to higher levels or even management positions, such as assistant unit manager or chief of nursing.


Nurses may specialize in different areas, such as by organ or body system, type of treatment provided, health condition or population. Organ systems in which nurses specialize include cardiovascular systems, dermatology, gastroenterology, gynecology and ophthalmology. These nurses are typically employed in specialty units within hospitals or outpatient clinics.

Nurses also specialize by type of treatment, and their work environments and duties may differ greatly from others in the nursing field. Critical care nurses generally work in intensive care units monitoring patients closely. Emergency or trauma nurses often work in emergency rooms and have to be prepared to care for a multitude of injuries and illnesses. Medical or surgical nurses work alongside surgeons in operating rooms. All of these nurses generally work in a hospital setting. Another specialization, holistic nurses, may be trained in modalities such as acupuncture or massage and work in a private medical practice.

Nurses who specialize in specific health conditions may treat patients with HIV and AIDS, diabetes, cancer or developmental disabilities. These nurses may be employed by hospitals, outpatient treatment facilities, home health care agencies and doctor's offices.

Nurses who specialize by population can work in any type of healthcare setting. They may also work outside of healthcare settings in schools, jails, the military or summer camps. Population specialties include pediatrics, neonatology (newborns), adults and geriatrics.

Advancement Opportunities

After gaining nursing experience, nursing professionals may choose to go into management-level nursing and become directors or heads of nursing departments. Other RNs may wish to obtain master's degrees and become specialty nurses, such as nurse-midwives or nurse practitioners. Working on faculty at a college or university as an educator or researcher in the field of nursing is also an option for those professionals who complete an advanced degree.

Employment Outlook and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the median annual salary of RNs as $67,490 in 2015. Most of these professionals were employed by hospitals and private physician practices, and some of the highest wages for RNs were reserved for those employed by the federal government. The BLS predicted that the need for registered nurses would increase by 16% between the decade of 2014-2024.

The job growth projections for registered nurses are strong. Some nurses choose to specialize in a specific field of care while others may opt to pursue management positions.

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