Great Degrees for Portable Careers: Nursing

nursing degrees for a great career as a nurse

Nursing Degrees

A degree in nursing can open doors to an exciting career with excellent pay. Job opportunities with a degree in nursing can be found across all 50 states and overseas too! Nursing careers span a variety specialties including:

  • Clinical Nurse
  • Neonatal Nurse
  • Critical Care Nurse
  • Dialysis Nurse
  • Psychiatric Nurse
  • Trauma Nurse
  • Oncology Nurse
  • Travel Nurse
  • Pediatric Nurse
  • Geriatric Nurse
  • Public Health Nurse

A degree in nursing can even provide opportunities to work for yourself by starting your own business or working private-hire jobs. A nursing degree is available as an associate, bachelor’s, or a master’s. There are accelerated degree programs for those students that wish to advance their education and already have a certification as a licensed practical nurse (LPN), licensed vocational nurse (LVN), or registered nurse (RN),

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the healthcare field is projected to grow almost 15% percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.

The demand for healthcare and nursing professionals will occur for a number of reasons, including an increased emphasis on preventive care; increasing rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity; and demand for healthcare services from the aging of the Baby Boomer population.

A degree in nursing is an especially great career path for military spouses as they are certain to secure excellent job opportunities across their many moves. Don’t forget about the MyCAA Program for military spouses; for more info click here.

Nursing Acronyms 101

What is the difference between all the different nursing acronyms such as CNA, LPN, LVN, RN, BSN, etc.?

Certified Nursing Assistant

A certified nursing assistant (CNA) is a nondegree certification offered through a vocational (trade) school or community college. Both campus-based and online programs are available, though a program cannot be fully online due to the nature of the nursing profession. All clinical hours must be performed in person at an approved location. A CNA performs many basic care tasks such as grooming, dressing, bathing, nutrition, exercising, and taking vitals.

Licensed Practical Nurse

A licensed practical nurse (LPN) can sometimes referred to as a licensed vocational nurse (LVN),  depending on the state. To become an LPN/LVN an individual must complete formal training either through a trade (vocational) school or through an associate degree program.

For those individuals looking to enter the workforce quickly, some LPN/LVN certificate programs can be completed in one year or less. Due to the nature of the nursing profession, it is not possible to complete an LPN/LVN program completely online. While each state varies, generally an LPN/LVN graduate must also pass examination by the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical/Vocational Nurses (NCLEX-PN).

An LPN/LVN is responsible for providing basic health care services such as:

  • Gathering information on patient concerns.
  • Measuring patient vital signs.
  • Providing basic patient care such as changing bandages.
  • Assisting with personal care such as bathing and dressing.

Registered Nurse

To become a registered nurse (RN), an individual must complete a formal training program through an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. There are some accredited vocational training programs, usually offered in conjunction with hospitals and other medical facilities. Yet, by and large, RN programs will be offered at a college or university.

An RN program will consist of coursework, lab studies, and clinical rotations. Clinical rotations will give RN candidates a great opportunity to experience the wide range of nursing specialties available if they choose to pick a focus in their careers. Once the RN education and training has been completed, the student must pass the NCLEX-RN to obtain licensure, which is required in all states.

It is not possible to complete an RN program completely online. Students who are already licensed as LPN/LVN may have the opportunity to do a “bridge program”. LPN to BSN bridge programs are designed to accommodate working professionals. A student will put in additional clinical hours in a setting other than their workplace, yet most coursework may be available online.

Associate Degree in Nursing

An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically completed in two years. After education and clinical training has been completed, a student may take the NCLEX-RN to obtain licensure as a registered nurse. RN licensure is required in all states for those seeking to practice as an RN. A student may also instead choose to take National Council Licensure Examination for Practical/Vocational Nurses (NCLEX-PN). Licensure requirements for LPNs/LVNs vary by state.

An ADN without obtaining licensure is a very valuable degree in its own right and opens up a variety of opportunities for careers in health care and beyond.

Jobs you can obtain with an Associate Degree in Nursing:

Nursing assistant– provides basic care and helps patients with activities of daily living. Median annual salary: $31,000.

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurse– provides basic medical care for patients in a variety of settings including nursing homes, extended care facilities, hospitals, physicians’ offices, and private homes.  Median annual salary: $49,000.

Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

Students can earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) as a traditional 4-year program or as a bridge program for those already holding an RN certification. Unlike associate degree or vocational/certificate nursing programs, the BSN requires a wide range of nursing curriculum and general education courses. A graduate of a BSN program typically has more career opportunities and higher pay rates available to them than with merely an associate degree.

Jobs you can obtain with a Bachelor’s in Nursing include:

  • Nursing technician– help medical scientists conduct tests and experiments. Median annual salary: $46,000.
  • Registered nurse– provide and coordinate patient care. Educate patients and the public about various health conditions. Median annual salary: $77,000.
  • Health services manager– plans, directs, and coordinates the business activities of healthcare providers. Average annual salary: $101,000.

Master’s Degree in Nursing

Those earning a Master’s Degree in Nursing are well prepared to be leaders in their careers and related fields. When earning a master’s degree one can continue in their current career path with additional earning power, undertake leadership roles, or transition into teaching. A Master’s Degree in Nursing can also lead to specialty certification as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners are popular APRN careers.

  • Nursing instructor– teaches post-secondary nursing education programs. Average annual salary: $83,000.
  • Advanced practice registered nurse– coordinates patient care and may provide primary and specialty healthcare. Average annual salary: $116,000.

Looking to boost your education even further? Nursing is also an immensely popular doctoral program. Those seeking to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD) will have opportunities to become the preeminent experts in their field. Careers with an advanced degree in nursing include college professors, research and publication, and senior leadership positions such as head administrators for health and wellness organizations.

Nursing Degree Programs

Ready to earn your degree in nursing?

Check out these great programs available at our partner schools:

Bethune-Cookman University offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Bethune-Cookman is a premier historically black university that participates in the Yellow Ribbon program.

Farmingdale State College is part of the esteemed SUNY system and offers a traditional BSN degree and an online Nursing RN to BS Completion Program. Farmingdale does not participate in the Yellow Ribbon program but does have an excellent  Office of Veterans Services which helps veterans navigate the admissions, registration, and financial aid process.

Rutgers University-Camden offers a variety of nursing programs including a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, an Accelerated BSN for students who hold a bachelor’s degree (or higher) in a non-nursing major, an on-campus or online bridge program for RN to BSN students, and intensive nurse specialty programs for School Nursing and Wound Ostomy Continence Nursing. Rutgers participates in the Yellow Ribbon program.

Southern Connecticut State University offers a variety of undergraduate nursing programs: a traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing, an accelerated career entry program (ACE) for students holding a bachelor’s degree in another field, and a flexible RN-BS bridge program designed for registered nurses from associate degree and vocational certificate programs. Southern Connecticut State University participates in the Yellow Ribbon program.

The University of Cincinnati offers a fully online Master in Nursing Administration and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (offered mostly online). The University of Cincinnati participates in the Yellow Ribbon program.

The University of Louisville offers online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN). This bridge program is designed for registered nurses with an associate degree in nursing (ADN) who desire to earn their BSN. The University of Louisville participates in the Yellow Ribbon program.

*All average annual salaries adapted and calculated from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates. For more information click here.

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