Do you want to work in a field that gives back to others and makes a difference in the lives of everyday people? If so, a nursing degree may be right for you. This is a career that offers great job security, above and beyond compensation, and the satisfaction of making a difference by helping others. A nursing degree can open numerous doors of different opportunities and will serve as the perfect stepping stone into an amazing career.
Even though earning a nursing degree is hard work and not for the faint of heart, all of that work pays off when you’re able to land the career of your dreams. Once you’ve earned your degree, you’ll have your pick of careers in different hospitals around the country, as well as further educational training ranging from half-year certification programs to another four-year college degree. If you’re interested in starting a career in nursing, then continue reading to learn about all the benefits of a nursing degree, one of the best educational programs available that leads to a career full of opportunities.
Benefits of a Nursing Degree
1. Job Security
There are lots of great degrees out there, but not all of them lead to a job. The great thing about nursing is that will always be a job waiting for you. While it’s unfortunate that there is a nursing shortage going on right now, it also means that nursing degrees are a good investment because it increases their job security. You don’t have to worry about spending months on end looking for a job or worrying about whether or not you’ll be laid off this month.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the number of jobs available for nurses is going to increase by 1.5-percent from 2016 to 2026. This is likely to continue increasing as the aging population also goes up.
While nursing is a career that requires a lot of hard work, nurses are well compensated for that. No matter what level of nursing you decide to pursue, from an entry level to the most senior position, all nurses receive a competitive salary. To become a nursing assistant, all you need to do is complete a six month certified program and you’ll be qualified land a job as a Certified Nursing Assistant who earns a median salary of $27,510 a year.
As with most other careers, the more qualified you become, the better the pay. We’ll get more into this later on in the article, but luckily for nurses, there is plenty of room to grow. You can continually add to your education throughout your career. There’s plenty of room to move up!
A lot of people are probably discouraged from entering into a nursing career because of the long hours and shift work, but the job is actually quite flexible. Not all nurses work those red-eye night shifts in the hospital. There are so many different departments and areas to work, and some of them have “normal” business hours. The great thing about a nursing degree is that it opens up so many different opportunities. You don’t have to go right from a nursing degree into shift work at a hospital.
You can choose from working part time or full time hours at a hospital, nursing home, home health agency, government agencies, or even the public sector. Not all nurses work in hospitals. You could even be a nurse who travels and goes wherever the demand is highest. This would be perfect for anyone who likes a change of scenery every now and again. The options are endless.
4. Career Satisfaction
In addition to having a great career with endless opportunities, a competitive salary, and job security, being a nurse is such a rewarding career. As a nurse, you’ll feel good about what you’re doing with your life because you’ve dedicated your career to helping others. Being a nurse is a hard job, but it’s so rewarding. You’re making a real difference in the lives of others. We don’t always remember the doctors that we have, but we always remember those kind nurses. These are the people who help us before, during, and after our medical treatment. They are the real champions of the healthcare system!
This isn’t just the case for nurses working in the hospital either, there are plenty of nurses who impact the lives of others while working in nursing homes, administrative roles, research, and teaching positions. Once you get started with a nursing degree, there’s always room to continue adding to your education to continue making a difference. The higher up you go, the more of a difference you’re able to make.
5. Advancement Options
We briefly touched on this topic earlier, but since it’s one of the biggest benefits of a nursing degree, we’re dedicating a whole slide to it! Nursing is such a great career because it offers so many opportunities. So many people get stuck in careers where they can’t move up which can be really discouraging over time. How are you supposed to challenge yourself and continue to grow if you’re not able to grow with your career?
Thankfully, nurses have endless opportunities to continue their education. With each step they take, there’s another on the horizon. All it takes is that baseline certification that will get your foot in the door, and from there you can continue to grow moving to become a licensed practical nurse to one day a nurse practitioner or even owning your own practice! Instead of letting someone else decide how far you go with your career, you are in total control.
6. Certification Programs
The most basic level for a career in nursing would be a certified nursing assistant (CNA). There are plenty of certification programs available for this type of career. The best part is that they only take six months to complete! After completing this program, you could spend only one more year and complete a program to become an licensed practical nurse (LPN) which offers a huge salary bump.
7. Associate Degree Nursing
In order to become a registered nurse (RN), the fastest and shortest route is by completing a two year program that offers an associate degree in nursing (ADN). These programs are typically offered at community colleges, vocational schools, and even some four-year colleges and universities. If this is the route you’re taking, there are many options at your disposal! Some schools even offer online programs, but if you choose this option you’ll still need to attend in-person classes to meet the necessary training requirements to complete the course.
8. Bachelor of Science in Nursing
If you’ve become a registered nurse, but want to continue adding to your credentials in order to move up in the field, the next option would be to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). This is the most common route for those who want more options as they move along in their career. There are many programs available to choose from for a BSN, most are offered as four-year college or university programs. Be forewarned, because nursing is a difficult and fast pace career with high stakes, these programs can be highly competitive.
Anyone who earns a BSN will be privy to better pay and benefits later on in their career. You will also be able to progress into a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), if that’s where you’d like to take your career.
9. Licensing Exams
According to the NCSBN website, in every state nurses have to pass the NCLEX-RN licensing exam. Not just anyone can take this exam either. You must qualify to write it by completing and passing the BSN program and have acquired a certain number of hands-on clinical experiences. It’s important to note that in order to become a nurse, you’ll likely have to take even more exams to meet continuing educational requirements.
Careers in Nursing
10. Certified Nursing Assistant
CNA stands for certified nursing assistants. This is an entry level position for someone looking to dip their toe in the field of nursing. This job entails assisting nurses with their most basic responsibilities. You’ll be able to work alongside patients, helping nurses with duties like bathing and feeding, taking vitals and sometimes any housekeeping work that needs to be done.
Even as a basic entry level job, being a CNA is a great career. In 2017 CNAs earned a median salary of $27,510 per year which equals $13.23 per hour. In addition to the fair wages, there are lots of jobs available out there. According to Nursing.org, this field is predicted to grow by 11-percent between 2016 and 2026 opening up around 177,000 jobs to any graduating students.
11. Licensed Practical Nurse or Licensed Vocational Nurse
Licensed practical nurses (LPN) are also known as licensed vocational nurse (LVN). In some states LPN and LVNs are able to obtain a license by completing an accredited one year training program, in addition to passing the NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
Now let’s take money! The average salary for licensed practical nurses in the United States was around $46,240 per year in 2018. This is about $22.23 per hour. A totally respectable paycheck that would allow you to live your life free of financial worry. As if that wasn’t convincing enough, this field is also expected to grow over the next 10 years by about 12-percent. This means there will be nearly 90,000 more jobs available.
12. Registered Nurse
RN stands for registered nurse, the most popular career after achieving a nursing degree. In addition to having a great job in the healthcare system and dedicating your life to helping others, RN’s make a great living. In 2017, registered nurses in the United States were making an average salary of about $70,000 a year. This works out to about $33.65 an hour.
Today, there are nearly 3 million nurses working in America and the field continues to grow every day — by 15-percent over the next decade to be exact! There are plenty of well paying jobs available. It’s predicted that about 438,000 new RN jobs will be up for grabs over the next 10 years.
13. Nurse Practitioner
If you’ve chosen to use your nursing degree to become an RN and also earned a bachelor’s degree, you are eligible to go back to school and pursue a Master of Science in Nursing degree, also known as MSN degree. Becoming a nurse practitioner (NP) is a lot of work, but it’s a coveted position making it a common choice for many nurses.
Once you’ve earned a nursing degree, there are so many areas to branch off, but becoming an NP is most definitely one of the most popular. To become an NP you must earn an MSN and pass the NP credential exam. This will allow you to qualify for the position. One of the reasons many nurses choose this path is because of the salary increase. In 2017, the median salary for NPs was $110,930 which works out to about $53.33 per hour.
Don’t worry about limited openings in this area. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts this field will grow by 31-percent over the next 10 years. This means an approximate 64,000 more jobs will need to be filled.
14. Nurse Anesthetist
One of the best careers that can come out of a nursing degree is being a nurse anesthetist. You can specialize in this area after pursuing an MSN and by passing the CRNA credential exam. One you’ve done that, you’ll be eligible to work as a nurse anesthetist.
While it’s a little extra work, it pays off — literally! The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics writes that as of 2017, a nurse anesthetist earns a median salary of about $165,120. This works out to about $79.38 an hour. Not too shabby!