• Average Salary: $62,450
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma; mastery of prerequisite courses; strong interest in science and the well being of the public.
  • Known states in industry: South Dakota, Mississippi, Massachusetts, Delaware, Rhode Island, California, Hawaii, New Jersey and Maryland.

Degree Description:

Students who are deeply interested in science and enjoy taking care of others, may find their niche in a nursing degree program. Nursing is one of the largest and most varied fields in medicine. The same goes for nursing education. Students can choose from three different educational paths to become a nurse. The most common nursing degree is the bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), which is offered at colleges and universities and takes about four years or less to complete. Another popular option is completing an associate degree in nursing (ADN), which is offered at community and junior colleges and takes about two to three years to finish. And lastly, students can opt for a three-year diploma program that’s administered in hospitals. Students who complete either an associate or bachelor degree in nursing and pass the national licensing exam for registered nursing (NCLEX-RN) are registered nurses. Those who complete a diploma program are considered a licensed practical nurse (LPN).

Salary and Job Outlook:

Nursing is the largest healthcare occupation and one of the most secure career fields right now. Registered nurses are always in demand and are continually needed to fill the jobs of other nurses who retire and leave the occupation. The job outlook for registered nurses is expected to be excellent in the coming years, but employment may vary by geographic setting. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses made an average salary of $62,450 in 2008. The highest growth rate for RNs will take place in offices of physicians and home healthcare services, rather than hospitals.

Job Prerequisites:

In order to apply for a nursing degree, you’ll need to meet strict academic requirements to get admitted to a program. All applicants need to have a high school diploma and complete all prerequisite courses that are required for admission to the nursing program. Additional testing, letters of recommendation or training courses may be needed for certain nursing programs. Prospective registered nursing students should also have a strong interest in science and a deep concern for the well being of others and the health of the public.

Industry Demographics:

When looking for the best nursing schools to apply to, it’s good idea to check out nursing school rankings that are available through a number of different online publications, such as U.S. News and World Report. Another trick to finding the best nursing programs and nursing jobs is to look at the states with the highest concentration of RNs and the ones that pay the most. The states with the highest number of RNs are South Dakota, Mississippi, Massachusetts, Delaware and Rhode Island. The top paying state for RNs are California, Massachusetts, Hawaii, New Jersey and Maryland.

Future Options:

If you already have your degree in nursing, don’t worry because there are several other educational opportunities waiting for you. For starters, if you currently have an associate degree in nursing, you can go back to school to earn your bachelor of science in nursing to expand your job responsibilities. If you already have your BSN, go back to school for your master’s degree in nursing or pursue another graduate healthcare degree. When it comes to nursing, the more education you have, the more job responsibilities and authority you have. It’s always a good idea to advance your nursing education.