Nurses help to save lives.

Even though our focuses in hospitals tend to be on the doctors in the white coats, it’s the nurses who actually spend the most time with patients and who ensure they get the care that they need.

Nursing BadgeNurses do everything from change IV Lines and bedpans, to administering medications and watching out for patients’ allergies. And often times an attentive nurse can provide not only a little extra comfort to a patient in pain, but also saves lives from their close attention to detail.

The importance of this life-changing profession has motivated College Choice to rank the Best Online BSN Degrees!

By the way, if you’re looking for other healthcare-related degrees besides nursing degrees, check out our page dedicated to Healthcare degrees and professions.

What do Nurses Do?

Nursing is a critical component of healthcare. Nurses examine patients, record vital signs, and take health histories.

Nurses administer treatments and medication as prescribed by a physician, as well as follow drugs arranged by hospital pharmacists. They assist in labor and delivery, surgery, and breastfeeding. In an emergency, a nurse performs CPR to resuscitate their patient.

These are just some of the tasks a nurse performs, but for many nurses, the job is much more than that. It’s a calling and a way of life. Lives don’t save themselves, and when a patient flatlines or a child is writhing in pain someone needs to be there to help.

These are the roles that nurses fill, and from which they derive much of the motivation for the job.

How Much Money Can You Make If You Study Nursing?

The nursing field is ever-expanding with patient care in high demand. BLS anticipates a fast growth of 19% by 2020. America desperately needs nursing professionals.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean there are lots of nursing opportunities where you live now. The demand is distributed irregularly throughout the country. Plan now for possible relocation after graduation, because shortages in some states will be acute by 2025.

Becker’s Hospital Review states that Arizona will need over 28,000 more nurses, and North Carolina and Colorado will each be short 13,000 nurses. Meanwhile, Ohio will have 75,000 more nurses than jobs.

In terms of salaries, California, Hawaii, and Oregon have the most well-compensated Registered Nurses, with median salaries above $90,000. And in terms of the cost-salary balance, Nevada, Texas, and Arizona offer the best ratios of average salaries and cost-of-living.

Consider these accounting careers and their mid-range salaries:

  •       Nurse Anesthetists: $137,800 to $189,880
  •       Nurse Midwives: $85,750 to $119,690
  •       Licensed Practical Nurses: $37,040 to $51,220
  •       Registered Nurses: $56,190 to $83,770
  •       Nurse Practitioners: $86,970 to $120,450

What Kind of Nursing Degrees Are Available?

As the need for nurses rises, so does the demand for a higher quality of care. The Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing reports initiative for an 80% BSN-educated nurse staff in hospitals by 2020.

Hospitals now prefer or require hiring new nurses that already have this degree, according to the AACN. To prepare you for providing more comprehensive care to patients and advance your career, a RN-to-BSN program is a lucrative option.

An LPN completes a one-year program followed by licensing. Community colleges and technical schools train and educate student nurses through hands-on learning. Students must pass the NCLEX-PN Licensure Examination to become LPNs.

To be a Registered Nurse, some students first obtain an Associate’s degree in Nursing. The Associate program lasts two or three years. They can then take the NCLEX-RN test to become a Registered Nurse.

Some RNs who’ve gone to community college later enroll in an RN to BSN (BS in Nursing) program so they can get their degree, improve their skills, and increase their payment prospects.

Another popular path is to get a BSN from a four-year school and then take the NCLEX-RN.

While RN is a license, BSN is a degree. In addition to knowing that you’re saving lives, a BSN also provides ample opportunities for advancement and high paying positions.

Compared to a nursing diploma or an associate’s degree in nursing, those with a bachelor’s in nursing have a salary of up to about $30,000 more, as Payscale reports.

A third option to consider is an RN to BSN to MSN track or a dual BSN/MSN. MSN stands for Master’s of Science in Nursing.

With an MSN degree, nurses may also obtain certificates to specialize in pediatrics, gerontology, or other units. According to Nurse.org, there are several paths one can take to a satisfying career in nursing.

Note: The American Association of Colleges of Nursing wants all future APRNs to obtain a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), but there is no requirement. An APRN, short for Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, needs a current nursing license, a graduate or post-graduate degree, and a passing grade on the certification exam.

Certification must occur before usage of the APRN designation. An APRN recertifies every two years by taking courses worth 40 CEUs (Continuing Education Units).

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree indicates expertise in the most difficult aspects of nursing. DNPs have the ability to apply their research to improving healthcare facilities and patient care. DNPs have a mean annual salary of $101,260.

Nurse anesthetists complete one year of work experience before admittance to an anesthetist program. The American Midwifery Certification Board licenses Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs). Nurse-Midwives recertify in 5-year increments. CNM programs prefer to admit Labor and Delivery nurses.

The Nurse Journal recommends nurses planning for a CNM obtain the Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB) Certificate.

Nurse Practitioners hold an MSN or DNP, a state license, and certification. Certificates come from many specialty organizations such as the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. APRNs with a Doctor in Nursing Practice often perform research.

Nurses can also become nursing instructors, another career with a shortage as aging instructors retire. They also go into pharmaceutical sales, medical writing, public policy consulting, and medical supply sales.

Other subfields of nursing include correctional (prisoner) care, telephone triage, forensic nursing, surgical nursing, and dialysis.

What Nursing Specialties Are Available?

Tier one of nursing belongs to Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs). In some states, they use the title Licensed Vocational Nurse (or LVN). LPNs and LVNs work under the authority of a supervising nurse or physician.

These nurses insert catheters, give patients medication, and chart their patient’s vital signs. LPNs/LVNs tend to wounds and feeding tubes, run intravenous lines, and perform CPR in emergencies.

The median pay for LPNs and LVNs is $44,090. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) sees 117,300 new jobs for these nurses by 2024. This is 16 percent higher than current staff numbers.

The second tier includes Registered Nurses (RNs). RNs arrange patient care plans, operate medical equipment, and record patient medical histories. They observe their patient and analyze diagnostic tests.

RNs provide instructions on home care after discharge. They perform as a team with the attending physician and other medical staff. Sixty-one percent of RNs work in hospitals.

The BLS anticipates 439,300 new RN positions opening up by 2024. That is a 16 percent increase. Their median salary is $68,450.

Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse-Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners fall under the umbrella term ‘Advanced Practice Registered Nurses’ or APRNs. Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs) perform physical examinations, dispense birth control, and treat expecting mothers. They advise women on health, childcare, and pregnancy.

Nurse Practitioners (NPs) act as primary care providers where physicians are in short supply. NPs authorize tests and therapeutic treatments. Nurse Anesthetists administer anesthesia for surgery, childbirth, and other procedures.

APRNs have a median salary of $107,460. There will be 53,400 new jobs by 2024, which is a 31 percent increase.

RN-to-BSN

The nursing field is ever-expanding with patient care in high demand. BLS anticipates a fast growth of 19% by 2020. As the need for nurses rises, so does the demand for a higher quality of care.

The Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing reports initiative for an 80% BSN-educated nurse staff in hospitals by 2020. Hospitals now prefer or require hiring new nurses that already have this degree, according to the AACN. To prepare you for providing more comprehensive care to patients and advance your career, a RN-to-BSN program is a lucrative option.

While RN is a license, BSN is a degree. In addition to knowing that you’re saving lives, a BSN also provides ample opportunities for advancement and high paying positions.

Compared to a nursing diploma or an associate’s degree in nursing, those with a bachelor’s in nursing have a salary of up to about $30,000 more, as Payscale reports. The median pay for a registered nurses with a BSN is $76,705.

Many RN-to-BSN programs are now available for nurses to enroll while working full time. With the wide variety of RN-to-BSN programs out there, College Choice has compiled a ranking of the Best Online RN-to-BSN programs for added flexibility to those of you who can’t commute to a physical college campus.

Many colleges allow you to transfer ADN credits to count towards your BSN. This way you can graduate faster, especially when taking accelerated courses. We’ve also ranked the Most Affordable Online RN-to-BSN degree programs for the added benefit of cut costs.

BSN

When people think of hospital and healthcare, the first image that comes to mind is often a doctor in a white coat, making decisions and saving lives. But people often forget that it’s actually nurses who deliver the most direct care to patients, in the emergency room or simply getting your annual check-up.

They help execute patient care, educate patients and their families about health conditions, and also provide advice and emotional support.

The demanding and important nature of the job is part of the reason nursing is such a promising job field. Hospitals are always expanding and seeking new, well-trained nurses, which is why the field has 16% (much faster than average) job growth projected in the next decade.

And the BLS estimates that the average registered nurse makes almost $70,000 per year.

College Choice has put together a diverse list of rankings, which help students to look at different facets of nursing education. Students looking for a more traditional experience should look at The Best Undergraduate Nursing Schools, while those looking for an online program should check out The Best Online BSN Degrees for 2017.

And finally students focusing more on affordability can look at the Most Affordable Online BSN Degrees.

MSN

Nursing is a large and complex field, which means that it requires both general professionals, as well as more highly-trained specialists. Nurses who pursue their Master’s degree are eligible to become Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, who provide more specialized care than regular nurses.

These specialized professionals perform a number of tasks and fill many rolls, with example positions including Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners.  

These Advanced Practice Registered Nurses have one of the most exciting job market outlooks of any profession. The job outlook over the next decade promises an insane 31% growth in the demand for workers.

This field also offers highly competitive salaries, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an average salary of more than $100,000/year for those in this field.

College Choice has published a list of the Best Master’s in Nursing, which compiles our picks for the best graduate nursing programs in the country. College Choice also compiled a list of the Best Online MSN Programs, for students looking for a less traditional graduate experience.

And finally, for students weighing affordability as one of their most important factors there is the Most Affordable Online Master’s in Nursing.

Nurse Practitioner

As healthcare costs climb and healthcare needs expand, nurse practitioners will keep growing in importance. The physician shortage is an opportunity for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), the class of nurses who have advanced training, and can prescribe medication and do other procedures traditionally reserved to doctors. These nurses need an MSN or even sometimes a DNP (Doctor in Nursing Practice).

Nurse practitioners, along with Nurse Anesthetists and Nurse Midwives (other APRNs), are very well paid. According to the BLS, these nurses make a median salary of $107,460 per year.

Over the next year, positions in this field are expected to grow by an astounding 31%, which the BLS considers “much faster than average.” Of the three APRNs mentioned here, Nurse Anesthetists have the highest median salary: $160,270 annually.

Interested in moving into advanced practice nursing? We have a few rankings to help guide you. Our list of the Best Nurse Practitioner Programs will give you a survey of the field. If you’re interested in the flexibility of an online degree, then take a look at our ranking of the Best Online Nurse Practitioner Programs.

Both of these rankings are divided into MSN and DNP programs that both prepare you for advanced practice. And if you’re concerned about price, we also have a list of the Most Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Degrees.

DNP

Nurse Practitioners are registered nurses who have an advanced degree. While this degree can take up to 5 years to complete, it’s worth it for those who are passionate about helping others. Career opportunities typically include: Family NP, Adult-Gerontology (Acute or Primary Care) NP, Psychiatric-Mental Health NP, Pediatric (Acute or Primary Care) NP, and Women’s Health NP. From nursing homes to hospitals, you’ll have a range of options once completing this prestigious degree.

If steady employment is important to you, a career in nursing is perfect. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 31% job growth rate in this industry through 2026! Nurse Practitioners can expect not just steady employment, but the potential for a rather impressive paycheck. The BLS puts the 2016 median pay for Nurse Practitioners at just over $105,000 per year. Not too bad!

For those in search of a more flexible or affordable program, take a look at our ranking of the Best Online DNP Degrees. Our online list includes the likes of Duke University, Georgetown University, and the University of South Carolina.

College Choice has also published a ranking of the Best Nurse Practitioner Degrees. For those in search of a more flexible or affordable program, take a look at our ranking of the Best Online DNP Degrees. Our online list includes the likes of Duke University, Georgetown University, and the University of South Carolina.

Degree Finder

1
2
3