Everything You Need to Know About Getting a Nursing Degree
Whether you’re interested in becoming a nursing assistant, a licensed practical nurse (LPN), a registered nurse (RN), or anything in between, the fact remains that you’ll need a nursing degree from an accredited program to legally work as a nurse in the United States. Overall, working as a nurse is an excellent opportunity and career path for those who enjoy helping others and aren’t squeamish about the human body. Additionally, many nurses enjoy the fact that every day on the job provides its own unique set of challenges and situations.
So, if you’re interested in obtaining your nursing degree, you may be wondering where to begin. After all, numerous options are available to you, and the process of getting started can often seem overwhelming.
Where Should You Get Your Nursing Degree?
The first thing to understand is that you shouldn’t trust just any school or program to provide you with a nursing degree. In fact, you’ll want to scrutinize any school you’re considering and do your research to ensure that said program is fully accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. An accredited program is a must, as these programs have met stringent standards for education, training and career preparation. The last thing you want is to spend your hard-earned money (and effort) on a degree that’s not from an accredited program and isn’t going to have much weight when you start trying to obtain employment down the road.
Which Nursing Degree Type Is Best for You?
As you begin exploring degree options in the nursing field, you may be surprised to see just how many degree choices are available to you. How could you possibly know which degree is best for your needs and careers aspirations? Well, you can consider some specific factors to determine which nursing degree is right for you.
For starters, consider how long you’d like to be in school. Are you prepared to spend four or more years in college, or do you want to finish in two years or less? If you’re looking for a shorter degree program, then you may want to consider pursuing a nursing assistance degree. These programs typically last no longer than two years, and some can be done in even less time. Many LPN programs also take about a year to complete, making this another viable option for those who don’t want to spend several years in school.
Of course, if you don’t mind spending four or more years in school, you can obtain a more advanced degree that will open up opportunities for better nursing jobs and a higher starting salary range as well. For example, many registered nurse RN Nursing Degree programs are designed to take around four years to complete, with the average RN salary around $66,000 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. This is a step up from the average LPN salary of around $42,000 or the average nursing assistant salary of around $27,000.
What Are the Requirements for a Nursing Degree?
Each degree program will have different requirements, so it really depends on which program you’re considering. However, many nursing degree programs will require you to obtain some kind of certification, license or registration. For example, upon completing an LPN program, you will need to take a detailed licensure exam in order to begin practicing in your state. Your education and training up to that point should prepare you adequately to pass this exam.
For more advanced programs of study, such as an RN/BSN program, you’ll need to not only complete your formal education and, possibly, a clinical placement, but pass the NCLEX licensing examination as well.
Many nursing programs also have stringent requirements for acceptance into the program in the first place. For example, you may be required to submit to a background screening evaluation, and you may also have to pass a screening interview in order to be considered for a nursing career.
What Are the Different Levels of Nursing Degrees?
Multiple levels of nursing degrees are available. For starters, associate’s degrees in nursing are offered, which typically include the standard nursing assistant degree and LPN degrees. These tend to take two years or fewer to complete. Or, you may prefer a standard or traditional four-year degree in nursing, also known as a bachelor’s degree. Perhaps the most common example of this is the BSN. From there, some nurses elect to pursue an even higher degree of education, such as a master’s degree in nursing. This can easily take an additional two years or more on top of the four years required for the average bachelor’s degree. The highest level of education in the United States is the Ph.D. or doctorate in nursing.
What Are the Benefits of an Advanced Nursing Degree?
With the availability of shorter nursing degree programs, such as that for an LPN, and even nursing assistant programs, you may be wondering why you would spend the extra time (and money) in school to obtain an advanced nursing degree, such as a master’s degree or even a Ph.D. in nursing. Ultimately, it just depends on the type of work you want to do. With an advanced degree, you open up the doors to many more nursing jobs in addition to a much higher salary range. With a Ph.D., you can perhaps even teach nursing at the college level and focus on researching/publishing your own findings, thus becoming a reputable source of information within the field. It really just depends on where you see your nursing career taking you, both in the short- and long-term.
Remember that you can always start with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree and then decide later on if you’d like to pursue an advanced degree. The choice is ultimately up to you. Many who have already started their nursing careers will even work in the field for several years before deciding to return to school for an advanced degree once they have a better idea of what they want to do with their careers.
The Nursing Degree Guide
If you’re looking for an extensive resource on choosing the right nursing degree program and everything else related to it, be sure to check out the Nursing Degree Guide. Here, you can not only find an accredited nursing degree program in your area, you will also find programs that are online nursing degrees accredited. The guide will cover options such as Nursing Degree Online education, LPN Nursing Degree Online options, and 2 Year RN Programs Online, plus more. You will learn more about salaries and degree levels, and also can read more about what to expect from a career in nursing, from experts currently practicing in the field.
RN Program Rankings: NCLEX Exams with rationales, scholarships, career guides, and career advice from veteran nurses at RNCareers.org.
Registered Nursing Careers: RN program rankings, NCLEX exams with rationales, scholarships, nursing career guides, and career advice from veteran nurses at RNCareers.org.