The goal of this manual is to provide you a thorough overview of all the nursing careers that are currently open to you. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that between 2020 and 2030, the nursing industry will experience significant expansion. For individuals committed to furthering their nursing education, the following material will offer insight into the in-demand job prospects. This manual will assist you in making a well-informed decision about your future in the healthcare sector by providing job descriptions, educational requirements, career outlook, and compensation data.
What to learn
- Education and types of nursing degrees.
- Speciality career choices in nursing.
- Best nursing universities.
- Nursing salaries.
Education and Types of Nursing Degrees
The type of nursing degree you’ll require will largely depend on the professional path you’re interested in taking. Both academic training and clinical experience are part of nursing degrees. You can learn by doing, interact with nurses, and pose questions in context. You’ll also have the chance to see how a hospital operates thanks to the experience. Depending on the position it trains you for, each degree will change slightly.
Associate degree in nursing (ADN)
The typical level of education required to become a Registered Nurse is an associate degree in nursing. The type of nurses you will encounter most frequently in the medical profession are registered nurses, or RNs for short. Over three million Registered Nurses are currently working in hospitals, private clinics, schools, and other clinical facilities across the country.Patients receive direct treatment from registered nurses.
They have the necessary licenses to provide medical treatment, manage pharmaceutical regimens, do health assessments, manage care plans, and handle medical equipment. The wide range of work that registered nurses do necessitates at least an associate’s degree in order to practice. Associate degree programs give students the clinical expertise and foundational knowledge of nursing practice they need to succeed in patient care settings.
The average length of an ADN program is two to three years. Both classroom instruction and clinical experience are part of the curriculum. Students receive practical instruction in a genuine healthcare environment during clinicals. In order to improve their talents, they also train in laboratories. Aspiring RNs have the opportunity to sit for the board exam after graduation and earn their professional license.
Bachelor of science in nursing (BSN)
Nurses with Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees are prepared for a wide range of nursing-related graduate studies and professional responsibilities. Usually, four-year college or university programs are required to obtain it. Baccalaureate programs include a range of liberal arts classes as well as professional education and nursing-specific training. It comprises education beyond that of an ADN and frequently incorporates courses in communication, leadership, critical thinking, and the physical and social sciences. In the USA, there are 674 BSN programs.
Students can take the NCLEX-RN exam to become a licensed registered nurse by enrolling in BSN programs that have been approved by the state’s specific board of nursing. For registered nurses with associate degrees who desire to complete their bachelor’s in nursing, certain states offer accelerated programs referred to as “RN-to-BSN” or “BSN completion.” In 2010, the Institute of Medicine recommended that by 2020, 80 percent of registered nurses in the United States possess a baccalaureate degree. This prompted healthcare organizations to implement education assistance programs for those with associate degrees and to make a BSN a requirement for hiring.
Master of science in nursing
A higher degree that enables a more specialized nursing function is the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). There are many other jobs that a master’s prepared nurse can consider pursuing. Clinical nurse specialist (CNS), certified nurse anesthetist (CRNA), certified nurse midwife (CNM), and certified nurse practitioner (CNP) are all possible career pathways (CNM). The MSN-prepared nurse may also concentrate in fields such as business administration, health administration, or public health. Education program length varies depending on the chosen field and might range from 18 to 24 months of full-time graduate level study.
Depending on the position being sought after, a master’s-prepared nurse must pass certification exams. For instance, the CNM sits for the exam administered by the American Midwifery Certification Board, and nurse administrators may be certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Nursing professionals with master’s degrees have received training in advanced evaluation, patient counseling, management, leadership, research, and education. State-by-state variations in the scope of practice may apply, and they may work in both inpatient and outpatient settings as well as in educational institutions.
Diploma in Licensed practical nursing
LPNs serve as the main conduit for information between patients and RNs. They take care of a few clinical duties like beginning IV drips, changing bandages, and taking vital signs from patients. An LPN’s primary responsibility is to make sure that the entire care team is informed on each patient’s status and that their requirements are being addressed.
In the majority of states, LPNs are only permitted to undertake basic patient care; they cannot give medications or conduct physical examinations. They assist other medical professionals, including Registered Nurses. LPNs, in turn, have lower educational requirements than RNs. LPNs normally need a practical nursing diploma to get licensed, though criteria differ by state. The length of LPN programs is normally one year.
Doctor of Nursing practice
The range of activities that a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) can perform includes evaluating, diagnosing, prescribing, consulting, screening, educating, starting referrals, and coordinating patient care. Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult Nurse Practitioner, Adult-gerontology Nurse Practitioner (acute or primary care), Adult Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Gerontological Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (acute or primary care), and School Nurse Practitioner are just a few of the many specialties that DNPs can choose from.
By state and specialty field of practice, specific practice guidelines can differ. One would require a doctorate in nursing practice in order to become a DNP. Every program has a different set of specific criteria. Before beginning practice, a doctoral graduate must successfully complete the certification exam for their particular specialization. There were 3,065 DNP graduates in 2014.
Top ten Speciality career choices in nursing
Chief nursing officers (CNO)
CNOs perform duties at the top of healthcare companies. They handle money, supervise and evaluate nursing staff, plan daily operations, and put new technologies and other advances into practice. The need for CNOs is growing in the healthcare sector as a result of industry-wide initiatives to enhance patient outcomes, cut costs, and boost productivity.
How to Become One: CNOs often hold an RN license in addition to a graduate degree in business, nursing, or health administration. Dual degrees in MSN and MHA are an option for several CNOs.
Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
A CNM’s main responsibility is to look after pregnant women during their pregnancies, deliveries, and postpartum periods as well as to keep an eye on their newborns. As more women opt for natural childbirth and birthing centers, demand for CNMs is on the rise.
How to Become: Registered nurses who want to become certified nurse midwives (CNMs) must first get a graduate degree from a recognized program that provides midwifery specialities. They then must be certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board. Possibilities for a better career and compensation are increased by earning a DNP.
According to the BLS, projected job growth will be 7% from 2021 to 2031.
Legal nurse consultant (LNC)
Opportunities for employment as an LNC exist at law offices, healthcare facilities, insurance businesses, and corporate legal departments. They may carry out research and interviews, offer expert testimony, study and evaluate medical records and other documentation, and provide expert testimony depending on the context of their work.
How to Become: LNCs normally earn an ADN or a BSN degree and hold a current RN licensure. Although certification is not required, the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants advises pursuing the legal nurse consultant certified credential, which calls for a minimum of five years of RN practice.
According to the BLS, all RNs are expected to have a 6% job growth between 2021 and 2031.
Nurse in Orthopedics
Patients with musculoskeletal problems and other conditions that impact the bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves are treated by orthopedic nurses. As the population ages and life expectancy rises, this speciality will keep expanding.
How to Become: RNs who hold a current license and an ADN or BSN degree can work as orthopedic nurses. RNs with two years of experience can advance in their careers by becoming certified as an orthopedic nurse, which takes 1,000 hours of experience.
Nephrology nurses, also referred to as dialysis nurses, provide care for people with renal disease, run dialysis machines, deliver other treatments, and instruct patients and their families on how to manage these disorders. As the U.S. population ages, the prevalence of renal illness has increased, fueling job development in this field.
Dialysis nurses might be made up of ADN or BSN graduates who have a current RN license. Possibilities for employment may increase by voluntarily obtaining credentials as a certified nephrology nurse or certified dialysis nurse.
Under the direction of a physician or nurse practitioner, a telehealth nurse provides care and keeps track of patients’ health over the phone, through video conferences, or through online chats. During the pandemic, telehealth nursing positions increased, and they are still expanding due to the popularity of online medical services.
How to Become: An ADN or BSN degree and a passing score on the NCLEX for RN licensure are the minimal educational requirements for telehealth nursing. By earning an ambulatory care certification, which encompasses patient care outside of clinical settings and includes elements of telemedicine in home healthcare, telehealth nurses can choose to expand their employment choices.
Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGNP)
AGNPs concentrate on treating elderly individuals and the illnesses that affect this population in general. AGNPs can anticipate significant job development in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home health care, as the demand for specialized care among aging baby boomers rises. After the FNP certificate, the AGNP certification is the second most popular nurse practitioner credential.
How to Become an AGNP: To become an AGNP, a person must possess a valid RN license, an MSN degree, and either adult-gerontology main care or adult-gerontology acute care certification from the National Board of Nurse Practitioners.
Family nurse practitioner (FNP)
Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) have received specialized training in providing primary healthcare to patients of all ages. Family nurse practitioners typically do physical examinations, diagnostic testing, pharmaceutical prescriptions, and the diagnosis and treatment of ailments.
How to become: A graduate nursing degree, an RN license, and passing the FNP national board certification exam are all requirements for becoming a FNP.
A psychiatric or a mental health nurse is an expert in identifying and treating patients with psychological illnesses. Within this nursing field, providing counseling services is frequently another crucial responsibility.
How to Become: To work as a psychiatric nurse, you must have a BSN or ADN as well as a current RN licensure.
Travel nurses are distinct in that they can move from location to location depending on their contract and engage with patients from a range of locations.
Because of nursing shortages in some geographic locations and high-demand specialties, the employment of travel nurses has increased, allowing them to earn far more than full-time permanent nurses.
How to become: RNs with at least an ADN are required to work as travel nurses. However, some organizations could need a BSN or a graduate degree with certifications depending on the role.
10 Best nursing universities in the US
Johns Hopkins university
According to the U.S. News & World Report, the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing is among the top three MSN, DNP, and online nursing programs. The institution has additionally received three NLN Center of Excellence designations in a row for fostering both professional and student growth. Around 1,200 diverse nursing students attend Johns Hopkins, including 500 full-time and 700 part-time students. A direct entrance MSN program has recently replaced the university’s pre licensure BSN program. The first five direct entry MSN graduating classes have achieved a remarkable 95% NCLEX pass rate. Johns Hopkins provides a doctor of philosophy (PhD) in nursing, a DNP with seven advanced practice specialties, and two more MSN courses.
Ohio State University-Columbus
The Ohio State College of Nursing has trained more than 12,000 nurses since its inception and has twice been named a Center of Excellence by the National League for Nursing. With regard to its many courses, the College places a strong emphasis on research and patient-centered practice. By U.S. News & World Report, Ohio State’s online MSN program is consistently rated as one of the finest in the nation. The DNP degree and some of its subspecialties have received top-ten rankings, along with many other programs. 200–230 students complete the four-year BSN program each year, and over the past ten years, the school has had an impressive first-time NCLEX pass rate of 94%.
University of Pittsburgh
U.S. News & World Report gives Pitt Nursing good grades for both its master’s and doctoral programs. The National Institutes of Health consistently place Pitt among the top five nursing schools in the nation for research funding. The school also offers standard and accelerated bachelor’s degree programs, and over the past ten years, its BSN students have passed the NCLEX exam at a 90% first-time pass rate. There are about 100 full-time faculty members at Pitt Nursing, and 98% of them have doctorates. QS World University Rankings recently placed the School of Nursing among the top twenty worldwide.
University of Emory
There are about 600 students enrolled in BSN, ABSN, MSN, PhD, and DNP programs at the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University. According to U.S. News & World Report, the university consistently ranks among the top 10 graduate nursing programs, with a variety of highly regarded specialized programs. Around 200 BSN graduates from Emory’s undergraduate program graduate each year, and over the past ten years, they have passed the NCLEX-RN exam at a 92% rate. After graduation, the nursing program’s excellent 82% employment record is impressive, and graduates have found jobs at more than 500 different clinical locations around the country.
University of Pennsylvania
The MSN program at Penn Nursing is frequently rated as one of the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Five of its nurse practitioner specialty tracks are also in the appropriate categories. Additionally, Penn Nursing has earned more NIH research funding than any other nursing school in the nation during the previous five years, including more than $12 million in 2020. Over the previous ten years, the first-time NCLEX pass rate for graduates of Penn’s highly competitive prelicensure BSN program has averaged 93%. The university provides three post-DNP master’s programs, two post-baccalaureate DNP tracks, and a PhD program that made history as the first nursing doctorate in the Ivy League.
University of Maryland
There are now close to 2,000 nursing students enrolled at the University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON). In at least 10 separate nursing specialist areas, U.S. News & World Report has ranked the university among the top ten institutions. In terms of NIH funding for nursing research during the previous ten years, UMSON ranks #13. Every year, the institution awards degrees to about 300 pre-licensure BSN students and an additional 100 direct entrance MSN students. Over the previous ten years, these people have achieved an outstanding 89% first-time pass record on the NCLEX exam. UMSON employs more than 700 faculty associates and clinical preceptors, has 154 faculty members (136 of whom are full-time), and gives students access to four formal research institutes.
University of Michigan
According to the U.S. News & World Report, the University of Michigan School of Nursing (UMSN) has the eighth-best MSN program and the fourteenth-best DNP program in the nation. All four of the school’s nursing specialties—family nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology nurse practitioner, and nursing informatics—are in the top ten nationally. BSN students have excellent NCLEX pass rates at the undergraduate level, reaching as high as 97% in some recent quarters. The school offers a variety of nursing courses in addition to cutting-edge options like its Global Health Concentration. Modern clinical simulation labs and collaborations with some of the greatest preceptors in the nation help students.
University of California, Los Angeles
Numerous national honors have been bestowed upon the UCLA School of Nursing. The university is consistently ranked among the top 25 in the nation for graduate nursing studies by U.S. News & World Report. In terms of NIH funding for nursing schools during the last ten years, UCLA is rated #12 overall. The university’s BSN, MSN, and PhD programs all have about 600 nursing students enrolled. In addition to multiple advanced practice tracks in various NP and CNS specialties, the MSN program includes a direct-entry track for non-nurses that leads to CNL certification. UCLA students are well-prepared for licensure: over the previous ten years, the school’s BSN graduates have achieved an 87% first-time NCLEX pass rate, while direct-entry MSN applicants have obtained an 89% first-time NCLEX pass rate.
University of Oregon School of Medicine
With 1,100 students enrolled across five sites (Portland, Ashland, Monmouth, La Grande, and Klamath Falls) as well as online, OHSU School of Nursing is one of the largest nursing schools in the state. OHSU provides a regular BSN program on each of its five campuses, an accelerated BSN program in Portland and Ashland with a smooth MSN/DNP transfer, and an online and Portland-based RN-to-BSN program. In each of the previous eight years, traditional BSN students have attained an NCLEX pass rate of 90–95 percent on their first try. Accelerated BSN students have performed even better, consistently reporting NCLEX pass rates between 93 and 99% over that time. Graduate programs in nurse anesthesia, nurse midwifery, and four nurse practitioner roles—families, adult-gerontology acute care, psychiatry-mental health, and pediatrics—are all available at OHSU.
New York University
The adult-gerontology nurse practitioner programs offered at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing consistently rank among the top 10 in the US, according to U.S. News & World Report. Additionally, NYU Meyers has twice received a Center of Excellence status from the National League for Nursing, placing the college sixth nationally in terms of NIH nursing research grants provided during the past ten years. Every year, more than 400 students from the college’s flagship BSN program graduate, and over the past ten years, 87% of those students have passed the NCLEX exam on their first attempt. Additionally, NYU Meyers offers a PhD in nursing research and theory development, post-advanced master’s credentials in eleven different subjects, a DNP degree with three entry paths, and an MSN program with nine different specialization possibilities.
Nursing can be a fulfilling and lucrative career if you’re thinking about pursuing one. Pay ranges vary based on a nurse’s discipline, workplace characteristics, and region.
Location is crucial . By state, nurse pay varies greatly. Which state, however, pays nurses the most? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, among the top 10 states for RN salaries are now California, Hawaii, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Oregon, Alaska, New York, Nevada, New Jersey, and Washington (BLS).
States with the highest salaries for registered nurses in 2023
The state with the highest average salary for registered nurses is California, which comes in first place with a salary of $124,000. Hawaii and Oregon come next, each with a value of $106,530. With an average RN income of $98,540, Washington, D.C., despite not being a state technically, is among the best-paying areas in the United States
Top 10 states with the highest salaries for licensed nurses
|Rank||State||Average RN salary|
|4||District of columbia||$98,540|
States with the highest salaries for nurses after adjusting for cost of living
A measure of the relative purchasing power of a dollar for items like groceries, housing, and transportation is the cost of living index. A region’s cost of living index is greater in places where these basic items are more expensive than the national average; a region’s cost of living index is thought to be lower in areas where these basic products are typically less expensive. Hawaii is at the top of the list as of 2021, scoring 119.3, while Mississippi is last, scoring 87.8.
Top 10 states with the highest salaries for registered nurses after adjusting for cost of living
|Rank||State||Avg RN salary (COL adjusted)|
Licensed Practical Nurse Salary by State
In every state in the U.S., hospitals and other healthcare facilities employ registered nurses. Find out the typical RN pay in your state by using the map at the top or the list below.
|State||Avg RN Salary||RNs employed||Cost of living index||Avg RN salary, adjusted for COL|
|District of Columbia||$98,540||11,540||115.2||$84,314|
The highest paying industries for registered nurses
|Industry||Avg pay per hour||Average salary|
|Outpatient care centers||$44.74||$93,070|
|Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals||$38.59||$80,260|
|Home health care services||$37.59||$78,190|