Career Requirement #1: Getting an Education

The biggest investment you’ll be making if you decide on a nursing career, is your education, which requires a minimum of two years of study and a maximum of five or six years.

There are four types of nursing degrees – a bachelor’s of science (BSN), an associate degree of nursing (ADN), or a diploma program offered in hospitals. The BSN takes four years to complete with the best job prospects, while the ADN degree and diploma programs generally take three years. Some nursing careers – such as nurse anesthetists or nurse practitioners – require a master’s degree (MSN).

Your nursing degree can cost anywhere from $18,000-$40,000, but with the following tips, you can cut down both the time and the cost:

Turning your bachelor’s degree into a BSN: If you’ve already got a bachelor’s degree in another area, you can enter an accelerated BSN or MSN program, which can shave years off your training time. The BSN accelerated program takes 12-18 months to complete, while the MSN accelerated program can be finished in two years.

Online classes: Consider taking at least some of your required coursework at an accredited online university, such as the University of Phoenix or Jacksonville University. That will cut down on cost and offer you some flexibility if you’ve got to work while you are attending school.

Consider a diploma program: Hospital-based diploma programs are generally less expensive than a university and offer you more on-the-job training.  In an attempt to retain more nurses, some programs offer low-interest loans to pay off tuition, or may even forgive tuition entirely if you commit to work at the hospital for several years after you graduate.

Ask for Tuition Reimbursement: As mentioned above, it’s common for hospital-based diploma programs to forgive tuition fees for graduate nurses who stay to work. But they aren’t the only ones with this perk. In an effort to retain more nursing staff, many hospitals are offering significant tuition reimbursement packages as a benefit. Make sure to shop around at different hospitals when job searching.

Other Career Requirements

Though your initial degree may be finished in two years, as a nurse you’ll be in some form of education for the remainder of your career. You’ll also need the following:

Licensing: All nurses must pass the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-RN, to be able to practice nursing. Contact your state for details on when the next exam is being offered.

Continuing Education: Most states require nurses to log in a certain number of continuing education (CE) training and workshop credit hours at regular intervals.  Some hospitals will offer full or partial payment for these credits.

Even with several years of education in front you, committing to becoming a nurse now may be the most recession-proof, fulfilling career decision you’ve ever made.  So what are you waiting for?

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