If you have looked at the number of nursing jobs out there lately, you might have had a question pop into your head: how do I get that job?

With higher than average job growth (27%) and strong median salaries, the nursing field is an attractive one. A potential shortage of caregivers in the future and the opportunity to help others only makes it even more attractive. For those who are interested in becoming a nurse, there is more than one way to get training. Look at the following options before you start so you can save yourself time and money.

What are the Different Kinds of Nurses?

A certified nursing assistant (CNA) is the most basic level of nursing. They provide care for patients, such as feeding, cleaning, and taking vitals. A step above that is a licensed practical nurse (LPN), who works under supervision of registered nurses. Training to become an LPN is one and half to two years. The training for both CNA and LPN can be done at a community college, technical school, or even at a hospital.

Many who are interested in the nursing field are encouraged to complete their registered nurse (RN) training. There are many reasons for this. There are more opportunities, there’s the potential for greater pay, it’s easier to hired with an RN degree, and it’s an easier bridge to eventually earning a master’s degree.

What Do Registered Nurses Do?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses:

“provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members.”

How Do I Become a RN with an Associate’s Degree?

The first way to earn your RN training is through obtaining an associate’s degree. This is a two-year program, although it can take three years or longer to complete it. These programs are usually offered at community colleges and through some four-year schools. This program will prepare you to take the state licensure test administered by the state. Because it is a shorter program, it is sometimes a more cost-effective route, as it will prepare you for an entry-level nursing position. But, if you are interested in becoming a specialist, or working towards a master’s degree eventually, this may not be the most economical path.

How Do I Become a RN with a BSN Degree?

The other route, which will also prepare you for the state nursing test, is to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, which is a four-year degree. This is the most thorough training you can receive to become a registered nurse.
Again, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report:

“RNs who graduate from Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs may see greater advancement opportunities than associate’s degree or diploma holders. These four-year degree programs are generally more comprehensive, focusing on human development and behavioral sciences applicable to the profession.”

In order to further your career beyond a registered nurse, a BSN is required. The next step is a Master of Science degree in Nursing (MSN), where you specialize in a nursing field, become a nurse practitioner, etc.

Those who are already nurses, such as LPNs or RNs that got an associate’s degree or in some cases a diploma, who have previous education and experience, are able to choose accelerated BSN programs. It allows them to earn their degree faster. For instance, at some institutions, the LPN to RN programs may take only a year and the classes are flexible for working schedules.

The nursing field is one with great potential, and although there are differing levels of care that you can receive training for and different options for how, earning your bachelor’s degree may be worth your time and money in the long run.

If you’re interested in starting, or continuing, a degree program toward a Nursing career, visit our Nursing page for more information.

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