If you are considering a career in nursing, you have made an excellent choice. The demand for all levels of nursing is expected to increase by as much as 20% to 31% in the upcoming years. Your first step is to decide where you want to start your career path. Below is a look at the various nursing degrees available to help you determine which may be the right option for you.
Licensed Practical Nursing/Licensed Vocational Nursing
Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) or Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN) are the first step that many people take in their nursing career. This program can typically be completed in one-year of intense training. This training will include both classroom instruction and clinical practice. After the completion of your training, you will have to pass the NCLEX-PN exam to earn your LPN or LVN license.
This career option is perfect for those who are ready to start their nursing career as quickly as possible. The coursework is intensive, but you may be able to continue working and still complete your degree. There are some online LPN courses available, but clinical work will still need to be completed.
A LPN or LVN degree will allow you to obtain an entry level job in the nursing industry. You will likely be working under the direct supervision of an RN, BSN, or physician. You will be able to work at hospitals, nursing homes, medical offices, and provide some in-home care services.
Associate Degree in Nursing
Some students decide to start by earning their Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). This is a two-year program that will require you to take both nursing classes and liberal art classes. This program is also very rigorous, and while you may be able to take some classes online, you will still need to perform hands-on clinical work.
There are also programs available that are designed specifically to help those who already have their LPN earn the ADN degree. These programs will give you credit for the classes you already took to become a LPN. This will allow you to complete the program in less than two years.
Completion of an ADN degree will allow you to take the NCLEX-RN exam. Once you pass this exam you will earn your RN license. This will allow you to get a job as an RN in a hospital, physician’s office, school, governmental agency, nursing home, and many other medical facilities.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree
You can also decide to earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree (BSN). This is a four-year program that is offered at many colleges and universities. This program will require you to take both liberal arts classes and nursing classes. You will also have to perform both lab and clinical work. Some classes are available online.
If you have already earned your LPN or ADN degree, you can sign up for a LPN to BSN program or an RN to BSN program. These specialized programs will give you credit for the coursework you have already completed. This will allow you to complete you BSN degree in less than four years.
A BSN degree will allow you to take the NCLEX-RN exam to earn your RN license, if you have not already earned this status. It will also make you eligible for many RN jobs that require a BSN degree. You will also be able to earn a higher salary than those RN who only have ADN degree.
Master of Science in Nursing Degree
If you want to take your nursing career to the next level, a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) may be the right options for you. This program typically takes about two additional years of training to complete. You will need to determine your specialty, such as nurse practitioner, nurse educator, nurse anesthetist, or clinical nursing before determining the right MSN program for you.
Many of these programs are set up to be flexible enough to allow nurses to keep working while earning their MSN. Since MSN jobs are in such high demand, many employers are willing to help cover some of the tuition for this training, and offer flexible work scheduling.
This type of degree will open up better career options to you. You can also expect to find higher paying job opportunities. The demand for nurses with a MSN degree is expected to increase by more than 30% in the next six years.
Doctorate of Nursing Degree
A Doctorate of Nursing Degree is the highest level nursing degree that you can earn. You will need to have already earned you MSN degree prior to applying to a doctorate program. This program can take anywhere from three to five years to complete. Some intense Doctor of Nursing programs allow you to complete your degree in just less than three years of full-time studies.
A Doctorate of Nursing Degree is currently in high demand. It can earn you a job in hospital administration, clinical research, nursing education, and nursing executive.