Nursing is a challenging and rewarding career, and students who choose this career path are likely to find they’ll have a variety of job options to choose from. For example, some nurses work in hospitals, physicians’ offices, or in long-term care facilities, while others choose to work in fields such as public health or travel nursing.
There are many benefits associated with pursuing a nursing career. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of RNs will grow by 12% between 2018 and 2028, which is much faster than the average growth projected for all occupations. This uptick in demand is linked to three key factors: the increased healthcare needs of an aging population, the baby boomer nurse retirement wave, and the ongoing nursing shortage.
Individuals who choose a career in nursing may also have significant advancement opportunities. For example, nurses who start their careers by completing an entry-level educational program can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, which often leads to higher salaries and increased autonomy. BSN-holders can go on to pursue master’s and doctoral degrees, which can help them advance to management and nurse practitioner roles.
Earnings opportunities are also significant. The BLS reports that as of May 2019, RNs had a median annual wage of $73,300. Salaries in the top 10% of the range had annual earnings of more than $111,220, though these salaries may vary depending on experience, education level, place of work, and other factors.
The field of nursing is vast. Whether candidates want to work at a small, private practice or in a large teaching hospital, there is one thing that all aspiring nurses have in common: To be eligible to pursue jobs in this field, candidates must meet minimum nursing prerequisites.
The following paragraphs will discuss the various pathways toward becoming a nurse, along with educational and licensing requirements, where applicable.