A survey conducted by Nursing.org of 470 nursing professionals concluded that a nurse’s education has a big impact on their career paths. Nurses holding an associate degree in nursing (ADN), a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), a master of science in nursing (MSN) or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) reported the wish to have pursued more education earlier in their careers.

Curious about other careers?

Registered Nurse 10-Year Job Outlook

Jobs in the nursing career path are growing faster than the average for all occupations. The demand for nursing professionals is projected to increase by 15% from 2016 to 2026, adding about 438,100 new jobs (U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018). Competition for the registered nurse role is low due to two key factors. The ageing baby boom generations demand more medical care and are living much longer. The average 65-year-old today can expect to live to 84 years which is almost 5 years longer than a 65-year-old in 1960. A second factor is the National Center for Health Workforce Analysis projection that nearly a million RNs older than 50 years are at or near retirement. Although 438,100 new jobs are expected by 2026, there is going to be a shortage of experienced nurses.
The HRSA, Health Resources and Services Administration, define nurses as professionals that perform a variety of patient care duties and are critical to the delivery of healthcare services. According to the United States’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, nurses are typically expected to perform these duties:

  • Assess patients’ conditions
  • Record patients’ medical histories and symptoms
  • Administer patients’ medicines and treatments
  • Teach patients and their families how to manage illnesses or injuries

Nursing Career Path: Job Titles & Possible Employers

Nursing job titles are related to the tasks and the expected service the role deliver. Johnson and Johnson approximate 104 areas a prospective nurse could specialize in. The lists below are examples, and it does not cover all possible jobs.

Typical job titles defined by Johnson and Johnson are:

  • Cardiac Cath Lab Nurse
  • Burn Care Nurse
  • Certified Nurse Midwife
  • Critical Care Nurse

Typical areas of specialties as described by Nursing.org are:

  • Medical/ Surgical
  • Home Health
  • Travel Nursing
  • Geriatric

A brief review of jobs posted on Career Builder, a popular job board, exemplified the type of candidate employers are seeking. Listed below is our review of job posts to give you an idea of the type of job candidates employers are looking to hire.

VA Medical Center

Seeking a “Registered Nurse- Long Term Care”
  1. Job Location –Martinsburg, West Virginia
  2. Salary – $56,338
  3. Experience – ≥ 3 years
  4. Education –  An Associate Degree (ADN) or Diploma in Nursing, Bachelor’s degree in a related field, Master’s degree in nursing or related field with BSN
  5. Role Description – Duties will include but are not limited to performing comprehensive, multifaceted assessments and offering complex therapeutic nursing care to the population of long-term care patients. They will also be responsible for performing as a team leader, assessing, evaluating, planning and providing direct nursing care to the patient with specialized and diverse long-term care medical needs. Responsibilities also include administering and documenting medications, monitoring IV therapy and participating in patient care conferences.
  6. Top 3 skills needed
    1. Emotional stability under stress
    2. Strong problem solving and critical thinking skills
    3. Familiarity with medical software and equipment

General Healthcare Resources

Seeking an “Oncology Infusion Nurse (RN)”
  1. Job Location – Chicago, Illinois
  2. Salary – $55,000 – $85,000
  3. Experience – ≥ 1-year Oncology and Infusion RN
  4. Education – Bachelor of Science in Nursing or successful completion of a Registered Nurse program from an accredited School of Nursing
  5. Role Description – Prepare for the arrival of patients to the surgery center by ensuring that proper supplies and equipment are available. Review the patient chart and health history to assure that the necessary pre-operative evaluations have been completed.

Merraine Group Inc

 Seeking a “Nurse Manager OR (Operating Room)”
  1. Job location – Durango, Colorado
  2. Salary – $100,000 – $130,000
  3. Experience – ≥ 3 years
  4. Education – BSN is preferred, but not required. CNOR preferred.
  5. Role description – Supervises 35 FTEs and reports to O.R. Director. This Manager will solely manage the Operating Room which has 8 O.R. suites and currently sees 4,500+ patients annually. The position will lead and promote staff education and career development.
  6. Top 3 skills needed
    1. Leadership experience in OR
    2. Ability to supervise other full-time employees
    3. Creating training materials to educate team members

What you Need to Advance in Your Nursing Career

As a professional, you bring with you a variety of skills that translate into the core competencies required for nursing. Choosing your degree program is an important step because every nursing job requires some level of credentials.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)

You provide basic nursing care to patients while working under the supervision of a registered nurse or a doctor. Your tasks may include bathing and dressing patients, Caring for and feeding infants, assemble, use, and clean certain medical equipment, and updating nurses and doctors on patient’s status.

  • Years in School – 1 Year
  • Average Tuition Cost
    • Tuition – $5,000 – $15,000
    • Exam Cost – NCLEX-PN Exam costs $200 and PAX-PN cost is $60- $100
    • Books – $300 – $1,000
    • Supplies – $100 – $200
  • Testing and Licensing
    • National League for Nursing Pre-Admissions Examination (PAX-PN) is a 3-hour test for entry into an LPN training.
    • National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) is a state required 5-hour exam to obtain the LPN license.
  • Median Annual Salary – $45,030
  • Advantages
    • The time from education, licensure to employment is relatively short. Less than 2 years.
  • Limitations
    • Lack of Authority – LPNs must answer to someone from above in the medical profession chain (e.g. registered nurses and doctors). In some states, LPNs are not permitted to start intravenous drips or give patients drugs.
    • Physical Demand – The physical demand in this career path is medium (50 lbs.) to high (100 lbs.). LPNs are expected to lift patients for transfers or after falls.
    • Limited Job Opportunities – Cannot provide acute care, the role is limited to basic care tasks
    • Low Income Potential – An LPN will earn on average $24,970 less annually than a registered nurse
Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
  • Years in School – 2-3 years
  • Average Tuition Cost
    • Tuition – $5,000 – $19,000
    • Exam Cost – NCLEX-RN Exam costs $200
    • Books & Supplies – $300 – $1,800
  • Testing and Licensing
    •  NCLEX-RN
  • Median Annual Salary – $44, 000 – $65,000
  • Advantages
    • Qualified for an entry-level position in nursing and could use tuition reimbursement programs to earn higher degrees.
    • Educational credits are transferable to BSN programs.
    • ASN to MSN programs available
  • Disadvantages
    • A BSN degree is more competitive and is in higher demand
    • Specialization in nursing areas is limited
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
  • Years in School – 3-4 years
  • Average Tuition cost per Chamberlain College of Nursing
    • Tuition – $82,350
    • Exam Cost – NCLEX-RN Exam costs $200
    • Books & Supplies – $900
  • Testing and Licensing
    • NCLEX-RN
  • Median Annual Salary –$69,000 – $80,000
  • Advantages
    • BSN have more options to become a nurse educator, a public health nurse, or to focus on specific age groups or disease types.
    • BSN holders are in high demand
    • BSN to MSN programs available
  • Disadvantages
    • A BSN degree is expensive and takes a few years to complete
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
  • Years in School – 2 years
  • Average Tuition cost per Chamberlain College of Nursing
    • Tuition – $23, 400
    • Exam Cost – N/A
    • Books & Supplies – $900
  • Testing and Licensing
    • N/A
  • Median Annual Salary –$75, 000 – $109,000 (PayScale)
  • Advantages
    • Employee tuition reimbursement programs available to cover costs
    • Options to specialize in many areas
    • Deeper knowledge in the area of speciality
    • Better pay
    • A door to teaching opportunities
  • Disadvantages
    • An MSN degree program is challenging. It requires the time commitment to studying and meeting clinical requirements.
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), Doctor of Nursing (ND), Doctor of Nursing Science (DNSc), or Doctor of Nursing Philosophy (PhD)
  • Years in School – 3-4 years
  • Average Tuition cost per Chamberlain College of Nursing
    • Tuition – $30,000
    • Exam Cost – N/A
    • Books & Supplies – $900
  • Testing and Licensing
    • N/A
  • Median Annual Salary –$103,880
  • Advantages
    • Diagnose and treat illness, independently as a private practice or as part of a healthcare team.
    • Higher salary
    • The highest level of proficiency in nursing
  • Disadvantages
    • Tuition cost for top program providers is high. For example, Duke university cost for the program is approximately $100,000.

Ways to Pay for Nursing Education

Are You Ready for A Career in Nursing?

Table 1: Education – Schools, Majors, and Degrees

Table 2: Education – Typical Certifications

Table 3: Nursing Careers and Pay
Nursing: Occupational Outlook Handbook: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2018)

Table 4: Nursing – High Demand Sectors

Table 5 – Demand for Registered Nurses by Region: 2015-2030

For a complete list by state, see page 9.


Photo by Eloise Ambursley on Unsplash

Nursing Jobs Plus. 2018. Registered Nurse- Long Term Care- CLC-A. [ONLINE] Available at: http://nursingjobs.careers.adicio.com/jobs/registered-nurse-long-term-care-clc-a-martinsburg-wv-108133357-d?utm_campaign=google_jobs_apply&utm_source=google_jobs_apply&utm_medium=organic. [Accessed 7 July 2018].

Monster. 2018. Registered Nurse at Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services, Inc. Butler, PA 16001. [ONLINE] Available at: https://job-openings.monster.com/Registered-Nurse-Butler-PA-US-Southwestern-Pennsylvania-Human-Services-Inc/11/197502755?utm_campaign=google_jobs_apply&utm_source=google_jobs_apply&utm_medium=organic. [Accessed 7 July 2018].

Indeed. 2018. Licensed Vocational Nurse – Outpatient Nursing – Grade 615. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.indeed.com/q-Nursing-jobs.html?vjk=ad6eb0a2d241a5f3. [Accessed 7 July 2018].
University of Pennsylvania. 2018. Penn Nursing. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.nursing.upenn.edu/academics/master-of-science-in-nursing-msn/. [Accessed 7 July 2018].

Nurse.org. 2018. 15 Highest Paying Nursing Careers [Infographic]. [ONLINE] Available at: https://nurse.org/articles/15-highest-paying-nursing-careers/. [Accessed 7 July 2018].

allHealthcare. 2018. Top 10 In-Demand Healthcare Occupations. [ONLINE] Available at: http://allhealthcare.monster.com/careers/articles/1801-top-10-in-demand-healthcare-occupations?page=2. [Accessed 7 July 2018].

EveryNurse.Org. 2018. Becoming an Ambulatory Care Nurse. [ONLINE] Available at: http://everynurse.org/becoming-an-ambulatory-care-nurse/. [Accessed 7 July 2018].

AMNHealthcare. 2018. Home Healthcare: Fastest-Growing Industry Faces Workforce Challenges. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.amnhealthcare.com/home-health-industry-growth/. [Accessed 7 July 2018].

Daily Nurse. 2018. Nursing Job Growth and Outlook for 2017. [ONLINE] Available at: https://dailynurse.com/nursing-job-growth-outlook-2017/. [Accessed 7 July 2018].



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