Get a Degree in Nursing

A nursing degree is a great investment in your career. The healthcare industry has a growing number of vacant nursing positions, which will only increase in the years to come with the aging Baby Boom generation. 

There are several programs and obtaining a nursing degree online or in person can take as little as 18 months or several years. While you can front load your education and pursue an advanced degree right away, you can also expand your formal education throughout your career by returning to a program that matches your experience. 

Likewise, pursuing an advanced nursing degree can open up more senior job opportunities as well as different pathways. For instance, you may start your career in direct patient care and supervise a team of nurses. 

Associate’s Nursing Degree

This nursing degree program typically takes two years but can take as few as 18 months in some cases. An associate’s degree is the shortest degree program, as other credentials that take less time are certificate or diploma programs. At the conclusion of the nursing degree program, graduates must take the NCLEX exam to receive a license as a registered nurse. 

Depending on the educational institute, an associate’s nursing degree may go by different names including:

  • An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
  • An Associate of Applied Science in Nursing (AAS)
  • An Associate of Arts in Nursing (AAN)
  • An Associate of Nursing (AN)
  • An Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN)
Candidates with an associate’s nursing degree are often hired along with bachelor’s degree holders. However, employees with more advanced degrees hold most managerial positions. Some facilities require workers with an associate’s to actively pursue a higher degree as an employment condition.  

Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

Students interested in supervisory or managerial positions should consider obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in nursing. The nursing program will have more prerequisites, such as math and science courses, than an associate’s degree and take longer to complete, but there are more high-paying job opportunities. The best-paying jobs graduates can obtain with a Bachelor’s degree in nursing include the following:

  • Surgical Nurse with an average salary of $74,000
  • Pediatric Nurse with an average salary between $41,000 to $65,500
  • ICU Nurse with an average salary of $62,000
  • Obstetric and Gynecological Nurse with an average salary of $60,000
  • Hospice Nurse with an average salary of $61,000
While usually a four-year degree, some institutes have accelerated nursing degrees online that allow students to finish in three years. Similarly, students who already have a bachelor’s degree in another study can add nursing credentials in just one to two years. 

In addition to the courses in an associate degree, a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing requires classes in communication, leadership and critical thinking. This is because nurses with bachelor’s degrees typically fill management jobs. Conversely, more and more companies prefer employees with bachelor’s degrees. 

Keep in mind that nursing degree students who have not passed the NCLEX exam before will need to do so upon completion of the bachelor’s program. 

Master’s Nursing Degree

The first of the postgraduate degrees, a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) is an entry-level nursing degree for those who wish to teach or hold higher-level healthcare positions. Typical jobs for nurses who hold a master’s degree include:

  • Nurse administrators
  • Health policy experts
  • Clinical nurse leaders
Prospective students must already have a Bachelor’s degree in nursing to enroll in a master’s degree program. Therefore, the total time to obtain an undergraduate degree will influence the length of time to receive a postgraduate degree. It can take an additional one to three years after obtaining a bachelor’s. 

Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner Degree

An advanced registered nurse practitioner degree is a postgraduate program that takes one-and-a-half to three years after a bachelor’s degree. Students will also need to complete between 500 and 1,000 clinical training hours. 

Doctoral Nursing Degrees

Similar to a nurse practitioner degree, the two most advanced degrees include: 

  • A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Having this nursing degree does not make the graduate a physician but it may prove to be comparable in the future with a perceived shortage of doctors. Of the two doctoral nursing degrees, this one is for positions related to direct patient care.
  • A Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) This degree is very research heavy and typically for those who will later pursue scientific work.