What are My Career Options as a Nurse?
Mar 20, 2015 | 10:00 am
With continuing education, a nursing career has the potential to soar. Whether you choose to work as an entry-level staff nurse or become a nurse practitioner, your degree level and experience can help lead the way. Let’s take a look at the most common nursing careers and what it takes to get to the next level.
Licensed Practical Nurse/Licensed Vocational Nurse Careers
Also called LPN or LVN, this nursing career begins with a little over one year of training in a vocational school, community college or hospital. After graduating and passing the NCLEX-PN national licensure exam, nurses can pursue work as a LVN or LPN.
Most LPNs and LVNs can find staff positions in general areas of health care, including nursing homes and home health care programs, working under the supervision of doctors and registered nurses (RNs). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this nursing career could see a 25 percent growth rate between 2012 and 2022 while earning $41,540 as a median annual wage.
To advance their careers, some LVNs/LPNs gain certification in a specific field, move into supervisory roles or complete an LPN to RN education program to move into the role of RN.
Registered Nurse Careers
Nurses can become RNs in three ways: passing a diploma program, associate degree or bachelor’s degree in nursing. Whichever course is chosen, after graduating and passing the NCLEX-RN national licensure exam, nurses can pursue a nursing career.
Most RNs start out as staff nurses in hospitals, physician’s offices, nursing homes, community clinics and more. The BLS notes that this RN nursing career could have a 19 percent growth rate between 2012 and 2022 while earning $65,470 as a median annual wage.
To advance their careers, RNs can move into management roles, senior-level administration positions, business roles in health care and more. They can also go on to earn a master’s degree in nursing (MSN) to qualify for advanced nursing roles.
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Careers
APRNs usually hold a master’s degree or higher in their specialty area as well as national licensure and certification. Some of the most common APRN nursing careers include Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Midwife and Nurse Anesthetist. The BLS notes that APRNs could see a whopping 31 percent growth in employment between 2012 and 2022 while earning a median annual wage of $96,460.
APRNs come into their roles with experience and have already pursued the education to reach this level, so many will stay in this role for the remainder of their nursing career. Others may continue to learn and grow by earning doctoral degrees to qualify for roles in research.