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By Education Team | 05 Aug. 2019

Want to Become a Nurse? Learn About Different Types of Nursing Degrees

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If you are a person who enjoys helping people and possess an interest in health science, nursing may be the perfect career for you. There are multiple paths to becoming a nurse. They all require a different numbers of years in nursing school and lead to different salaries. Below are different types of nursing degrees you should consider.

Licensed Practical Nursing Certification (LPN)

The LPN certification takes approximately a year to earn if you attend school full time. The certification is offered by community colleges and technical schools. LPNs provide basic care (e.g. checking vitals, inserting catheters, assisting in bathing and dressing, and answering certain questions). The median salary for LPNs is $44,000 per year.

Registered Nursing Degree (RN)

The RN degree is earned after completing an associate’s degree, bachelor of science in nursing degree, or nursing diploma. RNs can provide more invasive care, answer more complex questions, work with patients to create care plans, analyze test results, and answer more in-depth questions. RNs can also supervise LPNs, nurses’ aides, and home health aides. The median salary is $68,000 per year.

Nursing Diploma

A nursing diploma can qualify you for entry-level nursing positions. If you earn a nursing diploma, you will be able to perform the same tasks an LPN. The program can be completed in one year if you attend school full-time. The topics of study include basic patient care, basic pharmacology, psychology, sociology, psychiatric nursing, and lifespan development. Much of the program consists of hands-on work because it is intended to prepare the students for working in a hospital, as opposed to a doctors’ office. The diploma carries the same weight as an associate’s degree because both programs require you to take the NCLEX exam to be licensed.

Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN)

A BSN program takes four years to complete if you attend school full-time. Most universities offer BSN programs. Many BSN programs have selective admissions; therefore, you may have to apply separately to the university’s nursing school after you get accepted into your four-year university. You can earn an associate’s degree and transfer into a bachelor’s degree program, but you will have to be cognizant of transfer requirements. The BSN program consists of a year and a half to two years of basic general education courses along with nursing courses and clinical practice. Registered nurses are strongly encouraged to pursue a BSN to be more employable and earn a higher salary. In fact, the Institute of Medicine has recommended that the proportion of nurses who a bachelor’s degree should increase to 80 percent by 2020.

Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN)

The MSN program takes two to three years to complete following the completion of undergraduate studies. This nursing degree will allow you to pursue positions in administration, education, and advanced practice. Most MSN programs will let you choose a specialization that is relevant to your career goals for earning your MSN. If you choose a clinical or advanced practice specialization, you can earn the title of nurse practitioner (APN). You will be able to perform most of the tasks that doctors can perform.

Doctoral Nursing Degree

Doctoral nursing degrees are the least common nursing degrees. They take a total of eight to ten years to complete, which includes undergraduate nursing school and master’s degree studies. You most likely would not see a nurse in a hospital or doctors’ office with a doctorate in nursing because most nurses who pursue doctorate degrees are interested in research. Having a doctorate degree to go into clinical practice will certainly make you stand out among other candidates and earn you a higher salary. Going into research will earn you an excellent salary but will not give you any time caring for patients.