Benefits of Nursing
Some of the benefits of nursing depend on the job itself, while others have to do with the financial impact of choosing nursing as a profession. Some of the most important benefits of a nursing degree are explained below:
Nurses can earn their degrees online. While becoming a nurse requires clinical training and hands-on experience, there are an array of online programs in nursing that help students complete their coursework with a flexible schedule. This is true whether you want to become a registered nurse (RN) or pursue an online Master's in Nursing (MSN).
Nurses earn solid incomes. According to the latest figures from the BLS, RNs earn a median annual salary of $81,220. This compares favorably to the median annual salary for all careers combined, which worked out to $46,310 that year.
You can become a nurse in two years. If you want to enter the workforce quickly, you can become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) in two years or less. These nurses earn less than RNs and tend to have less responsibility on the job.
Become a lifelong learner. According to Cathleen Coontz, who has worked as a nurse for 26 years, nurses get to build on their careers by going back to school: "Nursing provides endless opportunities to specialize and endless growth opportunities," she says.
A nursing degree can help you land any number of jobs. It's fairly common for nurses to make a career change, and many nursing jobs don't take place in traditional healthcare settings. For example, you can parlay a nursing degree into a career as a health education specialist or a pharmaceutical sales representative.
Is being a nurse worth it? Coontz says that there are some benefits that only apply to those who opt for a nursing program that leads to a bachelor's degree.
For example, she says RNs are considered independent professionals, so they can create care plans and educational plans for their patients. This makes work for RNs broader in scope than other types of nurses that follow the instructions of others, such as LPNs and certified nursing assistants (CNAs).
"Although I cannot prescribe medication, bill insurance, or give someone a medical diagnosis, I have full autonomy with my patients outside of those three limiting factors," says Coontz.
Coontz also says associate-based nursing typically involves more bedside-oriented work, while RNs get to be involved in large-scale projects.
Of course, RNs also earn more money across the board. Where RNs earn a median annual salary of $77,600 nationally as of May 2021, LPNs and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) earned a median annual salary of $48,070 that year.
The Best Nurse Perks
Coontz adds that nursing provides a lot of flexibility; you can work as little or as much as you want. You can also work alternate hours in some jobs, such as the night shift, and receive pay differentials for doing so. As an example, nurses who opt to work overnight hours often receive a boost in pay of 10% or more.
Nursing is also a job that you can do anywhere. In fact, there are even jobs for travel nurses, which require moving to a new locale for a limited time. These jobs tend to offer much higher pay in exchange for relocation. "Some nurses enjoy traveling, and you can literally work anywhere in the world," explains Coontz.
Also, nurses can increase their earnings tremendously by gaining experience on the job or pursuing an advanced degree.
Nurse practitioners and other advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) with a master's degree also earn more in general. In fact, BLS figures show that nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners earn a median annual salary of $125,900.
Is Nursing School Worth It?
If you're interested in nursing as a career but you want to make a smart decision regarding your return-on-investment, this can leave you with a whole host of questions. For example, is nursing school worth it? And, is becoming a nurse worth it in terms of quality of life?
Regarding the financial investment, it's worth noting that nursing degrees offer a solid return-on-investment overall. In fact, a 2021 study from FREOPP showed that nursing was one of the best programs to consider for strong earnings outcomes. The study also shows that nursing incomes accelerate over the course of one's career, albeit more slowly than income growth with some other professions.
However, not everyone is happy in a nursing career, and the profession has one of the lowest job satisfaction ratings found on CareerExplorer. With that in mind, you should think over why you want to become a nurse and whether the job suits your personality and talents.
There are many nursing benefits to think over. Before you decide to enter this exciting and rewarding industry, it can help to consider the degree type you plan to pursue as well as how long school will take when all is said and done.
The good news about nursing is that, for the most part, you can complete the bulk of your coursework online and on a schedule that fits around your other responsibilities. Many of the best nursing schools are ones that already have robust online programs, so there's no reason to delay signing up.