A Noble Career as a Nurse: The Different Pathways You Can Take

career as a nurse

Nursing is just as much as a calling as it is a career path. Many who are interested in nursing feel the drive to help people, which is all you’ll be doing during your daily nursing activities. There are many reasons to become a nurse, whether it’s flexibility, job security, or competitive salaries. Although many people associate nursing with hospitals, there are many other paths you can take in the nursing job sphere. Some of the more common ways to pursue a career as a nurse will be mentioned in this article.

Choose a Path

First, you need to choose a nursing path, so your education and certifications align with what you want to specialize in (for masters students and beyond). Otherwise, you’ll have to go back to school for accelerated learning. Among the most popular are nursing diplomas, associates degrees, and bachelor’s degrees, but some jobs like a Nurse Practitioner require a master’s or doctorate.

Earn a Degree

Nursing programs include a classroom instruction portion, as well as an apprenticeship clinical experience section. The clinical part gives students hands-on-experience that will benefit them in their jobs. If you want to fast track your education, opt for an associate’s degree program, but be warned that most hospitals won’t hire you without a bachelor’s degree.

Get a Licence

After you earn your degree, you must receive a license. We cannot express the importance of preparedness before your exam, whether it’s an NCLEX exam or equivalent. Although you can take the NCLEX exam 8 times a year, you can’t practice without one, meaning it’s better to get certification as a registered nurse sooner rather than later. This handy article walks you through the best NCLEX courses and study resources that can help you prepare. Other nursing professions may require additional certification like a state exam.

The Different Pathways of a Nurse

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) – 4-12 Week Certificate

A CNA handles daily nursing tasks like feeding and bathing. They may also clean rooms, answer patient calls, and are required to record issues and information of the patient and direct it to a nurse. If you want to join the nursing field quickly, become a CNA as you only need a certificate or diploma (4-12 weeks). CNAs make approximately $30,000 a year.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) – 1 Year Diploma

To fast track your education, you can receive a nurse certificate that takes 11 months (3 semesters or 40 credit hours). This route usually doesn’t include a clinical component. As an LPN, you work in clinics or at home with a patient. LPNs can’t perform specific tasks, such as administering IV medication. On average, LPNs make $45,000 a year.

Registered Nurse (RN) – 2 Year Associates Degree or Bachelor’s Degree

A registered nurse can work inside hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices because the education requirements provide you with the full scope of the practice. RNs coordinate patient care, assist doctors with surgeries and exams, administer education, and promote wellness. Students can become an RN with an associate’s degree ($50,000), but the pay for a bachelor’s degree RN is higher at $71,000 per year.

Other Methods

Accelerated Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing

This option is only available to students who have already graduated with a bachelor’s degree and wish to accelerate their learning in the Nursing field. You will need to complete specific math and science prerequisites, and you may have to take general education courses. On average, an accelerated program will take 18 months. You will also have to take the NCLEX-RN.

Nurse Apprenticeship

While getting your certification or bachelor’s degree, many schools give you the option to apprentice at a local hospital to gain the necessary skills not taught in a classroom. A nurse apprenticeship will be attractive to students who want to work while at school. An apprenticeship will also look great on your resume when applying for work.


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