Nursing is a heartfelt and spiritually rewarding career and is part of the larger ever growing healthcare industry. Government statistics reveal that healthcare is currently the largest industry with over 14 million jobs in the United States of America. Mixed among the hundreds of job descriptions across tens of thousands of healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, community health centers, clinics, nursing homes, and physician offices are the frequently required professional designations: Certified Nursing Assistant, Licensed Practical Nurse, Licensed Vocational Nurse, and Registered Nurse.
- Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
- Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
- Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)
- Registered Nurse (RN)
Select one of the above nursing careers for more detailed career information. Alternatively, select a nursing career from the left sidebar navigation on most pages of this website. Continue reading below to compare education requirements and average salary, and how to become a nurse.
Compare Education Requirements and Average Salary
The minimum education requirements, as you might expect, increases as the level of nursing responsibility increases. The minimum education requirements for a CNA is much shorter than that of a RN, for example. This fact can restrict the short-term goals of prospecting nurses who currently can't afford the time and money needed to achieve a bachelor degree in nursing. It is not uncommon for a nurse to begin their career as a CNA, then progress upwards as time and money permit.
|Certified Nursing Assistant
|6 to 12 weeks||1,492,100||$25,100|
|Licensed Practical Nurse
(LPN, LVN, PN, VN)
|1 to 1.5 years||719,900||$42,490|
|Registered Nurse (RN)||2 to 4 years||2,751,000||$66,640|
|* Nursing license, education requirements, nursing job counts, and annual salary data above and throughout our website is compiled from a review of individual school nursing programs, state board of nursing license requirements, and the Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-2017 Edition issued by the U.S. Department of Labor.|
How To Become A Nurse
Nursing is a highly regulated occupation which requires a license to practice. To become a Nurse, you must complete the state board of nursing licensing requirements before applying for a job in that state. Among the state nursing license regulations is a minimum education requirement for nursing staff at various levels of care. To obtain a CNA, LPN, LVN, or RN nursing license, the candidate generally must:
- Complete a state approved nursing program.
- Pass the license specific nursing competency exam.
- Apply for a nursing license and pay the required state fees.
- Undergo a criminal background check which includes fingerprinting.
- Take continuing education courses to maintain the nursing license.
An entry level nurse working in the state of Florida, for example, must maintain a Florida nursing license issued by the Florida Board of Nursing in order to legally perform their duties. After completing a state approved CNA training program, the entry level nurse must apply for a license. Once a license is granted the entry level nurse can apply for nursing assistant jobs.
Self-Assess Before Starting A Nursing Career
Self-assessment is a continuous process and should be a guiding principle as you embark on your nursing career. Your self-assessment today, should be followed up by periodic self-assessments which will enable you to strategically change career path along the way (if needed). Nursing career profiles, nursing school entry requirements, state board of nursing licensing requirements, personal finances, family commitments, nursing degree aspirations, and professional goals once assessed will lead you down the career path that is right for you.
Below are a few points to consider during self-assessment:
- Physical and emotional requirements of nursing.
- Desired place of employment, hospital, nursing home, other.
- Average salary needed to help support family.
- Minimum education and training requirements.
- State board of nursing licensing requirements.
- Available time and money to attend school.
- Scholarships, work study, financial aid programs.
- Financial and emotional support of family or friends.
- Entry level and higher nursing job requirements.
- Ask several working nurses about their career paths.
Because nursing is a career which is regulated on both the federal and state level, the initial education and training hurdles are similar for all those who wish to pursue a career in nursing. Changing your career path in route is normal, however, avoiding common mistakes such as attending a non-accredited nursing school could set you back if you later try to continue your education, transfer credits, apply for jobs, or enroll into advanced education programs.
After selecting a nursing career path, the next step is to find a nursing school. Each nursing school website and each school's location can be found via satellite map on our site by visiting our nursing schools section.
Last updated: February 19, 2017
- Healthcare Occupations. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-2017 Edition. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
- Licensed Practical Nurse & Registered Nurse by Endorsement. Florida Board of Nursing, Florida Department of Health. Retrieved January 27, 2016.