A career in nursing can be an excellent choice that offers many job opportunities and potential for growth in the profession. There are a number of reasons that can drive the demand for nurses. For example, as the aging population continues to grow, they typically have more medical problems than younger individuals. And as more patients are admitted to long-term care facilities, require home health care settings or use outpatient care centers, this can also impact the need for the services of nurses. Finally, with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and a much larger number of Americans obtaining health insurance, a greater number of nurses is likely to be needed to care for patients.
Online Nursing Degrees Programs
There are a number of online nursing schools in the U.S. that lead to various types of degrees in the field of nursing. Though most nurses have a bachelor's degree, you could start with an associate degree or a certificate from a nursing program, and work your way up from there.
Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
Studying for an associate degree in nursing generally takes two to three years to complete, with programs design to prepare you for the nurse licensing exam. Students can expect to take courses in liberal arts, biology, chemistry, pharmacology and patient care and also practice in a clinical setting it also includes on-site work in a health care setting. An associate degree or post-secondary certificate can prepare you for some of the following careers:
- Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA): CNA certificate programs take between several months and one year to complete, though in some states, there is training required past the basic certificate.
- Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN): Online LPN programs typically take one to two years to complete.
- Registered Nurse (RN): Some RNs choose to start out with an associate degree in nursing, but may opt to earn their bachelor's degree as they move up in their career.
Bachelor's of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN)
An online bachelor's degree can typically be completed in two to four years, depending on the number of prior credits and experience that you have. Students usually study clinical theories of nursing, anatomy, microbiology, chemistry, nutrition and more. Most nurses who opt for the bachelor's degree become registered nurses (RNs), by becoming licensed in their state after graduation. RNs can have a number of different jobs in a health care setting, including some of the following:
- Staff nurse
- Assistant unit manager
- Cardiovascular nurse
- Rehabilitation nurse
Most advanced positions in health care require a master's degree and/or additional certifications. It is not uncommon for RNs to continue their education after they earn their bachelor's degree.
If earning a master's degree in nursing is your goal, you can expect to study advanced clinical or administrative skills. Studying for this degree usually takes two years of additional study after a bachelor's degree. The master's could lead to a number of advanced careers in health care, such as:
- Nurse anesthetist
- Nurse midwife
- Nurse practitioner
- Advanced practice registered nurse
- Physician assistant
Some health care professionals choose to take their education even one step further. Studying for your doctoral degree could open up the door to a career in academia or advanced clinical work; this online degree typically takes three to five years to earn, depending on your experience, and you'll take courses like public health, research design and health care research.
Career Outlook for Nursing Professionals
The outlook for a career in nursing is typically very positive. The table below lists out 2019 nationwide data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for several nursing occupations. Keep in mind that these numbers may vary depending on your location.
|Occupation||Average Salary||Total Employment||% Job Growth|
Choosing the Right Online Nursing School
If you're thinking about enrolling in an online nursing program, make certain that any program that you choose is accredited and recognized by your state's licensing board. Accreditation is earned through the National League for Nursing and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
You also want to make sure that you consider the following factors:
- Besides tuition, are there any other additional fees that you're required to pay?
- Are the teachers certified and licensed to teach?
- Does the school offer career planning support?
- Does the school offer financial support?
- If you hold a job, does the clinical part of the nursing program fit into your work schedule?
- How frequently are the professors available to answer any questions that you may have?
- Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed June 16, 2020, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/
- Occupational Employment Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed June 16, 2020, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm