If you're pursuing a career in nursing, you've chosen one of the most in-demand professions in the U.S. Nursing is a rapidly growing field due to two main reasons: 1) an increasingly aging population, and 2) new federal legislation -- the Affordable Care Act -- that requires medical care for more people. Nurses are also in demand because they perform such a wide variety of tasks, and are needed in just about every type of health care setting, including long-term care facilities, outpatient centers, hospitals and doctors' offices.
According to May 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) figures, Texas, along with California, New York, Florida and Pennsylvania, ranks among the top five states in the U.S. when it comes to the highest employment levels for registered nurses, with 198,650 jobs. Furthermore, according to the same BLS figures, out of all the major metropolitan areas in the U.S., the Houston area ranks fourth with 46,700 registered nursing jobs and Dallas ranks sixth with 37,640 registered nurses serving in the metropolitan area.
Online Nursing Education in Texas
There are many paths to becoming a nurse. Some of the most common include becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN), registered nurse (RN) or nurse practitioner (NP). All of these nursing careers require both the earning of a degree and practical experience in clinical settings -- caring for patients and working alongside other health care professionals -- before you can receive a nursing certificate or degree.
The requirements to become an LPN in Texas are:
- Earn your LPN degree, which typically includes one year of courses and hands-on practice
- Apply for licensing with the Texas Board of Nursing, pay an $85 fee, and have your school send your transcript to them
- Obtain a CPR card and pass the NCLEX-PN exam
The requirements to become an LVN in Texas are:
- Graduate from high school or have a G.E.D. certificate
- Pay a non-refundable fee of $186
- Complete courses at an approved school of vocational/practical nursing with a minimum grade of "C" in all nursing courses
- Pass the NCLEX-PN exam
The requirements to become an RN in Texas are:
- Graduate from an approved school of professional nursing
- Pay a non-refundable fee of $186
- Achieve a satisfactory score on one of the following exams: SBTPE with a minimum score of 350, or the NCLEX-RN exam
The requirements to become a nurse practitioner in Texas are:
- Earn an undergraduate degree in nursing
- Pass the NCLEX-RN exam
- Become a registered nurse
- Complete a graduate degree in nursing
- Obtain advanced practice nursing licensing
- Depending on one's specialty, specialize through certification
You can take classes at one of the many online nursing schools in Texas while you are raising a family or working outside of the home. But studying for an online nursing degree may still require that you spend time on campus meeting with your professors to discuss coursework.
The Texas Board of Nursing approves and regulates nursing education programs throughout the state. You should fully investigate the credentials of nursing programs to make certain that the program you choose is fully licensed and approved by the state board of nursing. A list of Texas Board-approved nursing programs is provided on the Texas Board of Nursing's website.
Nursing Career Outlook in Texas
The outlook for various nursing careers in Texas is promising. The table below shows that the outlook for these five nursing positions is very positive through 2024.
|Occupation||Average Annual Openings||Projected # Openings 2012-2022||% Change|
|Licensed Practical and Vocational Nurse||3,820||87,780||26.7%|
Source: Projections Central
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook also provides some positive data below if you decide to pursue a nursing career in Texas.
|Occupation||May, 2015 Employment||Hourly Mean Wage||Annual Mean Wage|
|Licensed Practical and Vocational Nurse||69,220||$21.70||$45,130|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015
Nursing Program Specializations
Some nurses choose to specialize in a specific area of study. For example, if you have a bachelor's in nursing, you can work online towards the following specialized master's degrees:
- A Master of Science in Nursing/Masters of Health Administration/Gerontology
- A Master of Science in Nursing/Masters of Health Administration/ Sustainable Management
- Master of Science in Nursing/Nursing Education
Due to advancing medical technology, there is a wide range of specializations for nurses. For example, pediatric oncology nurses work with children and teens with cancer; rehabilitation nurses work with patients who have temporary or permanent disabilities; and neonatology nurses care for newborn babies. If you know what you want to specialize in, you should seek out a school that is known for that area of study.
As one of the largest states in the country, with many large metro areas, Texas is home to many nursing programs, and a huge amount of opportunity for those interested in health care. Find out more information about online nursing courses and programs from some of the schools listed below.
- Texas Board of Nursing, Nurses, https://www.bon.texas.gov/nurses.asp
- Texas Nursing Schools, BestNursingDegree.com, http://www.bestnursingdegree.com/states/texas/
- Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2015, Registered Nurses, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm
- Nursing Schools in Texas, TX, Nursing School Resource, http://www.cna-nursing-schools.com/texas-nursing-schools.html#context/api/listings/prefilter
- Texas LPN, TX LPN Schools, LPN Programs and LPN Salary Data, LPN.com, http://www.lpn.com/state/texas-lpn/
- How to Become a Nurse Practitioner, Study.com, http://study.com/how_to_become_a_nurse_practitioner.html
- Long-Term Occupational Projections, Texas, Projections Central, http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm