Career Paths in Nursing

Jumping into a career in nursing can be an exciting prospect for those who wish to provide hands-on care to patients and individuals facing illness, injury or who need the knowledge and wisdom of a caring medical professional. The field of nursing is as diverse as the population of nurses itself; nursing professionals can work with patients based on gender, particular illnesses, medical conditions or systems within the body. Age-specific nursing can help the youngest neonate to our seniors facing end-of-life health and wellness concerns.

With all of these different specialties and concentrations in nursing, the level of education and knowledge required for these positions also varies. Ultimately, however, there are three main paths in nursing that can be followed, LPN/LVN, RN or APRN, each with the ability to challenge a nurse, while encouraging a top-level nursing school education.

LPN/LVN: These Licensed Practical (or Vocational) Nurses practice general skills and can be found in many physician or medical offices and hospitals, nursing homes and therapy and rehabilitation centers and can even work as home health nurses. With at least an Associate of Science in Nursing degree and after passing the NCLEX-PN examination, a LPN or LVN can expect to earn an average of $35,000 upon completing a campus-based or online nursing school program.

RN: A Registered Nurse has the ability to work in a general hospital or medical environment, or specialize in several areas of nursing, given the appropriate education and experience. This level of nursing opens up many specialties for nurses, including Informatics, Pediatrics, and most clinical concentrations within hospitals and recovery centers.  Registered nurses are required to have a two- or four-year degree in nursing, and to pass the NCLEX-RN examination. The average salary for an RN is around $60,000 per year.

APRN: The Advanced Practice Registered Nurse must obtain at least a Master of Science in Nursing Degree, pass the NCLEX-RN examination and have clinical experience in the chosen specialization. APRN’s can work in any medical environment, including clinics, hospitals, treatment centers and rehabilitation facilities as well as teach the curriculum within nursing school programs or work autonomously in many states as Nurse Practitioners. The average salary for an APRN is around $75,000 per year.

With all of the choices available within the field of nursing, the opportunities for a satisfying and fulfilling career are endless. Whether currently attending a college, university or online nursing program, or taking advantage of an accelerated nursing program, nursing is a dynamic and diverse field that can grow a job into an empowering career.