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Certificate Course Ideas: What It Takes to Enter the Nursing Field

Taking a certified course in nursing is a decision many people make for a variety of reasons. There is a shortage of nursing personnel, so finding work is almost guaranteed. It is a popular profession for people who enjoy helping others. Registered nurses (RNs) are the majority of health care industry workers. Entry level nurses include those with nursing diplomas, two year Associate's Degrees and those with a Bachelor of Nursing (BSNs).

Challenges of the Profession

Nursing is both challenging and rewarding as a profession. The working hours vary, with some nurses working early mornings, day time, evenings, weekends and on an on-call basis. As health care professionals, they are exposed to a variety of illnesses and medical conditions, many of which are contagious. Nurses can have very diverse job responsibilities, depending upon their areas of expertise and work settings.


Nurses tend to earn good salaries which can have a positive impact on their families. RN Nurses who work through agencies tend to earn the highest average salaries of around $63,170. The average salary for RNs who work in general medical facilities is around $53,450 annually with benefits. Nurses with experience can often also be paid sign-on bonuses and get tuition reimbursement. The starting salary for BSN nurses begins at around $36,000 to $45,000, however, this amount changes according to geographic location and specialty.

Four to Five Year Bachelor of Nursing (BSN) Degree

Of the three entry-level nursing degree paths, the four to five year BSN program is the preferred entry point by hiring leaders in the industry. A GPA of at least 3.0 is usually required. The BSN is preferred because it provides the most advantageous opportunities in the job market for its graduates. Tuition costs from $24,000 to $48,000 depending upon location. Classified ads show that there is a BSN requirement for many available nursing positions.

Two Year Associate's Degree

The two year Associate's Degree is the first entry-level point for a technical nursing degree. It is often a precursor to studying for the BSN. The associate's degree will allow for a student to later become registered and earn more money faster than that of a four year BSN program. This makes it work better for many people. The two to three year nursing diploma used to be a more common entry-level program prior to the 1970s. At that time, there were over 800 diploma schools available. Since there are less than 100 of those schools today, it is not as popular as the BSN and two year Associate's Degree. The nursing diploma prepares students to work in a hospital or inpatient medical facility. It is a good place to start, depending upon your nursing career aspirations. The cost of this tuition can run from $3,000 at a community college, to as much as $20,000 at a private university.

Certification Qualifications

Each of the entry-level nursing degree paths will qualify students to take the NCLEX-RN examination for RN licensure. Once the exam is passed, your level of education and type of degree will determine the kind of income that you can expect, along with the various types of jobs you will qualify for.

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