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  • If you like helping people, and have strong math, science, and communication skills, nursing can be a great career choice.
  • Nursing is one of the more flexible professions, as nurses can work anywhere locally and abroad.
  • Depending on your specialty, nurses can earn a median salary from $78,000 to upwards of $124,000 as of May 2021.

For most of us, our first interaction with a nurse happened the day we were born—and it continues through life. Nurses provide one-on-one care within the healthcare field, and address the physical and emotional needs of patients in times of illness or injury.

If you are skilled in math, science, logical thinking, and most importantly, working with people, nursing is a good field of study. Clear communication is vital since you are the one meeting with and attending to patients before or after they see a doctor. In addition, the healthcare field can be hectic, so it's important to be able to multitask and handle stress well.

Things to consider before becoming a nurse

Before you finish your nursing degree, you will have the opportunity to take what you learned in class and apply it by doing real-world supervised work in a hospital or medical clinic. Also, get ready to be a human guinea pig, as you and your classmates who major in nursing will practice skills—like checking blood pressure and drawing blood—on each other.

Nursing allows professionals to move to higher levels of responsibility as they complete more education. For example, if you start as a licensed practical nurse (LPN), you can become a registered nurse (RN), then a clinical nurse specialist (CNS) and even a nurse practitioner (NP). If you're considering nursing as a college major, know that programs are offered in a wide range of schools, from small environments such as a two-year community college or technical school, to the large campuses of four-year universities.

If you graduate with a nursing degree, licensing is important if you want to hold certain jobs. LPNs and RNs have to pass the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX®). Like doctors, you can also specialize in a particular field of medicine, but this will require additional schooling and training.

Popular nursing specialties

A nursing degree gives you a lot of choices when it comes to a career. Depending on your certifications and interests, you could become a nurse midwife, a CNS, an RN, a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), an NP, a flight nurse, or a research nurse. Popular nursing specialties include: ambulatory care, neuroscience, oncology, pediatric, and school nurse. In some specialties, you will need to complete additional years in school or training. For example, to become a CNS you must complete a bachelor of science in nursing, pass the NCLEX, obtain a master of science in nursing, and pass a national certification exam.

Best places to work as a nurse

Nursing professions offer good career opportunities throughout the United States regardless of which state you live in. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2021, the top five states for employment were:

  • California
  • Texas 
  • New York
  • Florida
  • Pennsylvania

How much do nurses make?

As of May 2021, the BLS found the median salary for RNs was about $78,000 per year. This number goes up for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners to approximately $124,000 according to the BLS.

Are nurses in demand?

As of May 2021, the number of registered nursing jobs is expected to grow 6% between 2021 and 2031, which is slightly faster than the average occupational growth rate.

A nursing college major and career allows you to work within the healthcare field while building relationships with those around you. As our world's population continues to increase and people live longer, the demand for nurses and other healthcare professionals will continue to grow too.

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NCLEX® is a registered trademark of National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc., which is not affiliated with, and does not endorse this site.

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