Those who work in healthcare are some of the most highly regarded people in our society. Not only do they do work that many people are just fundamentally unable to do, but they also do work that helps to literally save the lives of others. It’s very noble work, and it requires a lot of training to perform. It’s common knowledge that doctors are among some of the highest paid people in the country. Doctors have to get through years of medical school in order to work, and so people are willing to pay them top dollar when they have those qualifications. However, doctors aren’t the only people who help out in a medical setting. RN’s, or registered nurses, are also core members of any medical-related team.
Many people aspire to be nurses, since it’s a job that allows you to help people without having to acquire the same high level qualifications of a doctor. Not to mention, a nurse is usually able to interact with patients on a much more intimate level than a doctor is. Everyone knows that doctors are highly paid, but does that same idea apply to a registered nurse? How much is your average RN paid? How can that average pay be affected by factors like location, experience, and education? How does one go about becoming a registered nurse, anyway? In this article, I intend to answer all of those questions. Without further ado, let’s see if we can’t learn a little bit about the profitability of this valued profession.
Average RN Salary in 2017 – $71,000
Your average RN makes about $71,000 per year. This doesn’t really come close to the salary of your average medical doctor, but it’s still a very good amount of money for a person to make. Registered nurses still have to meet some pretty strict qualifications in order to legally work, and they are compensated for being able to meet those qualifications. Since that’s an average salary, then that obviously means that some registered nurses are paid more and some registered nurses are paid less. What sort of factors could possibly contribute to an RN’s income? Location is definitely one of them. People need medical care just about everywhere, but you’ll find that certain major cities (like San Diego, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia) possess a much greater demand for registered nurses. As a result, living in one of those cities will make it a little bit easier for you to find work, and a little bit easier for you to maybe negotiate a higher salary.
Experience is another one of those factors that often influences an RN’s salary. I don’t think that it takes a rocket scientist (or a registered nurse, for that matter) to tell you that someone with more experience is almost always going to be paid more than someone with less experience. That is especially true in healthcare. An RN with over twenty years of experience can be paid up to $15,000 more per year than an RN with just entry level experience. What exactly accounts for such a wide payscale? In essence, a more experienced registered nurse is usually going to be very good at their job. They know how to work with patients, they know how to work with commonly used equipment and software, and they have acquired the intangible qualities like patience and sympathy requires in order to thrive in this field. They’re better at their work, so they’re paid more for it. It’s that simple.
Next, let’s consider how education could affect the salary of a registered nurse. If you work in business or education or something like that, then your educational background is pretty much vital in determining how much money you’re going to make each year. It’s common for high school teachers to go back to school and acquire a PhD so that they can try to negotiate a higher salary. Does that same sort of thing happen in nursing? Your average registered nurse has either an associate’s degree, a diploma, or a bachelor’s degree in nursing. I think it’s obvious that the “highest” of those degrees (the bachelor’s) is the most sought after. That much is easy to figure out on your own. Is there any value in a master’s degree in nursing? Not always. Someone with a graduate degree in nursing is typically looking to get in on the administrative side of healthcare. It’s good for upward career mobility, and it obviously wouldn’t hurt, but there’s no need to go education overkill if you want to work as a registered nurse.
How to become an RN – Do you have to go to school?
Reading all of that, it’s possible that you’ve become interested in working as a registered nurse. It pays very well, you work in a very social environment, and you’re able to help a lot of people. For some, that’s pretty much a dream job. What does someone have to do to become a registered nurse, though? Is it as difficult to becoming a doctor? Although difficulty is subjective, you don’t usually have to go through as much schooling in order to become an RN. The very first thing that you need is a high school education. There is a good deal of schooling involved in becoming a registered nurse, and obviously you’re going to need a high school diploma or its equivalence in order to get into most higher education programs. If you’ve already dropped out, then you should investigate a way to acquire something like a GED.
Once that preliminary step is out of the way, it’s time to begin your undergraduate degree in nursing. At this point, you have two options: you can either get an associate’s degree or you can get a bachelor’s degree. An associate’s degree only takes two years, while a bachelor’s degree will usually take four years. Although the associate’s degree may seem like the most obvious choice here, consider the fact that you would be a much more competitive applicant with a full-fledged bachelor’s degree on your record. You shouldn’t push for the bachelor’s degree if you can’t afford it, but if you have the time and the money, then there’s no real reason to sell yourself short. While you’re working toward your undergraduate degree, you’re going to be acquiring knowledge that will prove important later, so make sure you’re paying attention.
Once you’re through with college, it’s time to become fully legitimate. First, you need to pass the NCLEX-RN examination. A passing score on this exam will help you receive your license later on. You can only attempt to take this six hour exam ever 45 days, so really give it your all. Once you’ve done well enough on this test, you can look to receive your state license. (Yes, nurses need a license in able to work legally.) Licensure requirements vary from state to state, so I seriously suggest that you consult your local jurisdiction to see what you have to do at this stage. Once you have your state license, the sky is the limit. It’s time to get out there and find work as a registered nurse. As long as you’re qualified and as long as you’re passionate about your work, then I’m confident that you will be able to succeed in this field.