- 60 percent of registered nurses work in hospitals.
- There are more than 2.6 million nurses in the United States.
- On average, registered nurses make $62,000 a year.
What do nurses do?
It ain't just fluffing pillows and waiting on doctor's orders. Jobs in nursing demand a lot of the same things as physician jobs do - and then some.
Nursing jobs require not only treating patients who are sick and injured, but also offering advice and emotional support to patients and their families, taking care of paperwork (lots and lots of paperwork), helping doctors diagnose patients and providing advice and follow-up care.
That's right, there's a lot more to nursing than meets the eye. It's one of the hardest and most emotionally draining jobs out there, but it can be incredibly rewarding. There aren't many jobs out there were you can actually save someone's life, but this is one of them. Got a weak stomach? Then consider a different career, my friend. Working as a nurse means having to deal with terribly sick people - and that often involves various bodily fluids (yuck).
How much do nurses make?
Registered nurses who work at hospitals make $63,000 a year, on average. Those who choose to work at nursing homes or with a home healthcare service make around $58,000. That's pretty good money, right? We hate to be cheesy, but the real reward is the feeling you'll get by helping those who need you.
If you want to be a nurse, you've got a good bit of education in your future. Seriously, do you want someone doing a tracheal intubation on you if they don't know what they're doing?
The two most common ways to become a registered nurse are to get a bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN) or an associate's degree in nursing (ADN). A BSN takes about four years to complete at a college or university. An ADN program at a community or junior college takes about two to three years. After finishing one of these programs you'll also have to pass an exam given by your local licensing board.
Career paths for nurses
Most nurses start out as staff nurses at a hospital. Once you master the art of reading a doctor's handwriting you could move on to a better shift or a shift management role. After that, nurses can advance to assistant unit manager or head nurse. Get an advanced degree and you could find yourself as an assistant director, director, vice president, or chief of nursing.
The future of nurse jobs
According to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics), job opportunities for nurses are growing at a better than average pace. Job prospects will be the best for nurses who choose to work in doctors' offices. They also project that there will be solid opportunities available in nursing and assisted living homes, especially as the baby boomers age.
See all job descriptions