When you want to advance your career, online nursing programs can help you reach your goals and improve your ability to provide quality healthcare.
With a nursing degree, you will become more marketable to employers and build on your leadership, clinical, and humanistic skills. Online nursing programs are affordable and can be fit within your schedule, so you can maintain your full-time career while earning your degree.
Use this guide to find out if earning your nursing degree online is worth it, what areas you can go into after earning your degree, what to look for in a school, high-paying nursing careers, and more.
Is a Nursing Degree Worth It?
No matter which level of degree you pursue, an online nursing program will open the doors to many opportunities.
Nurses are always in demand. In fact, employment for registered nurses is projected to grow 15% through 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A career in nursing pays well, too — RNs earn a median salary of $71,730 per year, and higher-level nurses, such as nurse practitioners, make even more.
Online Nursing Programs
Online nursing programs can provide you with the skills you need to succeed in a variety of careers within the field. With affordability and flexibility, earning your nursing degree online allows you to maintain your busy professional schedule.
With an online Associate Degree in Nursing, you will gain real-world experience and theoretical knowledge that will help you enter the field. An ADN is the most common degree among registered nurses. After you have earned your ADN online, you can take the NCLEX-RN, the national licensing exam that allows you to start working as a registered nurse.
By earning your RN to BSN online, you can advance your nursing career through a convenient format. A BSN teaches you nursing theory, management and leadership, and effective decision making, humanistic, and clinical skills. You’ll also gain practical knowledge that you can immediately apply to your career. Some bachelor’s in nursing programs are designed specifically for registered nurses and allow you to transfer in your credits from an associate in nursing.
An online MSN will open the doors to advanced opportunities within the field. Some MSN degree programs allow you to specialize in a certain area, such as nurse education or nurse practitioner. Designed for working nurses, an online MSN will give you the convenience you need to boost your credentials while maintaining a busy schedule.
Advance your career as a nurse in any of these areas.
Nurses with advanced degrees can pursue employment in an administrative or advocacy area. In these careers, you will either supervise other nurses at your facility, teach other nurses, or determine ways to improve healthcare in communities. You may choose to provide care to individuals or communities. They may work with children and families, with expecting mothers, or with those who are serving the country in the U.S. military.
You can also work in a more specialized area such as dermatology, cardiac care, or radiology. These nurses focus on patients with specific illnesses.
What to Look for in an Online Nursing School?
As you search for an online nursing school, there are some things you should consider. Find out what the program’s clinical requirements are before applying for admission. Chances are, you will need to complete a practicum at a nearby healthcare facility. Sometimes, you can complete this component through your workplace.
Some of the other things you should look for in an online nursing program include:
- Flexible schedule
- Experienced instructors
- Specialization opportunities
You should also ensure that the online nursing school is accredited. Check to see what the school’s accreditation is, and find out if the nursing program you are interested in is accredited by a nursing accreditation agency. Accreditation is important as it shows that the online degree programs are held to high quality standards. Some of the nursing accreditation bodies include:
- Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
- American College of Nurse-Midwives Division of Accreditation (ACNM)
- Commission on the Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
- Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA)
- National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (CNEA)
Common Misconceptions About Online Nursing Degrees
When you are earning your nursing degree online, you eliminate the need to commute to campus while maintaining your full-time nursing career. Many online nursing programs provide the flexibility to view lectures and complete coursework on your own time.
There are a lot of online nursing programs available that are from accredited schools, and the nursing programs themselves may be additionally recognized by a nursing accreditation organization. Accredited degrees are, in fact, valid, and there are no differences in value between degrees earned online or on campus.
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How Did an RN-BSN Help Advance Your Nursing Career?
Tatiana earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing online through an RN to BSN program. The flexible format made it so that she didn’t have to sacrifice work and personal commitments.View Full Interview
It works much the same as a traditional school as far as classes and assignments. Each course had either required papers to write or [proctored] exams to take. The difference is that there is no “due date” other than finishing by the end of the semester to avoid an incomplete. Additionally, the program I chose is self-paced.
The benefits were . . . the convenience factor and also being able to save money by completing the program in [one] semester. The challenges I faced were mostly finding a preceptor to oversee my community health clinical hours and some software issues with the exam proctoring service.
You have to be really motivated and a good independent learner. Yes, there are resources if you don’t understand the material, but it takes extra time and scheduling. It also helps if you’re computer savvy to know how to access and use materials provided. Having social media, also, is beneficial for reaching out to fellow students for support and clarification.
I would highly recommend researching several programs to find the one that is right for you. There are many programs, and they all have very different costs and requirements. Find out if it is accredited, first and foremost, and ask around for friends/coworkers that went to those schools to get (their) experience.
Where Can an Online Nursing Degree Take You?
You can pursue many rewarding careers after graduating from an online nursing degree program. Here are some of the highest paying and most in-demand careers in the field.
Highest Paying Careers in Nursing
All career information is sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job outlook information is for 2016 through 2026.
A nurse practitioner can serve as a primary or specialty care provider. They examine patients and implement treatment plans, generally for a specific group of people.
- Median annual salary: $107,030
- Job outlook: 36%
- Typical education: Master’s degree
A nurse midwife provides care for women and can serve as a primary care provider to newborns and pregnant and postpartum women. They may deliver babies and provide assistance to surgeons.
- Median annual salary: $103,770
- Job outlook: 21%
- Typical education: Master’s degree
Registered nurses handle patient care, as well as educating and providing emotional support to patients and their families.
- Median annual salary: $71,730
- Job outlook: 15%
- Typical education: Bachelor’s degree
Explore Nursing Degrees Online
An online nursing program can help you pursue advanced opportunities within the field, increase your marketability, and increase your salary — all at an affordable price. With the convenience of an online format, you don’t have to put your nursing career on pause to earn your degree.