So you’ve decided on a career in nursing, but you don’t quite know where to start. What type of nursing degree is best for you? What type of nursing school should you go to?
There are two basic types of nursing degrees: A degree in Licensed Practical Nursing, (called Licensed Vocational Nursing in some states) and a degree in Registered Nursing.
The LPN degree can be a good starting point for your nursing career. You need a high school diploma or GED to be accepted into an LPN school. Many community colleges and technical schools offer LPN degrees. Not many four-year state universities offer them. Some private, for-profit schools in your area probably offer them as well; Galen, Kaplan, Keiser, and the University of Phoenix are all examples of these types of schools.
LPNs earn less than registered nurses and work under the direction of registered nurses. Some hospitals will not hire LPNs and only hire registered nurses.
If you want to progress into a managerial position as a nurse, you will want to become a registered nurse. One way to do this is by becoming an LPN first and then, while you are working as an LPN, taking an LPN to RN program online or at your local community college. The advantage to this is that you will be working and bringing in a salary, and also, your employer will very likely help pay for your continuing education (usually in return for signing a contract that ensures that you will continue working for them for a specificfied period of time.)
Another way to do this is by getting an Associate’s Degree in Nursing, which takes two years, or a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing, which takes four years. These are available at many two-year community colleges and four-year private and state colleges. Many private for-profit career schools are opening up these days which offer two-year Associate’s Degree in Nursing Programs.
Once you get an Associate’s Degree in nursing you are a Registered Nurse. If you want to earn more money and increase your hiring potential, you can working while taking classes part-time to get a Bachelor of Science Degree in nursing. Often your employer will pay for some or all of your educational expense.
If you want to be a manager, you will most likely have to have a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing, and many facilities will require a master’s degree in nursing.
So which option is better for you? There are a number of considerations, such as how quickly you want to get your degree and start working. An LPN degree will get you working more quickly. However, if you know that you want to progress further in your career, possibly into a management position, and you have the time, money and ability to go to school for two to four years, you may want to consider obtaining a degree in registered nursing instead.