What type of nursing degree works for you?

For folks who love to help and care for people, nursing can be a gratifying career option. If you are considering starting your training to become a nurse, now is a great time to do so. Nursing careers are expected to expand at a faster-than-average rate, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted a 22 percent increase in job openings for registered nurses by 2018.

However, not all nursing degrees are created equal. Before you begin researching nursing schools, take a minute to get acquainted with the different types of training options available. Here is an overview of some of the most popular nursing degree programs.

Practical nursing program

Most nurses studying to be a licensed practical nurse (LPN) enroll in a practical nursing program. An LPN program is a certificate program, as opposed to a degree program. LPNs are trained for basic patient care, but are not qualified for more advanced duties like creating patient care plans, which often falls under the duties of registered nurses (RNs).

Community colleges offer the most common type of LPN program, which takes two years to complete. Some colleges also offer bridge programs for LPNs looking to become RNs.

Registered nursing programs

Those interested in become an RN have a few degree options, two of the most common being an associate degree in nursing and a bachelor’s of science in nursing. An associate degree can often be completed in two years and is offered both at community colleges and four-year universities.

A bachelor’s of science in nursing is usually a four-year program. In addition to preparing students for a career as an RN, a bachelor’s of science in nursing is a great path for students who are interested in pursuing advanced nursing degrees.

Graduate or master’s programs in nursing offer a wide variety of types of training. Most degrees focus on specialization in a certain area of nursing that requires intensive training, such as programs to become a nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife or nurse practitioner. Other programs focus on the business side of nursing or more general public health concerns.

If you’re looking at pursuing a nursing degree, it may be helpful to visit nursingschool.org, where you can find information on different types of nursing programs, as well as practical tips for navigating school and advancing your career.