Nursing as a profession has grown by leaps and bounds and has in recent times rapidly expanded into a host of specialized streams ranging from oncology to elder care. Job Opportunities Earlier Registered Nurses generally worked only in hospitals and private clinics administering medication, overlooking procedures and prescriptions, educating and treating patients and managing medical records. Today however these skilled professionals are more in demand than ever before and are finding jobs in public health and across a wider range of alternate care settings including schools, businesses, home care and rehabilitation centers. Within the field, the scope of the job has expanded tremendously too, from cardiovascular nurses who are specialized in caring for patients following heart surgery to neuroscience nurses who are specialized in caring for patients with brain or spinal cord injuries. Thriving Despite the Economy The biggest advantage for anyone who chooses or has chosen to get into nursing is that even in a tough economy, this is one career that has continued to thrive and thanks in part to an aging population, job growth over the long term is expected to be much more rapid as compared to the national average for other jobs. As of 2013, the largest number of nursing jobs was advertised by physician’s offices as they expanded their clinics and staffing up became a necessity. A wider range of job prospects along with solid employment growth helped make The average annual wage for a registered nurse in the US is $65,950, with $53,770 at the lower end to $96,630 at the higher end of the pay scale. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest wages were earned by personal care nurses and nurses working for medical-device manufacturers or private-sector pharmaceutical companies. By location, the metropolitan areas were the highest paying in the country. The highest earning registered nurses were clustered in the metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Northern California, Oakland and San Jose. RN Training At the minimum, to qualify for an entry-level nursing job, you will need a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, an associate’s degree or a diploma program completed in a hospital. While a 2-year associate’s degree is a faster and more economical route to becoming a nurse, according to the experts, the bachelor’s degree is quickly becoming the industry standard. Most graduates who have obtained their associate’s degree eventually aim for the bachelor’s degree for a more comprehensive nursing education. Nurses who wish to branch out into advanced specialized practice such as nurse anesthetist or nurse practitioner will have to complete a master’s degree. After obtaining a nursing degree, students must sit for and pass a national licensing exam known as the National Council Licensure Examination. Some states have additional requirements that nurses will have to meet before being qualified to practice. These requirements vary from one state to another and nurses who travel across states are expected to stay updated on the requirements and obtain additional certification if necessary for practicing in that state. Eye-opening hospital work experience International hospital shadowing for school and university students Find out more You might also be interested in ... How long does it take to become a registered nurse? Questions to ask yourself before going to nursing school Should I become a physician assistant or a nurse?