Nursing professions vary depending on the work environment, specialization and type of nursing license. Salaries for nurses can range from $20 per hour to more than $90,000 annually. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects job opportunities for nurses will continue to grow at a faster rate than the national average for other careers. The bureau estimates that registered nurses hold 60 percent of all hospital positions and careers for licensed practical nurses will grow by up to 21 percent between now and 2018.
Registered nurses (RNs) administer treatments and medications and monitor patient vital signs. Additional tasks can include assisting physicians during treatments, rehabilitation, examinations and surgeries. Work settings for an RN can include a physician's office, hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and schools. Educational paths can include a bachelor's degree program, a diploma program through a hospital or an associate degree program through a university or college. Educational requirements can take from two to four years to complete. Studies can include biology, chemistry, psychology, computer science and anatomy and physiology. After completing educational requirements, nurses must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to obtain a nursing license and practice as an RN. As of May 2010, PayScale, Inc. reports a median starting salary range from $20 to $25 per hour, which can increase to $35 per hour for RNs.
Licensed Practical Nurse
The licensed practical nurse (LPN) works under the direction of registered nurses and physicians to record fluid and food intake, collect test samples, monitor patient medical equipment and assist with medical procedures and tests. LPNs working in settings such as home health care can take on additional responsibilities, such as preparing meals or instructing family members on patient care tasks. Typical education for an LPN includes a one-year program through a technical or community college, university, hospital or high school. Upon completing required coursework, the LPN must pass the Practical Nurse Licensure Exam (NCLEX-PN), before obtaining an LPN license to practice nursing. Work environments for LPNs include hospitals, nursing homes, private homes and physician's offices. As of May 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a median LPN salary of $33,360 to $46,710 annually.
The nurse practitioner represents the highest level in advanced nursing, and they can diagnose illnesses, write medication prescriptions and treat patients. Nurse practitioners often provide the initial contact with patients prior to seeing a physician. Work environments can include a physician's office, nursing home, health department or clinic. Nurse practitioners often hold a bachelor's of science degree in nursing, along with a license to practice as a registered nurse. Nurse practitioners typically have advanced additional training along with a master's degree in nursing. Licensing is required to practice as a nurse practitioner, and license requirements vary from state to state. As of May 2010, PayScale, Inc. reports nurse practitioners earn $69,095 to $90,387 annually.