Projected Outlook for Nursing Careers: A Breakdown for ASNs, BSNs and MSNs

Did You Know?

The World Health Organization (WHO) deemed 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife” in order to recognize the essential and critical role nurses and midwives play in providing care to those in need. WHO also noted that “nurses are often the first and only point of care in a community and that nurses often face challenging conditions.” Of course, the organization could not possibly have predicted just how important nurses would be during 2020, considering the COVID-19 pandemic and other events that have occurred over these past 12 months. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular Nursing paths.


Breakdown: ADN

An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is the minimum degree requirement for becoming a registered nurse (RN). You’ll find ADN programs at community colleges and some four-year institutions.  An ADN from an accredited nursing school is a fantastic choice if you want to become an RN without the commitment of a four-year degree. It’s important to note, however, that while this is the minimum education for licensing, employers are increasingly making a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree a requirement for new hires.


ADNs typically require around two years to complete. State-approved programs will include extensive on-site clinical training that aligns with your state’s requirements for licensing.


Breakdown: BSN

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a degree program designed for RNs who want to pursue higher management positions and qualify for higher-paying jobs. If you’re ready to work as an RN, a BSN could be a great choice for you if you have the availability and financial accommodations to commit to a four-year degree.


A BSN is also a great place to begin if your ultimate goal is to earn a master’s degree and work as an APRN (advanced practice registered nurse). More than half of RNs work in hospitals, though with your additional clinical experience and any specialized skills, you can find a variety of less traditional roles. These could include Case Manager, Forensic Nurse, Home Health Nurse, Nursing Informatics Specialist, Occupational Health Nurse, and School Nurse.


Breakdown: MSN

A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is a graduate program of study designed for nurses who want to practice in a specialized role known as an advanced practice registered nurse. The curriculum in an MSN program is far more specialized compared to a general nursing degree. You will study deeper into a concentrated area of study while taking advanced courses in topics such as leadership, management, healthcare policy, and research. Students who enter into MSN programs with a BSN typically take about two years to complete their degree.


With an MSN, you’ll be prepared to work as an APRN in your area of concentration. To do so, you’ll need to hold a state license as an RN as well as a national credential in your specialty. Specializations vary by program, but common options include the following: Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Certified Nurse Midwife, and Certified Nurse Anesthetist.


Job Outlook

The employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 7 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will occur for a number of reasons. About 175,900 openings for registered nurses are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.


Overall, job opportunities for registered nurses are expected to be good. However, there may be competition for jobs in some areas of the country. Generally, registered nurses who have a bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN) will have better job prospects than those without one.

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook



What Can I Earn?

The median annual wage for registered nurses was $73,300 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $52,080, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $111,220.

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook


Which Nursing Degree Is A Good Fit For Me?

With so many nursing degrees and paths available, it is important to understand how each program is laid out and the requirements they have so you can weigh your options and decide which one may be the best fit for you. If you’re a recent high school graduate, an experienced career veteran, or if you’re looking to make a career change, there are plenty of options to fit your dream. Take the time to evaluate your goals and finances and match that to whatever path aligns most with your current lifestyle.