An RN is a registered nurse who has completed a certification program, associate degree or bachelor's degree in nursing. As an RN, you can work in an array of medical settings and provide basic medical care for patients. Along with the education and state licensing, you typically need compassion and good communication skills for success in a career as a nurse.
Pay for nursing jobs is typically very strong given the typical associate degree educational level required. Though salaries vary by location and workplace, the average annual pay for all RNs was $67,930 as of May 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the high end, 10 percent of all RNs earned incomes at or above $94,720 as of 2012.
Great Career Options
With your RN certification or license, you have a great amount of control and autonomy in your career. You can work in small physician's offices, hospitals or clinics, nursing or retirement facilities and in home health care. Demand for nurses was projected to grow at a 26 percent clip from 2010 to 2020, according to the BLS, in large part because of the aging baby boomer population. If you get bored or frustrated in one workplace, you shouldn't have trouble finding a new opportunity. You can even move around to different hospitals as a travel nurse.
Work Demands and Ceilings
Nursing is an extremely physically and mentally demanding job. You spend much of your day on your feet. In hospital settings, you may also have to help move patients, equipment and supplies at a fast pace. Some nurses work irregular schedules that may include 12-hour shifts. Treating patients with a wide array of mental and physical problems can become emotionally taxing. Although nurses do make good money on the whole, established nurses often find ceilings on promotional opportunities and raises. You often need a bachelor's or master's degree to get into nurse management.
Nurses take on significant personal health risks in their professional efforts to help other sick and injured people. People that come to the doctor or hospital sometimes have infectious diseases, which can easily get transferred to a nurse without proper hygiene, sanitation and precautions. You also may get exposed to chemicals used in medical care. In emergency care or mental health settings, patients may become violent when incapacitated or fearful. ERs sometimes treat patients who become injured while intoxicated or on drugs.