Nursing is one of the fastest-growing fields of study for online associate’s degrees, but does it prepare you for working as a nurse? A nursing job does not need a master’s or doctoral degree, as is the case with associate’s degree programs in education, psychology, or natural science.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), both an ADN and an ASN degree are acceptable options for obtaining a nursing license (BLS). A nurse with an associate’s degree may have different career options than a nurse with a bachelor’s degree in terms of job titles, work settings, and specialities and accreditations.
Job Opportunities for Nurses with an Associate’s Degree
Nurses with an AND or ASN degree, like those with a bachelor’s degree, are able to become registered nurses, or RNs. According to O*NET, 66 percent of registered nurses have an associate’s degree as their greatest level of education.
In many ways, the work prospects for registered nurses with an associate’s degree is comparable to that of registered nurses with a bachelor’s degree. Many of the same venues are available, including various departments inside regular hospitals, specialized hospitals, outpatient care centers, physicians’ and nursing care offices, home healthcare services, nursing homes, and assisted care facilities.
However, a lack of a bachelor’s degree may limit your chances. For example, the BLS reported that many companies, particularly hospitals, may require or prefer registered nurses to have a bachelor’s degree.
Because 60% of registered nurses work in hospitals, having an additional barrier to entrance for even part of these roles might limit your options. Employer preference for a bachelor’s degree is one reason why registered nurses with a bachelor’s degree have greater career chances than those with only an associate’s degree, according to the BLS.
Health insurance firms and colleges are two less common career settings for registered nurses with an associate’s degree.
Entry-level positions, not supervisory positions
According to the BLS, you can qualify for entry-level RN positions with an ADN or ASN degree and a passing score on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Staff nurse or staff RN are examples of employment titles.
You might potentially work as a specialist staff nurse if you have the correct combination of experience and professional certifications. For example, at the staff nursing level, your job title may be acute care nurse, critical care nurse, or neonatal nurse.
As an RN with an associate’s degree, you can accomplish a lot, but there are some things you can’t do. If you want to improve your career beyond entry-level positions, you will almost certainly need to further your education. High-level roles, such as Director of Nursing, typically need at least a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), while the majority of charge nurse posts are filled by individuals with a bachelor’s degree.
When your greatest level of nursing education is an associate’s degree, you are limited not just in job title but also in position level. There may also be restrictions on the specialities and certifications you can pursue. In California, for example, a bachelor’s degree is required to serve as a public health nurse, according to The Houston Chronicle.
Nurses of all educational levels frequently pursue basic certifications such as basic life support, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS).
However, if you wish to obtain some in-demand specialty certifications, a bachelor’s degree may impede you from achieving your objectives. Similarly, if you wish to become a nurse practitioner or another form of Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), you will need to complete graduate-level courses in a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program in addition to your bachelor’s degree.
Your earning potential is also affected by whether you enter the sector with an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree. Registered nurses with a BSN make up the top 25% of RN income, which implies a couple of more years of study may possibly increase your earning potential by $10,000 per year.
Earning an associate’s degree is a stepping stone in your nursing education for many RNs, not the conclusion of your official studies. Working for a BSN may be required by some businesses and states for candidates with an associate’s degree.