For some nurses, working in an entry-level nursing role may provide career satisfaction for several years. With that being said, you may eventually find yourself wanting to advance your nursing career. Whether you’re considering a specialization, holding a more advanced title, or have something else in mind, here’s what you should know about starting on an advanced career path in nursing.
What Are the Benefits of Advancing Your Nursing Career?
Advanced nursing roles such as Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and Registered Nurse (RN) have more advanced duties than CNAs, but with those duties come greater independence and higher pay. The median pay for LPNs and RNs is $48,820 and $75,330 respectively, which is higher than the median earnings for CNAs ($30,850). Nurses in advanced roles or those with specialties may also have greater job security and face higher demand, which can allow them to be more selective about their employment.
How to Advance Your Nursing Career
Explore Your Options
Start by determining how you’d like to advance your career and why. Is it for the pay, the passion of the work, or a better job opportunity? Chances are your desire to move up could be a combination of all these factors. With that in mind, these reasons play an important role in deciding which job you’d choose. For instance, if pay is the main driver, a career as an RN will pay more than that of an LPN, but it will require more schooling.
As you consider your options, you might also explore specialties or other nursing careers, such as becoming a nurse manager or nurse practitioner. To further inform your decision, research demand for various nursing positions in your area to ensure there’s demand for the career you’re considering.
Find a Mentor
It’s possible you already know someone in a role you’d like to pursue. In your current place of work or through your alumni network, find a mentor and ask if you can treat them to coffee to discuss the steps they took to advance their career. If you can’t find a mentor, visiting nursing websites is also a great place to start. Many websites offer helpful information such as typical duties, first-hand perspectives, and educational requirements for each career choice.
Learn About Required Education
Next, learn about the educational requirements for your desired position. Some nursing schools offer CNA to RN bridge programs, for example. Other career options may only require a certification; for instance, case management nurses only need an associate’s degree in nursing plus a Nursing Case Management certification. Others still may require a Bachelor of Science in nursing, plus a specialty certification.
While some employers may offer ongoing education programs, it’s important to consider whether you’re satisfied in your current work environment before enrolling. If not, pursuing education (and eventually, a career) elsewhere is your best option.
Research Tuition Support
CNA to RN and other types of advanced nursing programs can be costly, but the education will be an investment in your future. The good news is that there are many options to consider for funding your education:
- Talk to your employer about work/study programs
- Look into grants on CollegeGrants.org
- Apply for scholarships, including the Nursing Scholarship Program and state-funded grants, on collegescholarships.org
- Take out student loans such as the Faculty Loan Repayment Program
- Apply for the FAFSA® to see if you qualify for additional financial aid
Enroll in a Program of Your Choice
Once you’ve made your decision, it’s time to enroll in the nursing program that will help you meet your career goals. Remember to consider your current work schedule as you plan your classes to make sure you have the time to balance it all.
No matter where you are in your nursing career, Mutual Nursing can help you find the best employment fit. If you need flexibility to continue your education or you’ve already completed your advanced nursing program and you’re seeking a new employer, we’ll match you with facilities that support your career goals.