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As a registered nurse, you usually earn between $44,000 and $100,000 annually depending on duties. Although registered nurses make much more than other medical professionals, their starting salaries lag a bit behind others, such as occupational therapists. Still, registered nurses have great opportunities for advancement whereas others might not.

What is a BSN?

BSN stands for Bachelor of Science in Nursing. As the name implies, it is a four-year degree. It is also possible to be a registered nurse with an associate degree. The bachelor's degree indicates a higher level of training and preparedness for the multifaceted role of a registered nurse in the 21st century.

What's the Difference

With an associate degree or a nursing diploma, you can do basic stuff, such as chart reading, medication administration, taking histories, etc. With a BSN in your back pocket, there are many more career paths open to you, such as:

•Nurse educator

•Nurse practitioner

•Public health nurse

•Specialized nurse

Nurses can achieve specializations in the same practice areas as doctors, such as geriatrics or orthopedics.

What's the Bottom Line?

With between one and four years' experience, nurses with a diploma or an associate degree earned a median income of $61,360. Nurses who hold a BSN earned $8,337 more, on average, than their lesser-trained counterparts, which equates to $69,697. Depending on the responsibilities you are assigned on the job, your BSN earning potential could be much bigger than that.

Anything Else to Know?

There is a distinct possibility that a BSN will be required by 2020. Both the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the Institute of Medicine are strongly recommending such a course of action. It would be a distinct advantage if you had your BSN already by the time that happened because you would be qualified for advanced positions immediately instead of having to wait to finish your BSN within five years of 2020. Also, if you wish to become an educator, a BSN is a requirement right now.

You would also be much more prepared for any new educational requirements that might be implemented in 2020 than if you still only had an associate degree. Because you would be more employable at that time, your BSN earning potential would be correspondingly higher for three reasons:

•There would be competition for your well-trained services, which would lead to higher salary offers.

•You would qualify for a variety of positions, particularly if you were an educator, practitioner, or specialist.

•You would be well-positioned to complete further education for even higher positions within the medical community.

There are many good reasons to get a BSN before 2020 or shortly thereafter, so starting now would be a good idea. If you're looking to maximize your income potential, California is leading the way in the United States when it comes both to paying nurses with a BSN and providing them with opportunities for advancement. San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Cruz, Vallejo, and San Rafael all pay an average income of roughly $125,000.

Related resource:

Top 30 Cheap Online RN to BSN Degree Programs

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