Many nurses, from the day they receive their ADN, RN license, or BSN, have to start asking themselves “Should I get my master’s in nursing?” After all, the benefits of a master’s degree in nursing are evident to anyone working in the field: access to master’s in nursing jobs, a much higher MSN salary, and greatly increased opportunities for advancement.
RN vs MSN: Master’s in Nursing Jobs
As a Registered Nurse (RN) with an associate’s or BSN, you can work directly with patients by providing personal care or indirectly by offering services and programs to help a community grow. However, with increasing standards, complexity, and competition, an RN alone is sets a cap on your career potential. When it comes to opportunity, RN vs MSN is no contest.
Following the American Nurses’ Association recommendations, many employers, including most hospitals and teaching institutions, require at least a BSN degree, but even a bachelor’s may not be enough if you have your heart set on something more specific, like a career in Pediatric care or Forensic nursing. This is when a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) becomes a better option to withhold than just a BSN degree. It is a known fact that the more concentrated the career path chosen, the greater the job prospects between RN vs MSN will be.
Benefits of Master’s Degree in Nursing Credentials
However, some still wonder if getting a Master’s in Nursing really worth all the extra time and money that is put into it. To help answer this question, here are several reasons why choosing to earn a MSN can make a difference to those in the nursing field.
Specializations – As mentioned earlier, the more specialized your skills, the more indispensable and more in-demand you are. With a master’s in nursing, better job opportunities will follow. Careers in areas like Nurse Practitioner and Nurse Midwifery require an MSN (though the standard is soon to rise to the Doctor of Nursing Practice). Once a graduate receives the MSN degree, master’s in nursing jobs are within your grasp.
Career Advancement – Once a student receives a MSN, their chances of higher positions are greatly achievable. It’s not just about specializations in direct care; if you have your sites set on managerial or other leadership roles, and the MS nurse salary that comes with them, an MSN is proof on paper that you can measure up. Many employers will even pay for the MSN, just to get their nurses to a higher position.
Increased Salary – This is where the MSN really makes the difference. RNs can make an average of $70,000 per year, according to the BLS (though the low side, occupied by RNs with just an associate’s degree, is only $37,000). That sounds great, but Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Midwives, and other Advanced Practice Nurses make an average of $110,000. MS nurse salary reflects their higher training and greater responsibility, and administrators can expect similar MSN salary levels.
These are the kinds of MSN jobs that pay $50 an hour or more – sometimes much more, as high as $80 or $90 an hour. At managerial levels, nurses can jump off the hourly train and earn a salaried position; MSN jobs that pay $50 an hour are nice, but a cool six-figure salary is nicer. Along with these higher positions come the perks besides just a higher MSN salary. You will have more responsibilities, but hold a position of authority. Colleagues may consider you as a good role model. Furthermore, a MSN degree can provide a feeling of personal satisfaction in your abilities, and can create a positive attitude in yourself.
Earning Teaching Credentials – What can you do with a master’s in nursing education? A whole lot, as a matter of fact. With a MSN, a graduate will have the opportunity to teach nursing courses at colleges and universities, adding to their resume as an educator and mentor to other prospective students.
So Should I Get My Master’s in Nursing?
The bottom line is this, getting a MSN degree comes with many benefits, and gives the nursing student many options for employment. Getting an MSN now will also prepare you for the future job market. Standards are going up; the ANA recommends that states begin requiring a BSN for RN licensure (as of now, only New York has complied, but other states have legislation in the works). When that happens, an MSN will be necessary to stand out – which is why so many universities have started online MSN programs in recent years.
In addition, the standard for licensing as a Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Anesthetist, or Nurse Midwife is rapidly rising to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in the next few years; getting your MSN now will get you in under the wire for the MSN salary an Advanced Practice Nurse career offers. It’s hard to underestimate the return on investment you’ll get from an MSN – especially considering the affordable and convenient options available today.