How students can find a fast-growing career as an RN

There are a variety of ways for individuals to launch RN careers.
There are a variety of ways for individuals to launch RN careers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for registered nurses (RNs) are expected to grow by about 22 percent in the next seven years, which will create about 581,500 new jobs.

Currently, many healthcare professionals believe this will result in a nursing shortage, as there are currently not enough degree holders to fill these many positions. While estimates vary, the Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers reports that by 2020, they expect that the nation will need between 340,000 and 1 million full-time RNs in order to end the shortage.

Students who want to enter this rapidly expanding career have various options, the BLS reports. For example, individuals can become RNs by earning an associate's degree in nursing. Typically, these two-year degree programs are offered at community colleges.

Still, one of the most popular ways to become an RN is to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing. This is a four-year program that is offered through many colleges and universities across the country. According to the BLS, these students stand to gain additional communication, leadership and critical thinking skills, compared to those who decide to earn another credential in the subject.

Additionally, students may decide to enroll in a diploma program in order to launch an RN career. These three-year courses of study are typically found in hospitals. However, the BLS states that as the value of higher learning increases, more students are opting to earn an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree.

According to PayScale, individuals who decide to use any of these three paths to become an RN may see high salaries. These professionals can earn as much as $78,603 per year. Students who decide to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing tend to see the higher end of this salary.