Healthcare — Page 2 of 2

Prev This is borne out by U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics that show that between February 2004 and February 2005 workers in the healthcare and education sevices industry had the second lowest average unemployment rates for non-self-employed workers (3.4% for both months). Only government workers enjoyed lower unemployment (2.4% and 2.3%, respectively). By comparison unemployment rates were 11.6% and 12.3% in construction, 6.3% and 5.3% in manufacturing, 6.5% and 6.2% in the wholesale and retail trade, and 5.8% and 6.5% in information services.

During that same period, average hourly wages rose 3.2% from $15.94 to $16.45 for healthcare and educational services workers. By comparison, the average wage for all industries rose only 2.2% from $15.59 to $15.93.

Overall, the industry supersector classified by the Labor Department as heathcare and educational services is projected to grow faster (31.8%) and add more jobs than any other during the coming decade. During that period one of every four new jobs in the U.S. will be in that supersector. That will come to 4.4 million new jobs.

But if you’re looking for the cream of the crop in terms of compensation, growth and security, all signs point to nursing, especially registered nurses (RN). So how do you become a registered nurse?

The toughest part of becoming a nurse is getting into a nursing program. Due to a shortage of nursing instructors, there is often a waiting list for most programs.

One way around that roadblock is to get a foot in the door as a nursing assistant or aide. The short courses of study required for these entry positions is often available from most local adult education programs. Becoming a nursing assistant or aide is also a good way to improve your chances of getting into a nurse training program.

You can get more information about these programs from sites like, or

Another option is to become a surgical tech as a way of getting into the healthcare field. Many adult education programs and technical schools offer programs leading to entry-level jobs in this area.

The next step up before attaining RN status is to become an LPN/LVN (Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurse). Unlike RNs, this only requires a one year course of study at a junior college or vocational school. LPN/LVNs work under the supervision of a doctor or registered nurse. An LPN/LVN job pays well enough to support you while pursuing an RN certificate.

There are several ways to receive the education required for RN certification. In the old days, nursing students lived and worked in hospitals for three years in order to receive a nursing diploma. Then they sat for their RN exams. Today most such programs are affiliated with 2-year college Associate Degree programs. These programs are designed to provide training in the practical side of the nursing profession.

The nursing profession is currently in a state of flux about whether an Associate Degree Nurse (graduate of a 2-year associate degree program in nursing) is qualified to become an RN. Some jurisdictions have begun pushing to require a 4-year Bachelor of Science degree (Bachelor of Science Nurse or BSN). The 4-year program provides courses on the theoretical aspects of patient care as well as the practical.

If you’re shooting to become a superstar of the nursing profession who earns in the six figures, it’s a good idea to start by becoming a BSN. But you don’t have to do it in a single 4-year stretch. You can start by becoming an ADN to qualify for your RN exam. Once you have begun working as an RN, you can then enter an RN-to-BSN program that lets you upgrade to a BSN. It’s important that you choose a nursing program that’s accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC). Only accredited ADN or BSN programs allow candidates to sit for RN boards (also known as the NCLEX-RN).

If you’re really ambitious, you can also pursue masters and PhD programs. They will let you enter specialized areas of the nursing profession or move up into upper management ranks of hospitals. Prev

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