If you’ve launched a career as a nurse or you’re considering doing so, you might be wondering whether it would be worth the time and monetary investment to earn your Master’s Degree in Nursing. Is a graduate degree essential for obtaining a desirable nursing job? What advantages would a Master’s Degree in Nursing give you that you wouldn’t have with only a Bachelor’s or Associate’s Degree? Let’s explore the answers to these questions.
Possible Career Paths for Nurses Who Have Earned Master’s Degrees
Nobody wants to deal with pain. Surgery patients don’t. Accident victims don’t. Pregnant women don’t. So as long as there are surgery patients, accident victims and pregnant women, there will likely be significant demand for the services that nurse anesthetists offer.
The nurse anesthetist’s job is to safely help patients with pain management. This is a complex job requiring the nurse to understand whether different types of anesthesia or pain medications might adversely react with patients’ other previously prescribed drugs. After anesthesia has been administered, the nurse must also actively monitor each patient to ensure normal responses and react quickly if any problems arise. It’s not an easy job, and the risks are substantial. However, the salary a nurse anesthetist receives is at the top of the pay scale for nursing jobs. As of May 2017, nurse anesthetists were earning median annual paychecks of $165,120.
Certified Nurse Midwife
Certified nurse midwives are primarily responsible for administering healthcare services to women. Patients most frequently seek them out during pregnancy for the purposes of rendering prenatal care, childbirth assistance and postnatal care. They are trusted advisors on topics ranging from maternal nutrition to breastfeeding.
This is another nursing role with a high level of responsibility and a high salary to correspond. In 2017, certified nurse midwives were earning median annual salaries of $100,590. As of 2013, nearly 80 percent of nurse midwives held Master’s Degrees. In contrast, only about 6 percent held Bachelor’s Degrees exclusively.
Earning Potential for Bachelor’s Degree Nursing Graduates Versus Master’s Degree Nursing Graduates
Nursing is a vocation where academic credentials strongly influence earning potential. If you haven’t earned your Master’s Degree in Nursing, you’re simply settling for a lower paycheck than you could be earning. Contrast the above-mentioned salaries with those of your typical registered nurse holding a Bachelor’s Degree: As of 2017, RNs were earning median annual salaries of $70,000. The difference is staggering.
The Verdict on a Master’s Degree in Nursing: Worthwhile? Or Not?
Because of the far greater earning potential and the ability to qualify for better jobs, most nurses would find it worthwhile to earn their Master’s Degrees. If the paycheck you’ll earn in the future is your most important consideration for deciding whether you should earn your Master’s Degree, there’s absolutely no doubt that you’ll want to go for it.
On the other hand, the healthcare industry needs significant numbers of nurses at all levels of education to staff hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics. There is plenty of room in the field for nurses who do not earn advanced degrees. So in answer to the question, “Is it worthwhile to earn a Master’s Degree in Nursing,” the answer is an enthusiastic yes if you want to have first choice at prime job opportunities, you want to earn top dollar and you have the resources to invest upfront in your education.
It’s OK to answer no if you’re willing to earn less income upfront in exchange for starting your nursing career earlier.
Whether or not you choose to earn your Master’s Degree in Nursing, a nursing career is a rewarding one. No matter which level of education you decide on, you’ll have the satisfaction of helping your patients in a variety of ways. Nurses are in demand; while a Master’s Degree in Nursing offers you numerous advantages, it is not a prerequisite for finding work in this field. So it’s up to you to decide whether the advantages outweigh the investments you’d have to make.