Nurses Are Always in Demand. Here’s What They Make — and How to Become One

A nurse is listening to a little girl's heartbeat at a doctors appointment.
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If you’re a fan of stability, you’re probably going to want a career that’s going to stand the test of time — a job that won’t be taken over by robots or (gulp) squashed by the next economic recession.

Well, a career in nursing just might be the thing for you.

Of course, you have to be up to working in a caregiver role, and you can’t be squeamish about needles and bodily fluid.

But the fact that the number of nursing jobs actually went up during the last recession while overall employment went down is a good sign of a dependable career.

There are several different titles in the nursing profession, and with all the acronyms (LPN, RN, APRN), it can get a little confusing. So I turned to the American Nurses Association and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for information on the different types of nurses, how to become one and how much people who work these jobs can expect to make.

Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs)

A licensed practical nurse (also called a licensed vocational nurse, or LVN, in California and Texas, according to the ANA) falls within the most basic level of the nursing profession rankings.

As the name implies, these type of nurses must be licensed. The BLS states LPNs must complete a state-approved education program that typically lasts one year.

Last year, the median pay for LPNs was $44,090 per year or $21.20 an hour. The BLS predicted the job outlook for this career path would grow 16% from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average occupation.

Registered Nurses (RNs)

The next step up from an LPN, registered nurses provide care and educate patients in a number of settings and also supervise the work of LPNs.

You’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree to be an RN, according to the BLS.

Last year, the median pay was $68,450 a year, or $32.91 an hour, for nurses at this level of the profession. As it was with LPNs, the BLS projected RN jobs to grow by 16% between 2014 and 2024.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs)

The ANA states this upper-level ranking of nurses requires a graduate degree and clinical practice beyond the basic education requirements of RNs.

Depending on their speciality, different types of APRNs include nurse practitioners (NPs), certified nurse-midwives (CNMs), clinical nurse specialists (CNS) and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs).

Last year, the median pay for these professionals was $107,460 a year, or $51.67 per hour, according to the BLS, which also predicted jobs in this specialized industry would grow 31% from 2014 to 2024.

Now that’s a great job to have to ride out the next recession. Robots, back off!

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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