What is a Nurse

Nurses may seem to be just a cog in the machine of healthcare systems, but they are as essential as it gets. As trained healthcare professionals, they provide medical care for patients in hospitals or homes, caring for them before and after their medical procedures.

Working closely with physicians and other healthcare staff members, they plan and implement nursing care, evaluating the processes and assessing their efficiency.

Nurses are responsible for monitoring patients' symptoms and reporting any changes in their condition. They keep an eye on eventual side-effects of drugs and follow vital signs in severe cases. They administer pills and intravenous medication and create and maintain patient records. Properly managing the storage of medical substances they use on a daily basis and maintaining nursing supply inventory is also their responsibility.

It goes without saying that they keep facilities and work areas squeaky clean and comply with infection control standards without compromise.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a nurse. For example, did you know that they make an average of $28.79 an hour? That's $59,891 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 12% and produce 371,500 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does a Nurse Do

There are certain skills that many nurses have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed communication skills, compassion and detail oriented.

Learn more about what a Nurse does

How To Become a Nurse

If you're interested in becoming a nurse, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 42.8% of nurses have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 7.0% of nurses have master's degrees. Even though most nurses have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a nurse. When we researched the most common majors for a nurse, we found that they most commonly earn bachelor's degree degrees or associate degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on nurse resumes include diploma degrees or master's degree degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a nurse. In fact, many nurse jobs require experience in a role such as staff nurse. Meanwhile, many nurses also have previous career experience in roles such as registered nurse or licensed practical nurse.

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Nurse Career Paths

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Average Salary for a Nurse

Nurses in America make an average salary of $59,891 per year or $29 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $83,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $42,000 per year.
Average Salary
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Nurse Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Nurse. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Nurse Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Nurse resumes and compiled some information about how to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Nurse Resume Examples And Templates

Nurse Demographics

Nurse Gender Statistics


78.7 %


15.9 %


5.4 %

Nurse Ethnicity Statistics


70.0 %

Black or African American

12.4 %

Hispanic or Latino

7.7 %

Nurse Foreign Languages Spoken Statistics


61.2 %


8.0 %


4.9 %
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Nurse Education

Nurse Majors

79.2 %

Nurse Degrees


42.8 %


34.6 %


8.8 %

Top Colleges for Nurses

1. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition

2. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition

3. Yale University

New Haven, CT • Private

In-State Tuition

4. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI • Private

In-State Tuition

5. Georgetown University

Washington, DC • Private

In-State Tuition

6. University of California - Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition

7. University of Virginia

Charlottesville, VA • Private

In-State Tuition

8. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Private

In-State Tuition

9. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition

10. Chamberlain College of Nursing - Arlington

Arlington, VA • Private

In-State Tuition
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Online Courses For Nurse That You May Like

Transitions in Care from Survivorship to Hospice

This course should be taken after the Symptom Management course and continues building your primary palliative care skills - communication, psychosocial support, goals of care, and symptom management. You will explore transitions in care such as survivorship and hospice. You will learn how to create a survivorship care plan and how to best support a patient. The course also covers spiritual care and will teach you how to screen for spiritual distress. Finally, you will learn the requirements for...

Vohra Wound Care Certification for Facility-Based Nurses
edX (Global)

The Vohra Wound Care Certification program was developed by Vohra Wound Physicians. Vohra is the largest group of wound physicians in the United States, with more than 20 years of clinical experience providing wound care services to more than 3000 skilled nursing facilities in 30 states, with thousands of patients treated every month. We believe every patient, family, nurse, and caregiver can be empowered through education. Hundreds of thousands of people have already benefited from this course...

Vohra Wound Care Certification for Facility-Based Nurses
edX (Global)

Vohra’s expert physicians developed this advanced wound care program to help you deliver excellent healthcare: Understand the latest, most innovative wound care techniques and treatment options Identify the different types of wounds and recommended treatment plan for non-healing wounds Review the primary wound dressing options and wound care products Treat wound patients confidently, leading to improved medical outcomes Benefit from an enhanced knowledge share from Vohra´s healthcare...

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Top Skills For a Nurse

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 18.0% of nurses listed rn on their resume, but soft skills such as communication skills and compassion are important as well.

  • RN, 18.0%
  • Health Care, 9.7%
  • Patient Care, 9.2%
  • LPN, 5.7%
  • Acute Care, 5.7%
  • Other Skills, 51.7%
  • See All Nurse Skills


Best States For a Nurse

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a nurse. The best states for people in this position are Alaska, California, Hawaii, and Oregon. Nurses make the most in Alaska with an average salary of $106,925. Whereas in California and Hawaii, they would average $81,070 and $80,357, respectively. While nurses would only make an average of $75,426 in Oregon, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Alaska

Total Nurse Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Maine

Total Nurse Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Washington

Total Nurse Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Nurses

How Do Nurse Rate Their Jobs?

What do you like the most about working as Nurse?

Ready to be a server in an high-end restaurant. !😰😰 Show More

What do you NOT like?

Far to many things to mention but to be on your feet for 12 hours plus a stressful environment the job should be double in salary especially they save lives just like a policeman or fireman ! I could go on and I am a mother of a nurse !! Show More

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L&D NurseMarch 2019


Zippia Official LogoL&D NurseMarch 2019

What do you like the most about working as Nurse?

Very rewarding job helping others and bringing new life into the world. Show More

What do you NOT like?

Trauma, bad outcomes, fetal demise, constant stress and frequent emergencies. Long hours and little pay. Show More

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Top Nurse Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ nurses and discovered their number of nurse opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that Indian Health Service was the best, especially with an average salary of $51,932. CNA Financial follows up with an average salary of $62,128, and then comes Maxim Healthcare Services with an average of $62,839. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as a nurse. The employers include Anthem, DaVita, and Adventist Health System

Nurse Videos

Nurse FAQs

How can I become a nurse fast?

The fastest way to become a nurse is to become a licensed nurse practitioner (LPN). Programs to become an LPN typically last around one year and cost under $50,000.

However, to become a registered nurse (RN), you need an associate's degree, which typically takes about two years. This educational path generally consists of 60 credits of coursework and supervised clinical hours.

Although an ADN is a faster path to become a nurse than pursuing a bachelor's in nursing (BSN), it does come with limitations. Most nursing organizations recommend that RNs receive a bachelor's degree.

This is because research has been done that shows that hospitals with more highly educated nurses have significantly lower mortality rates. Therefore, many employers look for candidates with BSNs. Some states, like New York, even require ADN holders to get a BSN within a decade to maintain their licensure.

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How many types of nurses are there in the US?

There are seven main levels of nurses in the United States, with a wide variety of specialties. This means there are many avenues a person can choose to pursue a satisfying nursing career that caters to their interests and aptitude.

The seven main levels of nurses in the United States are:

  • Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

  • Registered Nurse (RN)

  • Registered Nurse Practitioner (RNP)

  • Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP)

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (Ph.D.)

These levels come with different educational requirements, from simple certification to countless years of study in a higher education doctorate program. However, at every level, a nurse is a critical component to the functioning of a hospital.

Additionally, within these paths are various specialties, from critical care nursing to labor and delivery nursing to oncology nursing. This allows a person to tailor their career to their aptitudes and interests.

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How many years does it take to become a nurse?

It takes between one and four years to become a nurse. This wide range is because there many levels within nursing that all have different educational requirements.

The simplest route to be considered a nurse is to become a licensed nurse practitioner (LPN). This typically requires a one-year program, which is about 60 credits plus clinical hours.

However, there is no direct path from the qualifications of an LPN to that of a registered nurse (RN). To move from LPN to RN, a person has to take another two to four years to get their associate's degree in nursing (ADN) or bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN).

Alternately, a person can cut out the year to become an LPN and instead take two years to get their ADN and become an RN quickly. From there, they can choose to continue to get their BSN, MSN, and even a Ph.D. in nursing.

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What is the first step to becoming a nurse?

The first step to becoming a nurse is to get a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certification. While this is not a direct step to be a licensed nurse practitioner (LPN) or a registered nurse (RN), it is crucial to determine if a person has the aptitude and personality to pursue nursing certifications and education.

A CNA helps patients with activities of daily living and other healthcare needs under the direct supervision of an RN or LPN. This will give a person their first glimpse into nursing, which can help them understand if it is the right career path.

A CNA completes a state-approved education program that includes instruction on the principles of nursing and supervised clinical work. These programs are typically 80 hours of education and 40 hours of clinical time. They are available in high schools, community colleges, vocational and technical schools, hospitals, and nursing homes.

If a person determines they want to continue in nursing, they can choose whether to be an RN or LPN and pursue the next steps for whatever path they choose. This is either a one-year diploma for an LPN or a two to four-year ADN or BSN degree to become an RN.

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What kind of nurses get paid the most?

Anesthetist Registered Nurses (ARN) get paid the most of any nurse. An ARN earns a mean annual salary of $181,040 ($88.26 per hour).

ARNs are paid the highest because they are highly skilled in preparing and administering anesthesia to patients in collaboration with surgeons, anesthesiologists, dentists, and similar health professionals.

Becoming an ARN is an extremely difficult process that requires many years of school and work experience. It takes 11-years to become an ARN. An ARN needs a Bachelor of Science in not only Nursing and a Masters of Science in Nursing, but also a Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Program and additional 2.6-years of critical care experience.

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What qualifications do you need to become a nurse?

The minimum qualifications to become a registered nurse are an associate's degree in nursing (ADN) and a license to practice. This can take between two and three years to achieve for most people.

An ADN program is designed to develop solid foundational knowledge, attitudes, and skills for nursing practice. After the coursework is completed, individuals must pass the national licensure examination (NCLEX).

However, getting a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN) is a significantly better qualification than an ADN.

Nurses with a BSN typically have a greater chance of securing nursing positions and are often given more responsibilities and higher salaries. This is because a BSN requires three to four years of education alongside passing the national licensure examination (NCLEX).

This higher educational achievement allows the nurses a step up in their careers. Extensive studies have shown that hospitals with more highly-educated nurses have significantly lower percentages in mortality rates. This makes a BSN-holding nurse more desirable to a hospital than an ADN-holding nurse.

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