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What’s the Best Nursing Degree to Get?

Nursing degree


With the nursing industry booming, we get a lot of questions about the best nursing degree to pursue. Because going into nursing is already such a personal choice, we cannot answer that question for you. However, we can lay out some key distinctions that may help you choose the education that best satisfies your future career needs.

Overview of Education-based Nursing Careers

Certificate Programs

Did you know that you don’t have to have a college degree to work in the field of nursing? Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) are able to provide patient care without a college education. Both careers require the completion of a state-approved diploma or certificate program, but the requirements differ for each occupation. Generally, LPN programs last longer and demand a more in-depth knowledge of nursing. Consequently, LNPs make a salary that’s approximately $16,000/year more than their CNA counterparts.

Associate Degree

By completing a more comprehensive program, those with an associate’s in nursing are eligible to work as a Registered Nurse (RN). But like CNA and LPNs, they must first pass a state-administered exam. In 2018, the average salary for RNs was $71,000.

The good news is that once you have this foundation in nursing, you can continue your education with various certifications in specialty areas. Doing so typically opens up more advanced career opportunities. It’s also not unusual for RNs who have an associate to continue their education at some point, securing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).


Securing a BSN also makes you eligible to work as an RN. However, a big difference is that those who pursue this advanced education are sometimes rewarded with more responsibility and higher salaries.

While you’re able to continue your nursing education through a master’s or a doctoral degree in nursing, certificate, associate and BSN programs are the most common educational paths.

Learn More

To launch your nursing career with an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Nursing, contact a Northwestern College representative today.