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Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) Overview

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Becoming a nurse is a smart decision, both in terms of your overall career, and pay as well. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that nursing employment will go up by 19% from 2012-22.

There are several ways to become an RN, and various approaches to nursing education. The most common way today is to earn an associate’s degree in nursing. Earning your ASN will take you two years. Then, you will need to take and pass your certification examination to become a practicing nurse.

One of the biggest advantages of becoming a nurse with an ASN is that it takes just two years of coursework and clinical hours to become a practicing RN. Then, you can start to work as a practicing nurse and gain essential work experience in the field. You are able to do this after you have spent a lot less money on your degree than if you had gotten your four year BSN degree.

After you have a few years of work experience, you then can continue to get your BSN, which you should be able to do in two years or less of full time study. You also may be able to have your employer help to pay for earning your BSN – not a bad deal!

Also note that when you do decide to return to school for your BSN (highly recommended), you can choose to earn your BSN and MSN concurrently. Many times schools will offer a BSN with a Fast Track MSN Option. This is a wonderful way to really boost your career earnings, and move into nursing fields with much more responsibility. At Grand Canyon University for example, RN to BSN candidates who are interested in earning an MSN can accelerate their nursing education and career through the BSN to MSN Fast Track Option. Both the BSN and MSN degrees can be earned in about 30 months, offering a candidate two valuable career credentials in less time and for less overall cost.

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ASN Requirements

The National Organization for Associate Degree Nursing states that there are more than 1000 of these programs around the country. Most ASN programs can be finished in two years. However, remember that most of these programs require you to already have classes in biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology to be accepted. So, you may want to take some of these classes in college before you apply for an ASN program.

For example, applicants who apply to the Penn State ASN program need to have high school coursework in these areas:

  • 2 years of math (algebra and one additional math)

  • 2 years of science (one each of chemistry and biology)

  • 4 years of English (including composition and literature)

  • 5 years in any combination of world languages/social studies/arts/humanities

Some programs may require more math and science, which may require you to take more college classes before you apply.

If you are transferring from another university, you also will be required to have background classes in math and science and others, such as:

  • a lab science (anatomy and physiology or chemistry preferred) class

  • a social/behavioral class (psychology, human development and family studies, or sociology preferred)

  • 6 other credits, preferably including math

Typical requirements to enter an ASN program include:

  • A GPA of at least 2.0 in high school, or a 2.5 in college

  • ACT English score of 18

  • ACT math score of 19

  • SAT score of 460 in math

  • SAT score of 450 in English

  • Resume

  • Recommendations

  • Personal statement on career goals

  • Official transcripts from your high school and/or college

ASN Degree Salary

BLS reports that the median salary for nurses is excellent. For all nurses, the salary is for all nurses, the number is $65,470. Nurses in the top 10% of salaries earn $94,000. You will need to further your education beyond an ASN to earn such high salaries. reports that the median wage for people with an ASN varies largely by the time in the field. Wages range from $15-$40 per hour, depending upon years of service.

  • Registered Nurse (RN): $19.96 – $35.28
  • Registered Nurse (RN), Emergency Room: $20.69 – $38.47
  • Registered Nurse (RN), Operating Room: $21.41 – $41.24
  • Registered Nurse (RN) Supervisor: $23.24 – $38.70
  • Charge Nurse (RN): $21.28 – $36.43
  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN): $13.17 – $23.70
  • Hospice Registered Nurse (RN): $22.12 – $35.49

YouTube Special Feature

To learn more about salaries, watch this video about ASN and BSN pay.

Best Cities to Work in With ASN Degree

The demand for nursing jobs is growing in many parts of the country, but the cities below have a particularly strong demand:

  • Austin TX: The unemployment rate in the capital of Texas is low and it features an educated and growing population that is causing a spike in demand for health care services. The median salary for nurses is around $45,000 and the cost of living is reasonable.

  • Portland OR: This city in the Northwest has seen a huge surge in health care jobs. The median salary for nurses is $43,000 and the median house price is $222,000.

  • Philadelphia PA: This city still has a fairly strong economy and healthcare has always been in strong demand here. New medical centers and pharmaceutical firms have sprung up in recent years, so the demand for nurses is higher. RNs with a four year degree can earn over $70,000.

  • Cincinnati OH: There has been major growth in Fortune 100 companies in this city in southwest Ohio. Healthcare has seen a surge in demand too. The median salary for all nurses is around $40,000, but the median house price is just $90,000.

  • Nashville TN: This city is a leader in biotechnology and healthcare. It also has a very low cost of living that makes it an attractive option for new nurses.

  • Best Ways to Find a Good Nursing Job

    After you graduate, you should be able to find a good nursing job, given the large demand in the profession. Still, to find the best opportunities with your ASN, be sure to try these resources:

  • Check alumni resources

    Whatever program you graduate from, there should be resources dedicated to helping graduates find employment. The website of your alma mater should have job postings and announcements about career fairs.

  • Nursing conferences

    Most nursing conferences offer opportunities to network and to find a new nursing job. You also can get tips on improving your resume and just making contacts in the industry can make a huge difference in your career.

  • Consider a move

    As you can see in this article, there are certain cities in the US that offer the best nursing jobs. Consider relocating to another city or state.

  • Nursing job websites

    There are many websites available today that feature current nursing jobs, both for people with an ASN or a BSN.

  • Advertisement is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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