About Our Data Sources
If you're curious about where our writers find employment, salary, licensing, and nursing program data, read on for links to our sources and information about them.
Employment and Salary InformationAs an agency of the federal government, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) measures and publishes information about the U.S. employment landscape, including job descriptions and duties, education and licensing requirements, and working environments. We use BLS data to research average salary and projected job growth data for nursing occupations, geographic locations, and industries. PayScale provides additional information about average salaries, job duties, and job growth, often in greater detail than the BLS. This site lists more nursing career categories and includes salary information based on years of experience, skills, and education level. It also publishes survey responses from workers regarding salaries and job satisfaction, along with examples of current employment listings in different regions. Because employees self-report their salaries, to ensure accuracy and reliability, we generally do not report salary data for occupations with fewer than 50 survey responses. PayScale does not adjust the data for inflation, general wage increases, or geographic differentials.
Licensure, Certification, and Professional Development Information
Each state's board of nursing licenses nurses at all levels, including certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, and advanced practice registered nurses. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), a nonprofit organization that comprises the nursing regulatory state agencies, provides links to each board of nursing. This association develops and administers, with its partner Pearson VUE, the national council licensure examination (referred to as the NCLEX) is required for registered nurse and practical nurse licensing. Each state lists its own additional licensure requirements, and we use the NCSBN website to research them.
National Nursing Associations
We find information about professional development events, continuing education opportunities, and other benefits for nurses on national nursing association websites. Hundreds of national nursing associations include the broader nursing practice (e.g., American Nurses Association, American Academy of Nursing). Others focus on specific areas of advanced practice (e.g., National Academy of Dermatology Nurse Practitioners, American Association of Nurse Anesthetists) and healthcare settings (e.g., Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses, National Association of Rural Health Clinics).
National Certification Boards
Advanced registered nurse practitioners earn certification from national boards and specialize in specific populations and practice areas. Each board administers its own examination in the applicable specialization area, and state nursing boards require advanced practice license renewal. Some examples of national certification board website we consult for information include:
School Program Pages
When writing about specific programs, we visit each school's website for details on costs, the curriculum, representative coursework, admission criteria, and experiential learning, such as clinical internships and practicums. For program overviews, we research program websites and state licensure board pages. While we usually do not mention specific schools or programs, we find commonalities among curriculums and licensing requirements to develop a roadmap for prospective students. In addition, we cite BLS information and statistics to provide start-to-finish information on earning a degree, obtaining and maintaining a license, and advanced or continuing education. Finally, we recommend that students refer to schools and state nursing boards for details.
Licensure boards and many employers require degrees from accredited schools and programs. Regional accreditation from organizations like the Higher Learning Commission indicates satisfaction of rigorous academic standards. Top nursing programs hold accreditation from either the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Other accrediting bodies approve specialty areas, such as midwifery.