BSN vs. MSN: Salary and Degree Overview icon

BSN vs. MSN: Salary and Degree Overview

| NurseJournal Staff

If you are interested in a nursing career, there are many different pathways available to you. Most nurses will try to achieve their bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) to enable them to become a registered nurse (RN). From there, however, they can choose to go to earning their master’s degree in nursing (MSN) as well, allowing them to become advanced practice nurses. Choosing whether or not to do this depends on a number of important factors.

Education Requirements

Achieving a BSN degree takes four years on average. It is possible to go straight for a BSN degree, although some choose to become RNs by holding an Associate’s Degree first, which takes two years to complete, before entering an RN to BSN program, which takes a further two years. In order to become an MSN, a further two years of study at least are required. Fortunately, these programs can often be completed online, which means they can be done alongside a working career. See also Accelerated BSN options.

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Different Job Types

Someone with a BSN degree has a broad range of knowledge and can get to work in a variety of different nursing fields. Usually, someone with a BSN will work directly with patients on hospital wards or in community health centers for instance. An MSN program, on the other hand, is more focused. A student can choose a certain specialization, such as clinical nurse leader, nursing administration, clinical nurse educator or nurse practitioner. During the degree program, students will learn about advanced theories, management, research, informatics, clinical practice and sciences. Read more about BSN vs. MSN Degree and which is best.

Job and Salary Potential

The field of nursing is growing incredibly quickly, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted a growth of 19% between now and 2022. Additionally, more and more employers are working towards hiring highly educated nurses, to create an advanced practice workforce. One of the reasons for this is because those who hold an MSN degree can take on more advanced responsibilities, effectively taking over much of the role of the physician. Indeed, in some states, those with an MSN are able to prescribe medication.

This difference is also reflected in the salary. The average salary of someone who holds a BSN degree is between $42,343 and $81,768. Someone with an MSN degree, by contrast, has average earnings of between $62,281 and $195,743. But it should be noted that exact salaries depend on employer, geographical location, years of experience, specialization and more.

Moving Towards the Future

Education is a vital part of life for those who want to work in the healthcare industry. All nurses have to be committed to their continuous professional education. For many, this means working towards an MSN. However, whether or not you are able to do this depends on a number of personal factors, not in the least the available finances and time. It is recommended that those who hold a BSN degree should work towards their MSN within 10 years of becoming licensed.

The Bottom Line

If your goal as a nurse is to ensure your career is a lasting one, and if you want to grow in your field and earn a higher salary, then opting for an MSN degree is really the only option. However, it requires a commitment that costs both time and money, which is not available to all of us. But note that as more and more employers are focusing on having a master’s educated workforce, and they are also often offering funding for MSN programs, most would agree that it really is the best way forward.


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