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Nursing Major

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Nursing

149,690 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
48,381 Master's Degrees Annually
#1 in Popularity
$106,910 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Nursing Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many nursing graduations there were in 2017-2018 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 150,125
Associate’s Degree 80,167
Master’s Degree 48,419
Doctor’s Degree 7,921
Graduate Certificate 3,082
Undergraduate Certificate 2,530
Basic Certificate 1,389

What Nursing Majors Need to Know

O*NET surveyed people in occupations related to nursing and asked them what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. The responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Nursing Majors

Nursing majors often go into careers in which the following knowledge areas are important:

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  • Medicine and Dentistry - Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Skills for Nursing Majors

The following list of skills has been highlighted as some of the most essential for careers related to nursing:

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  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Abilities for Nursing Majors

As a nursing major, you will find yourself needing the following abilities:

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  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

What Can You Do With a Nursing Major?

People with a nursing degree often go into the following careers:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Acute Care Nurses 14.8% $71,730
Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurses 14.8% $71,730
Clinical Nurse Specialists 14.8% $71,730
Critical Care Nurses 14.8% $71,730
Medical and Health Services Managers 20.5% $99,730
Nurse Anesthetists 16.3% $167,950
Nurse Midwives 20.0% $103,770
Nurse Practitioners 36.1% $107,030
Nursing Instructors and Professors 24.0% $73,490
Registered Nurses 14.8% $71,730

Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing?

150,125 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
87% Percent Women
31% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
This is one of the most frequently chosen healthcare majors. It is the 1st most popular in the country with 149,690 students graduating with a bachelor’s in nursing in 2018. This major is dominated by women with about 87% of recent graduates being female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of nursing majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Nursing Students with Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 9,457
Black or African American 13,829
Hispanic or Latino 18,349
White 94,879
International Students 1,055
Other Races/Ethnicities 12,556

Geographic Diversity

Students from other countries are interested in Nursing, too. About 0.7% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • South Korea
  • Canada
  • China
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Nigeria

How Much Do Nursing Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

The U.S. Department of Education found that students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a bachelor’s degree in nursing made a median starting salary of $61,050 per year. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $56,400 (25th percentile) and $67,800 (75th percentile).

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We don’t know for sure if all of these people took jobs related to nursing so take that into consideration.

Salaries According to BLS

Nursing majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $81,350 to $113,730 (25th to 75th percentile). This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Nursing Major  ( 81350 to 113730 )
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some degrees associated with nursing may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

Find out what the typical degree level is for nursing careers below.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 0.7%
Some College Courses 1.7%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 17.9%
Bachelor’s Degree 16.4%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 1.7%
Master’s Degree 48.2%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 5.3%
First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession. 2.0%
Doctoral Degree 6.1%
Post-Doctoral Training 0.8%

Online Nursing Programs

In the 2017-2018 academic year, 2,167 schools offered some type of nursing program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 72 5
Certificate (1-2 years) 70 2
Certificate (2-4 Years) 40 0
Associate’s Degree 1,172 42
Bachelor’s Degree 256 71
Post-Baccalaureate 72 5
Master’s Degree 1,519 543
Post-Master’s 750 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 270 79
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 395 155
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 28 14

Is a Degree in Nursing Worth It?

The median salary for a nursing grad is $106,910 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 168% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,340,200 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to nursing.

Major Number of Grads
Allied Health & Medical Assisting Services 104,465
Practical Nursing & Nursing Assistants 90,916
Health & Medical Administrative Services 87,058
Allied Health Professions 86,125
Public Health 34,089
Rehabilitation & Therapeutic Professions 28,068
Dental Support Services 27,155
Mental & Social Health Services 26,783
Health Sciences & Services 24,436
Communication Sciences 21,520
Pharmacy/Pharmaceutical Sciences 19,962
Medicine 19,418
Clinical/Medical Laboratory Science 19,295
Somatic Bodywork & Therapeutic Services 15,451
Health/Medical Prep Programs 11,807
Other Health Professions 8,426
Dentistry 6,518
Osteopathic Medicine 6,392
Dietetics & Clinical Nutrition Services 6,056
Health Aids/Attendants/Orderlies 3,875
Alternative Medicine & Systems 3,481
Veterinary Medicine 3,175
Chiropractic 2,503
Advanced Dentistry & Oral Sciences 1,714
Optometry 1,674
Medical Illustration & Informatics 1,608
Ophthalmic & Optometric Support Services 1,089
Veterinary Biomedical & Clinical Services 804
Medical Science 738
Podiatry 543
Bioethics/Medical Ethics 535
Movement & Mind-Body Therapies 373
Alternative Medical Support Services 244
Energy & Biologically Based Therapies 73

References

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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