Few industries in the U.S. grant as many job opportunities as the field of healthcare. Within the healthcare industry, the nursing profession provides jobs for millions of people, and projections for nursing careers continue to be favorable. In 2016, the nursing profession included nearly three million jobs, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts this number will increase by 15% by 2026.
In addition to providing ample career opportunities, the field of nursing generally provides healthy, stable salaries. When nurses first enter the profession after earning an online nursing degree, they make an annual median salary of $56,390. By the time nurses reach the middle of their careers, their median annual salary grows to $63,800. Finally, late-career registered nurses earn a median yearly salary of $70,503.
Nurses often choose to specialize in a certain area of medicine. A specialization, such as anesthesiology or orthopedics, allows them to earn even more than their peers, often providing a six-figure salary. In order to to pursue one of these specialized fields, many nurses return to nursing colleges in Massachusetts to earn a master’s degree. After spending a few years working in the field, some nurses decide they want to teach and train nursing students. If individuals opt for this route, they often enroll in a nursing school in Massachusetts to pursue a doctoral degree.
How to Become a Nurse in Massachusetts
Students all over the country must go through similar processes to attain their online nursing degrees before they can practice their profession. However, nurses in different states or with different specializations and licenses may follow slightly different paths. For example, students attending nursing schools online in Massachusetts must account for different licensing costs and procedures depending on the type of licensing exam they need to take.
Choose the Path That's Right for You
To become a registered nurses, individuals must hold at least an associate degree, although many nurses prefer to complete a bachelor’s degree at a nursing school in Massachusetts; this higher degree typically leads to better job opportunities and higher pay. If you want to go further and become an advanced nurse, you should pursue a license for a nursing specialization, a master’s degree, or both. Additionally, if you want to stay in the classroom to train nursing students, you should consider enrolling in a doctor of nursing practice degree (DNP) program. However, it’s important to remember that you needn’t go straight into a master’s or doctoral degree program; many individuals opt to practice nursing for a few years before continuing their education.
Earn Your Nursing Degree
Online degrees at nursing schools in Massachusetts are different than classroom learning in some ways but very similar in others. To earn an online nursing degree, you’ll take several required biology and anatomy courses through your school’s online platform. However, you’ll still need to spend time in a hospital, clinic, or other healthcare facility to earn practical clinical experience under the guidance of professional nurses. Some programs also require you to complete a fellowship or internship. The length of time needed to complete an online nursing program in Massachusetts depends on which degree you pursue. For example, associate and master’s degrees take approximately two years to finish, while a bachelor’s degree generally requires four years of study. You may also be able to find accelerated nursing programs in Massachusetts.
Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License
After graduating with your degree, you must also pass the national examination for registered nurses (i.e., the NCLEX-RN exam) to become an RN. Although your degree helps prepare you for this exam, you may want to spend at least another month studying on your own for a couple hours a day. Once you have passed the exam and have your license, you can begin job hunting.
Nursing Licensure in Massachusetts
In order to earn a nursing license after completing your online nursing degree, you must apply to take a qualification exam from the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing. Every single practicing registered nurse must be licensed through this test. Although you qualify to take the NCLEX-RN exam once you’ve earned an associate degree, nurses generally make more money if they earn a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, if you want to pursue a specialization and increase your earning potential even more, you should consider enrolling in a master’s or doctoral program.
The NCLEX-RN exam costs $200, consists of between 75 and 265 questions, and must be completed within six hours. Students typically spend the month prior to their testing day studying to prepare for the exam.
The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) is a group of states that allows nurses to work across state lines without changing their licensure; however, nursing schools in Massachusetts do not currently belong to this compact. Therefore, nurses registered to practice in Massachusetts must check how qualifications vary in other states if they plan on pursuing work elsewhere. Pending legislation in the Massachusetts state government may change this, though, allowing the state to join the NLC.
Nursing Licensing Costs in Massachusetts
Exam Fee $230
APRN Fee $150
RN to LN Renewal $120
Career Outlook for Nurses in Massachusetts
Individuals who earn degrees from nursing schools in Massachusetts enjoy a bright career outlook; the BLS predicts that the number of nursing jobs will rise by 15% from 2016 to 2026. Additionally, Massachusetts had the 10th most registered nurses among U.S. states in 2016. Nurses often pursue different specializations across the healthcare field by earning licenses or advanced degrees; these specializations set individuals apart from other job candidates and can help them secure better careers.
As an example, nurses can specialize in anesthesiology and become a certified registered nurse anesthetist. Nurse anesthetists earn one of the highest salaries for nurses in Massachusetts, averaging an annual wage of $166,490 in the state. Nurses can also consider other specializations and train to become nurse practitioners, who earn an annual mean wage of $117,860 in Massachusetts. Generally, specializations in nursing lead to significantly higher salaries.
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Biggest Hospitals in Massachusetts
Massachusetts has several large, well-ranked hospitals, many of which are based in Boston. These facilities employ tens of thousands of physicians, surgeons, nurses, and other healthcare workers, making them prime places for recent graduates and first-time job seekers to find jobs. Hospitals also tend to offer internships and fellowships, giving students pursuing online nursing degrees the opportunity to gain work experience before they secure their first full-time job.
- Massachusetts General Hospital: This hospital serves the eastern part of the state, including Boston and its suburbs. In 2015, the Massachusetts General Hospital employed nearly 22,000 workers, served an average of about 1,000 patients in operating beds every day, and earned a net patient service revenue of $2.45 billion.
- Brigham and Women’s Hospital: Also based in Boston, this hospital aided an average of almost 800 patients in hospital beds every day in 2015. The Brigham and Women’s Hospital employs about 14,600 workers and has a net patient service revenue of $1.8 billion. Brigham and Women’s also operates as a teaching hospital for Harvard medical students, making it an especially attractive place for young nurses to start their careers.
Additional Nursing Resources in Massachusetts
Massachusetts Nursing Association
The central aim of the Massachusetts Nursing Association revolves around unionization, labor policy, and influencing political decisions in healthcare. It also provides multiple resources for nurses wishing to further their careers and continue their education.
The Massachusetts chapter of the American Nurses Association is based in Boston. This organization hosts a career center with a job database and other career resources. It also offers support to nurses interested in furthering their licensure and credentials and provides scholarships for Massachusetts students. ANA Massachusetts advocates for healthcare policy and allows its members to join committees and participate in political advocacy.
The National Association for Pediatric Nurse Practitioners serves as a national organization for nurses who work with children. The association’s website lists resources for professional pediatric nurses and student nurses. The organization hosts dinners and lectures, allowing pediatric nurses to engage in important networking.
Massachusetts Coalition of Nurse Practitioners
This professional organization promotes professional development among nurse practitioners, establishes networks and coalitions between nurses and nursing organizations in Massachusetts, and advocates for healthcare policy affecting nurse practitioners in the state. The coalition hosts several events per month throughout the state.
Massachusetts Student Nurses' Association
This association specifically serves students currently studying to become nurses at nursing schools in Massachusetts; students even make up the association’s Board of Directors. The Massachusetts chapter operates locations all over the state and provides scholarships and career resources for its members.
Accredited Online Nursing Programs in Massachusetts
The list below details the various online nursing degrees that can be earned at nursing schools in Massachusetts. This list includes only accredited programs and discusses several types of Massachusetts nursing schools, including associate degrees in nursing, online RN programs in Massachusetts, online RN to BSN programs in Massachusetts, online BSN programs in Massachusetts, online MSN programs in Massachusetts, and online doctoral programs in nursing.