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Those who pursue a career in nursing most often choose to earn a four-year bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree. Though it takes a considerable amount of commitment in time and money, a BSN prepares graduates for a promising future upon passing the licensure exam for registered nurses (RNs). In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics considers nursing a high-demand profession, with registered nurses earning an average of $55,000 annually.

According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, almost half of US nurses who hold a bachelor’s degree in registered nursing started out earning a two-year associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) initially. This underscores the significance of such a degree as an important step in the career path of full-fledged registered nurses across the country, including Alabama.

Following a national trend, jobs for registered nurses (RNs) in Alabama are expected to grow in the coming years. Registered nurses play a critical role in addressing the need for more qualified healthcare workers to attend to the increasing number of sick, disabled, and elderly patients. Proof of this critical demand is similar growth in the number of nursing aides needed to help registered nurses perform basic nursing functions.

If you’re compassionate and find real fulfillment in caring for the sick and elderly, then the job of a nursing assistant is cut out for you. It’s a rewarding job not just in terms of the sense of fulfillment, but in potential compensation as well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a certified nursing assistant in the state of Alabama receives an annual average salary of $21,030. They are in high demand in health care facilities, including hospitals, hospice facilities, and homes for the elderly.

The all-in cost of nursing education in Alabama includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, and other living expenses. These costs will vary greatly according to the length of the program selected, the number of years taken to complete the program, and the particular school chosen. A certificate will take 1-2 years to complete, an associate’s degree will require 2-3 years of study, and a bachelor’s degree will take 4-6 years to complete. The longer the degree, the greater the expense.

Private colleges and universities are institutions of higher education that are not financially supported by taxes or other public funds; they are instead entirely funded through private monies. Like their public counterparts, private colleges and universities offer a wide variety of traditional two-year and four-year nursing programs, with the added benefits of smaller class size and greater prestige. Smaller class size improves the educational experience by enabling personalized assistance and educative care.

Public colleges and universities are institutions of higher education that are financially supported by taxes or other public funds. Alabama's two largest public educational institutions are the Alabama Community College system and the University of Alabama system. Public colleges and universities offer a wide variety of traditional two-year and four-year nursing programs, and they typically charge lower tuition for state or county residents than private institutions.

Vocational, career, and community colleges offer job-specific technical training for students launching careers in the so-called “white collar” disciplines. One of the tremendous benefits of these two-year institutions is that they provide a streamlined, rapid path to nursing employment versus a traditional four-year college. Within 12-18 months, candidates can complete a licensed practical nurse (LPN) certificate program; within two years, they can complete an associate's degree in nursing (ADN) program.