Nursing Careers

Nursing Careers

Find Inspiration, Make a Difference

Challenging. Rewarding. Lucrative. Nursing is all of those things and so much more.

Whether you are a natural caregiver or fascinated by the science of medicine—or both—nursing could be a great career option. From young people who are just graduating high school to individuals looking for a second career, the nursing field is worth considering. Nurses have seemingly endless opportunities.

Nursing Careers

A Lucrative Calling

The annual median salary for Registered Nurses (RNs) is $71,730, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, based on data from 2018. According to the American Nurses Association’s 2020 data, local RNs report salaries both above and below this range.

Region            Number of Nurses                 Avg. Hourly Rate            Avg. Annual Salary

D.C.                 11,000                                     $43.32                         $90,110

Maryland        53,700                                     $36.18                         $75,250

Virginia           64,260                                     $32.69                         $67,990


Getting Started

The most common avenues to become a Registered Nurse (RN) are to apply directly to an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) program at a technical or community college or to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program at a university. Both types of programs are designed to prepare students to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and develop the skills, knowledge and first-hand experience necessary to start a successful career in nursing. Potential students should consider both ADN and BSN programs before making a final decision.

Compare and Contrast: ADN v. BSN

ADN programs                                                                     

BSN programs

Typically takes two years

Typically takes four years

Faster access to job market

Longer time before eligible for jobs

Less competitive in hiring situations

More competitive from a hiring perspective (some employers only seek nurses with BSNs)

Less expensive option

More expensive option

Can use employer-sponsored continuing education opportunities to obtain higher degrees later

May accrue additional student debt

A variety of financing options including scholarships, loans and grants are available

A variety of financing options including scholarships, loans and grants are available







A growing field

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the United States will need an additional 200,000-plus nurses each year through 2026 to keep up with demand. In fact, the number of career nursing positions is expected to increase 19 percent through 2022. This means that graduates will find ample job opportunities after they pass the state board exam and become a certified Registered Nurse (RN). Additionally, the ongoing and well documented aging of our population means that demand for nurses will only continue to grow.

A trusted profession

People do not just need nurses. They trust them. For 18 consecutive years, nurses have maintained the top spot in Gallup's annual Most Honest and Ethical Professions Poll. In the poll, the American public rated nurses highest among a host of professionals, including medical doctors, dentists and pharmacists. According to the poll, 85 percent of Americans rated nurses’ honesty and ethical standards as “very high” or “high.” The second highest-rated professionals, engineers, were rated 19 percentage points behind nursing. American consumers trust nurses—with their lives.

“I am extremely proud that nurses everywhere have been bestowed this wonderful accolade by the people whose lives they touch every day,” said American Nurses Association (ANA) President Ernest Grant, Ph.D., RN, FAAN. “The fact that nurses have been consistently voted the most honest and ethical professionals is a testament to the public’s trust. We’ll work hard to keep their good faith throughout 2020 and beyond.”

A wealth of opportunities

Approximately 60 percent of RNs work in hospitals, according to ANA, while others are employed in long-term care facilities, clinics, offices, homes, schools and other settings. Many consumers tend to picture all nurses in the acute care setting; however, increasingly there are many nurses who seek other opportunities.

Research is a very popular and rewarding field that many nurses pursue. Public health nurses are also sought after and that trend will likely accelerate as a result of covid-19. Additionally, many nurses become entrepreneurs, running home health companies, staffing agencies or serving as consultants, Grant explained.

“There are so many opportunities in nursing and so many of them are not necessarily in an acute care setting. Nurses are everywhere,” he said.

An inspiring calling

While nursing is undoubtedly an honorable and in-demand field, potential nursing students should look closely at their skill sets before pursuing a nursing career.

Grant, who has been a nurse for more than 40 years, explained that nursing is a particularly good fit for students who love technology, have strong critical thinking skills, are interested in science and STEM courses, and are patient and open-minded.

Grant also explained that there has been an influx of individuals choosing nursing as a second career in recent years. “A lot of schools have created accelerated programs especially for second career students. These programs allow prospective nurses who already have Bachelor’s degrees to finish their nursing education in 14-18 months,” he said.

Whether they come to nursing from another field or directly from high school, all prospective nurses should have a calling to serve. No matter what specialty or working environment they ultimately select, all nurses give a lot of themselves to their patients. They are a source of caring and comfort every day.  

Ultimately, nursing is a noble profession that allows compassionate professionals to make a difference.

More information about nursing careers is available at

Search for your next job now:


Back to listing

The Washington Post Jobs Newsletter

Subscribe to the latest news about DC's jobs market