Registered Nursing: The Career With More Bang For Your Educational Buck
In a 2006 article, CNN lists registered nursing as one of the ten best-paying jobs that can be obtained with an associate's degree. In the article, they note that this job requiring only an Associate's Degree often pays better than many jobs requiring bachelor's degrees. The quoted average annual salary for registered nurses of $52,000.
An Associate's Degree in Nursing can be obtained from an accredited nursing program. For every state, there is a Board of Nursing which has the authority to say which of these nursing programs are accredited in that particular state.
You may also opt to take the 4-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing but take note, this degree does not automatically entitle you to higher pay. For as long as you pass the NCLEX-RN exam, whether you graduated with an associate or a bachelor degree, you are a registered nurse.
Some hospitals, doctor's offices, clinics, etc. pay more for nurses with a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing, and some don't. The pay is generally not going to be drastically higher.
Another advantage of getting an Associate's Degree in Nursing first is that once you get that degree, you can take an ADN to BSN course either at an online nursing school or at a local college, and you can do it part-time while you are working. Odds are good that your employer will pay for some or all of your education in exchange for an agreement to remain working with that employer for a specified amount of time.
If you're gunning for a higher position in the organization such as a manager or supervisor, then definitely a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing will be advantageous, but if you are satisfied with a job that gives you more-than-decent income, then an ADN degree is sufficient.