The Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) is one of the most renowned advanced degrees in the nursing field. For nurses, it represents an opportunity to advance their career towards greater opportunities and paydays. The benefits are plentiful, yet so are the drawbacks. There is a material and personal cost that must be considered, before a nurse decides to commit to a program. Whether or not the program is for you depends on your situation, preferences and career goals.
More Career Opportunities
When you acquire your masters in nursing, a bevy of career opportunities opens up for you. Advanced Practice Registered Nurses such as Nurse Practitioner and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) require an MSN. There are also a host of specializations offered by MSN programs that require skill sets not covered by the BSN nursing course. If you want to become a forensic nurse, for example, you can take your masters in nursing with the option to specialize in the forensic department. Finally, there are multiple nonclinical roles available to MSN nurses. A masters is an important step to acquiring certification to teach Health Education at secondary schools. There are also jobs such as clinical nursing specialist (CNS) and nursing manager roles who operate in consulting roles.
Higher Salaries and Outlook
Pay in the nursing profession can fluctuate, depending on a number of factors. This includes years of experience, certifications, department of choice and more. That being said, you can typically expect to earn higher salaries in roles that demand a Masters of Science in Nursing. In 2020, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that advanced degree nurses earn $117,670 per year, on average. That same year, health service managers also earned a hefty average salary of $118,800. This was dramatically higher compared to the registered nurse’s annual salary of $75,330.
Additionally, the future outlook is also more optimistic for jobs that require a nursing masters. It is projected that RN job opportunities will grow 9% between 2020 and 2030, which is about average for all occupations. Meanwhile, advanced practice nurses, health educators and health managers can expect growth rates of 52%, 12% and 32% within that same time span. Every job listed will be in high demand for the foreseeable future, but MSN roles have an added level of job security.
Furthering Professional Development
Beyond material benefits, studying for your masters in nursing allows HCPs to improve their care even further. Technical skills and knowledge gained from previous education is expanded and specialized even further. These programs also force you to improve soft skills like critical thinking, communication and time management. This allows you to provide even better care to your patients, in addition to improving your own approach to life. In other words, both your personal and professional development are furthered.
There is no way around it: Masters of Science in Nursing courses are incredibly expensive. Depending on your situation, you either have to pay out of pocket or acquire a loan. Alternatively, certain employers will also offer to pay for your higher education fees. Even online programs will cost around $35,000 to $60,000 in tuition and fees. The extremely high fees can plunge you into debt if you are not careful.
On top of the material cost, masters in nursing courses are a time commitment. Depending on your program and enrollment status, it could take two to three years to acquire your Master of Science in Nursing or as long as four. Since most MSN students already have a family and job, part time will be the most common choice. Expect less free time, since you will be devoting many hours into coursework and clinical requirements. This means less time with your family or personal hobbies.
Competitive Application Process
The admission process for Masters in Nursing programs is extremely competitive. A 3.0 GPA is the bare minimum for admission, for a lot of schools. If your grades are below this benchmark, you could end up retaking your previous nursing courses to increase them. This means even more increased cost, to add to the pile.
Taking an MSN nursing course is an incredibly heavy financial and personal commitment. Nurses working towards their masters in nursing must be prepared to make important sacrifices. Those who have the resources and the wherewithal will find a personally and professionally fulfilling program that opens the doors for higher salaries, career advancement and personal fulfilment. A Masters of Science in Nursing does not promise bigger paychecks on its own, but it can be a pivotal stepping stone to a well-laid out career plan. As long as you are ready to make that commitment, and you have a clear goal in mind, taking an MSN nursing course is well worth considering.