Have you thought about getting a higher degree but are unsure if it’s worth the time, effort and cost? Get a picture of what your nursing future may look like with this list.

10 benefits of a higher degree:

  1. Better hours. Tired of those 12-hour shifts? Want to be off on holidays and weekends? A higher degree will give you access to more leadership and management positions, many of which function in traditional 40-hour, 5-day work weeks.
  2. Higher pay. While not guaranteed, higher pay is definitely a plus when you earn an Advertisementadvanced nursing degree. If bringing home a substantial paycheck is your primary motivation, look into options such as anesthesia and practitioner specialties. According to a Georgetown University study on education and the healthcare workforce, nurses with a bachelor’s degree see an average 43% earnings boost after earning their graduate degree.
  3. Specialization. “Jack of all trades, master of none” no longer! Become a “master of one” by choosing a degree focus. Some options currently available include neonatal care, midwifery, psychiatry,Advertisement diabetes management, research, Advertisementinformatics, leadership, and Advertisementnursing education.
  4. Reduced bedside patient care. Little to no bedside care may or may not be a benefit in your opinion. For nurses with health issues and physical injuries, getting away from the bedside may be the key to continuing a successful nursing career.
  5. Deeper understanding of the “why.” Most undergraduate nursing degrees typically cover a breadth of topics to prepare you. Advanced degree courses can offer a depth to pathophysiology comparable to medical school. Even nurses who are not interested in pursuing an advanced degree can benefit from auditing an Advertisementadvanced pathophysiology class now and then!
  6. Military promotion. Certain military ranks require an advanced degree in order to qualify for promotion. Nursing experience counts toward higher rank as well (when entering as a civilian). Rank can then determine your patient involvement. For example, a major in the Air Force usually has the option to either continue bedside care of patients or to become involved in logistics and administration.
  7. Independence. Increasing numbers of nurse practitioners are becoming primary care providers here in the USA. Some nurse anesthetists function as the sole on-site anesthesia providers in rural facilities. While oversight by a physician is still required in most states, recent legislation has been proposed to increase the independence of advanced practice nurses.
  8. Self-employment. Fancy being your own boss? An advanced degree lends additional credibility to those nurses who wish to venture out on their own as consultants, life coaches, analysts or contractors.
  9. State and national involvement. You will still have to work your way up, but those with advanced nursing degrees find themselves better situated to seize opportunities for lobbying, policy making or participating in various government committees.
  10. Nursing change agent. Want nursing work to be safer, more valued and less frustrating? An advanced degree will open doors within facilities for you to improve nursing working conditions. Imagine being the chief nursing officer (CNO) of your local hospital. What things would you change?