Whether it’s a child getting help for a knee scraped on the playground, comforting a patient in the emergency room, or helping patients in a doctor’s office, the role of nurses is as varied as any career out in the job market.

Whatever the job may be, nurses have been answering the call to duty for years with knowledge and compassion. For those people interested in nursing careers, there are a number of different types of nurses as well as many settings in which they can be employed.

1. RN – Registered Nurses

When people think of nurses, the ones that most often come to mind are Registered Nurses, or RN’s. The highest-ranking nurses on the career ladder, RN’s are responsible for providing patient care, educating patients and providing emotional support to a patient and their family during difficult times.

The three main ways to become an RN are earning a diploma from an accredited nursing school, obtaining an Associate’s degree from a community college, or attending a university and earning a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing, better known as a BSN. After the degree, they must pass a state nursing exam to be eligible for licensure.

RN’s can go on to specialize in a number of areas including pediatrics, cardiology, surgery, obstetrics, emergency care, and many others. With job growth expected to be faster than average for the rest of the decade, RN’s can find plenty of opportunities in doctor’s offices, hospitals and long-term care facilities with average salaries of $65,000 per year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

2. LPN and LVN – Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses

Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN’s) and Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN’s) are one step below RN’s in terms of educational requirements and the duties they are able to perform. They usually work under the supervision of a Registered Nurse, providing basic medical care to patients in hospitals, doctor’s offices, long-term care facilities, schools and other places. Their duties may include taking a patient’s blood pressure, changing bandages, helping them bathe and dress, record-keeping and other duties as needed.

To become an LPN or LVN, a person must pass a training program lasting usually under one year and then pass an exam in the state where they wish to be licensed. With average annual salaries of $40,000 and faster-than-average job growth expected, this is a great way to become a nurse, gain experience, and be paid top-dollar even while pursuing education to become an RN.

3. CNA – Certified Nursing Assistant

A great way to begin a career in nursing is to first start as a Certified Nursing Assistant, or CNA. These are the people who do most of the difficult physical work with patients, helping them in and out of bed, assistance with bathing and dressing, lifting and repositioning them in their bed, and other tasks. CNA’s have a high rate of injury on the job, with most having to do with back problems. CNA’s are active and on their feet most of the time, so having the physical ability for the job is critical.

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To become a CNA, a person must successfully complete a training program lasting usually less than six months, with some being accelerated and lasting only a few weeks. Employers are so desperate to fill these openings that many have started their own in-house training programs, offering students the chance to learn the needed skills while being paid to do so. Jobs as CNA’s can be found in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and doctor’s offices.

Like RN’s and LPN’s, job growth will be above 20% per year for CNA’s, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. With this kind of job growth and annual salaries of $25,000, becoming a CNA can be the right choice for many interested in health care careers.

As the United States population ages, the demand for nurses to assist patients with daily living and care will be as big as ever. Many people who lose jobs turn to nursing as a second career in order to find a secure job with excellent pay and benefits. There is a tremendous shortage of men in nursing, so many schools and employers are actively recruiting males to enter the field. With great pay, benefits and advancement opportunities the field of nursing is a great choice for anyone.