In 2017, healthcare became the country's largest employer. Because of this growth, healthcare facilities need more skilled managers. The number of medical and healthcare services managers is projected to grow as much as 20% from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, surpassing many other careers in the U.S. labor market. Medical and healthcare services managers earn a median salary of nearly $100,000.

If you work as a nurse and hope to advance your career or increase your earning potential, consider pursuing a master's degree in nursing administration. The degree imparts business, technology, communication, and management skills needed to lead a nursing team, hospital department, or healthcare organization.

Advanced degrees not only increase a professional's earning potential, but also help job seekers find careers in management. In the case of nursing administration, a master's degree helps nurses gain the leadership skills to oversee and direct nursing departments. Nursing administration programs teach students how to implement policies, guide collaborative teams, bridge cross-cultural healthcare barriers, and design workplace strategies.

Students in nursing administration programs must decide whether they want to pursue their degrees through an online or on-campus program. An online master's degree in nursing administration may attract nurses who already work full time. The distance-learning approach allows students to decide how much coursework they can handle per semester, and when they study and watch lectures. Learners with busy schedules appreciate pursuing an advanced degree at their own pace.

Students who enter graduate school immediately after earning their bachelor's degree might consider on-campus programs. These offer a traditional approach with onsite lectures. The traditional approach also allows students to connect with classmates. If you have not yet worked in nursing, you might prefer the hands-on experience provided by on-campus labs, and these programs also provide ample networking opportunities. Professors who know you well may introduce you to professionals already in the field, or they may write recommendation letters for you.

What Can I Do With a Master's in Nursing Administration?

Skills learned in nursing administration programs easily transfer to other career paths. Graduates could work as health management consultants or information systems managers for healthcare facilities. Students who aim to enter this field must possess a variety of skills. They should have the organizational and leadership skills of a manager, which means they can communicate clearly, plan, and solve conflict. They also must possess the qualities of a good nurse. They must be empathetic, skilled at multitasking, and calm under pressure.

Medical and Health Services Manager

These professionals direct operations at hospitals or clinics. They manage either the entire healthcare facility or one department. Nursing administrators typically run the nursing department at a hospital or other healthcare institution. Employers often prefer job candidates with at least a master's degree.

Median Annual Salary: $98,350
Projected Growth Rate: 20%

Administrative Services Manager

These employees may have a variety of roles within a healthcare organization. They might supervise personnel who work in administrative capacities in a healthcare facility's nursing department, ensure records are kept accurately and efficiently, and ensure the nursing department does not run out of necessary supplies.

Median Annual Salary: $94,020
Projected Growth Rate: 10%

Social and Community Services Manager

Some healthcare organizations do not fall under the umbrella of hospitals or nursing homes but operate as community clinics that offer health services for low-income individuals. Sometimes, nurse administrators find jobs at these locations. People who work in administrative roles at these clinics are called social and community services managers.

Median Annual Salary: $64,100
Projected Growth Rate: 18%

Computer and Information Systems Manager

If students opt to pursue a nursing administration degree with an emphasis in informatics, they may qualify to become computer and information systems managers. In the healthcare context, these professionals direct technological and data analysis operations for their departments in hospitals or other health facilities. Since many people in this field have an advanced degree, earning a master's degree helps job candidates on this career path.

Median Annual Salary: $139,220
Projected Growth Rate: 12%

Management Analyst

Some nursing administrators prefer to be self-employed and go the route of management analyst. In this case, they are known as nurse management consultants. Healthcare facilities may hire consultants if they need an expert's help in solving a problem. Nurse management consultants visit the facility, investigate the problem, and propose solutions.

Median Annual Salary: $82,450
Projected Growth Rate: 14%

As the accessibility of healthcare improves and the needs of an aging baby boomer generation heighten, the U.S. requires more qualified nurses to provide affordable and patient-centered care in diverse health settings. The National Institutes of Health reports that by 2022, the field of nursing will provide more job opportunities than any other industry. Additionally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects 1.09 million more nurses by 2024 to fill new positions and replace retiring professionals. In short, nurses are in high-demand, particularly in the southern and western United States.

Fortunately, students can earn their bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) through numerous on-campus and online programs. Many prospective nurses find that colleges and universities offer generous financial support, clinical placements, and specific career guidance. Upon graduation, professionals can expect lucrative career opportunities. According to BLS projections, registered nurses (RNs) benefit from a 15% occupational growth through 2026, and average an annual salary of $70,000. However, these statistics do not factor in employer, industry, or personal qualifications, which can result in even higher salaries. They also do not account for geographic area. This guide fills that gap and provides nurses with career information for individual states.

Methodology

The following list details the best states for nurses to work based on information from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics for May 2017. The rankings focus on career prospects for RNs and take into account each state's total employment numbers and mean annual wages. This two-factor approach provides a complex look at what RNs can expect as they pursue their career goals. However, the rankings do not account for the statistical differences between nursing subfields like midwifery, gerontology, or advanced clinical practice. The state profiles detail employment and wage information, insight into major employers, the state licensure process, and professional development opportunities.

Rank School Description Toggle
1 California

With a total of 282,290 nurses and an annual mean wage of $102,700, California far surpasses other entries as the best state for this profession. In line with the national trend, California is at risk for high RN shortages. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), California is expected to employ 343,000 nurses by 2030. However, the state needs 388,000 to match healthcare demands. Fortunately, the Golden State supports prospective nurses with accessible education opportunities.

Nurses must obtain licensure from the California Board of Registered Nursing. After earning an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), candidates formally apply for their RN license -- a process that includes a criminal background check and fingerprinting. They then must pass the National Council Licensing Examination (NCLEX). Licensed vocational nurses who wish to obtain their RN credentials without earning a degree can pursue California's LVN 30 Unit Option, an 18 to 24-month training program.

2 Texas

BLS employment data shows Texas as the runner-up with a total RN employment of 212,210 and an annual mean wage of $72,070. The highest concentration of RNs reside in the metropolitan centers of Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth. Texas also boasts some of the largest healthcare employers in the U.S., including Tenet Healthcare Corporation and the renowned Houston Methodist Hospital.

The HRSA projects that Texas needs 269,000 nurses by 2030. To become an RN, candidates undergo the licensure process facilitated by the Texas Board of Nursing. Upon earning a program accredited ADN or BSN, professionals must then pass a criminal background check and the NCLEX-RN. Texas participates in the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC), where RNs earn one multi-state license that qualifies them to practice in all participating states physically, electronically, and/or telephonically. The Texas Board of Nursing provides comprehensive educational information, including a list of formal nursing programs.

3 New York

As of 2017, New York employs 180,170 nurses with an average annual salary of $83,450. These salaries are substantially more than Texas nurses and compensate for New York's high cost of living. According to the HRSA, the Empire State is expected to employ 213,400 nurses by 2030. Major healthcare employers include Mount Sinai Health System and Northwell Health, Inc. New York also houses renowned hospitals such as the New York-Presbyterian University Hospital and the University of Rochester Medical Center.

The New York State Education Department's Office of the Professions oversees nursing training and licensure. The state recognizes four nursing professions: licensed professional nurses, RNs, nurse practitioners, and clinical nurse specialists. To become an RN, candidates complete an approved education program and pass the NCLEX-RN. Applicants must also meet the moral character requirements, which include criminal background and professional misconduct checks. The initial licensure and registration fee costs $143. Nurses can access career guidance and professional development opportunities through organizations like the New York State Nurses Association.

4 Florida

Florida employs 178,330 nurses who average an annual salary of $64,890. While the pay may seem modest compared to other states, Florida's low cost of living and lack of income tax enable RNs to live well and save money. Even in large cities like Orlando, living expenses in Florida fall below the national average. As the fourth largest employer of nurses, Florida requires bachelor-accredited professionals to support its growing number of retirees. This population includes retiring nurses, who, according to the Florida Center for Nursing, will comprise 40% of all state RNs within the next 10 years.

RN candidates obtain their license through the Florida Board of Nursing. To qualify, professionals must earn credentials from an approved nursing education program, and then undergo fingerprinting, a criminal background check, and an examination. Required fees total $300. Nurses receive initial licensure 7-10 days after passing the exam. In addition to overseeing licensure, the board connects prospective and active nurses with resources that include professional associations and continuing education opportunities.

5 Pennsylvania

BLS employment projections place Pennsylvania as the fifth biggest employer of RNs, with 143,130 statewide positions and an average annual salary of $69,820. However, like other states, Pennsylvania faces substantial challenges in training, employing, and retaining qualified nurses. In a 2017 report by Nurses of Pennsylvania, 94% of survey participants reported that their hospitals do not employ enough nursing staff, which negatively affects bedside services and overall patient care.

To tackle the nursing shortage, the state government provides scholarships and grants through such organizations as the PA Foundation and the Highmark Foundation. To become an RN, students must complete training through one of state board approved nursing education programs. Candidates who complete their RN training in Pennsylvania can apply online, while those who graduate from an out-of-state program must submit paper applications. Nurses can obtain a temporary practice permit while they prepare for the NCLEX-RN and await the state verification process.

6 Illinois

As of May 2017, 123,100 RNs work in Illinois and earn an average annual salary of $72,090. The HRSA projects that the state needs 143,000 baccalaureate-trained nurses by 2030. Fortunately, Illinois is ready to meet this demand, as it is one of the few states projected to have a surplus of RNs over the next decade. Major healthcare employers in the Prairie State include Rush University Medical Center, CVS Health, and the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

The Illinois Nursing Workforce Center provides comprehensive resources for prospective and experienced nurses. Students can access a list of approved pre-licensure, post-licensure, and continuing education programs. They may also take advantage of financial aid opportunities, such as the state-sponsored nursing education scholarship program. To become an RN through examination, candidates need the proper academic credentials and a clean background check. They can then submit an online application and sit for the NCLEX-RN.

7 Ohio

The Buckeye State employs approximately 124,620 RNs who earn an average annual salary of $65,500. According to a 2017 report by the Ohio Board of Nursing, more than 68,000 nurses provide inpatient care in hospital settings. Of all licensed RNs in the state, 42% hold an associate degree and 34% possess bachelor's credentials. Unlike other states, Ohio does not face nursing shortages and, in fact, stands to benefit from an RN surplus by 2030. Major healthcare employers include the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the Cleveland Clinic.

RN candidates must obtain a diploma or degree from one of the state-approved education programs. Ohio students can take advantage of diverse financial aid opportunities, including the Nurse Education Assistance Loan Program. They also enjoy scholarships and grants from the Ohio Nurses Foundation. After obtaining necessary academic training, candidates submit an online application and take the NCLEX-RN. Prospective RNs receive board results four weeks after exam day.

8 Massachusetts

Massachusetts RNs earn $89,330 per year, trailing only California nurses in terms of annual mean wage. The state employs roughly 82,870 RNs, and the HRSA projects Massachusetts to meet its demand for baccalaureate-trained nurses by 2030 with a 2.2% surplus. The Pilgrim State houses some of the most respected health facilities in the U.S., including UMass Memorial Health Care, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Prospective nurses in Massachusetts must earn credentials from a state-approved pre-licensure nursing program. After earning their diploma or degree, candidates can apply for initial licensure, a process that requires a $230 fee. RN candidates need to pass a criminal background check and meet good moral character requirements, and then pay $200 to take the NCLEX-RN through national exam administrator Pearson Vue. RNs renew their license every even-numbered year, which requires at least 15 hours of approved continuing education. Nursing students can access financial support by engaging with the Massachusetts Nurses Association.

9 Michigan

Michigan employs a total of 94,090 RNs who earn an average annual salary of $69,120. Although Michigan currently experiences nursing shortages, the HRSA projects that the state will benefit from a 5.8% surplus of qualified professionals by 2030. Nurses interested in high-need careers can specialize in nurse midwifery, nurse anesthetists, and clinical nurse specialists. Michigan boasts several magnet hospitals -- like Beaumont Hospital and DMC Harper University Hospital -- who often provide the highest salaries.

The Michigan Board of Nursing oversees licensure and requires prospective nurses to obtain certificates or degrees from approved education programs. Upon earning their degree, graduates register online with the board and exam administrator. Michigan requires nurses to sit for the NCLEX-RN within two years of graduation, and they must pass the exam within one year of the first attempt. After three unsuccessful attempts, candidates must take a review course. RNs need to renew their license every two years, a process that requires at least 25 continuing education hours.

10 New Jersey

New Jersey employs approximately 80,500 RNs who enjoy an average annual salary of $82,010. However, the state faces urgent shortages. The New Jersey Nursing Initiative reports that since 2012, the state has experienced a 17% shortfall of nurses; the organization projects an even greater need by 2020. Fortunately, the Garden State has taken steps to recruit and retain baccalaureate-trained nurses, including a concerted shift toward community- and patient-centered care. Prospective nurses benefit from low-interest state loans and private scholarships from organizations like the New Jersey State Nurses Association.

Prospective nurses must complete academic training from a program approved by the New Jersey Board of Nursing. After obtaining their credentials, candidates submit a formal application, undergo background check and fingerprinting, and pay a $200 registration fee to take the NCLEX-RN. All New Jersey RNs must complete a separate sexual assault prevention and remediation training. Professionals renew their license every two years, which requires the completion of at least 30 continuing education hours.

11 North Carolina

North Carolina employs 99,210 RNs who earn an average of $62,560 annually. While the state currently experiences nursing shortages -- especially in schools and difficult subfields like adult critical care -- the HRSA predicts North Carolina to enjoy a surplus of 16,500 RNs by 2030. This improvement is due, in part, to the Tar Heel State's commitment to diversifying its healthcare workforce through financial investments in historically black colleges and universities.

North Carolina also supports its rural communities, 88% of which lack access to basic primary care. For example, the University of North Carolina offers the NC Rural Promise Scholarship for nursing students who want to work with underserved populations. Additionally, the North Carolina Nurses Association offers financial support.

The North Carolina Board of Nursing manages the licensure process. To become an RN, candidates must earn credentials from an approved in-state nursing program, then register for the NCLEX-RN. The board also provides student-specific resources, such as practice exams.

12 Minnesota

Minnesota RNs average $77,540 in annual salary. The state currently employs 64,540 professionals, nearly half of whom work in hospitals in the Minneapolis-Twin Cities area. According to the 2015-2016 Minnesota's Registered Nurse Workforce report, 30% of the state's active RNs are over the age of 55, putting them in range of retirement within the next few years. These openings provide exciting career opportunities for new professionals, but may lead to nurse shortages if the state does not maintain its recruitment and retention levels.

Unlike other states, Minnesota requires nursing schools to earn programmatic accreditation in addition to a regional or national stamp of approval. Upon earning their credentials, RN candidates apply for licensure from the Minnesota Board of Nursing, which includes completing a background check and examination. If the candidate graduated from their nursing program five or more years ago, they must complete an NCLEX-RN review course. In addition to state grants and loans, students should take advantage of awards from the Minnesota Nurses Association and other professional organizations.

13 Georgia

Georgia employs 75,000 RNs who earn an annual average salary of $66,750. The HRSA projects that the state will require nearly 99,000 baccalaureate-trained nurses by 2030. According to the Georgia Nurses Association, more than 50% of the nursing workforce is close to retirement, which means the state requires new professionals to meet growing healthcare demands and fill vacating positions. High-need (and the highest paying) positions include nurse aestheticians and midwives.

To become an RN, students must earn credentials from nursing programs approved by the Georgia Board of Nursing. Graduates register for examination with Pearson VUE, undergo fingerprinting and background checks, and submit a formal license application. In-state nurses must pass the NCLEX-RN within three years of graduation, and RNs renew their license every two years. Professionals in Georgia have five options to fulfill their continuing education requirement. As part of the eNLC, Georgia nurses hold a multi-area license and can legally work in 29 other states.

14 Washington

Washington is one of the few states not struggling with nursing shortages. As of 2017, the state employs 56,880 RNs who earn an average annual salary of $79,810. According to HRSA projections, Washington will employ 85,300 RNs by 2030, over 6,000 more professionals than the state's estimated need. Furthermore, Washington nurses advocate for improving work conditions, which benefits patient care and bolsters employee retention by alleviating the burn-out so many U.S. nurses experience. Lucrative positions exist for Washington RNs, especially in high-need areas like mental health, midwifery, and primary care. Major employers include the University of Washington Medical Center and Seattle's Children Hospital.

To qualify for licensure in the state, prospective RNs must earn academic credentials from a program approved by the Washington Nursing Commission. Candidates register for the NCLEX-RN with Pearson VUE and submit a formal application to the state commission. Washington requires RNs to renew their license every three years, during which nurses must document at least 531 hours of active practice and 45 hours of continuing education.

15 Missouri

Missouri currently employs about 72,100 RNs who earn $63,300 annually. According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the highest concentration of nurses reside in St. Louis and Kansas City, where they also benefit from the best salaries in the state. Professionals also earn more by working for such major employers as Mercy Health System and BJC Healthcare.

While the Show-Me State does not face escalating nurse shortages like other parts of the U.S., the Missouri Hospital Association reports that staff RNs and behavioral health nurses are among the top 10 professions with high employee vacancies. To support nursing students, the state government funds programs like the Health Professional Nursing Student Loans. Through this initiative, students can borrow low-interest, forgivable loans if they agree to work in an underserved area after graduation.

The Missouri Board of Nursing oversees education standards and licensure. As part of the eNLC, Missouri nurses hold licenses that seamlessly transfer between the 30 partnering states. Missouri does not require nurses to pursue continuing education for license renewal.

16 Virginia

Missouri currently employs over 64,000 RNs who earn an average annual salary of $67,990. The HRSA projects that Virginia will employ 109,200 RNs by 2030, nearly 23,000 more professionals than the estimated need. This expansion is in large part to the state's concerted recruitment efforts, which outpaces all other states according to a 2017 report by the Healthcare Workforce Data Center. Organizations like the Virginia Health Workforce Development Authority offer prospective nurses access to financial aid, streamlined training programs, and professional development opportunities.

The Virginia Board of Nursing publishes lists of approved in-state nurse education programs. Out-of-state programs are generally acceptable as long as they provide students with at least 500 hours of direct client care under faculty supervision. After RN candidates earn an accredited diploma or degree, they submit an online application, undergo a background check with fingerprinting, and sit for the NCLEX. RNs renew their license every two years, which requires 30 continuing education hours or 15 continuing education hours and 640 active practice hours. Missouri nurses hold multi-state licenses through the eNLC.

17 Indiana

According to the Bowen Center for Health Workforce Research & Policy, more than 60% of Indiana nurses hold bachelor's degrees or higher. The same report notes that the number of doctoral-trained nurses has been steadily increasing since 2009, making Indiana's workforce among the most educated in the United States. Approximately 68,350 RNs work in the state, earning an average annual salary of $62,450.

Like many other states, Indiana suffers from unequal distribution of the workforce because the vast majority of nurses work in cities, leaving rural areas and small towns underserved. The Bowen Center projects an 18% increase in RN need by 2022. To bolster recruitment, Indiana schools -- such as Marian University -- provide accelerated nursing programs. Students can also access academic, financial, and career support through the Indiana State Nurses Association.

To become an RN, students need to earn academic credentials from a nursing program approved by the Indiana State Board of Nursing. Candidates submit a board application and register for the NCLEX-RN, with fees totaling $250. Prospective nurses who fail the exam three times must make an in-person appearance in front of the board to discuss next steps.

18 Arizona

Arizona employs 54,630 nurses who take home an average annual salary of $75,110. The American Nurses Association notes that western and mountain states should expect the fastest growth in RN employment over the next ten years. This rapid expansion -- coupled with an aging healthcare workforce -- could lead to shortages in Arizona.

Fortunately, the Grand Canyon State is making strides toward not only higher recruitment, but also diversification. In 2018, the University of Arizona received a large federal grant to support nursing students from diverse backgrounds. The Arizona Nurses Association also offers financial aid in addition to leadership training and career guidance.

The Arizona State Board of Nursing operates a standard education and licensure process. Prospective nurses complete training through a state-approved program. In-state graduates submit a certificate of completion, while out-of-state students must send in official academic transcripts. All RN candidates undergo background check and fingerprinting before sitting for the NCLEX-RN. Arizona participates in the eNLC, which enables nurses to hold multi-state licenses.

19 Maryland

Maryland employs 53,700 RNs who earn an annual average salary of $75,250. The HRSA projects that the state will need approximately 74,000 nurses by 2030 to meet the healthcare demands caused by increased accessibility and an aging baby boomer population. Currently, only half of Maryland's RN workforce possesses a bachelor's degree or higher.

To improve nurse education, the state partners with national organizations like the Campaign For Action to offer students financial aid, academic guidance, and streamlined training and licensure processes. Higher education institutions, including the University of Maryland, provide nursing scholarships that support underserved communities.

To become an RN, students need to earn a diploma or degree from an academic program supported by the Maryland Board of Nursing. The state accepts credentials from out-of-state programs as long as they operate equivalent academic outcomes, including preceptorship experience. After submitting an RN application and passing a background check, candidates may sit for the NCLEX-RN. Those who fail need to wait 45 days before re-taking the exam.

20 Wisconsin

Nearly 56,000 RNs work in Wisconsin, earning an average annual salary of $69,200. Unlike other states, Wisconsin does not face escalating nurse shortages. In fact, the RSNA projects the state to employ 6,200 more RNs than it needs by 2030. According to a 2016 workforce survey by the Wisconsin Center for Nursing, over 46% of RNs hold a bachelor's degree, a 2% growth from 2014. The Center also reports increasing enrollment numbers for baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in the state. Students can access financial support and professional guidance through the Wisconsin Nurses Association.

The Wisconsin Board of Nursing publishes lists of approved in- and out-of-state training programs. After earning an accredited diploma or degree, prospective RNs submit a license application, undergo a background check, and prepare for examination. Wisconsin distributes temporary licenses that allow nurses to work for 90 days, during which they must pass the NCLEX-RN. Wisconsin joined the eNLC on December 2017, enabling its nurses to practice in other compact states.

21 Oregon

Oregon employs 35,140 RNs who earn an average annual salary of $88,770. The HRSA projects that the state will meet its 2030 nurse demand by an excess of 2,500 professionals. Furthermore, Oregon's nurse workforce is markedly younger than those of other states, a testament to the recruitment efforts of Oregon schools and government agencies. According to the Oregon Center for Nursing, the number of nurses in their 20s and 30s increased by nearly 20% since 2012. By cultivating a young workforce, Oregon ensures that retiring professionals do not leave service gaps in the state's healthcare system.

The Oregon Board of Nursing provides a list of approved in-state training programs. Prospective RNs attending an out-of-state school must apply for clinical placement pre-approval if they want to earn an Oregon license. After obtaining their credentials, candidates submit the RN application, complete a background check, and sit for the NCLEX-RN. The Oregon Nurses Association provides comprehensive resources, including academic scholarships and a career center.

22 Colorado

Colorado employs approximately 49,340 RNs, who earn an average annual salary of $72,570. The nonprofit organization Colorado Needs More Nurses projects a state-wide shortage of 4,500-6,700 nurses between 2015 and 2024. This stands to affect the cities of Pueblo, Grand Junction, Fort Collins, and Colorado Springs most severely.

To recruit more RNs, the Colorado government passed a bill in early 2018 that allows community colleges to confer bachelor's degrees, thereby providing nursing students more affordable academic pathways. Students also receive support from the Colorado Nurses Association, which provides career guidance and scholarships opportunities.

RN candidates must earn a diploma or degree from an academic program approved by the Colorado Board of Nursing. Prospective RNs then submit an online application and register for the NCLEX. Colorado is one of the few states that does not require criminal background checks. RNs renew their credentials every two years by September 30th. As part of the eNLC, Colorado nurses hold multi-state licenses.

23 Tennessee

More than 59,000 RNs work in Tennessee, earning an average annual salary of $60,050. According to HRSA projections, the state will require 82,200 RNs by 2030, an approximately 39% increase. Fortunately, Tennessee is on track to meet this need through recruitment and educational initiatives. Nursing students enjoy ample support from the Tennessee Center for Health Workforce Development, including pipeline training programs and scholarships. They can access additional awards through the Tennessee Center for Health Workforce Development, while the state government also provides financial assistance to prospective nurses.

Nursing students must earn a degree or diploma from a state-approved training program. To streamline the licensure process, students should complete their criminal background check and register with NCLEX coordinator Pearson VUE prior to graduation. Although Tennessee does not require continuing education, RNs must demonstrate continuing competence through active practice. Tennessee nurses benefit from multi-state licenses through the eNLC, which allows participating nurses to work across the 30 compact states.

24 Connecticut

Connecticut employs 34,310 RNs who earn an average annual salary of $80,200. The HRSA projects the state to meet its 2030 nursing demands with an 8.8% surplus. Even with these positive estimates, Connecticut healthcare facilities continue to strengthen recruitment and retention efforts. The Yale New Haven Health System provides career development opportunities for nurses in high-need areas, including a one-year operating room residency program. Other Connecticut hospitals follow suit, providing signing bonuses, tuition reimbursement, and even free housing for commuter nurses.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health oversees nurse education and license. To become an RN, students must earn an accredited degree, complete the verification process, and pass the NCLEX-RN. Connecticut is one of the few states to operate a comprehensive articulation model that enables students to easily apply previous coursework toward the next level of nursing education. The Connecticut Nurses' Association offers academic guidance and financial support.

25 Louisiana

Nearly 46,000 RNs work in Louisiana, earning an annual salary of $63,560. Pay varies by location; however, and RN's in New Orleans average $65,280. Although Louisiana currently struggles with nursing shortages, there are approximately 4,500 unfilled positions, the HRSA projects that the state will meet its demands by 2030 with a surplus of 2,300 nurses. Major employers include Ochsner Health System, Baton Rouge Women's Hospital, Louisiana State University Health, and Lafayette General Medical Center. The state government also actively recruits public health nurses.

The Louisiana State Board of Nursing accepts credentials from approved schools, and prospective nurses can contact the Louisiana State Nurses Association for academic guidance and financial aid. RN candidates must complete a background check with fingerprinting and submit an application to the board 60 days prior to graduation. They must pass the NCLEX-RN within four attempts and within four years of graduation. RNs renew their licenses every two years, which requires adequate continuing education hours.

When it comes to applying for graduate school, prospective students should carefully examine the strengths, weaknesses, and financial resources of every program. Graduate school is an investment, and students should make the right choice.

Cost is an important consideration. Research both the estimated tuition cost and the school's extra fees. Scrutinize your finances and be honest about what you can afford. However, remain wary of simply choosing the most affordable graduate school. Ask the school about financial aid options. Schools may extend significant scholarship opportunities that offset the sticker price.

It's important to also analyze the program itself. Does it follow a traditional, on-campus format, or does it offer coursework online? Can you enroll part time? What does the curriculum entail? Read the course catalogue to learn about class topics and check whether the program offers concentrations. Certain career paths, such as information systems management for healthcare organizations, might require students to take specialized courses such as technology or informatics. Browsing the course catalogue also tells you if the program requires a practicum or other hands-on experience. If you choose an on-campus program, consider location and whether you must move.

Programmatic Accreditation for Master's in Nursing Administration Programs

When searching for potential schools, prospective students should look for programs with accredited status. During the accreditation process, certain agencies visit schools and evaluate whether students receive a valuable education. These accreditation agencies assess professors, coursework, and the class quality. If the agencies' representatives believe programs fulfill their mission of giving students a useful education, they give those programs their stamp of approval. But if the programs lack quality, the agencies take away accreditation.

When it comes to graduate programs in nursing administration, students should research programs with accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. If the program does not list its accreditation status online, prospective students should call the school to double check. Students who graduate from unaccredited programs will likely face more difficulty finding employment. Plus, if these students choose to pursue a doctorate, Ph.D. programs do not accept credits from unaccredited schools.

Every student has a different process for applying to graduate nursing administration programs. After students carefully consider cost, concentrations, coursework, professors, format, and location, they must narrow down their pool of programs to the best-fitting choices.

Some students may not wish to develop a shortlist of schools, choosing instead to apply to every school on their radar. However, this approach will only consume applicants' time and cause them unneeded stress. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some students may wish to apply to only one school. Students should avoid this approach too, in case the school dismisses their application. Instead, students should choose a few schools, including at least one safety school and one dream school. This approach saves applicants time and stress.

Prerequisites

  • Bachelor's Degree: Master's in nursing administration programs expect applicants to have a bachelor's degree in nursing. Faculty like to know that their students possess knowledge in the field, which comes in handy when managing a healthcare facility.
  • Professional Experience: Some master's programs in nursing administration require applicants to have at least one year of professional experience. Even if the program does not expect professional experience, applicants must usually hold active nursing licensure.
  • Minimum GPA: Most programs require or recommend students to maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA during their undergraduate programs.

Admission Materials

  • Application: The application itself usually consists of an online form. Applicants must provide personal information, their educational histories, and their past work experience.
  • Transcripts: Graduate programs ask students to submit transcripts from their undergraduate colleges. Admissions representatives require transcripts because they want to assess how well students did with previous coursework.
  • Recommendation Letters: Admissions offices often ask applicants for recommendation letters. Professors or previous bosses may write the letters, and you should give them at least a month to complete them.
  • Test Scores: In most cases, graduate programs in nursing administration do not require students to take the GRE. Instead, they expect students to prove they know the nursing and healthcare industry through their undergraduate education and professional experience.
  • Application Fee: Most master's programs in nursing administration require a fee along with the application. Fees typically range from $25-$50. If you cannot afford the application fee, the admissions office may potentially waive the application fee.

Every master's degree in nursing administration features different coursework, concentrations, and professors with unique lesson plans. This section outlines some variations of what you can expect.

Concentrations Offered for a Master's Degree in Nursing Administration
Concentration Description Careers
Nurse Educator Some nursing administrators aim to take on the responsibilities of nurse educator as well. This concentration allows students to educate and manage nursing professionals. Education and management fit naturally together, as both approach the nursing industry through leadership positions. Both help registered nurses develop and learn throughout their careers via professional development. Nurse educator, nursing consultant
Organizational Leadership A concentration in organizational leadership takes a deep dive into concepts such as budgeting and strategic planning. Students learn how to implement processes and policies that support nursing staff. They also learn how to maximize potential for services in healthcare facilities, all through thorough organization and planning. Nurse executive, medical and health services manager
Informatics Nursing informatics involves technologies, recordkeeping, and data analysis specific to healthcare systems. Students who pursue a nursing administration degree with an emphasis in informatics will likely take technology courses along with their administration courses. They learn how to manage information systems and how to oversee personnel. Healthcare computer and information systems manager
Public Health Nursing This concentration prepares students for working with healthcare organizations that serve low-income or underserved populations. Students learn how to assess communities and identify high-risk groups. They also learn how to manage grant-writing programs, and they master the skills to run organizations that serve cross-cultural communities. Social and community services manager, public health manager
Global Health Students who specialize in global health usually desire to work with international healthcare companies or non-governmental public health organizations. This emphasis area teaches them how to connect with foreign populations. It also trains students how to manage organizations that operate in multiple countries, which can be difficult to navigate when organizations have different public policies to consider. International medical and health services manager

Courses in a Master's in Nursing Administration Program

Nursing administration programs do not use one set of curriculum across the board. Each program offers its own course selection. The course descriptions below provide a glimpse at the classes you will find when researching nursing administration programs.

Healthcare Informatics for Nurses

Healthcare organizations typically function through particular systems that track patient records, operations, and finances. Students can take courses in healthcare informatics if they want to learn how to handle the information technology and data analysis systems in hospitals or other healthcare facilities.

Ethical and Legal Dimensions of Healthcare

Professionals working within healthcare management often must make difficult decisions. This class prepares students for the ethical considerations of challenging choices. It also teaches students their legal obligations and rights.

Health Policy

The American healthcare system invites particularly polarizing debates at both federal and state levels of government. Health policy changes often appear difficult to understand. Courses train students to thoroughly understand how the current regulations affect healthcare organizations and what it means for administrators.

Leadership in Healthcare Systems

Nurses who work in an administrative capacity consider leadership a crucial and fundamental skill. Leadership courses help students understand how to navigate management in the uniquely complex healthcare field. Students learn how to manage inter-departmental conflict, supervise employees, and communicate across various cultures.

Strategic Planning in Healthcare Organizations

The ultimate goal of healthcare organizations involves offering patients the best possible health outcome. The more efficiently a facility uses its resources, the better health outcomes patients receive. This means administrators must maintain excellent strategic-planning skills. This course trains future managers how to organize their planning in order to run the most capable healthcare facility.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Master's in Nursing Administration?

Master's programs in nursing administration typically take two years to complete. Other schools offer accelerated programs, which allows students to complete the program in 12-18 months.

Several factors determine how quickly students finish their master's degree. Students who enroll part-time stay in school for a longer period of time, while students who take many credit hours may graduate sooner. The program format also affects the length of time students need to earn their degrees. Online programs allow students more flexibility with course scheduling. Many distance-learning programs offer accelerated, seven-week semesters. On-campus programs typically take two years to complete.

Finally, some graduate programs require students to complete a practicum or professional project before graduation. Occasionally, students draw this final experience out over several years. Even if they finish their coursework on time, they might not complete their program until years later.

How Much is a Master's in Nursing Administration?

Each school demands different prices for students. A nursing administration master's degree typically requires students to pay $300-$500 per credit hour. The typical program also requires students to complete 36 credit hours before graduating, which means full tuition costs range from $10,800-$18,000. However, some schools can cost up to $880 per credit hour. Other schools expect students to complete 37-40 credit hours. These factors can significantly increase the cost of graduate school.

Students should also factor in other costs such as textbooks and technology, facility, and distance-learning fees. Students must determine whether they can pay for housing, food, and bills while attending school. If not, they may have to apply for student loans or continue to work full time while simultaneously attending classes.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Nursing Administration Prepares For

Nurse Executive Certification

Offered by the American Nurses Association (ANA), this certification tests professionals on their skills in managing daily operations of a nursing healthcare unit or department. Nurses with this certification have skills in human capital and financial management. They also understand legal issues and consumer decisions in the realm of healthcare and public policy.

Nurse Executive, Advanced Certification

Much like the Nurse Executive Certification, this certification tests concepts such as personnel policies, organizational theory, and strategic sourcing. It requires candidates to hold a master's degree and at least two years of professional experience.

Nursing Professional Development Certification

This certification is ideal for nursing administrators who wish to add teaching continuing education to their skill set. It evaluates candidates' knowledge of teaching and learning models, as well as their abilities in leadership, communication, and education design.

Nursing Home Administrator License

Some nursing administrators may want to work in nursing homes or long-term care facilities. In order to follow this career path, they must first obtain their nursing home administrator license. Eligibility differs by state. If you feel curious about the eligibility requirements in your state, visit the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards (NAB) website.

Residential Care/Assisted Living Administrator License

Run by the NAB, this certification assesses professionals' ability and knowledge of managing either a residential care or an assisted living facility. Some states require certification. Call your state's licensure office to verify requirements.

AONE Resource Library

The American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) gives members access to a searchable research library. Students can find webinars, articles, reports, and blog posts to help them with their coursework.

Journal of Nursing Administration

Students can use this academic journal as a resource when conducting research. The journal publishes articles on topics such as leveraging professional development to meet a healthcare organization's strategic goals.

Emerging Nurse Leader Institute

The AONE runs this institute for students and early-career nurse administrators. Participants attend summits to learn about management and leadership.

ANA Center for Ethics

The Center for Ethics provides text of the nurses' Code of Ethics as well as foundational and supplemental documents regarding nursing ethics on its website.

ANA Leadership

Nurses working in leadership positions can access useful webinars on this site.

Professional Organizations in Nursing Administration

If students feel interested in joining a professional organization, they can find many nursing administration associations as well as a plethora of nursing associations and healthcare management associations. These organizations offer certifications that students may find necessary in their job search. Associations also typically host conferences or other educational events where students can network and learn from seasoned professionals. These groups typically offer discounted or free membership to students.