Saturday, April 14, 2012

Why career advice on the Internet can be total crap

I like nurses, though I've never wanted to be one.  My mother's a nurse, my sister will be in a year or so.  Most of my best projects have been done in conjunction with nursing departments.  Due to my proximity to lots and lots of nurses, I tend to hear a lot about the ups and downs of the profession.

Given that, this article annoyed the heck out of me.

The headline reads "How To Land A $60K Health Care Job With A Two-Year Degree", and being curious about the salaries of those around me, I took a peak.  I was stunned to see that the supposed "$60K job with 2 years of education" was nursing.  As proof, they offered the average annual salary for RN's as $67,000 (backed up by the BLS here.  (The BLS actually used the median, which is slightly lower at $64,000).  They went on to mention that nurses in Massachusetts make an average of $84,000 a year.

Now that all sounds awesome, but here's what's deceptive:  RN is not a degree.  RN is a license.  Neither the Bureau of Labor Statistics nor this article differentiate between the salaries of those who get an RN after getting an associate's degree, and those who get it after getting a bachelor's degree.  It turns out there's a lot of debate over how much of a difference this makes, but I can definitely speak to that Massachusetts salary number.  I work for one of the institutions that's notorious for paying nurses extremely well.  They do not hire nurses who don't have a BSN.  For most of the major Boston teaching hospitals, this is an increasing trend.  The Institute of Medicine is calling for 80% of nurses to be BSN educated by 2020, and many hospitals are responding accordingly.  Most management jobs are off limits to associate's level nurses.

I'll leave it to the nursing associations to debate whether all this is necessary or not, but I will bring up that taking an average of two different degrees with two different sets of job prospects and then not mentioning that it may be apples and oranges.  Additionally, even when nurses and nurse managers make the same amount, it's often because one is overtime eligible (and works nights and evenings) and one doesn't.  So overall, deceptive headline, designed to make people click on it.

Of course since I did click on it, I guess that worked.


  1. It's sort of like saying "learn to be a football coach! They can make millions of dollars!"

    Some nursing procedures require additional training as well, which are not "degrees," but important. And, as you mention, overtime factors in heavily. there are nurses who work enormous amounts who will pick up the average.

    1. Yes, and the overnight and evening differentials tend to be significant...but of course you have to work overnights and evenings for those.