Is Nursing School Worth It? – (Pros VS. Cons)

Written By: Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA

Are you looking for a career with great growth potential and good income-earning opportunities? Do you enjoy caring for others and work well as part of a team? If so, have you thought of becoming a nurse? Perhaps you considered nursing but wonder, “Is nursing school worth it?”

In this article, I will share 25 reasons why nursing school is worth it and 10 reasons why it may not be worth it for you. I will give you some statistics and share some of my personal experiences in nursing to help you decide if this is the career path you should choose.


A nursing school is any institution of higher learning that trains students to become licensed as nurses.
Nursing schools prepare students with knowledge of nursing theory and clinical skills to provide high-quality, competent nursing care to patients of various ages with various levels of health and illness.



Nursing school can take as little as two years or more than four years to complete. The type of degree you pursue and whether you enroll part-time or full-time are the main factors that determine how long it takes to earn a nursing degree.


Associate degree in nursing programs take an average of two to three years to complete, depending on whether you pursue the degree as a part-time or full-time student. For example, the ADN program at Eastern New Mexico University is designed for part-time study and takes three years to complete. The traditional ADN program at Pierce College takes six quarters to complete full-time. However, if you are a licensed practical/vocational nurse, you can complete the program in three-quarters full-time or five-quarters part-time.


The average Bachelor of Science in Nursing program takes four to five years to complete. The University of Texas-Austin, for instance, offers a full-time BSN program that takes four years to complete. Drexel University offers a four-year full-time study plan and a part-time five-year study plan for BSN students.


Nursing school requires not just an investment of time but of money, too. The cost of nursing school varies depending on whether you pursue an associate or bachelor's degree. Other factors that may impact your costs include whether you pay in-state or out-of-state tuition and if you have any type of financial aid, such as grants and scholarships. Some programs cost between $5,000 and $10,000. Others cost more than $200,000.


The Associate Degree in Nursing program at Sierra College costs less than $5,000. At Laredo Community College, the ADN program costs an average of $10,000, which includes tuition and fees.


Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs can cost between $35,000 and $200,000 (or more). At the University of Central Florida, you can earn a BSN for $25,261 to $25,686, depending on whether you live in the state or out of state. Conversely, at New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing, students living on campus pay an average of $296,496 for the program. Students living off-campus pay approximately $219,520 to earn a BSN.


All nursing schools have a set of admission criteria applicants must meet to be accepted. In some cases, you may find the requirements of BSN programs are stricter than ADN programs. It is important to review the admission requirements for each school where you plan to apply, so you can ensure you meet the criteria and submit all appropriate documentation.


Associate nursing degree programs typically require candidates to have a 2.5 to 3.0 high school grade point average. If you have attended college before applying, your GPA will be calculated on your most recent degree or attempted credits. You will need to take the TEAS test, provide high school or college transcripts, and complete the required prerequisites.

Other criteria include the following from the Arkansas Northeastern College ADN program. Applicants must provide Accuplacer or ACT test results, official high school and college transcripts, and documentation of current immunizations.


Most BSN programs require a grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale from either high school or college. You may also be asked to provide an admission essay, Personal Statement, and letters of recommendation. Some nursing schools also use a holistic approach to evaluating candidates.

For example, at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA), the school considers previous high school and college achievements, performance in athletics, performing arts, and community service programs, and personal qualities and characteristics.


(The following are the top 25 reasons why nursing school is worth it.)

REASON #1: Nursing school prepares you for diverse roles.

One of the biggest reasons nursing school is worth it is that you can pursue many different roles as a nurse. You may decide to work in a clinical setting, such as a hospital or physician's office, where you will provide direct patient care. You could also choose to pursue a nonclinical role in nursing research or nursing education. The options are truly limitless!

REASON #2: You will learn to care for others.

Nursing, in and of itself, is the art of caring for others. In nursing school, you will learn to identify patient needs, communicate with patients, their loved ones, and your team members, and promote interventions that support health and wellness. As a nursing student, you will learn not only how to provide care but why certain therapies and interventions are most appropriate based on your patient’s individual needs. Although nursing school does not teach you to be a caring person, you will learn how to demonstrate your caring nature to promote positive outcomes.

REASON #3: You can advocate for others.

To me, one of the greatest things about nursing is that we get to advocate for others, which is the responsibility of all nurses. Nursing school is worth it because you will learn about patient rights and your role in promoting those rights. You will learn the proper procedures for advocating for patients, your team, and the profession, making you an effective member of the nursing community.

REASON #4: You will enter a career with a good job outlook.

Another awesome thing about nursing is that the profession has a good long-term outlook. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects nursing jobs will increase by 6.24% between now and 2031. This growth suggests there will be more than 200,000 job openings annually, which means an excellent job outlook, just one of the biggest reasons nursing school is worth it!

REASON #5: There is always room for advancement.

Nursing is a profession that requires a lifestyle of continuous learning. With continued learning, there are many opportunities for advancement. For example, you could decide to pursue a graduate degree and become a nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, or nurse educator. The possibilities for career growth and advancement are among the top reasons nursing school is worth it.

REASON #6: There is great income potential.

If you want a career that offers good, steady income potential, nursing school is worth it. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average annual salary for nursing school graduates is $89,010. That income is not the limit of what you can earn, though. Some registered nurses earn six-figure incomes based on their specialty and job title.

REASON #7: You can choose a specialty.

Something else I love about nursing, and one of the biggest reasons nursing school is worth it, is that you are not limited to earning a degree and that being “final.” You can choose to specialize and care for a patient population that interests you most. For instance, you could become a women’s health nurse, pediatric nurse, or gerontology nurse. You can also earn certifications related to a specific type of care, such as cardiac nursing, forensic nursing, or public health nursing.

REASON #8: You can travel the country while earning a living.

If you are the type of person who loves exploring new places, meeting new people, and experiencing new things, you may decide to become a travel nurse. Travel nursing has grown in popularity in recent years, even more so since the COVID-19 pandemic. As a travel nurse, you can travel the country or even worldwide, providing care to patients while earning an excellent income.

REASON #9: You will gain skills that are transferrable.

Another reason why nursing school is worth it is that you will develop skills that you can transfer to other aspects of your life. You will learn critical thinking, organization, attention to detail, how to multitask, and adaptability, to name a few. These skills are necessary for any profession and can positively impact your personal life, as well.

REASON #10: Each day brings something new.

Nursing school is worth it because it gives you the opportunity to experience new things daily. Whether you are in the classroom or in a clinical setting, each day will bring a chance to learn and grow personally and professionally. You will meet new people, develop new skills, and have opportunities for continuing education, which means you should never be bored!

REASON #11: Nursing is a rewarding career.

Another reason nursing school is worth it is that it prepares you for a rewarding career. Having been a nurse for many years, I can say with certainty that there is no greater feeling than knowing you played a small part in caring for someone and helping improve their life. You may work with children who come to you afraid and develop a caring rapport with them that makes them more at ease. You could work with critically ill patients and get to participate in care that helps them begin their road to recovery. There are so many things about nursing that leave you feeling personally and professionally rewarded!

REASON #12: You can become a nurse educator.

Another of the top reasons why nursing school is worth it is you can use your education and experience to train future nurses. There are so many opportunities in nursing education. You may choose to work at a small community college or a larger university. You could opt to be a clinical coordinator and work with upper-level nursing students in their practicums. One of the things I love about nursing education is, as nurse educators, we can make a difference in healthcare now and in the future.

REASON #13: You will develop lifelong friendships.

I remember when I first started nursing school (many years ago). I was excited and nervous at the same time. You will be, too. The great thing about it is that you will meet people just like you. You will learn together in the classroom and in clinical settings, and the bonds that you develop in nursing school will last a lifetime.

REASON #14: You can use your degree to pursue multiple income paths.

One of the biggest reasons nursing school is worth it is you can pursue multiple income streams. I personally know many nurses who have full-time jobs in nursing but who also work per diem nursing jobs or work other side hustles. The great thing about being able to work different jobs is you can expand your professional network and grow your skills, and along the way, you may find your dream job. For me, writing is a passion. I began doing some freelance writing when I was still working in a clinical role and teaching on the side, but I was later afforded the opportunity to write full-time, which I love. The only limits to what you can do in nursing are the limits you place on yourself.

REASON #15: Nursing school will prompt personal growth.

Nursing school is awesome for professional growth and development, but it will also prompt you to grow personally. You will learn effective communication and how to emphasize with others. These skills are essential if you want to grow personally and develop meaningful relationships.

REASON #16: You will have a sense of accomplishment.

Earning any degree is something to be proud of. When you earn your degree and then pass the NCLEX to become licensed, you will have an amazing sense of accomplishment. This is one of the many reasons nursing school is worth it.

REASON #17: You could get great benefits!

In addition to earning a great salary, many nurses are offered excellent benefits packages. Benefits packages vary, depending on the size of your organization and employment terms, but some can be worth thousands of dollars. Some benefits you may receive include medical, vision, and dental insurance, paid vacation time, paid sick time, retirement plans, and license and certification fee reimbursement.

REASON #18: You can contribute to positive patient outcomes.

One of the awesome things about being a nurse is you can play an active role in patient care interventions that lead to better outcomes. In nursing school, you will learn to assess patients to collect subjective and objective data used to diagnose and treat patients. You will learn to create nursing care plans with interventions focused on your patient’s individual needs. The fact that you can play an active role in patient care that leads to positive patient outcomes is one more of the awesome reasons nursing school is worth it.

REASON #19: You will become part of one of the most trusted professions.

Nursing, according to a recent Gallup poll, is ranked as the top career known for high standards of ethics and honesty. When you consider the fact that a nurse's work is physically and emotionally demanding and that nurses often work short-handed, it says a lot that we still conduct ourselves in a manner befitting being ranked as one of the most trusted professions.

REASON #20: You can lobby for changes in healthcare.

As a nurse, you can use your knowledge, experience, voice, and vote as tools to impact the future of healthcare legislation. Nurse lobbyists work to promote issues related to healthcare policies and legislation by collecting data, performing research, and presenting information about determinants of health and how policy change can impact those determinants. Some nurse lobbyists and analysts work as independent consultants, and others work for professional organizations, including state or local health departments.

REASON #21: You will learn vital leadership skills.

Another of the top reasons why nursing school is worth it is you will develop and implement leadership skills. Whether you have a job in nursing management or leadership or not, as a nurse, you are expected to demonstrate leadership abilities. In nursing school, you will learn how to lead your team in providing exceptional patient care, communicate with patients, their families and friends, and your role as part of the interdisciplinary team.

REASON #22: There is a demand for nurses.

With a nationwide shortage of nurses and no positive end in sight, the demand for qualified nurses remains high. For you, this means the potential for finding a good job quickly is good. The baby boomer generation aging and reaching retirement age, more people having access to health insurance, and nurses leaving the profession because of burnout are some of the contributing factors leading to the demand. Whatever factors most impact your geographical area, the fact remains a demand for nurses means excellent job potential for you.

REASON #23: Many nursing jobs offer flexible scheduling options.

If you are looking for a career with flexibility, nursing is a great option. Although each hospital or healthcare facility has different shifts and scheduling policies, and because there is such a need for qualified nurses, many offer flexible scheduling options. Nurses with small children or other family responsibilities may opt for jobs that offer a daytime schedule, allowing them to be home at night. Other nurses prefer to work night shifts and have days off work to pursue other interests. So, if finding a job with flexibility is something you need, nursing school is worth it.

REASON #24: There are many educational pathways to becoming a nurse.

Thanks to the world of technology where we now live, there are many pathways to choose from to earn your nursing degree. Many colleges and universities offer online learning pathways, which means you can earn your degree on your time. If you prefer in-person learning, there are traditional campus-based programs where you can learn in the classroom with your peers and direct faculty interaction.

REASON #25: You can make a difference in others' lives.

If you want a career where you can make a lasting impact and be the difference, nursing school is worth it. Even on tough days, what you do as a nurse matters. Whether you administer medications, perform wound care, educate patients, or simply sit by someone’s bedside, you can make a difference in someone’s life. If being a positive influence and encouraging others in difficult times interests you, nursing is a great career choice.


(The following are the top 10 reasons why nursing school may not be worth it for you.)

REASON #1: The coursework can be rigorous.

The curriculum for nursing programs is course-heavy and quite rigorous. Additionally, you will participate in laboratory intensives and clinical practicums, which require significant time. You must complete a minimum number of didactic and clinical hours, based on your State Board of Nursing guidelines, to be eligible to sit for the licensing exam. If you want an easy path to earning a degree, you may feel nursing school is not worth it.

REASON #2: Nursing is physically demanding.

On any given day as a nurse, you may lift heavy patients or equipment several times. You will spend a great deal of time on your feet, going from one patient to the next or one department to another. Depending on your patient load, you may have few breaks. The physical toll can be frustrating, especially if you do not get enough rest in your downtime. Self-care for nurses is especially important to help combat fatigue, brain fog, and illness.

REASON #3: You may become emotionally attached to patients.

Nurses are known for compassion and empathy, which are great qualities, but those qualities may lead to their becoming too emotionally attached to patients. I can tell you from experience that, no matter how hard you try, there will be situations or patient cases that tug at your heartstrings a little more than others. The ability to show compassion and kindness to patients, their families, and friends is essential.

However, we must also learn to identify when the lines of professionalism become blurred and do our best to maintain a professional relationship without allowing our emotions to get the best of us. If you have a hard time separating your personal feelings from what is best for the patient, you may discover nursing school is not worth it to you.

REASON #4: You will be exposed to infectious agents.

One of the biggest reasons nursing school is not worth it is that you will be at risk for exposure to infectious illnesses and diseases. In nursing school, you will learn about infection control and personal protective equipment, which, when used correctly, can reduce your risks. However, it is still worth mentioning that the risk of exposure is real, and even the most careful nurses sometimes become ill or injured when providing care.

REASON #5: You must care for all patients, regardless of your opinions or beliefs.

Being a nurse means you care for all patients assigned to you. Your opinion about how they dress, the type of work they do, and how they parent or treat others is irrelevant. What is important is that sick people need nurses, and when you graduate nursing school, you will be expected to provide the highest quality care possible without discrimination. I encourage anyone considering becoming a nurse to think about how you handle conflicts of interest. If you find it difficult to care for people because they are different from you, I would be inclined to suggest that nursing school is not worth it.

REASON #6: Not all patients appreciate nurses.

While nursing is a very rewarding job, you should not expect all patients to fawn over you. There will be days when you have patients who cannot seem to thank you enough for everything you do. Then, there will be other days when your patients and their families seem to find something wrong with everything you do for them.

Even the best nursing schools cannot prepare you for the disappointment that comes with knowing you gave your best to care for someone and they are unappreciative. You have to be emotionally tough and realize that sickness leaves people feeling angry and afraid, which could make them act rude toward you. You must accept the fact that, although you do not deserve it, there will be times when you wonder if it is worth what you go through to provide care for others.

REASON #7: Healthcare is CONSTANTLY changing.

As a healthcare educator and a lover of learning, I appreciate the fact that healthcare is an ever-changing landscape. However, I also realize that it takes genuine dedication to the profession to stay abreast of changes. To be an effective nurse who provides high-quality care, you must adopt an attitude of continual learning. If you are looking for a career path where you can earn a degree, go to work, and not have to worry about continuing education, you will find nursing school is not worth it.

REASON #8: Some of your patients will die.

No matter how long I have been a nurse, one of the hardest things for me to deal with is losing patients. Despite your best efforts, there will be times when your patients simply do not recover and die. You can have the best nursing instructors and outstanding preceptors and give the highest quality care available, but sometimes it is to no avail. If you want a career that always has a happy or positive outcome, you could feel this is one of the top reasons why nursing school is not worth it.

REASON #9: Nursing school is stressful.

As if being physically exhausted and emotionally drained were not enough, nursing school can leave you feeling mentally stressed and overwhelmed. Beginning nursing school means transitioning to the role of a student, taking on school-related expenses and endless hours of studying and clinicals. Success depends on your ability to identify stressors and effectively manage stress while in nursing school. If you do not handle stress well, you may be among the people who feel nursing school stress is one of the biggest reasons nursing school is not worth it.

REASON #10: You can make good money elsewhere.

One of the first questions I asked nursing students was, “Why do you want to become a nurse?” I asked because I was genuinely interested in what attracted them to the profession. Nursing can be fulfilling, and there will be days when you feel like you can accomplish anything and are on top of the world. Other days, it may be difficult to put one foot in front of the other, and you may feel like there is not enough money in the world to pay for the work you do... and you will be right. If you want to become a nurse because you want to care for others and feel you can make a difference, that is awesome.

However, if you are considering nursing because you can earn a good income, you may want to consider another path. I say this because the truth is, even on our best days, there is no price worth the care and compassion given by a nurse who nurses from the heart.


As the population ages and continues to live longer and older nurses reach retirement age, the need to fill vacancies and provide healthcare to older people with chronic conditions grows. The BLS projects there will be an increase of 6.24% for nursing jobs between 2021 and 2031.

(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there are approximately 203,200 annual job openings for nursing school graduates each year. These jobs include approximately 19,540 new jobs and 183,660 replacement jobs.

New ReplacementAnnual Job Openings
(New + Replacement)
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


The starting salary for new graduates of nursing school is $29.45 per hour, $1,178 per week, or $5,100 per month. This pay is equal to $61,250 annually.

(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


After graduating from nursing school and becoming licensed as a nurse, the more work experience you gain, the greater your earning potential. For example, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics states entry-level registered nurses earn an average of $61,250 per year. Within just five to nine years, the average income increases by nearly $20,000 to approximately $81,220. Registered nurses with 20 years of experience or more earn $129,400 on average.

Level of Experience Hourly Weekly Monthly Annual
Entry-Level $29.45 $1,178 $5,100 $61,250
1-4 Years of Experience $32.06 $1,282 $5,560 $66,680
5-9 Years of Experience $39.05 $1,562 $6,770 $81,220
10-19 Years of Experience $48.61 $1,944 $8,430 $101,100
20 Years or More Experience $62.21 $2,488 $10,780 $129,400
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


The average salary for experienced nursing school graduates is $89,010 per year. That pay is equivalent to $42.79 per hour, $1.712 per week, or $7,420 per month.

(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


As you consider your options for nursing school, one of the determining factors for whether you pursue a degree may be whether the cost of nursing school is worth the return on your investment. To determine your possible ROI, the easiest way is to compare the cost of nursing school to how much money you can make.

Nursing school can cost as little as $5,000 to a couple hundred thousand dollars, depending on your program and other factors. Registered nurses earn an average of $89,010 annually. If you enroll in one of the more expensive programs, it could take you three to four years to see a positive return. However, if you earn your degree at a nursing school that costs less, you could see a positive return on your investment as soon as the first year after graduating. It is also important to keep in mind that the average income is not an income cap and that you can earn significantly higher wages. With all these factors in mind, I believe the cost of nursing school is worth the return on investment.


If you are considering a nursing career, you likely have lots of questions. One of the first things you ask may be, “Is nursing school worth it?" I have been a nurse for many years, and if I could do it all over again, I would still become a nurse.

Deciding if nursing school is worth it is a personal decision, though. In this article, I shared 25 reasons why nursing school is worth it and 10 reasons why it may not be worth it for you. I want to encourage you to consider the reasons and, if you feel nursing school is for you, get started today!


1. What Is The Best Age To Enter A Nursing School?

There is no perfect age to begin nursing school. In my experience, I believe if you are mature enough to handle the stress and responsibilities that come with nursing school and a career in nursing, and you know it is a path you want to pursue, you will succeed, regardless of your age.

2. How Hard Is It To Get Into A Nursing School?

Admission to some nursing schools is more competitive than others, which makes many people wonder if nursing school is worth it. I suggest finding at least three or four schools that interest you and applying to each of them to increase your chances of admission.

3. What Is The Minimum GPA To Get Into A Nursing School?

The minimum GPA needed to get into nursing school is determined by each school. On average, most schools require candidates to have a minimum high school or college GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

4. Are Scholarships, Loans, And Grants Available For Nursing School Graduates?

Yes, there are many scholarships, loans, and grants available for nursing school graduates. You may choose to apply for federal grants and student loans as well as private scholarships and grant opportunities.

5. Do I Need Work Experience To Get Into A Nursing School?

Associate and bachelor's degree nursing programs typically do not require candidates to have work experience to be admitted.

6. Can Nursing School Students Have A Life?

Good time management and prioritization of tasks can help free up some of your time while allowing you to accomplish everything you need for nursing school and still have a life.

7. Can I Work Part-Time And Successfully Complete Nursing School?

Yes, you can work part-time and successfully complete nursing school.

8. Can I Work Full-Time And Successfully Complete Nursing School?

Many nursing school students chose to work full-time while completing nursing school. If you have a demanding job, you may find that enrolling in nursing part-time works better for you. If you are undecided about going to school and working, consider making an appointment with your academic advisor and employer to see what works best for you.

9. Is It Hard To Graduate From Nursing School?

Nursing school can be difficult to complete. The programs have in-depth curriculum plans and require dedication to studying and completing clinical practicums. However, if you prioritize school, you can succeed!

10. Do Students Fail In Nursing School?

Unfortunately, some students do fail in nursing school. Does that mean nursing school is not worth it? Absolutely not! If you truly want to become a nurse and work hard to succeed, you can make it happen!

11. What Is The Dropout Rate For Nursing Students?

The National League for Nursing (NLN) reports the national dropout rate for nursing students is 20%.

12. Will I Ever Regret Entering A Nursing School?

Because everyone is different, it is hard to say if you will ever regret entering a nursing school. I suggest anyone considering going to nursing school should weigh the pros and cons of nursing school and a nursing career and decide what motivates them. You could also consider talking to others in the profession to get an idea of what it is like to be a nurse.

13. How Much Does A Nursing School Graduate Make Per Hour?

Nursing school graduates earn an average of $42.79 per hour.


14. How Much Does A Nursing School Graduate Make Per Week?

The average weekly pay for graduates of nursing school is $1,712.


15. How Much Does A Nursing School Graduate Make Per Month?

Nursing school graduates earn approximately $7,420 per month.


16. How Much Does A Nursing School Graduate Make Per Year?

The average annual salary for nursing school graduates is $89,010.


17. Will Nursing School Graduates Be Paid Less In The Future?

One of the main factors that determine earning potential is the demand for services. With nursing shortages nationwide and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing projecting a crisis related to nursing workforce shortages, it is more likely that nurses will be paid more in the future rather than see a decrease in pay.

18. Can Nursing School Graduates Become Rich?

Whether you become rich or not as a nurse will be determined by several factors, including where you work and your job title. Each person handles their finances differently, but nursing school graduates who manage their money wisely can experience great financial freedom.

19. Are Nursing School Graduates Happy With Their Jobs?

Most sources report nurses express overall satisfaction with their jobs.

20. What Are Some Of The Best Nursing School Alternatives?

There are many alternatives to nursing school. If you want a healthcare career, you could choose from options such as healthcare administration, physical therapy, or occupational therapy. Other alternatives include social work and education careers.

Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years of experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels. Because of her love of nursing education, Darby became a test-taking strategist and NCLEX prep coach and assists nursing graduates across the United States who are preparing to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).