AAS vs. BSN Nursing Program: Differences Explained

If you’re thinking about becoming a nurse, you may be wondering whether to pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Costs, time commitments, future earning power, and desired career opportunities will impact your choice. While a bachelor’s degree can lead to higher salaries and more professional growth, there are other factors that can impact your earnings and prospects. Plus, there’s nothing that says you can’t go on to earn a bachelor’s after obtaining your associate’s degree.

The differences between an associate’s in applied science (AAS) and a bachelor in nursing (BSN) program lie in earning potential, curriculum, and types of positions you will qualify for. Your choice of which degree to pursue will largely depend on your long-term goals. Generally speaking, a BSN is geared toward people who eventually want more administrative or managerial nursing jobs.

Earning Potential
First, a degree alone will not determine what you earn over the course of your career. If you’re looking for aas nursing programs near me, the average annual salary for graduates is slightly over $40,000. However, your years of experience, location’s cost of living, tenure with an employer, and local labor market conditions will also factor into the potential earnings.

BSN graduates, on the other hand, can expect to earn up to $75,330 annually. Your nursing specialty can cause you to earn less or more than the averages for each degree. Both degrees prepare nurses for entry-level positions, which can be on the lower end of local averages. Your earnings may go up if you’re also required to obtain additional certifications as you gain on-the-job experience.

An AAS degree will prepare you to execute clinical nursing skills, while a bachelor’s program will expand beyond clinical training. You’ll learn nursing theory, leadership, and management concepts. You’ll also delve into how to conduct nursing research. There is more of an emphasis on critical thinking and problem-solving in a BSN program.

Both degrees will prepare future nurses to care for patients. However, a BSN degree will show nurses the impacts socioeconomic factors and public policies have on health care. In a bachelor’s program, you’ll learn how to make data-driven decisions that change how healthcare facilities deliver care. Because of the more complex curriculum, a bachelor’s program takes more time to complete and costs more.

Professional Opportunities
Graduates from AAS and BSN programs typically start their careers in the same types of roles. As entry-level nurses, they’ll spend their days working with patients, caring for their needs, monitoring their vitals and charts, and giving them medications. The majority of graduates work in hospitals, medical facilities, or doctors’ offices.

Differences between AAS and BSN graduates start to emerge when nurses look at their long-term career opportunities. Those with a bachelor’s degree can qualify for management and leadership roles. They also may have opportunities to serve in the public sector as a public health nurse or case manager. There are some employers and states that require a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions or to remain on staff.

Whether you decide to pursue an AAS or BSN degree is a highly personal choice. If you already have an associate’s or bachelor’s and are looking to change careers, you may qualify for an accelerated BSN program. But, if you’re concerned about costs and don’t want to move into managerial roles, an AAS may be the better route.

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