According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average income for a registered nurse as of May, 2005 was almost $57,000. Further, the 2004 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses revealed that there is a shortage of registered nurses. Nursing is a growing career and online education degree programs make it an attainable goal even for those who are currently in the workforce.Every state has its own Board of Nursing that determines the licensing requirements for nurses to practice in that particular state. State nursing boards base their criteria on the Uniform Core Licensure Requirements, the Model Nursing Practice Act and the Model Nursing Administrative Rules developed by the National Council of State Nursing Boards (NCSNB). Nurses are required to periodically renew their licenses and certain states mandate continuing education for renewal.There are several types of nurses and degree programs nurse online education that potential students can choose:Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). An LPN is required to take eighteen months to two years of education in areas such as physiology, anatomy, patient care and medications. To become an LPN, an individual must pass state or national boards and periodically renew their license. The exam all LPNs are required to pass is called the NCLEX-PN. An LPN can handle all aspects of basic care under the supervision of a registered nurse or physician and with the assistance of nursing assistants and orderlies. Bureau of Labor Statistics show there are over 700,000 people employed as LPNs today. Online education makes it easy to work in the field while obtaining necessary educational credentials.Registered Nurse (RN). A registered nurse is a professional nurse who holds an associates degree (two years of study), specialized nursing diploma (three years of study) or bachelors degree (four years of study) and pass the state board exam. The exam all registered nurses are required to pass is called the NCLEX. Registered nurses are also required to have many hours of clinical training and experience prior to graduation. There are less RN programs offering a diploma because many employers prefer registered nurses to hold a bachelors degree. A registered nurse provides direct care to patients, makes decisions about plans of care and supervises LPNs, orderlies and nursing assistants. Registered nurses often pursue a Master of Science in Nursing or Doctor of Nursing Science to take on advanced roles in the field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that RNs have become the most popular health care occupation in the country, with over 2.3 million people working as registered nurses. Often LPNs decide to pursue their RN for advanced career opportunities. Because there is a great need for additional registered nurses, quite a few employers offers tuition reimbursement and other educational incentives. Online education programs simplify the process of obtaining an advanced degree while gaining necessary experience in the field.Advanced Practice Nurse (APN). An advanced practice nurse is a registered nurse who has advanced skills, experience and education. An APN holds a master’s or doctorate degree in nursing, as well as possible additional certifications. An APN is required to fulfill continuing education and take re-examinations periodically to maintain their license. APNs perform as a nurse practitioner (NP), certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), certified nurse midwife (CNM) or clinical nurse specialist (CNS). Busy registered nurses can pursue advanced degrees online while maintaining their current positions.Continuing Education. To maintain certifications, certain types of nurses in some states are required to fulfill continuing education requirements. Online education programs make is easier for nurses working various hours in the field to complete necessary educational requirements conveniently.Financial Aid. Nursing is a growing career with more jobs available than people to fill them. The US Bureau of Health Professions state that by 2020, the United States will need over 1.7 million nurses and only 635,000 are anticipated to be available. As a result, there are many opportunities to pursue financial aid such as scholarships and tuition reimbursement. Hospitals and schools have a variety of incentive programs available to students who want to work and remain in the nursing profession. Nursing students call also pursue standard state and federal financial aid such as grants, as well as student loan programs such as Stafford.Career Opportunities. Nursing offers a wide variety of settings to work in, such as hospitals, physicians’ offices, schools, military, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, the Red Cross, hospices and businesses. Nurses can become forensic specialists, business nurses, legal nurses or even teach other nurses. Nursing has become a diversified, flexible career with many specialization options available.Career Prospects. The United States Department of Labor reports that Registered Nursing is the top occupation with regard to job growth right through the year 2014. Further, surprising results of the 2006 Harris Poll reveal that nurses, doctors and firefighters are seen as the most prestigious occupations in the United States, while stockbrokers, real estate agents and business executives are perceived at the opposite end of the spectrum. A nurse with a 4 year degree has the potential to earn one of the highest starting salaries in the health care field, with the ability to earn in excess of $100,000 annually.Online education nursing degree programs offer students an opportunity to gain an advanced education while obtaining necessary experience in the field.