Top Five Reasons to Pursue Nursing as a Second Career

ABSN nurse studying
ABSN nurse studying

Did you know the average person changes jobs 10 to 15 times during their working years? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many workers spend five years or less in every job. Unlike generations past, it’s no longer the norm for your first career to be your last.

Wherever you are in your career, it’s never too late to start over. A second career in nursing may be the right path if you are looking for an occupation filled with rewarding challenges and want to make a difference in people’s lives. But that’s just the beginning.

People come to nursing as a second career for many reasons. According to a study by the Online Journal of Issues in Nursing (OJIN), the career background of second-career nurses includes everything from fine arts to STEM fields. But one of the major reasons the study found for embarking on a new career as a nurse was to seek more satisfying work. 

its not too late to be a nurse

Even if you’ve been working in your current career for many years, don’t be discouraged. According to the same study, approximately 26% of second-career nurses are over the age of 40. The study states that many individuals who enter nursing later in life bring a diversified history of work experience to their new profession that can enhance their success in their second career, including interpersonal communication skills, critical thinking and effective problem-solving. 

Read on to learn the top five reasons why you should consider a career change to nursing. 


#1: Nursing offers job security

Nurses are in high demand these days. Each year, thousands of baby boomer-age nurses retire, and there aren’t enough new nurses to replace them. This oncoming shortage of nurses poses a major threat to the health care industry today, making the need for new nurses more important than ever. By pursuing a nursing career, you will be well positioned to help meet this demand.

In addition to the shortage, the number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060. That leaves a lot of seniors – who are leading longer and more active lives these days – in need of health care. 

So it only makes sense that six out of 10 new jobs the U.S. economy is expected to add over the next decade are in the field of health care and social assistance. More specifically, employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 7% from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the BLS


#2: Nursing Provides Job Flexibility

One of the many perks of a career in nursing is the opportunity to work in shifts, giving you plenty of time off in between to care for yourself and create balance in your life. 

For example, the average work schedule for a nurse in a long-term health facility or hospital is 12-hour shifts, three days a week. The hours may be long, but that leaves four days in between to relax and recharge.

When you compare that to what most people work—eight hours a day, five days a week—a nurse’s schedule offers far more flexibility. While every facility and employer will be different, working longer days means more days off. This flexibility can be especially helpful if you are also taking care of children, parents or grandparents.

Keep in mind that a full-time schedule isn’t your only option. Many nurses only work weekends, part-time or on an as-needed basis. If you’re a parent or caregiver of any kind at home, this allows for plenty of time to attend to your personal life, while also enjoying an exciting career. 

Traveling nurses are also in greater demand as COVID-stressed hospitals look for extra pairs of hands. 

nursing can be financially rewarding


#3: Nursing can be financially rewarding

Registered nurses in the United States in 2020 averaged an annual salary of $77,460, according to the BLS. And as the demand for nurses continues, the average salary is likely to increase as well. 

To put that in perspective, the national average salary for all occupations is $53,490. Depending on what type of nurse you eventually become as you further advance your education, your earning potential could grow. For example, a nurse practitioner’s median salary is $109,820 a year, and a nurse anesthetist can earn nearly $175,000 annually. 

Also, keep in mind that most nursing jobs offer ample opportunities to work overtime, which typically comes with a higher pay rate. So, the more you work, the more money you can make. Hospitals need nurses around the clock, so working an extra shift here and there when it works for you may be an option. 


#4: Nursing offers a wide variety of career options

Being a nurse can mean many different things. You can begin your career as CNA or LPN, then become a registered nurse, and from there, the possibilities are endless. 

Depending on how much time you want to commit to your education, there are plenty of advanced degree nursing options, including becoming a nurse practitioner, a certified nurse midwife, a nurse anesthetist or a critical care nurse. 

Within a hospital system, there is a wide variety of paths you can follow as a registered nurse, including research, supervisory roles and filling in at other key points in the continuum of care. 


Choose Your Path

Did you know that you could also become a forensic nurse, legal nurse consultant or a nurse administrator? There are lots of exciting options outside of the hospital and beyond.

There are so many specialized career paths to take, and getting your BSN in an accelerated, online program is just a start.

rn career growth infographic 2023

Learn More About Elmhurst's Online Accelerated Nursing Programs



#5: Nursing provides personal and professional fulfillment

Nurses enjoy job flexibility, job security and an impressive salary, but one of the most meaningful aspects of a career in nursing is that it provides personal and professional fulfillment. 

According to Business Insider, nursing is “one of the most satisfying, in-demand, secure, and overall best jobs in health care” and found that 83% of nurses are satisfied with their choice to become a nurse. 

Often considered the heart and soul of the health care profession, nurses provide far more than just medical care. They provide kindness and comfort to patients and their loved ones on a daily basis.

While the job is undoubtedly demanding, nurses are often the ones to leave the greatest impression on their patients. In fact, according to the OJIN study, many people pursue a career in nursing because of their positive personal experiences with nurses in the past. 


An Art and a Science

While nurses enjoy high levels of job satisfaction and personal fulfillment, the career is professionally fulfilling as well. As a science-based profession, nursing can be intellectually stimulating—especially when you are able to help practitioners implement new therapies or technologies. BSN-educated nurses are taught proactive anticipation—how to recognize issues before they occur, which just might make a critical difference in a patient’s recovery. 

Not only are nurses often responsible for saving lives, they are highly respected professionals all over the world. If wanderlust is in your DNA, you can work just about anywhere as a nurse. Whether you become a traveling nurse, are moving to a new city, or want to live abroad, a career in nursing has no boundaries.

ABSN graduates


Elmhurst University – Online ABSN Program

If you’re considering embarking on a second career as a nurse and have previously earned a bachelor’s degree in another discipline, consider the online Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program at Elmhurst University.

This program offers a fast path to your nursing career and provides extensive preparation, clinical skills and essential health care knowledge at a school that values personal growth, diversity, human rights and social justice. The program at Elmhurst emphasizes hands-on experience and exceptional clinical skills, while also prioritizing personal growth and development. 

In as little as 16 months, you’ll be fully prepared to take the NCLEX-RN exam and start working as a registered nurse changing and saving lives. 

If you’re ready to embark on nursing as a second career, visit the online ABSN page for more information.