ADN vs BSN Salary, Competencies, and Pros and Cons

ADN vs BSN nursing

Are you trying to decide the path you should take to become a registered nurse? ADN vs BSN? Which one is better?

In this article, I’m going to give as much as possible valuable information and details comparing ADN vs BSN salary, pros and cons, competencies and overall differences.

You need to know what these abbreviations mean before we can go any further.

  • ADN stands for an Associate’s Degree in Nursing. An associate’s degree is a post-secondary degree completed in most cases in two years. It is an academic program that aims to give students the basic technical and transferable skills they need to go on to employment or further studies. ADN is also a minimum amount of education needed to become a registered nurse.
  • BSN stands for a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. A bachelor’s degree (or baccalaureate) is an undergraduate academic degree completed in most cases in three to seven years. BSN includes some advanced classes that are geared strongly towards research and integrating evidence-based practice into medicine leadership.

Before we get started let me introduce myself to you – to gain some trust maybe. My name is Ida and I’m a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree (BSN) myself.

Of course, my knowledge is better on BSN than ADN but I make sure to give you the most reliable sources about ADN as well.

Did you know that there are more than two options on how to become a registered nurse? If you want to learn more about how to study nursing, check out also that article of mine.

If you are just looking for ADN and BSN differences, let’s get started with the most interesting subject: ADN vs BSN salary.

ADN vs BSN salary

Before we go straight to the salary differences between ADN vs BSN, I’m going to start where it all actually begins; on annual tuition costs. Because this is something you should – or must – take into account when choosing between these degrees.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the annual tuition costs for 2-year associate’s degree studies were, on average, $10,598 between all the states of the US in 2016-17.

This basically means that you need to spend approximately $21,000 on your tuition to become a registered nurse (ADN).

How about if you choose to study nursing to become a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree as I did?

Again, according to the National Center for Educations Statistics, the annual tuition costs for 4-year bachelor’s degree studies were, on average, $23,091 between all the states of the US in 2016-17.

See also: How to Become a Hospice Nurse

Multiply that $23,000 with four years of studies and you get total tuition costs of $69,000.

This means that, on average, a bachelor’s degree costs you $48,000 more than an associate’s degree. This is a key difference in ADN vs BSN.

Please note that these costs do not include nursing books and other miscellaneous expenses you’re going to incur in your path to become a registered nurse.

ADN vs BSN salary

But how do these numbers affect ADN vs BSN salary then? Do BSN’s get tuition cost differences evened out compared to AND’s? And if they get, then after how many years? Next, I will give you answers to these questions.

You might think that longer education gives you better pay. Is that the case when comparing the difference between ADN’s and BSN’s salaries?

In most cases, a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree (BSN) is making more money than a registered nurse with an associate’s degree.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses’ median hourly wage was $34.48 and the median annual wage was $71,730 in the USA, in May 2018. That’s including registered nurses both with bachelor’s degrees and with associate’s degrees.

Indeed reports that based on their database nurses (ADN) earn, on average, $28.99 per hour, and registered nurses (BSN) earn, on average, $45.38 per hour. These count up to the mean annual wage of $53,760 (ADN) and $87,129 (BSN).

Therefore, on average, BNS earns approximately $33,000 more than ADN.

Two times the mean annual wage of ADN is $106,000. That plus the difference in tuition costs between ADN and BSN is $154,000. That’s how much money ADNs’ are ahead of BSNs’ when BSNs graduate.

This means that it takes approximately four to five years working as a registered nurse for BSNs to get ahead of ANDs in total.

If you would like to get some more information about salaries in nursing, here you can find the neonatal nurse salary.

ADN vs BSN competencies

Before the comparison, I have to make sure that you understand the definition of competency in nursing.

The American Nurses Association, also known as ANA, defines competency as “an expected level of performance that integrates knowledge, skills, abilities, and judgment”.

The scope of nursing practice for which the student is being prepared is reflected in the competencies. The scope of practice defines the extent of the provision of care within each level of educational preparation.

The difference between ADNs’ and BSNs’ competency is that patients for the ADN are individuals and their families, and patients for the BSN are individuals, families, populations, and communities.

That’s all? Not exactly.

Besides that, BSNs’ training and pursuit of work are more focused on leadership, management, and nursing research than ADNs’.

On the other hand, ADNs’ training and pursuit of work are more concentrated on the technical side of things such as administrations of IVs and assessing neurological activity.

Patient care situation ADN vs BSN

Now that we have taken care of the ADN vs BSN competencies it’s logical to keep going to patient care situations. As you already know, both the ADN and BSN can practice and perform many of the same skills and procedures.

But what are the differences in patient care situations?

In clinical patient care situations, there are not many differences. On the other hand, the are many differences in critical thinking, decision making, leadership, communication, and management techniques and abilities.

The education of the BSN’s is more focused on improving analytical and critical thinking than ADNs’s so that’s where the differences come from.

ADN vs BSN pros and cons

At this point, you already should know a lot about the differences between ADN and BSN.

There is only one thing left to do; to wrap up this huge amount of information to compare the pros and cons of ADN vs BSN.

Pros of ADN

  • Two to three years of studies. You’re going to be earning some money pretty quickly.
  • You can always continue your studies to ADN-to-BSN programs to earn a bachelor’s degree.
  • You can help people in different situations.

Cons of ADN

  • Salary is not as great as BSNs’.
  • Fewer opportunities to get responsibilities.

Pros of BSN

  • Opportunities to take on additional responsibilities, or move into more advanced positions.
  • You get better earnings in the long term than ADNs’.
  • You can help people in different situations

Cons of BSN

  • Studies take four to seven years, and tuition costs are high.
  • Responsibilities can be challenging.

That’s all for the ADN vs BSN differences in competencies, salary, patient care, and pros and cons.

If you want to learn more about nursing, check out also these articles of ours:

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About Ida Koivisto, BSN, RN, PHN

Ida is both a registered nurse and public health nurse. Her passion is to provide as much valuable information about nursing to the world as possible. In her spare time from work and blogging, Ida loves to work out at the gym and spend time with relatives.