Nursing vs. teaching

A teacher and a nurse

Individuals considering a career in education are typically compassionate, nurturing individuals. The same can be said for people interested in pursuing nursing. It is no surprise that high school and college students with these traits often find themselves in a battle to choose between the two careers.

Let’s look at the pluses and minuses of being a registered nurse versus being a teacher. You will notice immediately that many of the pluses and minuses in the careers are quite similar, but there are some important differences.

Pros of both teaching AND nursing

Thumbs up
  1. The entry level education requirement is a bachelor’s degree
  2. The availability of jobs is very good
  3. Extensive work environment options. Teaching: public or private schools, online, international, vocational schools, specialized academies. Nursing: hospitals, physicians’ offices, home healthcare services, and nursing care facilities, outpatient clinics, schools, military
  4. Nurses and teachers are needed everywhere. Your job will not tie you to one particular location
  5. These jobs are NOT boring. No day is ever the same
  6. Good benefits (healthcare, retirement, etc)
  7. A sense of purpose in knowing that you are helping others every day

Pros exclusive to teaching

paper with light bulb, pencils, and eraser
Image by qimono on Pixabay
  1. Impact kids’ lives for the better (while they are in your class and for the long term)
  2. Most school divisions offer tuition reimbursement (at least to some extent) to further your education
  3. You get to be creative coming up with lessons that will engage your students
  4. Reasonable hours. Most teachers are home by 4:30 at the latest (my contract hours are over at 2:30)
  5. The kids keep you young
  6. Teaching gives you a sense of purpose
  7. Inspire positive change in individuals and the school’s community
  8. In many cases you will get to design your space (lighting, seating, etc)
  9. Your kids (the one’s you brought into this world, not your students) can usually attend the school where you teach even if it isn’t their “home” school
  10. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break, Summer Break

Pros exclusive to nursing

nurse with pens in pocket
  1. Median pay $70,000 per year (Bureau of Labor & Statistics) is more than a teacher
  2. You can help people through difficult and scary points in their lives
  3. Shift work can offer multiple scheduling options
  4. Wearing scrubs to work
  5. You might even save someone’s life

Cons of both teaching AND nursing

thumbs down
  1. You might have to go long stretches without going to the bathroom
  2. Sometimes patients/students are jerks
  3. Hours on your feet
  4. Neither is looked at as a “top tier” profession in the US. If you want to be “top dog” in the eyes of society look towards medicine, law, or business
  5. Both careers can lead to compassion fatigue

Cons of teaching

spilled coffee on papers
  1. Median pay, $59,170 per year (Bureau of Labor & Statistics). Less than nursing
  2. There are some schools and some classes within schools that require some “teaching to the test”
  3. Not everyone respects the teaching profession the way it should be respected
  4. Parents are not always your ally
  5. Grading, grading, grading

Cons of nursing

Nurse with a syringe
  1. No summer break
  2. You don’t generally get to build long term relationships with the patients
  3. There may be night and weekend shifts as well as double shifts and long hours
  4. Blood, poop, vomit, etc
  5. “The smells” (use your imagination)
  6. Patients passing away
  7. You could get sued for negligence (unlikely, but more likely than a teacher getting sued)

I hope this list has helped give you some clarity if you’re stuck between becoming a nurse and becoming a teacher. You need to pick the career that you believe will best suit you and your family (or future family). If you’re still unsure, take this “Should I teach” quiz. Also check out my list of less commonly known perks of teaching and 10 reasons why being a teacher is awesome.

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Current teachers need you. Students need you. Our society needs you. Bravo for choosing a career in education!

Here are some other posts you might find helpful:

Keeping track of parent contact

25 Buzz words you need to know

Recommended reading for future/new teachers

Or Start Here to check out my posts curated by theme.

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A Teacher's Guide

I am a National Board Certified educator currently teaching in Virginia. I have taught the following: English 9, 10, 11, and 12 (on academic, collaborative, and honors levels); Dual Enrollment English; Mass Communications, Yearbook, Newspaper, and Communications Technology. I have experience in five different school systems, four in Virginia and one in Maryland. I served as my school’s 2019 Teacher of the Year and was a top five finalist for the Teacher of the Year for Virginia Beach City Public Schools. I am passionate about recruiting and retaining quality educators in our public schools. Let me help you find your path to changing lives through teaching!

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