Nursing Wages and the Value of Educational Credentials
The evidence on nurses' wage rates is examined to determine whether higher credentials command a premium in the marketplace. Also examined are private rates of return to determine if higher nursing education is a worthwhile investment for individuals. Our findings are that, after taking into account experience and job requirements, employers pay only a modest premium for enhanced educational credentials leading to licensure for basic nursing practice. A more substantial premium is paid to a small segment of the nursing profession which holds the master's degree. These findings confirm other studies that show only subtle differences among associate, diploma, and baccalaureate nurses. We conclude that neither employers nor a large segment of the nursing profession would benefit from recent proposals to require that all nurses obtain the baccalaureate degree.