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I want to be a nurse. What will my salary be?

And there are jobs out there. The Canadian Nurses Association predicts a shortage of some 60,000 registered nurses by 2022

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This is the first in a series of stories looking at specific jobs, with their qualifications, descriptions, responsibilities and current salaries.

The Job:

Registered nurse

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The Salary:

$64,000 a year to more than $90,000 a year, not including overtime.

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Education needed:

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN).

Cost:

Tuition for four years, which includes the specialized nursing program portion, ranges from $24,000 to $30,000.

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By the numbers:

As of 2011, there were 360,572 regulated nurses working in Canada, which includes 270,724 registered nurses, 84,587 licensed practical nurses and about 5,200 registered psychiatric nurses, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

There is a growing shortage of nurses, as more of them retire and the population ages. The Canadian Nurses Association predicts a shortage of some 60,000 registered nurses by 2022. In 2011, the average age of a registered nurse was 46, according to the CIHI. A report in the journal Health Affairs says nurses, on average, retire around age 56, compared with the overall Canadian work force at age 62.

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The Description:

There are few professions that deal as directly with matters of life and death as nursing.
Nurses are there when you’re born, when your children are born, and in many cases when you or a loved one dies.
Nurses are caregivers, but they also act as counsellors, teachers and advocates for patients in hospitals and community health centres in towns, cities and remote locations around the country.

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The Challenges:

Nursing is a physically and emotionally demanding profession. Nurses are on their feet all day, they work long shifts, including overnights, and they have to deal with sick people who complain a lot.

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Why they do it:

“Nurses are really that crux of the expected and unexpected life events, and helping people to cope as best as they can,” said Rhonda Seidman-Carlson, president of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario.

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The Misconceptions:

Ms. Seidman-Carlson said one of the biggest misconceptions about nurses is that their work is dictated by doctors. In fact, she said, about 80 per cent of what nurses do is self-directed. “Nurses are self-regulated, autonomous, independent practitioners,” she said.

Want to read more stories from our salaries series? Click here.

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Give us the real scoop:

Are you a nurse in Canada? Write a note in the comments area and tell us what you would tell others who are interested in the profession, or e-mail your comment to careerquestion@globeandmail.com.

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