1. Depends on what you want to be...
LPN - the school I am at has a year long program - but I am not sure if this is always true
RN - you can go three diferent routes.
Diploma - my program is 28 months - but it can vary
This is done in a hospital program. It is not a
ADN (Associates) - around 2 years
This is usually done at a Community College.
You get an Associates degree.
BSN (Bachlors) - 4-5 years (or some schools
12 month program if you already
have a Bachlors degree in another
This is usually done at a college
or university. Some hospitals
now have a BSN program.
There are also several routes you can go in regards to
post-bach education. Which one you pick determines
how long that will take. There are too many to list here
and I am not sure about the exact length of them.
2. Salary varies greatly by state and even locations in the same state. However, RNs make more than LPNs and sometimes (not always) BSNs make more than ADN or diploma nurses. Of course, the people with post-bach degrees tend to make more as well. Your pay can also vary by what shift you work. For this question it might be good to narrow it down to your region of the US.
The job market is pretty good. There is a shortage so there are job openings most (if not all) places you would want to live. You may not get the exact shift/floor you want - but you should be able to find a job.
3. This is way to loaded a question. Nurses can have many different jobs. Also your level of education can affect what your job description is. It would be easier to help on this if you said what kind of nurse you want to be. The one thing that is common of all nurses that I can think of is patient care. (You might want to pist this question in the Genreal forum, in addition to here. Then a nurse can tell you his/her job descriptions instead of what is described in class)
4. Dis you try searching on google? You should be able to find a wealth of information (hint - Nursing did not begin with Florence Nightingale - it can be traced way back before that - maybe not in its exact modern form - but it is there) You could also try the library.
5. I think this is an individual thing. It is your assignment so I think you should decide why you think nurses are important. You could also ask people who have been in the hospital why they thought their nurse was important.