Hello Dillpickle! You asked about the different options for becoming a nurse, so I'm going to start from the entry level.
1) Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
2) Licensed Practical Nurse or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LPN or LVN)
3) Registered Nurse with an associate's degree in nursing (ASN or ADN)
4) Registered Nurse with a bachelor's degree in nursing (RN to BSN ... or ... BSN) Graduate Studies
1) Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). A master's in nursing degree provides you with the background, skills and advanced training to deliver high-quality nursing care in a specialized area, such as advanced clinical training or research. Nurses who graduate with an MSN are called advanced practice nurses (APNs). These nurses deliver health care services that were previously delivered by physicians, and they typically focus on one of four advanced practice areas:
- Nurse Practitioner (NP)
- Certified Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
- Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
- Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
- Nursing Informatics
- Nursing Leadership
2) Doctoral nursing degrees are four to six year post-graduate programs that prepare nurses for top-tier careers in health administration, clinical research or advanced clinical practice. Doctoral nursing degree options include the following:
- Doctor of Nursing (ND)
- Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
- Doctor of Nursing Science (DNSc)
- Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
The goal of all doctoral nursing programs is to prepare nurses to be leaders, whether they pursue research, clinical advancement, policy change, or organizational transformation.
Now, you also asked about advantages. Well, the higher the education, the higher your salary... BUT... you also get higher responsibilities. A BSN degree will pay you about a $1 more an hour to start with... so from a financial point of view it doesn't make much sense, but it does prepare you for advance nursing. It also open more doors when it comes to employment and to an extent, job security.
The only downside of becoming a new nurse is getting your foot on the door and land you first job. Everyone wants expereinced nurses, but there are places that are willing to train you in exchange of ...say... at least two years of service. Other places have these positions, but have met their quotas so you would not be able to apply for a lot of these institutions. The beauty is that you can branch out to many places to work as a nurse... hospitals, nursing homes, assited living facilities, palliative care facilites, home health care positions, colleges, schools, armed forces, doctor's offices, clinics, urgent care, outpatient facilities (wound care, same-day surgeries), etc.
Do not worry about your gender. Worry about being the best professional nurse you can be. Hope this helps!