According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses (RNs) are the largest health care occupation in the U.S., with about 2.6 million workers in 2009, and the field is expected to grow rapidly in coming years. Although you can become an RN with a hospital-based diploma or an associate's degree, the bachelor of science in nursing degree is quickly becoming the most common--and most versatile--degree for RNs. A bachelors in nursing, offered by colleges and universities, takes about four years to complete. Individuals who complete a campus-based or online bachelor of science in nursing degree receive training in areas such as communication, leadership, and critical thinking, all of which are increasingly important as nursing practice becomes more complex. Although most nursing programs require some element of hands-on work or clinical training, there are a number of online courses for a bachelor of science in nursing available. Online classes for a bachelor of science in nursing allow you to continue working in their current profession while working toward your nursing degree. Most RNs work in hospitals but some also work in doctors' offices, university settings, or other outpatient facilities. The mean annual salary for RNs in 2009 was $66,530, and RNs with a bachelor of science in nursing degree generally have higher earning potential and greater job flexibility than those without a four-year degree.