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Top 15 Nursing Degree Jobs

By Sherice Jacob

Published:

Navigating the world after obtaining a nursing degree can feel overwhelming. With a multitude of paths to choose from, it can be a challenge for new graduates to find the right fit that aligns with their passion, skill set, and career aspirations. A single degree can open the door to diverse opportunities, but only if you know where to look.

Beyond the traditional roles lie 15 top jobs that are tailored for various specialties, interests, and aspirations. These positions offer promising prospects, from roles in clinical settings, management, research, education, to even roles in tech and consultancy. Each one represents a unique way to make a difference, ensuring you don’t just have a job, but a fulfilling career.

degree guide nursing

1. Registered Nurse


Registered Nurses (RNs) stand as the backbone of the healthcare system, providing essential care to patients in a variety of settings. From hospitals to community clinics, RNs are often the primary point of contact for patients, ensuring that healthcare delivery is both compassionate and competent.

As a Registered Nurse

As an RN, you’ll be expected to assess the health needs of your patients, develop nursing care plans, and administer appropriate interventions. You’ll collaborate closely with physicians and other healthcare professionals to ensure that each patient receives holistic and individualized care. Additionally, educating patients and their families about various health conditions, providing emotional support, and coordinating patient care are integral aspects of your role.

Benefits

  • Stability: The nursing profession is known for its job security, with a constant demand for RNs worldwide.
  • Versatility: As an RN, you can specialize in numerous areas or shift between settings, from hospitals to schools.
  • Making a Difference: Every day, you’ll have the opportunity to impact lives, promoting health and alleviating suffering.
  • Professional Growth: Continuous learning is integral, with options to attend workshops, seminars, or pursue further qualifications.
  • Team Collaboration: Working in healthcare is a team effort, allowing you to collaborate with various professionals, enhancing both your knowledge and skills.

Working Conditions

RNs work in a dynamic environment, often hustling in busy healthcare settings like hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes. While the role can be physically demanding—standing for extended periods or assisting patients—it’s also profoundly rewarding. Most RNs work shifts, including nights and weekends, ensuring that patients receive 24-hour care. Despite the fast pace, modern healthcare settings are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and a support system that fosters teamwork and camaraderie among staff.

Further Studies

What Skills Make You a Strong Candidate

Your ability to communicate effectively is paramount, ensuring clear coordination with both colleagues and patients. A keen attention to detail ensures the accurate administration of treatments and medications. Your problem-solving skills allow you to adapt to the unique challenges of each patient, while resilience helps you manage the emotional and physical demands of the job. Lastly, strong organizational skills ensure efficient patient care and timely responses to emergencies.

Salary Range & Job Outlook

  • Average Salary ($77,600)
  • Job Outlook (6%)

The median annual wage for registered nurses was $77,600 in May 2021. Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 6% from 2021

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2. Nurse Practitioner


Nurse Practitioners (NPs) represent an advanced and specialized subset of nursing, empowered with responsibilities often associated with physicians. Bridging the gap between nursing and medicine, NPs provide a blend of both nursing and healthcare services, emphasizing both disease prevention and health management.

As a Nurse Practitioner

As an NP, you will diagnose and treat both acute and chronic illnesses, offering a comprehensive approach that encompasses the entire health spectrum. You’ll order, perform and interpret diagnostic tests, and prescribe medications when necessary. Beyond medical interventions, your role will also involve educating patients on health behaviors, promoting wellness, and preventing diseases. In many settings, you may also serve as primary healthcare providers, coordinating care and making referrals when necessary.

Benefits

  • Greater Autonomy: As an NP, you often have the authority to make critical healthcare decisions, providing care independently or in collaboration with physicians.
  • Higher Earning Potential: NPs typically earn a higher salary than RNs due to their advanced training and expanded scope of practice.
  • Flexible Specializations: From family care and pediatrics to gerontology and mental health, you can choose a niche that aligns with your passion.
  • Personal Fulfillment: With a more profound interaction level, you can cultivate lasting relationships with patients, guiding them throughout their health journey.
  • Leadership Opportunities: NPs often take on leadership roles within healthcare teams, influencing policy decisions, and pioneering evidence-based practices.

Working Conditions

NPs work in a plethora of settings, from private clinics and hospitals to academic institutions and public health organizations. The environment tends to be fast-paced, especially in emergency or acute care units. However, many NPs working in family practices or specialized clinics enjoy regular hours. The integration of technology, such as telehealth, is also enabling NPs to offer consultations and care remotely, ushering in flexibility and a broader reach to patients.

Further Studies

  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) with a specialization in a specific nurse practitioner track.
  • Certification in a specialty area (e.g., Family NP, Pediatric NP, Adult-Gerontology NP).
  • State-specific licensure depending on the region’s regulations.

What Skills Make You a Strong Candidate

Your advanced clinical knowledge is foundational, enabling accurate diagnosis and treatment. Critical thinking skills are vital for making swift, evidence-based decisions. Interpersonal skills are crucial as you’ll be working closely with patients, their families, and interdisciplinary teams. Being adept at patient education ensures individuals understand their conditions and the importance of preventive care. Moreover, your leadership capabilities are essential, especially when advocating for patient needs or guiding nursing staff.

Salary Range & Job Outlook

  • Average Salary ($123,780)
  • Job Outlook (40%)

The median annual wage for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners was $123,780 in May 2021. Overall employment of nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners is projected to grow 40% from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 30,200 openings for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.


3. Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)


Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs) are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who occupy a unique and multifaceted role within the healthcare system. Embodying clinical expertise in a specialized area of nursing, they drive innovation in nursing practices, improve patient outcomes, and lead efforts to elevate the standards of care across various settings.

As a Clinical Nurse Specialist

As a CNS, your focus will be on three major spheres: patients and their families, nursing personnel, and system-wide operations. You’ll provide expert consultation and direct care to complex patient cases, mentor nursing staff, and implement evidence-based practices and procedures. Moreover, you’ll be tasked with conducting research and interpreting findings to improve patient care. You’ll also play a vital role in driving systemic change by identifying challenges within healthcare systems and advocating for solutions to ensure optimal patient outcomes.

Benefits

  • Expertise Recognition: Being a CNS elevates you as a subject-matter expert in your specialized area, granting you respect and authority.
  • Direct Impact: Your recommendations and interventions can lead to substantial improvements in patient care and outcomes.
  • Professional Development: Being at the forefront of evidence-based practice, you’ll be constantly learning and updating your skills.
  • Leadership Opportunities: CNS roles often come with leadership responsibilities, allowing you to guide and shape nursing teams.
  • Interdisciplinary Collaboration: You’ll work closely with other healthcare professionals, offering a comprehensive approach to patient care.

Working Conditions

CNSs operate across various settings – hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics, and educational institutions. The nature of their work is both clinical and administrative, requiring a balance between direct patient care and systems management. The environment can be dynamic, especially when implementing new practices or training staff. However, CNSs often have more regular working hours compared to other nursing roles. They are also pivotal in committees and task forces, aiming to enhance the quality of healthcare delivery.

Further Studies

  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) with a CNS track.
  • Certification in a specialty area of choice (e.g., Adult Health CNS, Pediatric CNS, Psychiatric-Mental Health CNS).
  • State-specific licensure, with requirements varying by region.

What Skills Make You a Strong Candidate

A comprehensive understanding of your specialized field is paramount, ensuring best practices are always upheld. Analytical abilities are crucial for evaluating patient care outcomes and refining methodologies. Your communication skills will be vital, whether you’re mentoring staff or liaising with senior management. Adaptability ensures you remain current with rapid advancements in healthcare. Lastly, possessing leadership qualities helps in guiding teams, influencing decisions, and ensuring the highest care standards.

Salary Range & Job Outlook

  • Average Salary ($77,086)
  • Job Outlook (12%)

The average clinical nurse specialist salary is $77,086 while the projected clinical nurse specialist job growth rate is 12% from 2018-2028.


4. Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)


Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are among the highest-earning and most autonomous nursing professionals. Positioned at the forefront of patient care, CRNAs are tasked with the pivotal responsibility of administering anesthesia, ensuring patients undergo medical procedures with minimal discomfort and maximum safety.

As a Nurse Anesthetist

As a CRNA, you will be entrusted with the task of assessing patients to determine the most appropriate anesthetic methods, considering medical histories and potential drug interactions. You’ll administer anesthesia for surgical, diagnostic, or therapeutic procedures, continuously monitoring patients to ensure safety during sedation. After procedures, you’ll be responsible for overseeing patient recovery from anesthesia and managing any anesthesia-related complications.

Benefits

  • High Compensation: CRNAs are among the top earners in the nursing profession, reflecting the specialized skills and responsibilities of the role.
  • Autonomy in Practice: Many CRNAs operate independently, especially in rural hospitals, taking the lead in anesthesia care.
  • Diverse Work Environments: Opportunities abound in various settings, from bustling hospitals to outpatient surgical centers.
  • Constant Advancements: The anesthesia field is ever-evolving, offering continuous learning and mastery of new techniques.
  • Deep Patient Interaction: While interactions may be brief, they are profound, as you provide reassurance and care during critical moments.

Working Conditions

CRNAs typically operate within the controlled environments of operating rooms, labor and delivery units, and other areas where anesthesia is administered. The setting is sterile, well-lit, and equipped with advanced technology to monitor patients. While the role demands precision and focus, it’s often balanced with moments of direct patient interaction, offering comfort before procedures. Given the nature of surgeries and medical procedures, CRNAs may work irregular hours, including on-call shifts, weekends, and nights.

Further Studies

  • Master’s or Doctorate in Nurse Anesthesia.
  • Passing the National Certification Examination (NCE) to become a CRNA.
  • Recertification and continued education, typically every two years.

What Skills Make You a Strong Candidate

A meticulous attention to detail is paramount given the precision anesthesia requires. Strong decision-making skills are vital for determining appropriate anesthetic methods and responding swiftly to any complications. Your ability to communicate succinctly and compassionately helps in preparing patients and coordinating with surgical teams. Sound knowledge of pharmacology ensures safe medication administration, and resilience helps manage the demands and stresses that critical situations might present.

Salary Range & Job Outlook

  • Average Salary ($123,780)
  • Job Outlook (40%)

The salary range and job outlook for nurse anesthetists falls under the same broad category as nurse practitioners according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


5. Nurse Midwife


Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) are advanced practice registered nurses who specialize in women’s reproductive health and childbirth. They blend the age-old art of midwifery with contemporary scientific practices, providing holistic care that respects the natural processes of childbirth while ensuring the safety of both mother and baby.

As a Nurse Midwife

As a CNM, you’ll be more than just a childbirth guide. You’ll provide a spectrum of healthcare services ranging from prenatal and postnatal care to family planning advice and gynecological checkups. You’ll monitor the health of both mother and fetus during pregnancy, assist with childbirth, and offer support in the postpartum period. Additionally, you’ll educate women on reproductive health, addressing concerns related to pregnancy, birth, and postnatal recovery.

Benefits

  • Deepened Patient Relationships: Engaging with mothers throughout their pregnancy journey allows for a profound and sustained patient connection.
  • Autonomy in Practice: Many CNMs have the freedom to lead their own practices or work in collaborative healthcare settings.
  • Emotional Fulfillment: Participating in the miracle of birth and supporting women in this intimate journey is deeply rewarding.
  • Diverse Care Opportunities: Beyond childbirth, you’ll provide well-woman care, family planning, and even primary care in some settings.
  • Increased Demand: With a growing number of women seeking more natural birthing experiences, the demand for CNMs is on the rise.

Working Conditions

CNMs can be found in a variety of environments, including hospitals, birth centers, private practices, and even homes for those assisting with home births. The setting can be both intense, especially during childbirth, and serene during routine check-ups or counseling sessions. The hours can be unpredictable, given the unpredictable nature of childbirth. Yet, amid the demands, the environment is also marked by the profound joys and triumphs of welcoming new life.

Further Studies

  • Master’s or Doctorate in Midwifery or a related program.
  • Certification through the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB).
  • State-specific licensure, depending on the region’s regulations.

What Skills Make You a Strong Candidate

Your deep understanding of women’s reproductive health and the childbirth process is foundational. Empathy and excellent interpersonal skills will be key in providing compassionate care and establishing trust. Decision-making abilities, especially during high-pressure situations, ensure the safety and well-being of both mother and baby. A commitment to continuous learning will keep you updated with the latest practices in midwifery. Lastly, resilience is crucial to navigate the emotional highs and lows of the birth process and postpartum care.

Salary Range & Job Outlook

  • Average Salary ($123,780)
  • Job Outlook (40%)

Nurse midwives are categorized under the same broad umbrella as nurse anesthetists and general nurse practitioners, therefore their salary and job outlook is approximately in line with those career fields.

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6. Pediatric Nurse


Pediatric nurses specialize in providing comprehensive healthcare services to infants, children, and adolescents. Their role is vital in ensuring young patients receive age-appropriate care in a manner that reduces anxiety and fear, making medical visits more child-friendly. By blending medical knowledge with a compassionate touch, pediatric nurses are pivotal in guiding children through the complexities of healthcare.

As a Pediatric Nurse

As a pediatric nurse, you’ll work alongside pediatricians and other healthcare professionals to assess, diagnose, and treat children’s health issues. You’ll conduct physical examinations, administer vaccines, and offer guidance on nutrition, growth, and development. In addition, you’ll play an instrumental role in educating both young patients and their families about disease prevention, medical procedures, and overall well-being, adapting your approach to each child’s age and comprehension level.

Benefits

  • Rewarding Interactions: Building rapport with children can be both fun and gratifying, making each day unique.
  • Holistic Care Approach: You’ll be able to witness and contribute to the growth and development of your patients over time.
  • Diverse Work Settings: Opportunities arise in various environments, from pediatric units in hospitals to schools and community clinics.
  • Constant Learning Curve: Children’s healthcare needs are ever-evolving, ensuring you always have something new to learn.
  • Community Impact: By promoting children’s health, you play a part in ensuring a healthier future generation.

Working Conditions

Pediatric nurses work in environments tailored for children, ensuring they are bright, colorful, and welcoming. Whether in hospitals, clinics, or specialized pediatric centers, the atmosphere is designed to put children at ease. The nature of the job can be emotionally taxing, especially when dealing with critically ill children, but it’s balanced by the joys of seeing children recover and thrive. Given the wide range of children’s ages and developmental stages, pediatric nurses must adapt their communication and care approaches, making each day distinct.

Further Studies

What Skills Make You a Strong Candidate

Your adeptness at communicating with children and understanding their unique needs is paramount. Patience and compassion will enable you to build trust with both young patients and their anxious families. Critical thinking and swift decision-making are vital, especially when dealing with emergencies. A keen observation ability ensures you notice subtle changes in a child’s condition, and your commitment to continuous education ensures you’re always abreast of the latest in pediatric care.

Salary Range & Job Outlook

  • Average Salary ($72,945)
  • Job Outlook (12%)

The projected pediatric nurse job growth rate is 12% from 2018-2028 while the average pediatric nurse salary is $72,945.

Related Article


7. Neonatal Nurse


Neonatal nurses are specialized healthcare professionals dedicated to working with newborn infants who are born premature or suffering from health complications. The first 28 days of life, termed the neonatal period, are crucial, and these nurses play a pivotal role in ensuring the well-being and survival of these vulnerable babies. With a profound understanding of neonatal care, these nurses bridge the gap between delicate beginnings and hopeful futures.

As a Neonatal Nurse

As a neonatal nurse, your primary responsibility will be providing care for newborns in need of specialized attention. This includes infants born prematurely, those with congenital conditions, infections, or other medical complications. You’ll be monitoring vital signs, administering medications, and assisting with feeding and basic care. Collaborating with neonatologists and other healthcare professionals, you’ll also play a role in educating and supporting parents during what can be an emotionally challenging time.

Benefits

  • Deep Fulfillment: The joy of seeing a fragile newborn grow stronger under your care can be immensely rewarding.
  • Specialized Skills: Your expertise in neonatal care places you in a niche field with specific knowledge and capabilities.
  • Collaborative Environment: You’ll work closely with a dedicated team of professionals focused on neonatal care.
  • Continuous Learning: The field of neonatology is ever-evolving, ensuring you’re always at the forefront of new developments.
  • High Impact: Your interventions can make a significant difference during the most critical days of an infant’s life.

Working Conditions

Neonatal nurses typically work in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) in hospitals. These units are equipped with state-of-the-art technology to support the needs of the infants. The environment is meticulously maintained, ensuring it’s sterile and at the right temperature for the babies. The setting is often quiet, with soft lighting to mimic the womb environment. Given the critical nature of the infants’ conditions, the atmosphere can be intense, but it’s also filled with moments of hope and triumph as babies reach new milestones.

Further Studies

  • Passing the NCLEX-RN to become a Registered Nurse (RN).
  • Certification in Neonatal Resuscitation and/or Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing.
  • Advanced degrees like a Master’s or Doctorate for roles like Neonatal Nurse Practitioner.

What Skills Make You a Strong Candidate

Attention to detail is crucial given the delicate nature of your patients. Your ability to stay calm and focused during emergencies ensures that you provide the best care even under pressure. Strong communication skills are vital, not just for coordinating with your team but also for supporting and guiding new parents. Continuous learning and adaptability keep you updated on the latest in neonatal care. And above all, compassion and empathy are essential, understanding the emotional gravity faced by families during this challenging period.

Salary Range & Job Outlook

  • Average Salary ($71,497)
  • Job Outlook (12%)

Neonatal nurse demand is projected to grow 12% from 2018 to 2028, with an average yearly salary of $71,497.


8. Travel Nurse


Travel nurses are dynamic healthcare professionals who take on temporary nursing assignments in various locations, often filling gaps where healthcare systems experience staffing shortages. They bring versatility to the nursing field, combining their medical expertise with a passion for exploration and adaptability. With assignments that can span from bustling urban hospitals to remote clinics, travel nurses are a blend of care provider and adventurer.

As a Travel Nurse

As a travel nurse, you’ll be undertaking the same responsibilities as a regular staff nurse but in a variety of settings. Depending on your specialty and where you’re assigned, you’ll administer medications, monitor patient conditions, conduct assessments, and educate patients and families about health conditions. Each new location might introduce you to different protocols, technologies, or patient populations, requiring you to be both skilled and adaptable.

Benefits

  • Exploration Opportunities: Being able to work in various locations allows you to experience new cultures, communities, and environments.
  • Competitive Compensation: Many travel nursing assignments offer lucrative pay packages, including housing stipends and bonuses.
  • Professional Growth: Exposure to diverse healthcare settings enhances your skills, broadens your experience, and expands your professional network.
  • Flexibility: You often have the ability to choose assignments based on your preferences, allowing for better work-life balance.
  • Variety in Practice: Constantly changing settings keeps your practice fresh and prevents routine burnout.

Working Conditions

Travel nurses can find themselves in a variety of environments, from large metropolitan hospitals to rural community clinics. Each setting offers its own unique challenges and advantages, with different patient demographics, technologies, and team dynamics. Adapting quickly to new surroundings and teams is essential. While the unpredictability of the job might be challenging for some, it is invigorating and refreshing for others, keeping the nursing experience constantly renewed.

Further Studies

  • Passing the NCLEX-RN to become a Registered Nurse (RN).
  • Typically, 1-2 years of nursing experience in a specific specialty.

What Skills Make You a Strong Candidate

Your adaptability is one of your strongest assets, allowing you to seamlessly integrate into new settings and teams. A robust foundational knowledge in nursing ensures you provide high-quality care regardless of location. Effective communication skills aid you in quickly understanding new protocols and patient needs. Cultural sensitivity helps in understanding diverse patient populations, while resilience and self-reliance enable you to thrive even when faced with the unfamiliar or unexpected.

Salary Range & Job Outlook

  • Average Salary ($83,961)
  • Job Outlook (12%)

Traveling nurse demand is projected to grow 12% from 2018 to 2028. The average traveling nurse salary is $83,961.


9. Oncology Nurse


Oncology nurses are specialized healthcare professionals dedicated to caring for individuals diagnosed with cancer. Their expertise lies not only in understanding the medical complexities of various malignancies but also in offering emotional and psychological support to patients and their families. Whether administering treatments or being a comforting presence during challenging times, oncology nurses play an indispensable role in the cancer care journey.

As a Oncology Nurse

As an oncology nurse, your primary role will be to provide care to cancer patients during diagnosis, treatment, and remission stages. This includes administering chemotherapy, assisting with radiation treatments, monitoring patient conditions and side effects, and collaborating with a broader oncology team. Furthermore, you’ll offer guidance on symptom management, provide patient and family education about the disease, and lend emotional support during the often tumultuous cancer journey.

Benefits

  • Meaningful Connections: Building deep, supportive relationships with patients during their cancer journey can be profoundly rewarding.
  • Specialized Knowledge: Your expertise in oncology makes you a critical player in the multidisciplinary care team.
  • Advancements in Care: The field of oncology is continuously evolving, offering opportunities to work with cutting-edge treatments and technologies.
  • Diverse Care Settings: From hospitals to outpatient centers and specialized cancer treatment facilities, you have a range of work environments to choose from.
  • Holistic Care Focus: Beyond medical treatments, you’ll address the comprehensive well-being of patients, including their psychological and emotional health.

Working Conditions

Oncology nurses typically work in hospitals, outpatient centers, and specialized cancer care facilities. The environment can be emotionally charged, given the gravity of cancer diagnoses and the challenges of treatment side effects. However, there’s also a strong sense of camaraderie among the oncology team, and the atmosphere is frequently filled with stories of hope, resilience, and triumphs, both big and small. Clear and empathetic communication is a constant requirement, given the complexities of cancer care and the emotions involved.

Further Studies

  • Passing the NCLEX-RN to become a Registered Nurse (RN).
  • Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN) certification through the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC) is often preferred.
  • Further specialization or advanced degrees may lead to roles like Oncology Nurse Practitioner.

What Skills Make You a Strong Candidate

Your comprehensive understanding of cancer treatments and their side effects is crucial. Empathy and compassion are paramount, allowing you to provide sensitive and supportive care during trying times. Strong communication skills ensure that you can convey complex medical information clearly to patients and their families. Your resilience and emotional intelligence allow you to navigate the highs and lows of cancer care while also being a pillar of support. Continuous learning keeps you updated with the ever-evolving landscape of oncology treatments and research.

Salary Range & Job Outlook

  • Average Salary ($72,372)
  • Job Outlook (12%)

The projected oncology nurse job growth rate is 12% from 2018-2028 with an average yearly salary of $72,372.

Related Article


10. Psychiatric Nurse


Psychiatric nurses, often referred to as mental health nurses, specialize in caring for individuals with mental illnesses or disorders. They play a pivotal role in the mental health sector, offering a blend of medical care and emotional support to patients in various settings. By understanding the intricate nature of mental health challenges, psychiatric nurses help navigate the path to recovery and improved well-being for many.

As a Psychiatric Nurse

In your role as a psychiatric nurse, you’ll be involved in assessing, diagnosing, and treating individuals with various mental health issues. You’ll work in collaboration with psychiatrists, therapists, and other healthcare professionals to develop and implement individualized care plans. Responsibilities may include administering medication, monitoring its effects, offering therapeutic interventions, and providing crisis intervention when necessary. Moreover, you’ll play a crucial role in patient and family education, empowering them with knowledge about mental health conditions and coping strategies.

Benefits

  • Impactful Work: Making tangible differences in patients’ lives by aiding their mental well-being can be deeply gratifying.
  • Broad Spectrum of Care: Opportunities to work with diverse populations, from children to the elderly, and across various mental health conditions.
  • Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Work closely with an array of healthcare professionals, enriching your holistic understanding of patient care.
  • Continuous Learning: The field of psychiatry is ever-evolving, offering opportunities for professional development and specialization.
  • Flexible Work Environments: Options to work in hospitals, outpatient clinics, psychiatric facilities, or even community-based settings.

Working Conditions

Psychiatric nurses work in a variety of environments, including psychiatric wards in hospitals, mental health clinics, residential treatment centers, and sometimes community settings. While the nature of mental health care can present emotionally charged situations, these environments prioritize safety and therapeutic interactions. A strong support system usually exists within the professional team, given the shared understanding of the complexities and sensitivities of mental health care.

Further Studies

  • Passing the NCLEX-RN to become a Registered Nurse (RN).
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) is often advantageous.
  • Advanced degrees like a Master’s or Doctorate can lead to roles such as Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner.

What Skills Make You a Strong Candidate

Your ability to empathize and establish rapport with patients is central to successful outcomes. Strong communication skills aid in understanding patient needs and collaborating with the broader care team. Patience and resilience help navigate challenging situations, while critical thinking ensures optimal care decision-making. An unwavering commitment to confidentiality and a genuine interest in mental health research and innovations further solidify your suitability for the role.

Salary Range & Job Outlook

  • Average Salary ($82,300)
  • Job Outlook (45%)

Psychiatric nurse practitioners earned a median annual salary of about $82,300. The BLS says the job outlook for APRNs, including NPs, is much greater than the overall job outlook for all careers. It projects a 45% increase in jobs from 2019 to 2029, while the estimated average growth for jobs across all sectors is 4%. The surge in demand for qualified psychiatric nurse practitioners is rooted in the need to help veterans struggling with PTSD as well as the overall de-stigmatization of mental illnesses as well as more comprehensive mental health coverage through initiatives like the Affordable Care Act.


11. Geriatric Nurse


Geriatric nurses specialize in the care of elderly patients, addressing the unique health challenges and needs that arise with aging. As life expectancies increase and the elderly population grows, the expertise of geriatric nurses becomes increasingly vital. They not only focus on the physical ailments but also consider the emotional and psychological dimensions of aging, ensuring a comprehensive approach to elderly care.

As a Geriatric Nurse

As a geriatric nurse, you’ll be immersed in assessing and addressing the health concerns commonly associated with aging. This might involve monitoring chronic illnesses, assisting with mobility challenges, or addressing cognitive impairments. You will also collaborate with healthcare professionals to develop tailored care plans, administer medications, provide wound care, and offer health education specifically designed for the elderly. Furthermore, your role extends to supporting families and caregivers, ensuring they are equipped to offer the best care to their elderly loved ones.

Benefits

  • Deep Satisfaction: Witnessing the positive impact of your care on the lives of elderly patients can be immensely fulfilling.
  • Multidimensional Care: Opportunity to address both physical and cognitive aspects, allowing for a holistic approach.
  • Growing Demand: With an aging global population, the expertise of geriatric nurses is in high demand, ensuring job security.
  • Diverse Work Settings: From assisted living facilities to home health care, you have a variety of environments to practice in.
  • Personal Growth: Interacting with the elderly can offer rich insights into life, resilience, and the human experience.

Working Conditions

Geriatric nurses often work in environments tailored for elderly care, such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, retirement communities, and sometimes in home healthcare settings. These environments are designed to be accessible and safe for older adults. Given the nature of aging, geriatric nurses frequently work with patients who have multiple health concerns, which can be challenging but also rewarding. Emotionally, the work can be heavy, especially when dealing with end-of-life issues, but the bonds formed with patients can be deeply meaningful.

Further Studies

What Skills Make You a Strong Candidate

Empathy and patience are paramount when working with the elderly, understanding their unique needs and challenges. Effective communication skills are essential, given the frequent need to collaborate with multidisciplinary teams, patients, and their families. A deep understanding of the aging process, both physically and psychologically, ensures holistic care. Adaptability is key, as the health status of elderly patients can change rapidly. Lastly, a genuine passion for improving the quality of life for the elderly will drive excellence in your role.

Salary Range & Job Outlook

  • Average Salary ($125,500)
  • Job Outlook (9%)

According to ZipRecruiter, the average yearly salary for a Geriatric Nurse is $125,500 with an average growth rate as predicted by the U.S. BLS of 9% across all nursing professions.


12. Cardiac Nurse


Cardiac nurses, pivotal players in cardiovascular care, specialize in treating patients with a variety of heart diseases and conditions. Whether it’s helping someone recover from a heart surgery or managing chronic conditions like hypertension or heart failure, cardiac nurses bring expertise and compassion to a field where every heartbeat counts. With heart disease being a leading cause of death globally, their role is crucial in both preventive and interventional care.

As a Cardiac Nurse

As a cardiac nurse, your responsibilities span a wide spectrum. You’ll be closely monitoring patients, interpreting cardiac test results, administering medications specifically for heart conditions, and assisting in procedures like angioplasties or bypass surgeries. Educating patients about heart-healthy lifestyles, post-operative care, and medication management will also fall under your purview. Additionally, you might find yourself assisting during stress tests or working in cardiac rehabilitation.

Benefits

  • Specialized Impact: Your direct involvement in cardiac care can lead to life-saving outcomes and improved quality of life for patients.
  • Dynamic Work Environment: The fast-paced nature of cardiac care, especially in settings like ICUs or cardiac intervention units, offers constant learning.
  • Broad Patient Demographic: Heart diseases affect both the young and the old, allowing for diverse patient interactions.
  • Opportunities for Advancement: Continuous developments in cardiac care open doors for further specializations and advanced practice roles.
  • Collaborative Care: Working closely with cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, and other specialists enriches your professional experience.

Working Conditions

Cardiac nurses often find themselves in hospital settings, specifically in cardiac care units, intensive care units, or postoperative recovery units. Given the critical nature of cardiac conditions, these settings are equipped with advanced technologies for constant monitoring and immediate interventions. The pace can be swift, especially during emergencies, requiring quick thinking and decisive action. While the gravity of cardiac conditions can be stressful, the rewards, both in terms of patient outcomes and professional satisfaction, are significant.

Further Studies

What Skills Make You a Strong Candidate

A solid grasp of cardiovascular anatomy and physiology is foundational. Your ability to remain calm under pressure and act decisively during cardiac emergencies is crucial. Strong interpersonal skills ensure that you can communicate effectively with patients and their families, especially when explaining complex cardiac conditions. Technical proficiency, especially in using cardiac monitoring equipment, is essential. A commitment to continuous learning keeps you abreast of the rapid advancements in cardiac care.

Salary Range & Job Outlook

  • Average Salary ($68,450)
  • Job Outlook (15%)

According to Raise.me, the average annual salary for a cardiac nurse is $68,450, while the projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026 is 15%, much faster than average.


13. Orthopedic Nurse


Orthopedic nurses specialize in the care of patients with musculoskeletal disorders, ailments, and injuries. From fractures to osteoporosis, and from joint replacements to congenital bone conditions, these nurses play an instrumental role in aiding recovery and enhancing mobility. As the world sees a rise in sports injuries, aging-related orthopedic issues, and more advanced surgical interventions, the role of the orthopedic nurse is ever-evolving and critically important.

As an Orthopedic Nurse

In your role as an orthopedic nurse, you’ll be actively involved in the care continuum for patients undergoing orthopedic surgeries, or those with musculoskeletal conditions. This includes assessing patient conditions, administering pain medications, assisting in physical therapy regimens, and providing post-operative care for surgeries like hip replacements. You’ll also play a pivotal role in educating patients about injury prevention, proper body mechanics, and self-care post-surgery.

Benefits

  • Tangible Recovery Outcomes: Witnessing patients regain mobility and improve their quality of life can be deeply rewarding.
  • Diverse Patient Interaction: Treat a wide range of patients, from young athletes to aging adults.
  • Continual Learning: The field of orthopedics is dynamic with frequent advancements in surgical techniques and treatments.
  • Multiple Work Settings: Opportunities to work in hospitals, outpatient clinics, sports medicine facilities, and rehabilitation centers.
  • Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Engage with a team of orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists, and other healthcare professionals.

Working Conditions

Orthopedic nurses work in diverse settings including orthopedic wards in hospitals, specialized clinics, rehabilitation facilities, and sometimes even sports teams. The environment is often fast-paced, especially post-operative units where monitoring for complications and pain management are paramount. While there’s a significant focus on physical care, the psychological aspect of recovery, especially with major surgeries or injuries, requires the nurse to offer emotional support and encouragement.

Further Studies

What Skills Make You a Strong Candidate

Your comprehensive understanding of musculoskeletal conditions and interventions is vital. Strong observational skills ensure timely detection of complications or issues post-surgery. Effective communication abilities are paramount, especially when guiding patients through recovery or educating on preventive measures. A keen sense of empathy and patience helps in managing patients in pain or those anxious about surgeries. Lastly, staying updated with the latest in orthopedic care and being adept at using orthopedic tools and equipment will stand you in good stead.

Salary Range & Job Outlook

  • Average Salary ($75,330)
  • Job Outlook (9%)

The average median salary for orthopedic nurses falls under the same general category of registered nurses according to the U.S. BLS, with an average growth rate of 9% and a median salary of $75,330.

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14. Forensic Nurse


Forensic nurses operate at the intersection of the medical and legal worlds, specializing in caring for victims of trauma, violence, or abuse while simultaneously collecting evidence and providing testimony that can be used in the legal system. Their role is essential in ensuring that victims receive appropriate medical care and that evidence is meticulously preserved and documented for potential judicial proceedings.

As a Forensic Nurse

As a forensic nurse, your primary duty will be to provide immediate care to survivors of violent crimes, which may include physical examinations, trauma care, and, in some cases, psychological support. You will also be responsible for gathering evidence from survivors, which can be a delicate process that requires a keen eye and a compassionate touch. This could involve collecting clothing, swabs, and other potential evidence. Furthermore, you may be called upon to collaborate with law enforcement and provide expert testimony in court regarding the collected evidence and patient interactions.

Benefits

  • Dual Impact: Your role has the dual benefit of helping survivors receive the care they need while also aiding in the justice process.
  • Specialized Knowledge: Acquire unique skills that blend the medical and legal fields, setting you apart in the nursing profession.
  • Diverse Work Settings: Opportunities to work in hospitals, community anti-violence programs, coroner’s offices, and alongside law enforcement agencies.
  • Job Satisfaction: The nature of the role offers a profound sense of purpose by advocating for victims.
  • Professional Growth: Continuous opportunities to attend forensic seminars, workshops, and conferences to advance in this niche field.

Working Conditions

Forensic nurses typically work in hospital emergency rooms, clinics, or special forensic units. They might also operate in conjunction with law enforcement agencies, coroner’s and pathologist’s offices, and social service departments. The job can be emotionally taxing, given the traumatic experiences of the patients they encounter, but there’s a supportive community in the forensic nursing field that understands these challenges. Confidentiality and sensitivity are paramount, as is the ability to remain objective while offering compassionate care.

Further Studies

  • Passing the NCLEX-RN to become a Registered Nurse (RN).
  • Specialized training or certification in forensic nursing, such as the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) certification.

What Skills Make You a Strong Candidate

Your meticulous attention to detail is essential, especially when collecting and documenting evidence. Excellent interpersonal skills will be crucial as you’ll often be interacting with traumatized patients, requiring sensitivity and empathy. The ability to remain calm under pressure, especially when testifying in court or collaborating with law enforcement, is key. Strong documentation and reporting skills ensure that all evidence and patient interactions are recorded accurately. A commitment to ongoing education in the ever-evolving fields of forensics and nursing will further bolster your proficiency.

Salary Range & Job Outlook

  • Average Salary ($61,930)
  • Job Outlook (11%)

Forensic nurses fall under the broader category of forensic science technicians in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. With this in mind, the median annual wage for forensic science technicians was $61,930 in May 2021. Employment of forensic science technicians is projected to grow 11% from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.

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15. Nurse Educator


Nurse educators play an instrumental role in molding the next generation of nurses, instilling in them the clinical expertise, ethical principles, and interpersonal skills they’ll need to excel in the healthcare field. With an invaluable combination of clinical experience and a passion for teaching, nurse educators contribute both to academic settings and clinical environments, ensuring that nurses are equipped to provide the best possible care to patients.

As a Nurse Educator

As a nurse educator, you’ll design, implement, and evaluate nursing education programs. This means creating lesson plans, delivering lectures, overseeing students’ clinical practices, and assessing their progress. In addition to classroom teaching, you may guide students in real-world settings, helping them translate theoretical knowledge into practical skills. Offering mentorship, facilitating workshops, and staying updated with the latest in nursing practices and education methodologies will also be part of your role.

Benefits

  • Shaping the Future: Directly impact the quality of nursing care by training future nurses.
  • Flexibility: Enjoy a more predictable work schedule, often with the opportunity for academic breaks.
  • Lifelong Learning: Stay updated with the latest clinical practices and medical advancements, ensuring you’re always at the forefront of nursing knowledge.
  • Professional Growth: Opportunities to contribute to nursing research, write textbooks, or even take on administrative roles in academic settings.
  • Personal Fulfillment: Experience the joy of mentoring and witnessing students grow into competent nursing professionals.

Working Conditions

Nurse educators typically work in academic settings like colleges, universities, and nursing schools. However, some may also work in clinical settings, offering continued education to practicing nurses. The environment tends to be less hands-on in terms of direct patient care and more focused on classroom teaching, mentoring, and curriculum development. While the pace may be less frenetic than a hospital setting, the responsibility of ensuring high-quality education and the academic demands can be intensive.

Further Studies

  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).
  • In some cases, a Ph.D. in Nursing is pursued by those focusing on research or top academic positions.
  • Nurse Educator Certification through organizations like the National League for Nursing can be beneficial.

What Skills Make You a Strong Candidate

Your deep clinical knowledge combined with strong communication skills will ensure that you convey complex medical concepts effectively. Being patient and approachable will help students feel comfortable seeking guidance. Your ability to adapt teaching methods to accommodate various learning styles is crucial. Strong organizational skills will assist in curriculum development, lesson planning, and student assessment. Lastly, a genuine passion for the nursing profession and an enthusiasm for sharing that passion will inspire and motivate your students.

Salary Range & Job Outlook

  • Average Salary ($78,580)
  • Job Outlook (22%)

Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS estimates that employment will grow by 22%, almost three times faster than the average pace for all occupations, with an average salary of $78,580.

Making the Right Career Choice

In the multifaceted world of nursing, each role presents its own unique challenges, rewards, and growth opportunities. Whether you’re assisting a newborn in their first breaths as a neonatal nurse, or shaping the future of healthcare as a nurse educator, each position demands a distinctive set of skills and strengths.

As you contemplate your path in the nursing profession, it’s imperative to engage in deep self-assessment. Recognize your passions, evaluate your strengths, and identify areas of growth. Only through understanding yourself can you truly find a nursing role that resonates with your personal and professional aspirations.

This self-awareness, combined with dedication and continued learning, will ensure you thrive and make meaningful contributions to the ever-evolving field of nursing.


Sherice Jacob

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