Find the nursing career that suits your needs

A nurse comforts a young girl in a hospital bed while her father looks on.It’s no secret that nurses are in great demand in the professional world. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for RNs with at least a bachelor’s degree is expected to grow by 16% from 2014 to 2024—which is much faster than the average for all occupations.* However, did you know that a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is only one way to a fulfilling career? There are many types of jobs for nurses to suit your interests—each one in high demand. This is a list of the top five most hirable careers in nursing based on median salary, employment outlook, and degree options available.

Registered Nurse   2015 Median Salary: $67,490*

RNs usually have at minimum an associate degree in nursing from a college program or a diploma of nursing through a hospital-based nursing program. Nurses with a BSN have earned their bachelor’s degree from either an accredited online BSN program or another accredited college or university.

RN to BSN programs offer additional education in leadership, management, and administration, as well as public and community health. In fact, the Journal of Advanced Nursing published a study in 2007 that found a 10% increase in the number of BSNs was associated with nine fewer deaths for every 1,000 discharged patients. The study also stated, “Furthermore, because of the impact that higher proportions of baccalaureate-prepared nursing staff had on lowering hospital mortality rates, we recommend that hospitals aggressively seek to hire and retain baccalaureate-prepared nurses to care for acute medical patients.” This statement proves the dramatic importance of quality education and training for nursing jobs. It also highlights that furthering your education leads to better outcomes for you and your patients.

Pediatric Nurse   2015 Median Salary: $67, 490*

Pediatric nurse training calls for professionals to earn an RN or BSN. From there, specializing in pediatrics starts by working in a site that sees pediatric patients and offers you classroom and/or clinical experience especially related to children. The Society of Pediatric Nurses highly recommends that nurses hoping to work in a pediatric setting become Certified Pediatric Nurses (CPN) to show they possess the knowledge and critical thinking skills to make decisions regarding pediatric patients.

If your schedule doesn’t allow for traditional continuing education, earning an advanced nursing degree online can give you the flexibility to advance in your career without disrupting your day. These programs can empower you to create better nursing care outcomes by providing you with the education, expert consultation, and leadership you need.

Licensed Practical Nurse  2015 Median Salary: $43,170*

To become a licensed practical nurse (LPN), you first need a high school diploma and your postsecondary non-degree award, after which you must obtain licensure by passing state exams and the NCLEX-PN. The whole program generally takes around a year to complete.

As an LPN, you perform a variety of tasks under the supervision of an RN and work in a variety of settings such as hospitals, physician’s offices, private homes, etc. As an LPN, you can perform basic patient care tasks like taking vitals, assembling medical equipment, and giving medications. Most LPNs go on to join RN programs to advance their career.

Nursing Educator   2015 Median Salary: $67,480*

There are many types of nurses and your career path doesn’t have to stop at a BSN. While RNs and LPNs focus on patient care, nursing educators are thought leaders in the profession and are responsible for educating future nursing staff. Responsibilities of nursing faculty include selecting new students for the nursing program and evaluating a higher education institution’s nursing program on a regular basis.

Becoming nursing faculty requires that you earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a PhD in Nursing, which you can earn online. These nursing degrees can help you gain advanced scientific expertise and experience to conduct research in hospitals, educational institutions, pharmaceutical companies, and other health-related industries.

Nurse Practitioner   2015 Median Salary: $98,190*

To expand your clinical nursing career, consider a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program to become a nurse practitioner. Job growth for nurse practitioners and other advanced practice nurses also outpaces average job growth in other professions at a rate of 31% from 2014 to 2024.* You can pursue your MSN through online nursing programs that have accreditation (i.e., Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education) and offer rigorous programs in the field of your choosing. Nurse practitioners with an MSN may work in a variety of areas including family practice, acute care, and psychiatric and mental health.

As a nurse practitioner, you can go on to pursue your Doctor of Nursing (DNP), which enhances your effectiveness as nursing leader and opens up many more opportunities. You can find DNP degrees online that offer coursework to challenge you so you can better the healthcare environment.


*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016–2017 Edition, Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners; Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses; Postsecondary Teachers; Registered Nurses; on the Internet at www.bls.gov/ooh.

†A. Tourangeau et al., Impact of Hospital Nursing Care on 30-Day Mortality for Acute Medical Patients. Journal of Advanced Nursing, on the Internet at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17184372.

‡Society of Pediatric Nurses. Becoming a Pediatric Nurse, on the Internet at http://www.pedsnurses.org/becominganurse.

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