Career Opportunities for Nurses

Updated January 2, 2020
Many nursing specialties are in demand.
Many nursing specialties are in demand.

There are many career opportunities for nurses and the number of nurses needed is only projected to increase as the population ages. Nurses are in demand in a variety of specialties and work settings, so if you have a nursing degree, chances are you will be able to find a position suited to your skills and interests.

Career Opportunities for Registered Nurses (RN)

In general, RNs are responsible for treating and educating patients while providing advice and support to family members. Specifically, RNs record medical histories and symptoms, administer medications and treatments and help with patient follow-up and rehabilitation. Certified vocational nurses, nursing assistants and nursing aides back up the nurses by providing basic patient care and monitoring.

Types of Patient Care RN Positions

  • Ambulatory Care Nurses: This RN position treats patients outside of the hospital setting, either in a physician's offices or clinics. The median annual salary is $68,410.
  • Critical Care Nurses: These nurses work in hospitals in the critical care or intensive care units. They work with patients who have pulmonary, respiratory or cardiac failure. The median annual salary is $74, 453.
  • Emergency Room or Trauma Nurses: This RN staff position treats patients with life-threatening conditions such as accidents, strokes and heart attacks. They work in hospital emergency rooms or as flight nurses on medical helicopters. The median annual salary is $74,990.
  • Holistic Nurses: These nurses treat a patient's mental and spiritual health in addition to their physical health. They provide care in massage, acupuncture, biofeedback and aroma therapy. The median annual salary is $71,413, depending on the region in the U.S.
  • Home Health Care Nurses: This RN position provides sat-home care for patients who are recovering from accidents, surgery and childbirth. The median annual salary is $80,892.
  • Hospice Nurses: These nurses provide care for terminally ill patients outside of hospitals. The median annual salary is $73,157
  • Infusion Nurses: These nurses provide injections to administer medications, blood and other fluids into patients' veins. The median annual salary is $88,933.
  • Long-term Care Nurses: Long term care nurses provide medical services to patients with chronic physical or mental disorders. The median annual salary is $71,957.
  • Medical-surgical Nurses: These nurses provide basic medical care to a wide variety of patients in both in-patient and out-patient settings. The median annual salary is $62,472.
  • Occupational Health Nurses: These nurses specialize in providing treatment for job-related injuries and illnesses. They also help employers detect potential health hazards. The median annual salary is $86,560.
  • Perianesthesia Nurses: These nurses provide pre- and post-operative care to surgical patients who receive anesthesia. The median annual salary is $81,444.
  • Perioperative Nurses: This RN position assists surgeons by handing surgical instruments, control bleeding and suturing incisions. The median annual salary is $91,399.
  • Psychiatric Nurses: These nurses treat patients with personality and mood disorders. The median annual salary is $108,917.
  • Radiologic Nurses: This RN position provides care to patients who are undergoing diagnostic radiation procedures such as ultrasounds and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Many of these positions have an 8 AM to 5 PM schedule and do not require weekend work or on-call duty. The median annual salary is $62,107.
  • Rehabilitation Nurses: These nurses care for patients with temporary and permanent disabilities. The median annual salary is $83,873.
  • Transplant Nurses: A transplant RN cares for both organ transplant recipients and donors. The median annual salary is $92,412.

Other Types of RN Jobs

You can find other types of RN jobs to challenge you. You can utilize your education and experience to land a better paying job while advancing your medical career.

  • Nursing Management: Nursing knowledge combined with management skills are key to nursing career titles such as Nursing Supervisor or Head of Nursing. The median annual salary is $84,962.
  • Care Facility Management: Nursing knowledge and experience is always in demand in-patient facilities such as ambulatory, acute, home-based and chronic care centers. The median annual salary is $79,873.
  • Medical Management: Hospitals, managed care companies, insurance companies and pharmaceutical manufacturers employ RNs for health planning, medical management, consulting, policy development and quality assurance. The median annual salary is $76,587.
  • Research and Teaching: There is always a need for nurses to support ongoing teaching and research efforts. The median annual salary is $94,823.

Types of Patient Care LPN Jobs

According to the Nurse Journal there are several best paying LPN jobs and provides average annual salaries for each. You may find one of these the type of challenge you've been seeking.

  • Physician's Office: This position works in a clinic, doctor's office, ER centers, or ambulatory surgical centers. The median annual salary is $30,000.
  • Medical and Surgical Hospital: This position works in private hospitals in ER, surgical and maternity departments. The median annual salary is$39,000.
  • Home Health Care Services: This position is with private home health care agencies and can also be part of large health care facilities. The median annual salary is $43,404.
  • Nursing Care Facility: These facilities include group homes for mentally ill, terminally ill, rehabilitative services, elderly, and hospice services. The median annual salary is $44,000.
  • Community Care Facility for Elderly: This position works either in public or private assisted living centers, nursing homes or retirement homes. The median annual salary is $43,000.

Alternative Jobs for Nurses

If you're looking for unconventional nursing jobs, you may find them to be challenging and inspiring. You may find one of these unique jobs an ideal position.

Phone Triage Nurse

Phone Triage Nurse, also known as Telehealth Nurse (TTN), may work in a physician's office, trauma center, crisis hotline, hospital, outpatient care facility, and poison control center. Via phone of video chat, you'll assess a patient's condition and determine if emergency treatment needs to be sought, schedule an appointment or self-treat. The annual salary range is $64,149 - $79,505 with a median salary of $70,302.

Medical Tutor

As a medical tutor, you'll help students studying medicine in college. Pay is between $25-$50 per hour.

Medical Writer

Writing medical articles online requires original content between 1,500 and 2,000 word articles for health care website. You'll often use reference materials based on existing journal articles or fresh topics that require medical knowledge and good research skills. The average annual salary is $99,153.

Online Nursing Teacher

Teaching online classes, you'll instruct those enrolled in nursing courses via online. The average hourly rate is $37.

Personal Wellness/Illness Rehab Coach

As a personal coach for illness rehab/wellness, you will help patients recovering from illness and coach them in wellness practices. $75 -$124 an hour.

Medical Nursing Consultant for TV Shows or Movies

A medical nursing consultant for TV show or movie offers expert medical advice on movie or TV scripts to ensure medical accuracy and authentic portray of a nurse. This position can be performed remotely. Pay is $15 an hour or $100 a day.

Nurses Are in Demand

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the U.S. Department of Labor, reports that registered nursing is the largest health career occupation, with over 2 million jobs for registered nurses (RNs) in the United States. About 25 percent of RNs work part time.

Increase in Need for RNs

Employment of RNs is expected to increase over 12% from 2018 to 2028. The growth is projected to come from new job openings at new general and specialized hospitals as well as the need to replace nurses who leave full time employment to work part time, retire or to make career changes.

Other factors include:

  • Baby-boomer generation demand for healthcare services
  • Preventative care increase
  • Increase in chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity
  • Life expectancy has increased with people living more active lives.

Statistics for Future Nursing Positions

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the nursing profession is the largest profession in healthcare in the US. 3.8 million RNs are licensed in America with 84.5% employed in their profession.

  • RNs are one of the highest paying large group occupations in the U.S.
  • More than 200,000 new RNs will be required each year from 2016 to 2026.
  • Almost 58% of RNs work in general medical and surgical hospitals/
  • Nurses provide the primary care for hospital patients.
  • Nurses provide the majority of long-term care.

About three out of every five nursing jobs are in the inpatient and outpatient departments of hospitals. The remaining nursing jobs are in:

  • Physicians' offices
  • Nursing care facilities
  • Home health care
  • Employment services
  • Government agencies
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Social service agencies
  • Education, both public and private schools, colleges and universities

Geographically-driven Opportunities

Population growth in the west and southwest is creating the need for more healthcare facilities and more nurses to staff them. As the population ages, the need for assisted living and managed care facilities will increase - all of which will need nurses to care for patients and manage health care programs.

Geographically-Driven Opportunities

Population growth in the west and southwest is creating the need for more healthcare facilities and more nurses to staff them. As the population ages, the need for assisted living and managed care facilities will increase - all of which will need nurses to care for patients and manage health care programs.

Nursing Salary Ranges


Salary Examples

Nursing Assistant

Median $31,805

Licensed Practical Nurse

Median $48,756

Staff RN - Nursing Home

Median $63,693

Staff RN - Nurse Home Care

Median $80,892

Staff RN - Oncology

Median $75,101

Nursing Supervisor

Median $93,808

Nurse Practitioner

Median $113,930

Nursing Anesthetist

Median $174,790

Head of Nursing

Median $109,038

Nursing Salaries

According to, salaries for nursing positions range from about $21,000 for a nursing assistant to over $200,000 for the Head of Nursing at a large hospital complex. The amount of salary is directly related to the amount of risk and responsibility that comes with the specific job.

Education and Certification Requirements

Technical schools and junior colleges are the two major paths to receive the training necessary for nursing support positions such as Nursing Assistant and Licensed Practical Nurse.

There are three major paths to becoming an RN:

  • A bachelor's degree
  • An associate degree
  • A diploma from an approved nursing program

Many RNs go on to receive an advanced degree and certifications so that they can accept increased responsibility, more income and additional career opportunities.

Finding Nursing Jobs

There are a number of ways to search for nursing job openings. You can network with other medical professions to learn of new open positions.

  • If you're finishing your nursing degree, talk with a career counselor at your school to see if he or she knows of any nursing placement agencies in the area you would like to work.
  • Many nurses work through an agency that contracts to provide staffing for a hospital or other patient care facility.
  • Many hospitals are interested in directly recruiting new nurses just finishing school, so you may be able to set up a number of interviews through your school's career center.

Join Professional Nursing Organization

You may also want to join a professional nursing organization within the field of practice you would like to work. This will provide you with the opportunity to network with other nurses and learn about new opportunities at a variety of hospitals and work settings.

Online Job Searches

In addition to agencies and networking, you can always take your job search online to a variety of job boards. Job sites like Indeed and Simply Hired are a good place to start, but you can also search nursing-specific sites and the websites of the hospital or nursing facility in which you would like to work. Online search sites like United States Public Health Service, iHireNursing and NurseRecruiter are all specifically geared towards nursing positions.

Is Nursing a Career for You?

Nursing is a challenging occupation that demands technical skills and compassion in difficult situations. The hours can be long and the pay for many assignments can be lower than jobs in other industries which require the same amount of training. But for many men and women, nursing is the ideal career path. Take a career test or talk with a nurse to see if nursing meets your career needs. Career opportunities for nurses continue to increase in a variety of specialties and levels of responsibility.

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Career Opportunities for Nurses