What Can You Do with a Nursing Degree?

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Nursing is one of the most popular degree programs, and the varied nursing career paths offer a wide range of specialized subfields. If you have a passion for helping others and are excellent at staying cool under pressure, you can pursue a rewarding career in the nursing field after completing one of the many degree program options.

List of the Top 40 Nursing Careers & Salaries

From entry-level nursing positions in a hospital setting to owning your own practice as a nurse practitioner, there are many ways to utilize a nursing degree to begin the journey to a well-paying career. Below is a list of 40 different nursing career paths and their median salary to give you an idea of what to expect after graduation!

Job Title Job Summary

Median Salary

Nurse Anesthetist Primarily responsible for preparing and administering anesthetics to patients for surgeries and other procedures.

$159,735

Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Responsible for promoting the health of patients and providing treatment and evaluation for acute care conditions.

$107,845

Psychiatric Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) Registered nurse with an advanced degree who specializes in psychiatric nursing care for patients with mental health concerns.

$116,724

Adult Nurse Practitioner (ANP) Provides healthcare to patients over the age of 21 and typically works with a supervisor and medical staff.

$103,371

Gastroenterology Nurse Practitioner (NP) Highly-trained nursing professionals that diagnose and treat problems in the digestive system.

$96,849

Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) Registered nurses who act similar to physicians and have advanced certification in the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions.

$104,969

Nurse Practitioner Highly trained registered nurses that perform similar functions as a licensed physician.

$100,721

Family Nurse Practitioner (NP) Registered nurses that are similar to physicians in that they are able to treat, diagnose, and prescribe medicines.

$100,632

Nursing Manager Works for hospitals or medical clinics to supervise the nursing crew in order to ensure excellent care.

$83,367

Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (NP) Advanced practice registered nurses who specialize in women’s health by performing many similar functions as a physician.

$94,351

Director, Nursing Upper-management position that involves overseeing the performance of a nursing staff or medical unit.

$85,010

Midwife Professionals that are trained in the care of a mother and baby from pregnancy through the first six weeks postpartum.

$96,063

Legal Nurse Consultant Employed primarily by insurance companies to create reports, summaries, and recommendations about health records.

$98,696

Informatics Nurse Uses nursing experience to optimize the use of electronic medical records and care software applications.

$80,406

Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory Nurse In charge of assisting a doctor with the process of cardiac catheterization as well as pacemaker care and treatment of cardiovascular issues.

$76,274

Occupational Health Nurse Registered nurses that help maintain the safety and health of an organization’s workforce.

$74,565

Registered Nurse (RN) Supervisor Oversees a team of registered nurses to ensure smooth operations and high-level quality and compliance.

$69,638

Nurse Case Manager Administrative job that involves overseeing the healthcare needs of individuals.

$72,110

Dialysis Registered Nurse (RN) Nurses that specialize in the process of dialysis that is necessary for treatment of patients with kidney disease.

$70,554

Charge Nurse (RN) Managers of their department that oversee activities of the nursing and support staff.

$66,768

Assistant Director of Nursing (ADON) Assists the director of nursing with tasks such as evaluating complaints, maintaining documentation, and ensuring exemplary patient care.

$71,978

Clinical Research Nurse Focuses on the research aspect of patient care by working with the patients throughout the research study process.

$72,212

Oncology Nurse Assists an oncologist or other physicians with the care of patients with cancer.

$67,891

Nurse, Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Works in the ICU of a hospital providing care to patients who are in critical or declining condition.

$65,832

Registered Nurse (RN), Operating Room Cares for patients throughout all stages of operative care, including before, during and after surgery.

$69,805

Cardiac Care Unit (CCU) Nurse Registered nurses that work directly with patients with heart issues in a hospital’s CCU.

$78,229

Hospice Nurse Case Manager Manages patient care for end of life clients to ensure proper nursing and hospice procedures are followed.

$66,421

Staff Nurse Typically works in hospitals or long-term care facilities to provide patients with medical treatment and specialized care.

$68,473

Registered Nurse (RN), Emergency Room Works in the emergency department of a hospital to provide quality care to patients experiencing trauma or injury.

$68,293

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Registered Nurse Specializes in the care of newborn babies who are premature or have illnesses that require them to be in the intensive care unit of a hospital.

$67,437

Hospice Nurse Works specifically with patients and their families to provide comfort and medical treatment during end of life care.

$64,418

Primary Care Registered Nurse (RN) Works in a primary care medical facility to provide evaluation and treatment to patients.

$65,724

Registered Nurse (RN) Works in a variety of medical environments to provide direct care to patients, including medication administration or emergency treatment.

$65,130

Home Health Nurse Provides health care to patients within their home or in an assisted living facility.

$63,924

Labor and Delivery Nurse Works with expectant mothers and newborns during the labor process to ensure care and safety.

$65,749

Psychiatric Nurse (RN) Provides specialized care to individuals with mental illness in a medical facility or psychiatric hospital.

$66,943

Pediatric Nurse Registered nurses that work specifically in the medical care and treatment of children through adolescence.

$62,057

Public Health Nurse Position that focuses on the education of individuals, families, and communities regarding health and risk factors.

$59,524

Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) Provides patient care under the supervision of doctors and charge nurses within a variety of medical facilities.

$49,273

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Nurses who went through a practical nursing certification program in order to be able to provide direct care and treatment to patients.

$45,157

*Data provided by Payscale.com


What can you do with a Nursing Degree?

The table above highlights some of the many subfields available within nursing. You may have noticed that the majority of the careers are based upon having a Registered Nursing (RN) license, and the highest paying salaries are awarded to those that continue on to graduate degrees. Whether you want to work in administrative and leadership roles or directly on the floor with patients, there are countless options to customize your nursing degree towards a specific concentration.

Nursing is a well-paying career, and that is one of the major draws for students looking into their educational options. While Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurses earn the least annual pay, the majority of nursing careers pay nearly double the median annual salary across all occupations! It is important to note, that you may make more or less than the salaries above based upon your nursing certifications and experience level.

What is a Nursing Degree?

The field of nursing is a challenging, hands-on field that depends on professionals with strong critical thinking skills and the ability to work under pressure. There are several paths to becoming a nurse, including hospital and college-based degree programs.

A basic RN degree requires a similar amount of schooling as an associate’s degree. However, with the competitive job market, the majority of RN’s go on to earn a Bachelor’s (BSN) in nursing. After achieving your RN license, there are several options for master’s or doctorate programs that can provide additional training in specialized skills for upper-level job opportunities.

When working towards a degree in nursing, there are several stages to successfully completing the program and earning your license, including:

  • In-depth courses on nursing theory and ethics
  • Skill labs for hands-on training
  • On-site training at a medical facility
  • Successful completion of the NCLEX examination

Due to the nature of the nursing degree field, you must complete your basic RN license through an in-person degree program. If you are already an RN looking to work towards an advanced degree, there are several online Nursing degree programs that allow you to continue working while pursuing advanced education.

Nursing Career Outlook

Skilled nurses are always in high demand, and the career outlook for nursing careers exhibits positive overall trends. If you are interested in learning more about the career outlook for a specialized nursing occupation, it can be helpful to check out the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website!

Across all fields of healthcare, the BLS projects that there will be a 45% growth rate within the field between 2019 and 2029. This higher than average growth rate will occur because of an increase in the demand for healthcare services. More specifically, the job growth for Registered Nurses is expected to increase by 7% within this time frame – which is excellent news for those interested in pursuing a degree in nursing.

Nurses are the first line of treatment in the medical world and play a vital role in the quality of care patients receive. From hospital staff nurses to independent nurse practitioners, there is a world of opportunity available to students ready to take on the respected and rewarding field of nursing!

Ready to start your journey?
Elizabeth Abner
WRITTEN BY Elizabeth Abner

Elizabeth is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Foreign Policy and earned her master's degree in business administration. For her undergraduate studies, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in international business. Elizabeth's research is focused on universities offering online degree programs.