50 Things You Can Do With a Nursing Degree

By Rachel Schneider

Nursing professionals can choose from a variety of exciting career opportunities, depending on their educational background, interests, and desired level of practice. This page explores some traditional and nontraditional career paths for nursing degree-holders.

Nurses who earn a registered nurse (RN) license are able to practice in a variety of settings, taking advantage of above-average projected job growth rates of 12%. Many find positions in hospitals, clinics, private practices, and assisted living facilities. Professionals in many nursing disciplines enjoy lucrative salary opportunities, including some of the highest-paying roles in the field.

Read on to learn more about different nursing opportunities, their associated job responsibilities, and salary data.

What Can You Do With a Nursing Degree?

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse

These nurses provide specialized care to patients with psychiatric disorders. Many work in mental health facilities or as home care nurses. Qualifying professionals must hold an RN license and, at minimum, an associate degree in nursing.

Average Annual Salary: $64,129

Physician’s Office Nurse

Working under a doctor's direction, office nurses provide patients with healthcare services in private practice settings. They take patients' medical histories and vital signs before sharing the results with doctors.

Average Annual Salary: $56,074

Nurse Case Manager

This job consists primarily of administrative tasks pertaining to individual patient healthcare needs. Nurse case managers evaluate patients' needs to determine effective care plans and communicate with healthcare and insurance providers on behalf of patients.

Average Annual Salary: $71,836

Nursing Informatics Specialist

Nurses who specialize in informatics collaborate with other medical professionals like doctors and nurses to manage data, information, and knowledge to improve nursing care across settings. Nursing informatics specialists also develop clinical information systems.

Average Annual Salary: $85,242

School Nurse

School nurses address student healthcare needs and problems, and educate them about health risks. Prospective school nurses must hold an active, current RN license along with a BSN degree. School nurses also respond to health emergencies requiring CPR or other types of immediate care.

Average Annual Salary: $46,350

Legal Consultancy Nurse

Nurses in this profession typically work for insurance companies. Legal consultancy nurses collect, organize, and maintain records for legal purposes and prepare graphs and visual aids for use in trials. To qualify for these roles, candidates must hold a RN license and several years of clinical experience.

Average Annual Salary: $76,881

Research Nurse

Charged with planning and coordinating daily clinical schedules and procedures, research nurses collect vitals and samples and record data accordingly. These nurses focus on patients who participate in clinical trials to improve their health, including individuals testing new cancer treatments.

Average Annual Salary: $71,309

Diabetes Management Nurse

Responsible for providing patient care and promoting self-care management for individuals with diabetes, these nurses monitor and educate patients. Eligible candidates should hold a master's degree in nursing along with APRN status.

Average Annual Salary: $63,910

Cruise Ship Nurse

Working under the direction of a vessel's chief doctor, physician, and lead nurse, these RNs care for individuals aboard cruise ships. Cruise ship nurses also act as first responders to emergency and urgent issues on the ship.

Median Annual Salary: $71,730

Camp Nurse

These nurses provide campers at summer camps and similar locations with medical care. Some also care for campground staff members and administrators. Camp nurses must ensure all participants are healthy enough to attend camp, and deal with any illnesses or injuries that arise.

Average Annual Salary: $60,435

Parish Nurse

Taking a holistic approach to health that includes spiritual wellness, these nurses serve as liaisons between patients, communities, and health professionals. They provide spiritual support to patients facing a variety of health issues.

Average Annual Salary: $60,435

Staff Nurse

Typically working in long-term care facilities and hospitals, staff nurses assess and evaluate patients, administering care and prescribing medications as needed. Those employed in hospitals also create patient discharge plans.

Average Annual Salary: $67,951

Nurse Midwife

Nurse midwives offer a variety of health services for women. These nurses typically work in obstetricians' and gynecologists' offices, where they provide prenatal care and deliver babies.

Average Annual Salary: $94,375

Prison Nurse

Tasked with providing individualized, direct nursing care for prisoners in correctional facilities, these nurses evaluate and treat patients routinely and conduct necessary emergency procedures as necessary.

Average Annual Salary: $54,000

Occupational Health Nurse

Occupational health nurses maintain employee health and safety within an organization and create plans for health-related work events. They often participate in organizational and regulatory audits and health and safety committees.

Average Annual Salary: $71,480

Pediatric Nurse

These registered nurses care for children, from birth through adolescence. They work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, physician's offices, and clinics. Pediatric nurses can specialize in a variety of areas, including neonatology, trauma, and cardiology.

Average Annual Salary: $60,695

Pharmaceutical Nurse

Registered nurses in this discipline maintain contact with and monitor patients during clinical trials, noting how individuals tolerate medicines at specific intervals.

Average Annual Salary: $61,131

Public Health Nurse

Focused on educating patients, their families, and communities about health and risk factors, these nurses visit and evaluate patients at their homes. They often refer patients to and connect them with various support services.

Average Annual Salary: $59,180

Home Health Nurse

Predominantly working in patients' homes or assisted living facilities, these nurses coordinate patient care activities with home health agencies, pharmacies, and physicians. Home health nurses also coordinate and supervise home healthcare staff members.

Average Annual Salary: $62,138

Hospice Nurse

Providing care for patients facing terminal illnesses, hospice nurses communicate directly with patients and their families and implement care plans to keep patients comfortable.

Average Annual Salary: $65,737

Surgery Nurse

Surgery nurses are responsible for administering medications, changing patients' dressings, monitoring their vital signs, assessing their conditions, and maintaining patient records throughout surgical procedures.

Average Annual Salary: $59,571

Critical Care Nurse

These nurses provide care for patients in intensive care units. Critical care nurses evaluate their patients' conditions, administer treatment, and provide support during recovery.

Average Annual Salary: $67,548

Emergency Room Nurse

Emergency room nurses care for patients suffering from a variety of traumas and illnesses that require emergency attention. These nurses focus on stabilizing and treating patients until they are ready to be discharged.

Average Annual Salary: $67,174

Dermatology Nurse Practitioner

Focusing on treating skin wounds including ulcers and burns, these nurses care for individuals with wounds, diseases, injuries, and other skin conditions. They also instruct patients on how to protect their skin.

Average Annual Salary: $94,742

Plastic Surgery Nurse

Plastic surgery nurses collaborate with surgeons and support staff to help patients achieve their desired results. These nurses monitor patients during and after procedures, educating them about what to expect before, during, and after surgery.

Average Annual Salary: $66,560

Burn Unit Nurse

Tasked with monitoring and observing burn victims to protect their health and well-being, these nurses often provide patients with ventilation, work to alleviate their pain, and prevent further complications.

Average Annual Salary: $108,000

Oncology Nurse

These nurses monitor and medicate cancer patients. They develop patient care plans and offer support and resources for patients and their families.

Average Annual Salary: $70,727

Rehabilitation Center Nurse

Rehabilitation center nurses help patients recover and regain their independence following disability, illness, or injury. These nurses also teach patients and their families how to manage chronic injuries and illnesses.

Average Annual Salary: $80,000

Traveling Nurse

These nurses work as contract employees either through an agency or self-employment, filling in at clinics, hospitals, and private practices around the country and sometimes internationally. Travel nurses perform the same general responsibilities as RNs.

Average Annual Salary: $73,497

Rural Nurse

Ensuring individuals in rural communities obtain access to quality healthcare, rural nurses work in labor and delivery, trauma, and critical care settings. They provide care for sick or injured patients across the lifespan.

Average Annual Salary: $94,771

Outpatient Care Nurse

These nurses care for patients seeking medical treatment at outpatient medical facilities. These professionals ensure patients remain comfortable and healthy before, during, and after medical procedures and surgery.

Average Annual Salary: $65,833

Nurse Anesthetist

Responsible for administering anesthesia and monitoring patients during their surgeries, these nurses ensure proper patient cardiovascular support. Nurse anesthetists also ensure patients recover properly from anesthesia before moving them to care units.

Median Annual Salary: $113,930

Health Administration Nurse

Health administration nurses serve in a variety of leadership roles. Along with overseeing other nurses to complete administrative duties, they evaluate and implement nursing policies and demonstrate policy compliance.

Average Annual Salary: $88,165

Family Nurse Practitioner

Family nurse practitioners collaborate with other specialists to manage patients' conditions and provide case management services for injuries and long-term illnesses. These professionals care for patients across the lifespan.

Average Annual Salary: $93,800


Often some of the first healthcare professionals to arrive during emergency situations, paramedics assess and diagnose patients before providing emergency treatment. They also monitor and administer medication and pain relief.

Median Annual Salary: $34,320

Nutrition and Fitness Nurse

These nurses primarily work in spas, health clubs, and surgical recovery sites, where they focus on improving client or patient health through nutrition, exercise, and stress management.

Median Annual Salary: $71,730

Acute Care Nurse

Providing critically ill patients with individualized care, acute care nurses carry out a variety of general nursing duties, from recording patient medical information to helping physicians during examinations. They may also collect blood and tissue samples.

Average Annual Salary: $83,000

Community Nurse

Charged with educating communities about health risks and preventative measures, community nurses teach patients and their families about diseases, carrying out various controlling and preventative measures.

Average Annual Salary: $61,916

Procurement Nurse

Procurement nurses provide care for patients receiving or donating an organ through transplant surgery. These nurses prepare donors for operations and oversee their postsurgical recovery, educating them before and after the procedure.

Average Annual Salary: $75,110

Quality Assurance Nurse

Quality assurance nurses evaluate nursing practices within a department to ensure efficiency and optimal patient care. They suggest and implement changes and train other nurses on new procedures.

Average Annual Salary: $78,125

Public Health Research Nurse

Focusing on the public health sector, these research nurses study, observe, and care for patients suffering from a variety of diseases. They also assist with and monitor clinical trials involving new medications or treatment methods.

Average Annual Salary: $81,500

Epidemics Research Nurse

These nurses work in research laboratories, hospitals, and medical clinics, where they administer vaccines, check lab work, and assess patients' overall health during epidemics. They also ensure patients meet specific protocols.

Average Annual Salary: $81,500

Federal Healthcare Nurse

Federal healthcare nurses provide care to patients in occupational health units, hospitals, and clinics. They promote better health practices and educate patients and their families on current health issues.

Median Annual Salary: $71,730

Toxicology Nurse

Often working closely with poison control hotlines, these nurses take patients' vital signs, test their verbal responses when they are admitted to the emergency room, and try to learn more about the type of toxin ingested and the time of ingestion.

Average Annual Salary: $71,730

Licensed Practical Nurse

Responsible for providing basic medical care, these nurses help RNs and physicians focus on more specialized areas of patient care. LPNs also take patients' temperatures, record their vital signs, collect urine and blood samples, and prepare them for examinations.

Average Annual Salary: $44,151

Vaccine Research Nurse

These research nurses plan, develop, implement, and evaluate vaccine-related research projects. These nurses must hold master's degrees in nursing along with additional training in research methodology and tools.

Average Annual Salary: $81,500

Certified Nurse Assistant

CNAs observe and record patients' conditions and vital signs. They work under the supervision of RNs and other medical professionals who provide direct care for patients.

Average Annual Salary: 28,338

Radiology Nurse

These nurses provide patient care for individuals undergoing radiology procedures. Radiology nurses assess preoperative patients, review their medical histories, and collaborate with patients and their physicians.

Average Annual Salary: $63,912

Registered Nurse

Responsible for coordinating and providing patient care, registered nurses observe and assess patient conditions to create care plans. These nurses work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, and physicians' offices.

Average Annual Salary: $71,730

Transplant Nurse

Transplant nurses monitor organ transplant surgeries and oversee patient progress. They create treatment plans for recovering patients and ensure they understand how the transplant process works.

Average Annual Salary: $75,110

Nontraditional Nursing Opportunities

The nursing field comprises an expansive array of career opportunities. Many of these paths allow professionals to go beyond bedside care and traditional workplace settings like hospitals and private practices. Nontraditional positions include toxicology nurses, prison nurses, and nutrition and fitness nurses.

Nurses can also explore opportunities as travel nurses, filling in for other professionals across the country and internationally. Nurses interested in following a nontraditional pathway can watch the video below to learn more about the options available to them.

This video introduces some nontraditional nursing opportunities and reviews the different types of non-traditional nursing in detail, emphasizing daily job responsibilities and what makes each role unique.