Top 11 Registered Nursing Careers & Jobs

by NurseJournal Staff
• 5 min read

There are a number of career paths that nursing could take you down; some require additional academics, while others are suited to the standard of the RN.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that 2.5 million nurses are practicing across the United States, with registered nurses showing a possible increase of 19% by 2022, which is faster than the average growth of an occupation. With such high numbers in this field it would be easy to assume that there are a number of career paths that this education and occupational training could take you down; some require additional academics, while others are perfectly suited to current standards of the RN title.

For a look into 11 of the top registered nursing careers across American, read on below.

#1 Nurse Midwife

Midwives are often assumed to work with women only during pregnancy, and while it’s true that a midwife can help with pregnancy, labor and birth, they also provide health care to women throughout their life in a number of ways. Midwives may perform physical examinations like those associated with prenatal and gynecological care. They also work to educate and counsel women, teenaged girls, and female youth on subjects like female hygiene and sexual education. Midwives are able to prescribe contraceptive medication and order laboratory tests similar to a family physician.

The American Midwifery Certification Board states that a certified Nurse Midwife must have a Registered Nursing license or bachelor’s degree, graduate from an accredited nurse-midwife program that has been approved by the ACNM or Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education, and be verified following completion of the course. registers this position as providing a median salary of $94,362 within the United States, as well as offering some bonus incentives and other benefits. You can also find some other career and salary stats here.

#2 Occupational Health

MacEwan University explains that Health Nurses work within businesses and organizations to improve safety standards through education and care of the staff. They are trained to prevent injuries and illness by implementing programs and counseling and place workers in careers that suit their mental and physical, and psychosocial abilities. says that within the United States this position makes a median salary of $73,000 per year and certification requires a previous registered nursing degree and the completion of a certification examination. Some companies will hire nurses who don’t possess certification for this role if job experience is eminent. Other career and salary information on Occupational Nursing can be found here.

#3 Oncology

Oncology nurse is somebody who provides health care for patients dealing with or recovering from different forms of cancer, as well as helping with preventative education. This position works as a patients care planner and coordinates with other members of the health care team to create a good experience for those dealing with cancer.

An oncology nurse requires the registered nurse status and must be licensed in the state in which they practice. says that an examination is also required in order to be certified in this position. Most healthcare managers look for nurses who have completed a master’s degree in nursing and an Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner status as well as 500 hours of clinical practice.

Oncology nurses earn between $79,000 and $93,000 per year, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics has expressed a 22% growth rate by 2018 within this field. We also have more job and salary information listed here.

#4 Mental Health

The American Psychiatric Nurses Association explains best the job of a Mental Health Nurse as being a Registered Nurse who works with families, couples, and individuals to assess and diagnose mental and psychological needs. PMHNs may work for healthcare facilities or out of private practices providing therapy and medication for patients who require them.

In order to achieve this position suggests that students achieve a minimum of an Associate’s Degree in nursing, although a Bachelor or Master’s degree will give you further access to higher paying positions; licensure within your state is also necessary. They also place the median salary at 65,470 per year.

#5 Intensive Care

Intensive or Critical Care Nurses assist patients in a critical state so that optimum care is delivered for injuries and illness. Most of these positions are filled within hospitals but outpatient clinics and continuing care homes are also areas where this position can be seen. Practitioners of this profession may choose to narrow their scope and treat particularly adults, children, or infants depending on their interests and experience.

According to the average RN working in the field of Intensive or Critical Care makes approximately $68,190 per year.

#6 Geriatrics and Continuing Care

Geriatric Nurses work in continuing care homes and as private in-home nurses to patients who are usually over the age of 65. suggests that this position is in high demand because only about 1% of the practicing nurses in the U.S. are in the field of geriatrics. This can include tasks like giving medication, performing therapeutic tasks, and monitoring nutrition, exercise, and medical equipment that may be in use. They also describe the average yearly salary for this position as being $54,457.

#7 Educator

Nurse Educators are usually advanced in their profession and hold a master’s degree or higher on top of the RN status. Nurse Educators who are looking to expand their field of practice into a full-fledged professor role are required to hold a Ph.D. in nursing as well. Aside from the teaching role within colleges and universities, this position can also be found in hospitals and other healthcare facilities as a trainer for other nurses; describes this career as making $71,000 on average per year. We also have more career and salary outlook info here.

#8 Public Health

Public Health Nurses work within a community to educate patients on subjects like hygiene, safe sexual health, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and even head lice. They may teach programs, organize healthcare education related events, or work within schools and hospitals to perform these duties. The requirements of some public health nurses work for government or non-profit organizations, and travel to other countries to supply health knowledge. In the last few years there has also been a big rise in this field. expresses that on average a registered nurse in this position makes $51,000 – $55,000 per year and spends between 4 and 6 years in school before applying for licensure. You can see our salary and career outlook for Public Health Nurses.

#9 Clinical Research

Clinical Research Nurses work in clinical studies to plan and evaluate care of patients and monitor data for each project as they are conducted by doctors and scientists. They follow guidelines and interact with hospital staff, sponsors, and other members of the study to obtain the highest standards of patient care throughout the procedure. Part of this work may include obtaining blood samples, cultures, and other laboratory tissues and specimens, among other tasks. explains that this position can make anywhere between $60,000 and $115,000 per year depending on training and experience beyond the RN level.

#10 Nurse Anesthesiologist

A Certified Nurse Anesthesiologist is required to complete an accredited nurse anesthesia program following completion and licensure of an RN program. At least one year of experience is also required, and many hospitals expect a master’s or doctoral degree to be in place as well. CRNAs are an advanced form of nurse that provide anesthesia for obstetrical, trauma, and surgical cases throughout the United States.

According to, CRNAs can work in a number of settings including traditional hospital settings, delivery rooms, ambulances, plastic surgery firms, and even dental offices. The standard pay is between $157,000 and $214,000 per year.

#11 Legal Nurse Consultant

A Legal Nurse Consultant works with law firms and other legal operators to interpret medical records, define applicable standards of care within a certain case. expresses that this RN prepares for disposition and trial through research in many cases, most of which are related to malpractice.

This position makes approximately $53,355 to #211,352 per year but faces a faster than average growth rate which means that the salary for this occupation is constantly growing.

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