11 Job Options for Registered Nurses

December 9, 2021 , Modified on May 27, 2022 · 1 Min Read

Nurses can choose from a variety of career paths. While some require additional academic study, RNs have many lucrative and rewarding options to choose from.

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11 Job Options for Registered Nurses
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The ever-evolving nursing profession presents a variety of registered nurse (RN) employment opportunities. With so many options, it's easy to find a career that fits your passion.

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Top Job Options for Registered Nurses

There are many registered nurse positions available outside of the traditional hospital setting. RNs find jobs in doctors’ offices, home health organizations, hospice care, and administration.

While RNs must hold an associate degree in nursing (ADN), some careers in the field require further education and/or credentials. Specialized certifications come with professional benefits and are often associated with increased earning power.

If you want to enrich your nursing career, check out the following opportunities.

1. Critical Care Nurse

These nurses constantly monitor adult, pediatric, or neonatal patients with life-threatening injuries or illnesses. Critical care nurses need strong communication skills to successfully collaborate with patients and other medical professionals. They must stay calm in stressful, fast-paced situations.

Minimum Education: ADN

Certification (Recommended): Certified Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) granted by AACN Certification Corporation

Average Annual Base Salary: Average annual base salary of $71,470 as of November 2021, according to PayScale

Outlook: The demand for critical care nurses should increase with advances in intensive care technology and a growing elderly population.

2. Occupational Health Nurse

According to the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses, occupational health nurses (OHNs) “deliver health and safety programs and services to workers, worker populations and community groups.” These specialized RNs prevent injury and illness in the workplace and promote employee health.

Minimum Education: ADN

Certification (Recommended): The American Board for Occupational Health Nurses offers two certifications:

  • Certified Occupational Health Nurse (COHN) - Focuses on clinical practice
  • Certified Occupational Health Nurse-Specialist (COHN-S) - Emphasizes administrative aspects in the workplace

Compensation: Average annual base salary of $74,200 according to November 2021 data from PayScale

Outlook: The OHN profession is one of the industry's fastest-growing specialties.

3. Informatics Nurse

An informatics nurse combines information technology, computer science, and nursing theory and practice to improve patient care and outcomes. monitor, analyze, and develop computer programs and systems for clinical settings, such as electronic medical records.

Minimum Education: Bachelor of science in nursing (BSN)

Certification (Recommended): Informatics Nursing Certification (RN-BC) from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)

Compensation: Average annual base salary of $79,950 as of November 2021, according to PayScale

Outlook: In the 2020 Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey, 49% of nurse informaticists reported earning an annual salary over $100,000 — an increase from 45% in 2017 and 33% in 2014.

4. Certified Nurse Midwife

A certified nurse midwife (CNM) is an advanced practice registered nurse specializing in reproductive healthcare who cares for women across the lifespan. CNMs work in birthing centers, clinics, and hospitals.

These nurses assist with:

  • Preventing and treating gynecological illness/disease
  • Family planning and sexual education
  • Prenatal care
  • Postpartum care
  • Childbirth

Minimum Education: Master’s degree in nursing (MSN)

Certification (Requirement): Nurse-midwifery certification from the American Midwifery Certification Board

Compensation: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data from 2020 indicates a median annual wage of $110,130

Outlook: The BLS projects a job growth rate of 45% from 2020-30.

5. Travel Nurse

The demand for travel nurses has skyrocketed, thanks to the pandemic and a critical international nursing shortage. Travel nurses temporarily fill positions in healthcare facilities throughout the country. These registered nurse employment opportunities are temporary, short-term roles lasting from days to months.

Minimum Education: BSN

Certification: While there is no specific certification for travel nurses, specialized credentials may lead to more job opportunities.

Compensation: November 2021 PayScale data indicates an average yearly salary of $86,510

Outlook: Pre-pandemic nursing shortages have worsened, and travel nurses are in high demand.

6. Family Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners usually select a specialty like women’s health, oncology, or pediatrics. A family nurse practitioner (FNP) cares for patients of all ages and often serves as a primary healthcare provider. Most work in a family practice setting, although some find roles in hospitals or clinics.

Minimum Education: MSN

Certification (Required): Available through two organizations:

  • FNP-BC certification from the ANCC
  • FNP-C certification from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)

Compensation: As of May 2020, FNPS enjoy a median annual wage of $111,680

Outlook: All nurse practitioners are projected to see a rapid 52% job growth rate through 2030.

7. Public Health Nurse

A public health nurse (PHN) develops and implements programs to promote healthy practices and prevent disease in communities and populations.

PHNs work with schools, clinics, and other organizations to provide safety and health education. They may focus on topics like vaccination, sexual health, pregnancy, or mental health.

Minimum Education: ADN

Certification (Recommended): Certified Public Health credential from the National Board of Public Health Examiners

Compensation: As of November 2021, PHNs earn an average annual base salary of $61,210

Outlook: These registered nurse employment opportunities are expected to increase as schools, medical facilities, and organizations recognize the benefits of being proactive.

8. Geriatric and Continuing Care Nurse

Geriatric nurses specialize in treating elderly patients. Many work in continuing care homesand home health organizations, where they collaborate with doctors, physical therapists, and families to develop patient care plans and help patients with daily tasks.

Minimum Education: ADN

Certification: Gerontological Nursing Certification (GERO-BC) from the ANCC

Compensation: Average annual base salary of $68,620, as of November 2021

Outlook: The demand for geriatric nurses is growing as the U.S. population ages and healthcare continues to improve. According to the United States Census Bureau, 83.7 million individuals will be age 65 or older in 2050.

9. Oncology Nurse

Using a multidisciplinary approach, oncology nurses combine their distinct clinical skills with empathy and compassion to care for patients diagnosed with cancer. Oncology nurses work in hospitals, cancer treatment centers, physicians' offices, home care organizations, and hospice care facilities.

Minimum Education: ADN

Certification (Recommended): Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN) from the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation

Compensation: PayScale reports an average annual base salary of $76,350, as of November 2021

Outlook: An aging population and increased number of cancer diagnoses should influence this nursing subfield, especially as medical technologies and new cancer treatments continue to evolve.

10. Legal Nurse Consultant

A legal nurse consultant works with law firms, healthcare facilities, and insurance companies by offering their expertise in medical malpractice, liability, or personal injury lawsuits.

Their responsibilities may include:

  • Reviewing and analyzing medical records
  • Preparing reports
  • Educating attorneys on medical terminology
  • Performing research and medical literature searches
  • Providing evidence for trials
  • Providing testimony in court

Minimum Education: ADN

Certification (Optional): There are two credentialing organizations for legal nurse consultants:

  • The American Legal Nurse Consultant Certification Board offers the Legal Nurse Consultant Certified credential
  • Certified Legal Nurse Consultant certification from the National Alliance of Certified Legal Nurse Consultants

Compensation: November 2021 reports indicate an average annual base salary of $79,950

Outlook: The demand for legal nurse consultants may remain steady as firms, facilities, and companies require their medical expertise.

11. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

A certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) is an advanced practice nurse who is qualified to administer anesthesia before surgery and other medical or dental procedures. CRNA roles are some of the highest paid nursing positions in the field. These nurses work in hospitals, doctors’ offices, outpatient facilities, and dentists’ offices.

Minimum Education: MSN

Certification (Required): CRNA credentials are available through the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists.

Compensation: CRNAs enjoy a median annual wage of $183,580.

Outlook: Job prospects for CRNAs are bright, with the BLS projecting a 13% job growth rate from 2020-30.

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