Best Nursing Careers in 2017

nursing careersThere are many nursing careers to choose from, depending on the patients you want to work with and the responsibilities you want to hold. If you are already a nurse or planning to become a nurse in the near future, it’s important to know your career options. This will allow you to work in the sector of nursing that best suits your goals in life. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular nursing jobs out there today so you can find the perfect one.

Comparing Nurse Careers

Nursing CareerPayJob GrowthRequired Education
Registered Nurse (RN)$65,470 per year19%ADN or BSN
Nurse Practitioner (NP)$96,460 per year31%MSN or DNP
Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)$41,540 per year25%Certificate, Diploma, or ADN
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)$157,690 per year31%DNP
Nurse Educator$70,200 per year31% DNP
Nurse Midwife $92,230 per year31%MSN or DNP
Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)$24,400 per year21%High School Diploma, Certificate, or ADN

Full List of Nurse Career Options

Registered Nurse (RN)

Registered nurses are responsible for basic patient care and monitoring. Registered nurses may branch off into many specialties providing the opportunity to be hired in multiple nursing jobs like home health, critical care, oncology, and more. Most registered nurses work in hospitals, taking care of overnight patients and preparing other patients for their doctor’s appointments. (Source)

  • Average Pay Rate (2012): $65,470 per year
  • Required Education: ADN or BSN
  • Jobs in the U.S. (2012): 2,711,500
  • Job Growth (2012-2022): 19% (Registered Nurse Job Description)
  • Possible Specialties: Neonatal Nursing, Pediatric Nursing, Oncology Nursing, Home Health Nursing, Hospice Nursing, Flight Nursing, Critical Care Nursing, Emergency Room Nursing, Public Health Nursing

Nurse Practitioner (NP)

A nurse practitioner (NP) is an advanced practice nurse who has almost all of the same credentials as a doctor. Nurse practitioners in most states can prescribe medications, diagnose patients, perform basic surgeries, and even operate their own practices. Some states require a physician’s supervision, while others allow NPs to work on their own. This is one of the most lucrative nursing careers available, but it is also the one that requires the most education (Source), fortunately there multiple nurse practitioner programs to choose from.

  • Average Pay Rate (2012): $96,460 per year
  • Required Education: MSN or DNP
  • Jobs in the U.S. (2012): 151,400
  • Job Growth (2012-2022): 31%

Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)

A licensed vocational nurse may also be referred to as a licensed practical nurse (LPN). Professionals in this nursing career often help other nurses and healthcare workers who are taking care of patients. For instance, an LVN may work alongside an RN to take care of a home health patient. LVNs are often responsible for taking vital signs, recording patient histories, administering medications, drawing blood, and doing other routine tasks around a hospital or doctor’s office. (Source)

  • Average Pay Rate (2012): $41,540 per year
  • Required Education: Certificate, Diploma, or ADN
  • Jobs in the U.S. (2012): 738,400
  • Job Growth (2012-2022): 25%

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

A nurse anesthetist is a nursing professional who assists an anesthesiologist in providing anesthesia to patients before, during, or after surgery. This branch of nursing is most often the one with the highest pay rate, but it is also the one that comes with the most risks. While all nurses have their patients’ lives in their hands, CRNAs must be extremely precise in the way they administer medications. CRNAs often work in trauma centers and emergency care facilities, so they must be able to adapt to any situation that comes their way. (Source)

  • Average Pay Rate (2012): $157,690 per year
  • Required Education: DNP
  • Jobs in the U.S. (2012): 35,430
  • Job Growth (2012-2022): 31%

Nurse Educator

Nurse educators are the individuals responsible for bringing about new nurses in the world. They work at colleges and universities to teach classes in nursing, and many of them also offer continuing education courses at hospitals and clinics. Nurse educators must be up to date on the trends, laws, and machines used in the nursing profession, and they must have a background in education in addition to their knowledge of the healthcare industry. (Source)

  • Average Pay Rate (2013): $70,200 per year
  • Required Education: DNP
  • Jobs in the U.S. (2013): 56,270
  • Job Growth (2012-2022): 31%

Nurse Midwife

A nurse midwife is a nursing professional who assists women and couples during pregnancy and childbirth. Nurse midwives may simply act as counselors and advisors during a pregnancy, or they may go as far as directing the birth of a child. Nurse midwives must be knowledgeable about the human reproductive system and modern day approaches to childbirth. With the proper licensing and education, a nurse midwife can run his or her own practice for childbirth and prenatal care. (Source)

  • Average Pay Rate (2012): $92,230 per year
  • Required Education: MSN or DNP
  • Jobs in the U.S. (2012): 5,460
  • Job Growth (2012-2022): 31%

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

Certified medical assistants provide the most basic level of help in the nursing profession. They are responsible for making sure that registered nurses, home health nurses, nurse practitioners, and other professionals are able to complete their jobs efficiently. Many CNAs work in hospice and home health care, where they assist patients in bathing, running errands, taking medications, doing household chores, and more. They provide the care that these patients are not able to offer themselves. (Source)

  • Average Pay Rate (2012): $24,400 per year
  • Required Education: High School Diploma, Certificate, or ADN
  • Jobs in the U.S. (2012): 1,534,400
  • Job Growth (2012-2022): 21%