We all have an image of the nurse at the bedside of a patient, administering medications, adjusting IVs and maybe even fluffing a pillow and straightening a blanket; but, that’s an old fashioned view of the nursing profession. Over the past twenty years, roles and opportunities for those in the nursing field have vastly expanded.
According to the American Nurses Association, there is an annual growth of 100,000 nursing positions expected through 2022, making nursing the fastest growing profession in the U.S. Even more startling is the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) estimate that there will be the need for 1.1 million new Registered Nurses required to avoid a shortage. Nearly 500,000 nurses are anticipated to retire over the next ten years; and, the number of patients is expected to increase, more people joining the insured rolls of the Affordable Care Act and aging Baby Boomers straining the U.S. healthcare system.
There was a time that the field of nursing was limited to direct patient care; but, as technology advances, intensive research in quality patient care has increased, hospital and medical facilities have enhanced services and registered nurses are at the forefront of new careers and subspecialties.
Best Medical Degrees has developed a ranking of the 50 best paying nursing careers based on information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. News and World Report and the American Nursing Association. The Bureau of Labor Statistics often doesn’t distinguish specialties in nursing. Where the BLS does not cite a salary for a specific nursing path (i.e., Flight Nurse, Transplant Nurse, etc.) salary estimates have been reviewed from salary survey sources such as Indeed.com and the American Nursing Association.
Not all specialties listed may fit into the traditional idea of nursing careers, but represent the rapidly increasing role of the nursing profession in healthcare. For the student just entering nursing school or the young nurse deciding on a career path, the 50 nursing opportunities listed may provide a stepping off point for further consideration.
Educational Degrees and Accreditation Requirements
Depending on the particular nursing career path, students should be aware of requirements for specific nursing positions. All nursing positions require a Registered Nurse (RN) degree from a two-year community college, a Bachelor of Nursing (BSN), a Master of Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practices (DNP) from a four year, accredited school. Not all careers require graduate level education; but, salaries and opportunities will, naturally, be higher for more advanced degrees.
All nursing careers stipulate students graduate from an accredited institution. For example, most states recognize the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) or Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) educational standards. Be certain your school of choice is properly accredited for your field of choice and meets all state requirements.
Additionally, the more specialized career path will require either certification, licensure or both. It’s important you determine that your program or career of choice meets your state’s specific licensure requirements.
Online Educational Degrees
Colleges and universities recognize the need for online, quality medical degree programs designed for everyone from the high school graduate to the working professional wishing to continue their education. Best Medical Degrees provides links and information on a wide variety of medical degrees that are offered online. Where appropriate, this ranking provides links to programs available online to assist students in their career choices.
The ranking is from highest to lowest in expected salaries; and, in some cases, provides links to additional information such as online programs or additional information with educational requirements.
1. Certified Nurse Anesthetists
Certified Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) provide anesthesia and sedation related patient care. These nurses educate patients on procedures, monitor vital signs during surgery and make necessary adjustments to anesthesia as needed. This career is considered an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse and the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates advanced Master Degrees in Nurse Anesthesia positions to grow 31% over the next decade with an average annual salary of $102,670. These specialized nurses provide primary and specialty care. An undergraduate degree in nursing is required before entry into a master’s program in APRN. See our ranking for online MSN programs at Best Value Online Master of Nursing Degrees.
2. Nurse Practitioner
Ranked by U.S. News and World Report as #5 in its Best Health Care Jobs and #6 in it’s 100 Best Jobs, Nurse Practitioners, are charged with diagnosis and treatment of acute or chronic illness as part of a healthcare team or independently. These nurses may also order, perform and interpret diagnostic tests and prescribe medications and treatments. Nurse Practitioners are required to be licensed and hold a specialized Master of Nursing (MSN) degree. Many nursing specialties are enhanced by the Nurse Practitioner designation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows this career to have a median salary of $101,260 with an estimate 31% job growth anticipated over the next decade. See our ranking for MSN programs at Best Value Online Master of Nursing Degrees and Most Affordable Family Nurse Practitioner Specialty Degrees.
3. Neonatal Nurse
The neonatal period of an infant’s life is the first 28 days. Neonatal Nurses often work with premature infants or infants born with defects, illnesses or other problem. Nurses may work in Level I, II or III nurseries. The majority of Neonatal Nurses work in Levels II and III, with Level II patients being intermediate level of care for infants who may need oxygen, IV fluids or special feeding. Level III nurseries are for critically ill infants who may require ventilators or more complex care. The BLS estimates these nurses can expect a median, annual salary of $102,670, depending on education. Neonatal Nurses typically hold a MSN degree and are licensed. See our ranking for MSN programs at Best Value Online Master of Nursing Degrees.
4. Nurse Attorney
This may seem an odd position for a nursing career ranking, but it is a dual career that is in high demand. Few attorneys have solid medical knowledge and Nurse Attorneys may find work in a variety of settings, working with clients on Social Security disability claims, medical malpractice or personal injury claims. Nurse Attorneys may work in private law firms, government agencies or in hospital legal departments. Individuals interested in this career will need education from accredited nursing and law schools. They will also be required to have a nursing license, as well as passing a state’s attorney bar exam. Many Nurse Attorneys may also have practical experience as a clinical nurse. Although job growth in this field over the next ten years is only projected at 10%, the annual salary is estimated at $110,000.
5. Gerontology Nurse
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, MSN and Nurse Practitioners with gerontology specialties enjoy a median salary of $96,460 (2012) and the job outlook is growing at an amazing 31% average rate over the next few years. These nurses can expect to find employment in hospitals, physician offices, outpatient and long-term care facilities. With the large Baby Boomer population aging, schools of nursing, in an attempt to address this rising need for qualified gerontology nurses, are providing online nurse practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) and MSN programs with gerontology specializations. Several schools offer either an acute care or primary care track option. To review a ranking of online programs, please visit Best Online Masters in Nursing Gerontology.
6. Doctor of Nursing Practice
The Doctor of Nursing Practice concentrates on the clinical practice of nursing and provides employment opportunities in nursing administration and/or clinical nursing faculty positions, as well as direct patient care. The BLS estimates salaries for this degree to be an average of $96,940 with a 34% job growth projected over the next decade. In 2006, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) endorsed the opinion that by 2015, the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) would be designated as the terminal degree for licensed nurses. Find more information on DNP degrees at Best Value Online Doctor of Nursing Practice Degrees.
7. Health Policy Nurse
Health Policy Nurses don’t work directly with patients but analyze laws, develop strategies to change public attitudes and suggest new health policies. These nurses usually work with a public agency, university, a state legislature, or other public policy agency. Requiring a RN license and typically a bachelor’s or a master’s degrees in nursing. Most positions require an internship or residency with a public health policy organization and beginning salaries are estimated at $95,000.
8. Nurse Midwife
Ranked by U.S. News and World Report as #80 its 100 Best Jobs category, master’s prepared, certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) care for women’s health needs, including gynecological exams, family planning services, and prenatal care. These specialized nurses are able to participate in normal pregnancies and births (with physicians required for more complicated births). Midwives may be primary care providers for women and newborns, and provide education, wellness care, and disease prevention. The average salary for this profession is estimated to be $95,350 annually. The BLS also reports that the profession is growing at a rate of 25 percent. See our Best Medical Degrees ranking for MSN programs at Most Affordable Nurse Midwifery Certificates and Degrees and Best Value Online Master of Nursing Degrees.
9. Clinical Trial Nurse
As research in oncology treatments advance, more clinical trials are added to determine the safety and efficacy of new chemotherapy drugs or other treatments (such radiation or lasers). These trials are closely monitored by hospitals offering clinical trials and must meet specific requirements by the National Institute of Health, pharmaceutical companies and healthcare clinics. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is the minimum requirement to become a Clinical Trials Manager. These nurses work closely with physicians to precisely administer drugs and monitor chemotherapy treatments. Most nurses who wish to become Clinical Trials Managers work in oncology for a few years and obtain oncology certification. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the estimated salary for these managers is $92,600 annually and has a strong 17% projected job growth during 2014-2024. For online BSN programs, please visit 50 Best RN to BSN Online Degrees and Most Affordable MSN Clinical Research Degrees.
10. Nurse Researcher
Nurse Researchers work with various entities such as pharmaceutical companies, medical device industries, governmental agencies and and research organizations to improve clinical outcomes, nursing techniques and overall healthcare quality. Qualified nurses for this type of work usually hold a minimum of a MSN degree and some employers may require a Doctor of Nursing Practice. This career has a 26% job growth outlook and a median salary range of $90,000. To investigate online MSN graduate programs, please visit Best Online Masters in Nursing Education. For online programs in Doctor of Nursing, see 50 Best Online DNP Programs and Most Affordable MSN in Clinical Research Degrees.
11. Nursing Educators
There’s a perfect storm scenario in nursing. With an increased need for nurses, more nurses retiring and more students choosing to enter the nursing profession, colleges and universities are in need of nursing educators to teach student nurses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics currently estimates a median salary of $72,210 for nursing instructors in colleges and universities and $83,650 for those teaching in general medical centers or surgical hospitals. Nurses who obtain a Master or Doctoral degree are highly sought as teachers. The American Association of Colleges and Nursing (CCNE) and The Accreditation Commission For Education in Nursing (ACEN) accredit online nursing programs by assessing and identifying effective educational practices. It’s important to find an accredited online program in order to insure that licensure requirements and certificate needs are met and that the education you receive meets nursing standards in your state. To investigate online graduate programs in nursing education, please visit Best Online Masters in Nursing Education.
12. Informatics Nurse
Informatics Nurses collect, analyze and interpret medical data in hospitals, clinics or pharmaceutical companies. These nurses analyze information systems data to improve nursing services and reduce errors to create strategies and policies to improve information technology, as well as improve and maintain quality patient care. With an average mean salary of $83,000, Informatics Nurses are required to have practical nursing experience and some experience with informatics , computers and technology. Please visit our ranking at Best Value Online MS Degree in Health Information and Health Information Management
13. Infection Control Nurse
We all know hospitals are full of germs; but, hospitals take special care in limiting exposure and preventing hospital acquired infections. Infection Control Nurses are responsible for monitoring, educating and maintaining proper hygiene and infection control protocols in hospitals and long term care facilities in order to reduce the risk of a hospital acquired infection. The control of MRSA and other infections is of critical importance to hospitals. Infection Control Nurses are charged with identifying infectious outbreaks, developing protocols, educating clinical and support staff on proper hand hygiene and the correct use of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), etc., in order to prevent or subdue infections. The average mean salary for this position is $79,900.
14. Occupational Nurse
Occupational Nurses provide safety and health programs for workers and community groups. Occupational health nurses may work in manufacturing facilities, hospitals and medical centers and government agencies. This career requires a nursing degree from an accredited nursing program, licensure and pass an occupational safety certification exam. Salary expectation in this field is $75,200 depending on education and experience.
15. Diabetes Nurse
Diabetes is ranked as the 7th most prevalent cause of death in the U.S. According to the American Diabetes Association, 29.1 million Americans have diabetes, which require specialized care and education. Nurses specializing in diabetes care will need at least 500 hours working in a diabetic clinic and a MSN before applying for diabetes certification through the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Because of the prevalence of diabetes, there is a 32% expected job growth for this specialty and an annual salary of $75,000.
16. Medical Surgical Nurse
Approximately 17% of nurses work as medical-surgical nurses. These clinical nurses wear many hats, including the caring for and monitoring of patients, sometimes assisting in surgeries, handling medications and watching for adverse reactions. Medical-Surgical Nurses are licensed, have a minimum of three years clinical experience and have passed the credentialing exam. Average salary range for this position is $75,000.
17. Long Term Care Nurse
Long Term Care Nurses utilize a variety of skill sets in caring for their patients with disability or illness needing extended care. These nurses assist patients with normal day-to-day tasks like dressing and taking baths, but they primarily focus on patient healthcare. Long term care facilities include those that focus on rehabilitation following illness, accident or the elderly, who are no longer able to maintain a quality of life in a home setting. The salary expectation for this career is an annual $73,500.
18. Nurse Manager
Nurse Managers play dual roles, a clinical one and an administrative one. Typically responsible for a hospital unit, such as obstetrics, emergency, post surgical, etc. Nurse Managers supervise nurses, communicates with patients, family and caregivers and assures the continued quality patient care standards. Licensed nurses, the Nurse Manager also serves as liaison with physicians and hospital administration. This role may be filled by experienced RNs or those with more advanced degrees. Estimated salary range for Nurse Managers is $73,000.
19. Obstetrical Nurse
Obstetrical Nurses must hold either an associate or bachelor of science in nursing and be licensed. Often, OB Nurses hold Nurse Practitioner degrees. OB Nurses may assist with annual check-ups and labor and delivery, educate patients on birth control options or conduct other health screenings such as mammograms. The new RN must work two years, accumulating at least 2,000 hours of experience, concentrating on labor and delivery, before obtaining certification. OB nurses Certification as an Obstetrics Nurse is required for nurses who can expect to earn an average of $73,000 per year.
20. Flight Nurse
Flight Nurses are part trauma nurse and part critical care nurse (all at 1,000 feet in the air) maintaining patient care while coping with air turbulence, tight spaces and time constraints. These nurses respond to emergency situations such as accidents, illnesses or diseases when getting the patient proper hospitalization is of the essence. They also may be pressed into duty during times of natural disasters or crisis. A minimum of a licensed Registered Nurse is required. Salary expectations for this career specialty are around $72,000.
21. Nurse Recruiter
There is a critical nursing shortage in the United States and hospitals and healthcare facilities find themselves in a highly competitive environment for candidates. Nurse recruiters attend job fairs, college career days and notify nurses of position openings and interviewing candidates. Nurse Recruiters, typically nurses themselves, are able to communicate effectively, understand the requirements for the open positions and answer any and all questions candidates may have about the position and hospital, medical facility or agency represented. Salaries for this position are estimated at $71,900.
22. Travel Nurse
The extreme nursing shortage in the U.S. has developed the need for nurses experienced and able to move from hospital to hospital or even from city to city. A Travel Nurse usually works for a nursing or health care agency that provides short term nursing services to hospitals and medical facilities, experiencing a shortage due to medical leave or other emergencies. These nurses are expected to have clinical experience and the ability to adjust quickly to new environments. There’s an expected 20%, ten year job need and an average salary of $70,000 annually, with most expenses paid by the employer.
23. Burn Care Nurse
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Burn Care Nurses can expect a 19% job growth over the next decade and a median salary of $70,000. While there is no advanced nursing degree required for this career path, nurses working in burn units may be required to have prior experience working in intensive care, depending on the employer. A difficult, but important career, Burn Care Nurses are expected to dress patients’ burns, maintain patient comfort and monitor pain medication, educate patients and families on wound care and be attentive to patients’ emotional and psychological well being.
24. Genetics Nursing
The field of medical genetics has grown exponentially over the past ten years and has opened up career opportunities for nurses. Genetics Nurses provide early detection screenings, counseling, and treatment for patients with genetic disorders or specific diseases. Often, these nurses educate the patient’s family on home care with regards to nutrition, exercise programs, and the administering of medication. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates professions in genetics counseling and nursing to grow approximately 22% over the next decade and offers an average salary of $69,000 annually.
25. Cardiac Cath Lab Nurse
Cardiac cath lab nurses work with cardiovascular physicians to prepare patients for catheterization, angioplasty, pacemaker implantation and cardiac procedures. Nurses need to have knowledge of cardiac medications and electrocardiogram monitoring experience. Most facilities require cath lab nurses to achieve cardiac vascular nursing certification offered through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. With experience, nurses holding an RN or BSN degree may work in cardiac cath labs. The typical salary for this position is an annual $68,000.
26. Hemodialysis Nurse
Hemodialysis Nurses perform kidney dialysis treatment, which is the is removal of harmful waste from the bloodstream when a patient’s kidneys are not functioning. These nurses monitor the balance of fluid for their patient as well as educate and care for them daily and keep in communication with the physician. Hemodialysis can be conducted in hospitals, homes or out patient clinics. These nurses typically hold a RN or ADN degree and most employers will require certification through accredited nursing agencies such as the Board of Nephrology Examiners and Nursing Equipment (BONENT). The BLS estimates a 19% ten year job growth and median salary of $68,910 for this nursing specialty.
27. Neuroscience Nurse
These nurses care for patients who have suffered some sort of brain injury or damage from accidents, surgeries, strokes or illness. Their duties include monitoring neurological exams, administering medication, and consulting physicians on patient progress. This career requires a high level of sensitivity to patients’ needs,communication skills, interpersonal skills, stamina and patience. The Certified Neuroscience Registered Nurse (CNRN) credential is often required. These nurses may expect a 19% job growth over the next ten years and an average salary of $67,000.
28. Pain Management Nurse
Medical research has made significant strides in the management of pain for post surgical, chronic pain and palliative care for patients. Requiring a RN or BSN degree, plus 2000 hours related to pain management experience, the estimated salary for this profession is $67,000 and a 19%, ten-year job outlook. A pain management nurse works with the patient to determine what is causing the pain, and consults with other medical professionals to determine the best course of treatment, as well as monitoring of patients to reduce the risk of pain medication addiction.
29. Quality Improvement Nurse
Requiring an ADN or BSN from an accredited school, Quality Improvement Nurses are responsible for the evaluation, training, education, compliance, and risk management of nurses working in hospitals, clinics or long term facilities. These nurses work with administrators to promote improvement among all departments. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is an expected increase in employment of 22 percent over the course for 2008 to 2018 and a median salary of $67,000.
30. Hospice Nurse
The way Americans view death and dying is changing; and, in a great part, it’s due to the rise of hospice philosophy and care received either in long term care facilities or the patient’s home. Hospice Nurses are RNs who specialize in the care and provide palliative care and pain management designed to make end of life more comfortable and dignified. There are four roles for Hospice Nurses: Case Manager, Intake or Admission Nurse, Visit Nurse and Triage Nurse. Case managers evaluate the patient’s care, Intake Nurses evaluate patients when first admitted to a hospice facility, Visit Nurses provide hospice care in the patients’ home environment and the Triage Nurse is available by phone to assist patient caregivers or patients regarding concerns and communicates with physicians and other professional care givers. Degree requirements for Hospice Nurses vary from LPN to BSN degrees. According to the BLS, these professionals receive a median income of $66,640 annually.
31. Public Health Nurse
Public Health Nurses improve the health and well-being of the communities they serve through education of good health practices and disease prevention. Working in public health clinics, they monitor common health problems in the community, treat patients, and create intervention plans to prevent the health and safety issues they discover. These nurses hold licensure and BSN degrees and can expect a median salary of $66,000 and an 18% job growth over the next ten years. Some states may require certification for this role. Please visit 50 Best RN to BSN Online Degrees for online programs.
32. Oncology Nurse
Rapid changes have been occurring in the diagnosis and treatment for cancer patients over the past fifteen years. Specialized, certified Oncology Nurses are responsible for assuring that appropriate chemotherapy drugs are administered as prescribed by physicians. Oncology Nurses are also required to closely monitor and communicate with physicians as to the patient’s tolerance, difficulties or improvements during their course of treatment. It’s also important for these nurses to have expert phlebotomy skills, interpersonal communication skills and knowledge of cancer variations and prognosis. Most Oncology Nurses hold, at least, a RN degree and many have MSN degrees with a specialization in oncology. The Bureau of Labor Statistics gives a median salary income of $66,640 and a 16%, ten year job growth expectation. For a ranking of online nursing degree programs, please visit 50 Best Value RN to BSN Online Degrees.
33. Registered Nurse
The role of Registered Nurse in healthcare has long been a respected career. While the career is moving toward the Bachelor of Nursing (BSN) degree, Associate Degree nurses (ADN) are also in demand; and, can expect an average salary of $66,640, and an estimated 16% job growth over the next ten years. With a national shortage of nurses, many employers are offering tuition assistance for ADN nurses to obtain their BSN degrees. U.S. News and World Report ranks this career at #16 in its healthcare support category and #22 in its 100 Top Jobs.
34. Pediatric Nurse
Working in clinics, hospitals or out patient clinics, Pediatric Nurses provide specialized care for patients from childhood to age 21. These nurses provide patients explanation of patients’ conditions, treatment options, emotional support. Pediatric Nurses also administer medications and other treatment modalities under direction of a physician. The median salary for Pediatric Nurses is $65,000 with a 19% job expectation for the next decade. These nurses typically hold licensure and a BSN or Associate’s Degree in Nursing and specialty certifications as required by states.
35. Psychiatric Nurses
Psychiatric Nurses assist in developing treatment plans and use therapeutic skills to care for patients with mental disorders, administer appropriate medication and monitor patient improvement. Psychiatric Mental Health Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, or PMH-APRNs, receive specialized training in listening to patients and asking appropriate questions in order to diagnose disorders. A psychiatric nurse who has achieved licensure as a PMH-ARPN may receive a median salary of $65,000 and look towards a 20% estimated job growth over the next decade.
36. Rehabilitation Nurse
Rehabilitation Nurses assist patients during recovery following surgery, accident or stroke. Typically, these nurses offer counseling, pain management techniques, physical therapy exercises, and nutrition. Often, these professionals work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, long term care facilities or out patient clinics to help patients regain a normalcy of life and return to daily activities. The BLS estimates this career to have a 22% ten year job growth expectation and salaries average, a yearly $65,000.
37. Trauma (Emergency) Nurse
Watch any television medical program and you know what Trauma Nurses may do. These nurses are the “first line of defense” when a patient is brought in by ambulance in an emergent situation, following accident, illness or disease. Often, these nurses are required to assist physicians in surgical or emergency care. Trauma Nurses, typically, hold a license as a BSN and are required to be certified in emergency nursing. With an estimated annual salary of $65,000, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 20% job growth until 2022.
38. Community Health Nurse
Many Americans still do not have health insurance, in spite of the Affordable Care Act, and rely on community health centers and clinics for their healthcare needs. Community Health Nurses provide basic health care through examinations, vaccinations, testing and education. BSN degrees are usually expected with some education and experience in public health. The average salary for this career is $63,000 a year and it, like many nursing careers, expects a 22%-ten year job growth.
39. Infectious Disease Nurse
Infectious Disease Nurses specialize in the care and treatment of patients with highly contagious illnesses. These nurses usually work in hospitals and clinics and are trained in the identification and containment of illnesses such as the flu, measles or other, common communicable viruses; sometimes, more virulent diseases occur, such as Ebola or HIV/AIDS, that requires even more specialized care and protection. Licensed nurses, with continued education in infectious disease and a thorough knowledge of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and infection protocols may anticipate a salary of $63,000 annually and a 22% job growth over ten years.
40. Transplant Nurse
Transplant nurses work with patients who are receiving or donating organs and assist in preparation of donors and education for transplant procedures. This career path requires a RN degree and some study in medical-surgical nursing courses. Experience in critical care and surgical units is helpful. Nurses must pass the Transplant Nurse Certification Examination and other certifications depending on state requirements. The average salary is $63,000 annually and is estimated to have a ten year job growth of 19% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
41. Endoscopy Nurse
Requiring a RN license, Endoscopy Nurses cater to patients with digestive and intestinal problems such as ulcers, acid reflux disease, and abdominal bleeding. Working in hospital or out patient clinic environments, Endoscopy Nurses communicate with patients on preparation for testing, education on nutrition and dietary changes and assist in the endoscopic examination of a patient’s throat or intestinal system. These nurses can earn an average of $62,000 a year.
42. Respiratory Nurse
Respiratory Nurses specialize in patients with lung and respiratory system complications such asthma, tuberculosis, or lung cancer. Working mostly in critical care units this career, these nurses assist with pain management, breathing techniques and education of patients, families and caregivers. A nursing license is required and most employers require a Certified Pulmonary Function Technician designation. Salary averages $62,000 and employment may be found in acute care, long term care or home health agencies.
43. Clinical Care Nurse
Critical Care Nurses work in intensive care units or ICUs. These units are dedicated to providing specialized treatment for patients who have acute illness or disease; or, who have experienced serious illness. Most ICU nurses hold BSN degrees as well as certification in critical care. Growing by approximately 16% over the next decade, Critical Care Nurses average $61,000 a year or more depending on experience and education.
44. Orthopedic Nurse
Requiring certification as an Orthopedic Nurse Certified (ONC), these nurses work with patients who have experienced trauma, surgery, accidents, sports related injuries or geriatric issues such as brittle bones or falling. These nurses work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, physician clinics or long term care facilities. Typically requiring a BSN or MSN, Orthopedic Nurses can expect an average salary of $61,000 per year.
45. Correctional Nursing
This may not be the first career choice that comes to mind when considering the nursing profession. Expected to experience a 22% job growth over the next ten years, Correctional Nurses activities involve evaluating patient records, providing treatment, and administering medication for inmates in jails, detention centers or prisons. Nursing degrees required for this work are typically a licensed LPN or RN as well as certification. It’s estimated the median salary for Correctional Nurses is $60,000.
46. Nurse Advocate
Hospitals can be confusing places for patients, families and caregivers. A nurse advocate is an important link between patient, doctor and other medical professionals. Requiring a RN license, these clinical professionals help explain procedures, administrative policies and provide education on medical assistance, when needed. Nurse Advocates’ median salaries is estimated at $57,000 annually and has a 19% expected, ten year, job growth.
47. Home Health Nurse
Home Health Nurses are experienced RNs with clinical experience who provide care necessary medical care for patients at home. As hospital stays are becoming shorter, due to insurance concerns and research that many patients recover more quickly at home, nurses in this career will work with patients long term in their homes to manage medications and assist patients in regaining independence. These nurses coordinate with physicians, medical supply companies and rehabilitation therapists to assist in the quality care of their patients. The estimated salary range for this career is $55,000 annually.
48. Forensic Nurse
Only recently recognized by the American Nursing Association as a nursing specialty, Forensic Nursing is where the medical and legal systems join. These nurses work with patients in cases of sexual assault, domestic abuse or other violence. In addition to nursing education, most Forensic Nurses complete training in medical forensic care and serve as legal witnesses or consultants. Forensic training courses are offered at some colleges or other educational institutions, as well as online. In addition to their specialized training, Forensic Nurses may also seek certification. A new field, the salary average for this career is $54,000; but, it’s estimated to increase as the role of Forensic Nurses is more widely accepted.
49. School Nurse
Most school systems have on-site school nurses to work with children who feel ill or are sick. These nurses may also have to be able to identify and/or deal with more critical matters such as child neglect, abuse or other family dysfunction. School nurses are required to be licensed Registered Nurses. The average salary for these positions is $45,500.
50. Licensed Practical Nurses
Cited as #16 in Best Jobs of the U.S. News and World Report ranking, Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) perform very similar in job duties as a Bachelor of Nursing (BSN) in that they provide direct patient care under the supervision of BSNs and physicians. This profession requires a minimum education of an Associates degree as well as state licensure. Depending on the state, licensed LPNs are responsible for monitoring patients’ health, providing basic patient care such as wound management, educating patients and families on healthcare concerns, recording patient vital sign, etc. Employment may be found in hospitals, outpatient clinics, long-term care facilities and home health agencies. The BLS projects this nursing field as having a ten-year 16% job growth rate and a median salary of $42,490 annually.