careers for nurses

10 Career Paths for Nurses

Nurses are the unsung heroes of the healthcare industry. Between bonding with patients, performing medical procedures, and administrative tasks, nurses are an essential part of our health care system.

With the nursing field expected to grow 15% over the next 10 years, careers for nurses are widely available and varied.

But what are some careers for nurses that are available? What are some different options a registered nurse can pursue? We are going to take you through 10 different career paths that a nurse could go into once you’ve finished nursing school.

1. Nurse Anesthetist

Becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) requires intensive training and dedication. You’ll be responsible for helping to put patients under anesthesia for procedures including surgery, dental procedures, and more.

You’ll be working alongside many other health care providers, including:

  • Surgeons
  • Doctors
  • Dentists
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Other nurses

Because of this, a nurse anesthetist must have strong communication skills and be a good team player.

This is one of the highest paying careers for nurses, with the average salary at $138,000 per year.

This type of position requires extra training programs. This including a Master’s program that can last between 2 and 3 years. You’ll also need to pass a certification exam after the completion of the Master’s program.

2. Surgical Nurse

Surgical nurses assist surgeons and other medical professionals with patients undergoing a surgical procedure. You’ll be responsible for caring for the patient throughout the entire process. This includes before, during, and after the operation.

You’ll begin by prepping the patient. You’ll be responsible for:

  • Taking a medical history
  • Explaining the procedure to the patient and their family
  • Running labs
  • Prepping the surgical area
  • Getting the surgical tools ready

During the surgery, scrub nurses will handle equipment and hand proper tools to the surgeon. Surgical nurses may also be responsible for monitoring the patient during surgery.

You’ll check vital signs and perform necessary tasks like CPR and administering medications.

Surgical nurses can also expect to help during surgery by:

  • Doing sutures
  • Holding certain tools
  • Stopping excessive bleeding
  • Applying bandages or surgical towels

After surgery, a surgical nurse will stay with and care for the patient as they wake up. You’ll monitor their condition, check/change their bandages, and explain how everything went to them and their family.

Surgical nurses don’t require extra schooling, but there are seminars and classes you can take to better your skills. Most surgical nurses have experience working with critical care patients or ER experience, but it isn’t required.

3. General Nurse Practitioner

One of the most common careers for nurses is becoming a general nurse practitioner. A general nurse practitioner will be found at private practices and working for primary care physicians. The job market for general nurse practitioners is growing and will grow by 34% in a 10-year span.

You’ll work closely with patients, take their vital signs, and assist the primary care physician with any tests or procedures.

You will be able to advance your position, and your salary, by learning new skills and taking continuing education programs. To become a general nurse practitioner, you’ll need a Master’s degree in nursing.

You’ll also need to become certified. The requirements and testing for licensure and certification will vary state to state.

4. Nurse Specializing in Pain Management and Pain Patients

Pain treatment and management is a whole subspecialty within the medical field. People suffering from post-operative pain and chronic pain conditions are the most common types of patients.

Depending on the practice or particular position that you take as a pain management nurse, you could be:

  • Managing medications
  • Coming up with a treatment plan
  • Helping patients practice more natural pain management techniques
  • Educating patients on their options

Learn more info about pain treatment before getting into this career path so you can understand common treatment options.

5. Psychiatric Nurse

Psychiatric nursing positions are some of the best careers for nurses interested in mental health care. You’ll be able to work alongside other mental health physicians to care for patients suffering from mental health disorders and issues.

You will help evaluate patient needs and help counsel patients on their best course of treatment. Psychiatric nursing positions are available in hospitals, private clinics, and mental health facilities.

Psychiatric nursing requires specialized knowledge of mental health disorders and issues. You’ll need to possess a Master’s degree in Nursing with a specialty in psychiatry in order to qualify for most psychiatric nursing positions.

6. Pediatric Nurse

Pediatric nurses specialize in working with children and teenagers. This position could be in a hospital, at a private practice, or even in a school working as a school nurse.

This position is similar to working as a general nurse practitioner. There are many job opportunities and you will be performing many of the same tasks. You’ll assist the primary care physician, care for the patient, run tests, assist with procedures, etc.

You must be able to work well with children if you want to go into pediatric nursing. You’ll need to be able to speak well and explain things well to young patients while also being able to communicate with the patient’s parents.

You should also be aware of diseases or issues that are seen most often in children.

7. Gerontological Nurse

Gerontological careers for nurses are the polar opposite of pediatric nursing careers. Gerontological nurses work exclusively with elderly patients. Elderly patients have specific and different health issues and diseases that make their care a specialty within the healthcare field.

Older patients are more likely to have certain diseases that have to be carefully monitored and checked.

Gerontological nurses will work with elderly patients to monitor any issues or worries they have, come up with a treatment plan alongside a physician, and help patients manage medications and treatment options.

You’ll need a Master’s in nursing to pursue this career path. You’ll also need to be comfortable working with older patients.

8. Area Specialized Nurse

This is a generalized option for a reason: to go through each and every specialty and all of the careers for nurses would take up 50 pages. What’s important to know is that nurses can specialize in various areas.

This could be by type of illness, by the age of the patient, or by the area of the body.

If you are particularly interested in treating patients suffering from addiction, there are rehab nursing positions. You could specialize in treating patients with particular ailments, like:

  • AIDS
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease

You could also choose a nursing career specializing in a particular area or part of the body. Some examples are:

  • Reproductive health
  • Skin (Dermatology)
  • Hormones (Endocrinology)
  • Brain (Neurology)
  • Eyes (Ophthalmology)

Depending on what you choose, you may need further education or knowledge of that particular specialty. You can take continuing education classes, attend seminars, or specialize your Master’s degree in a particular subject.

Out of all the careers for nurses, you can choose one that interests you or lines up with your particular knowledge and skillset.

9. Nursing Admin

We’ve gone over the more “classic” nursing careers that involve hands-on nursing and patient interaction. However, you can take a slightly different path and choose to become a nursing administrator.

Nursing administrators are responsible for everything that keeps nurses and health care running smoothly. They are in charge of setting schedules, budgeting, human resources duties, and nursing staff management.

Nursing administrators usually have a degree in healthcare administration. They also have licenses and certifications that vary state to state. This is a great option for those who understand nursing and healthcare who also have great management skills.

10. Educator

Last on our list of careers for nurses is nursing educator. This type of position usually goes to people who have worked as a nurse and have experience working with patients.

All of your experience working as a nurse can serve you well as a nursing educator. You’ll be teaching the next generation of nurses and imparting your learned wisdom. You could teach classes or you could hold seminars teaching nurses about certain techniques or specialties.

A Master’s degree is the minimum requirement for a position as a nurse educator. Many nurse educators have a doctorate in addition to their Master’s.

The job outlook for these positions is promising, as there seems to be a shortage of nurse educators. This means that there are likely positions available.

It also means that you would be helping more people become nurses. Low numbers of faculty limit the number of students, which results in an overall shortage of nurses.

Becoming a nurse educator will help the healthcare and nursing fields and provide you with a great career option.

10 Careers for Nurses: Wrapping Up

There are so many careers for nurses out there. Which one you choose will depend on your interests, your skills, and your level of education.

Each job has different skills and requirements. Each specialty has different challenges and rewards. It’s up to you to decide which is right for you.

If you have any other questions or want to learn new skills to help you in your career, contact us.