Nursing is a diverse field with many career opportunities, each different from the other. With more job opportunities than any other sector, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that healthcare is the country’s fastest-growing sector.
Plus, with nurses making up the majority of healthcare professionals in this area, the future of nursing looks nothing but promising.
As a nurse, you have complete control over what direction you want your career to steer in seeing the career opportunities.
For instance, as a registered nurse, you can work in direct or indirect patient care, divided into further nursing branches.
Similarly, as an advanced practice registered nurse, you can work in highly sought-after positions and perform high-level duties in various settings.
Today we will explore all the career paths that nursing offers R.N.s and APRNs, focusing on the top six with the highest demand and career outlook.
Top six nursing career paths
Nursing offers many specialties that present rewarding career prospects. Plus, when it comes to a nursing specialty, there is no wrong choice so long you consider your personal and professional goals.
So, without further ado, let’s look at the high-demand career paths in nursing.
1. Nurse Midwife
A specialization in midwifery entails delivering pre-natal and post-natal care to pregnant women and infants. A nurse-midwife assists in childbirth, ensuring the safety and health of both mother and her child.
The care provided by a midwife continues throughout the pregnancy and even after child delivery to avoid any post-birth health complications in both mother and child.
It’s a high-intensity work setting, with the average annual nurse midwife salary being $97,787. The BLS statistics project a 12% growth from 2019 – 2029.
Furthermore, it’s critical to have a graduate degree in nursing, such as an MSN, to be considered for the position.
Employers prefer candidates with a midwife specialty certification, so to increase your chances of getting hired, it’s worthwhile to get one.
2. Legal Nurse Consultant
A licensed legal nurse consultant uses their experience as a nurse to counsel on medical litigation, providing insights and information about the workings of the healthcare system.
They utilize their expertise in healthcare to assist lawyers in comprehending the regulations and protocols so that the lawyers would have a stronger fundamental understanding of healthcare responsibilities regarding their lawsuits.
The career path offers flexible income for those with extensive expertise as a nurse. The annual median salary of an average legal nurse consultant is around $78,658, with a projected growth of 7% between 2019 – 2029.
A registered nurse license is the core requirement to qualify for the job, with some employers also mandating a BSN degree, but that’s not always the case.
3. Nurse Anesthetist
A nurse anesthetist is a healthcare professional that administers anesthesia to patients undergoing any surgical procedure and assists in their post-operative care.
They administer pain meds to patients to ensure a painless surgery and keep an eye on the patient’s vital functions during the procedure.
The nurses provide anesthesia care throughout the patient’s surgery to keep them sedated pre-& post-operation.
To ensure the safety and comfort of their patient, nurses work closely with other medical professionals, such as those relevant to anesthesia and surgery, to administer anesthetics to all kinds of patients, from newborns to the elderly.
To become a nurse anesthetist, you need to enroll in an MSN program specializing in nurse anesthesia.
Furthermore, eligibility for an MSN course requires a two-year experience as a nurse with a bachelor’s degree – some employers may also need a Ph.D.
The average annual salary is $161,000, with a 14% career growth from 2019 – 2029.
4. Nurse Practitioner
Nurse practitioners treat patients in various settings, including primary and specialized care, while working with other medical professionals.
Advanced practice nurses, such as nurse practitioners, assist doctors and other health care providers with all aspects of patient care, from diagnosis to treatment and consultation.
They work in various settings, including inpatient and outpatient care, or as treatment team members – plus, in some states, N.P.s can also run their own practice.
Registered nurses with advanced practice certifications can treat patients of all ages, from babies to the elderly.
The average nurse practitioner’s salary is around $98,859 annually, with a 45% projected growth from 2019 – 2029.
5. Forensic Nurse
Forensic nurses are highly trained medical professionals who play an integral role in any forensic investigation.
They receive extensive training with exposure to criminal investigations, which allows them to deliver complete and comprehensive care to victims of assault or violence.
Forensic nurses assess victims of physical violence and provide tangible evidence in medical reports in cases of physical abuse and accidental deaths.
After distressing incidents, forensic nurses gather and preserve evidence while caring for patients’ urgent medical needs.
In case of sexual violence, they use medical evidence to convict those responsible for sexual assault.
A degree in nursing, whether an associate’s or a bachelor’s, qualifies you to work as a forensic nurse. The BLS predicted a 7% growth between 2019 – 2029, with an average annual salary of $80,010.
6. Critical Care Nurse
A critical care nurse is an RN who provides medical care to acute patients such as those in an ICU. Patients with life-threatening diseases or injuries rely on them for comprehensive treatment.
Critical care nurses often cooperate with other medical professionals to give the best possible treatment in hospital ICUs to ensure the best potential outcomes for patients.
The core requirement for the job is a BSN degree. However, you may also need to complete additional training and pursue advanced education to stay on top of your game as a critical care nurse.
The BLS projected a 7% increase from 2019 to 2029, with an average salary of $70,174.
It’s no surprise that nursing is one of the most in-demand professions in the medical field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of registered nurses in the United States will reach more than 3,300,000 between 2019 and 2029.
Nurses are an indispensable aspect of healthcare as any hospital, clinic, or healthcare institute cannot virtually function without them.
Nurses provide primary, palliative, and preventive care in various specialties, including pediatrics, family medicine, women’s health, and geriatrics, among many others.
A bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) is required for any professional path. A master’s degree in nursing, on the other hand, is a need if you want to advance and grow in your respective specialty.