“Your profession is not what brings home your weekly paycheck. Your profession is what you are put here on earth to do, with such passion and intensity that it becomes a spiritual calling.” Vincent Van Gogh
For renowned painter Vincent Van Gogh, passion manifested itself in capturing the colors of Southern France’s landscape on canvas with just the right mixture of highlights and shadows. For our nation’s nurses, passion for the profession lies in their compassion for people. It is integral to their drive, as seen in the posting of Van Gogh’s quote that resonated with Scrubs Magazine, a publication for nurses.
With changing health care laws and the aging of our largest generation, the commitment and dedication of nurses to care for the needs of patients is in demand more than ever before. In fact, health care is one of the few industries that actually added jobs during the recession of the late 2000s and is projected to add the most jobs in the coming decade.
Although nurses are needed at all levels of health care, those with the most education and experience are filling the positions with the highest-paying salaries. Nurses with master’s and doctoral degrees, for instance, make up the bulk of Monster.com’s top 25 list of the nursing jobs employers are advertising for. Earning advanced degrees in nursing and nursing specialties gives nurses a wider range of roles and career options to choose from along with a boost in income, responsibility, and respect.
[Learn more about Kaplan University’s advanced nursing degrees.]
With the right education, these 5 job titles can give your nursing career a boost to the next level.
1. Head of Nursing
Requirements: Master’s degree in area of specialty and at least 15 years of experience
Salary range: $140,000 to more than $250,000, with a median salary of $194,990
Combining strong nursing experience with the overall planning, personnel oversight, and policy-making duties of a top executive, one of nursing’s top big-picture positions is also one that brings home the biggest bucks. While the position leans strongly toward the executive end (most hospitals require a master’s degree in nursing, and many are hoping for an MBA as well), hands-on nursing experience is also important for conveying the nursing staff’s needs to top management. The head of nursing—also called chief nursing officer or chief nursing executive—reflects the senior nurse management position in an organization.
2. Nursing Director
Requirements: RN, advanced degree in nursing
Salary range: $100,000 to more than $165,000, with a median salary of $129,760
From budgeting to policy setting to scheduling, the nursing director oversees all aspects of a department’s nursing staff and often serves as a liaison between the staff and hospital administrators. Like any direct supervisory role, the nursing director—also called the nursing supervisor in some organizations—usually rises through the ranks with people skills, project-management ability, and leadership aspirations. The nursing director often serves as the nursing program administrator, setting policies and performance standards and directly supervising nursing staff.
[Find out how you can qualify for a nursing 50% tuition grant.]
3. Nurse Practitioner
Requirements: Master’s degree and certification as a Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner (CRNP) in specialty area
Salary range: $82,000 to more than $110,000, with a median salary of $95,236.
Most states require nurse practitioners (NPs) to work collaboratively with physicians. However, roughly a dozen states allow NPs to open their own clinics, while a dozen or so others require NPs to work under the supervision of a physician. Regardless of the physician relationship, nurse practitioners provide a wide range of health services, usually specializing in areas such as family practice, women’s health, or pediatrics in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and private practices. (Emergency room and pediatric NPs tend to earn the highest salaries.) Depending on the state, NPs often diagnose and treat acute illnesses, injuries, and infections.
Explorehealthcareers.org reports that nurse practitioners are being highly recruited as the demand for health care services increases while the number of primary care physicians available decreases. In a study of 2011 salaries, full-time nurse practitioners made average salaries of $90, 583 with a master’s degree and $95,449 with a doctoral degree.
4. Head Nurse
Requirements: RN with at least five years of direct experience
Salary range: $76,000 to more than $114,000, with a median salary of $94,308
Whether it’s in an ICU, CCU, OR, ER, or obstetrics department, if there’s more than one nurse, there’s usually a head nurse. While still dealing directly with patients, the head nurse is also responsible for patient records, performance reports, inventory levels, and the day-to-day duties important to every nursing department.
5. Clinical Nurse Specialist
Requirements: Master’s or doctoral degree in a specialized area of nursing and at least five years of experience
Salary range: $78,000 to over $110,000 with a median salary of $94, 723
If you like your nursing infused with some scholarly research, number crunching, and data evaluation, the clinical nurse specialist (CNS) job might be for you. In addition to treating and diagnosing patients, a CNS also focuses on assessing a hospital’s procedures, processes, and personnel. The job of a CNS is often broken down into three spheres of influence as defined by the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists: patient/family, nursing personnel/practice, and system/network organization. According to explorehealthcareers.org, the current demand for CNSs far exceeds the supply.
Source: Salary information comes from salary.com.