Nursing Career Options
Opportunities for nurses aren't just good — they're great. The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that the demand for nurses careers will grow much faster than average — 22 percent by 2018.
Nursing careers can be found in a variety of specialties and settings — hospitals and doctor's offices, schools, cruise ships, and even your own home.
Read on to explore just a few nursing career options.
Nursing Career Option #1 - Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
Called Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs) in some states, LPNs work under the supervision of doctors and registered nurses to care for patients, take vital signs, and perform clerical duties. LPNs usually work in clinics and hospitals, often providing care to patients who need constant monitoring. Median annual wages in 2008 for LPNs were $39,030.*
Preparation: LPNs can be on the job relatively quickly, with completion of a certificate program.
Nursing Career Option #2 - Registered Nurse (RN)
One of the most diverse nursing career options, RNs can often be found in almost any setting and can specialize in almost any area of medicine. RNs provide basic health information, assist doctors with patient care, help families understand a loved one's treatment, and maintain patient records and treatment schedules. In fact, RNs make up the majority of workers in the health care industry, according to the U.S. Department of labor.
Median annual earnings for RNs in 2008 were $62,450.*
Preparation: There are many education options for aspiring registered nurses. Associate's and bachelor's degree programs as well as certificate programs could help qualify you to get licensed in your state.
Nursing Career Option #3 - Nurse Practitioner
Most nurse practitioners start off as registered nurses, but once qualified as an NP, can do some of the same things as doctors, including diagnosing illnesses, treating injuries, and prescribing medications.
Some NPs specialize in an area such as pediatrics, emergency medicine, or primary care medicine. This is a nursing career with high earning potential, according to Salary.com, the average salary for NPs is $82,590.
Preparation: Registered nurses can continue their education with a master's degree in nursing to earn NP licensure.
Nursing Career Option #4 - Nurse Educator
Preparing the next generation of caretakers is a vital job, especially with the need for nurses being so great. A nurse educator could work at a college or university, at a nursing school, or in a hospital or clinical setting, helping nursing students learn how best to care for patients.
Preparation: A master's degree is usually required to pursue this career, and some nurse educators also have doctoral degrees, making them doctors of nursing.
Nursing Career Option #5 - Travel Nurse
With a nursing shortage affecting the whole country, some nurses have chosen to take their talents on the road. Short-term nursing assignments are a popular way to spend a few months in a different city or state, exploring the area and gaining a variety of experiences.
Travel nursing agencies take care of the logistics, providing assistance with housing, insurance, and licensure. Travel nursing opportunities could potentially be available for all types of nurses in many specialties.
Preparation: Complete your nursing education, then contact one of the many travel nursing agencies for more information.
Whether you're interested in providing basic care, prescribing medication, or teaching future generations, the variety of potential nursing careers means there could be something for everyone with an interest in the nursing field.
*Average salary infromation comes from the U.S. Department of Labor.