MSN Employment Guide & Career Resources
Students interested in pursuing an MSN degree have many options when it comes to their education. Schools offer a variety of tracks ultimately leading to an advanced degree. Options range from accelerated to traditional formats or even a hybrid of the two which provides students with considerable flexibility. Beyond the exciting education opportunities, nursing graduate students are certain to have their pick of jobs, each one offering respectable salaries.
The healthcare industry has a high demand for qualified professionals to fill thousands of positions in both clinical and administrative capacities. As our population ages and more practitioners retire, the need to hire new graduates will be more critical. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that healthcare careers will continue to grow rapidly with an expected “3.2 million new wage and salary jobs between 2006 and 2016.” Given this projection, pursuing an MSN degree is the right step towards a lucrative and secure career. Notice in the employment chart below from the BLS the expected growth for registered nurses:
Advanced nursing careers come in many forms. Whether you want to manage a nursing team or work with expectant mothers, an MSN degree prepares you for leadership positions in today’s dynamic healthcare environment. Finding your perfect degree program requires careful research. Visit our list of potential jobs to assess your skills and interests and to identify the right career for you.
Clinical Careers for MSN Students
Students interested in nursing jobs focusing on patient care and assessment have several options. MSN programs are tailored to ensure students acquire the skills necessary to address patients’ specific needs. Becoming an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) involves direct patient care and encompasses the core services of nursing: examining patients, developing care plans, providing educational and therapeutic support, and working closely with physicians towards a diagnosis. Nurses are needed to work with patients in all areas of the clinical arena. Four clinical roles that are in high demand include:
- Clinical Nurse Specialist: A clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is an advanced-practice expert who provides care to a specific population or health need. These nurses works closely with physicians and other members of the healthcare team to ensure comprehensive patient care. Diabetes management, pediatric oncology, and mental health are just a few of the many specialized areas where a CNS can practice
- Median Expected Salary: $87,867, according to Salary.com’s most recent report
- Certification Requirements: RN Licensure and CNS certification through a board-approved national certifying organization such as American Nurses Credentialing Center which offers CNS exams in nine different specialty areas.
- Nurse Anesthetist: A certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) is a trained professional with advanced skills in the administration of anesthetic agents. A CRNA works with surgical teams and their support staff to monitor patient safety and minimize pain. Postoperative care is also provided by a CRNA.
- Median Expected Salary: $156,032, according to Salary.com’s most recent report
- Certification Requirements: RN licensure and CRNA certification through a board-approved national certifying organization such as the American Associate of Nurse Anesthetist.
- Nurse Midwife: A certified nurse mid-wife (CNM) provide prenatal, intrapartum, and postnatal maternity care to expectant mothers. CNMs conduct gynecologic examinations and often prescribe medication. Mothers often depend on midwives to provide lactation support and counseling services. CNMs work in hospitals, women health centers, and other medical clinics.
- Median Expected Salary: $91,242, according to Payscale.com’s most recent report
- Certification Requirements: RN licensure and CNM certification through a board-approved national certifying organization such as the American Midwifery Certification Board.
- Nurse Practitioner: A nurse practitioner (NP) offers patient care in various subspecialities such as cardiology, infectious diseases, rheumatology, primary care, pediatric oncology, and other practice areas. NPs often serve as the primary care provider and stand in for physicians during busy rounds. This role often has a high degree of autonomy and more collaborative relationships with physicians.
- Median Expected Salary: $89,787, according to Salary.com’s most recent report
- Certification Requirements: RN licensure and NP certification through a board-approved national certifying organization such as American Nurses Credentialing Center which offers NP exams in nine different specialty areas.
Administrative Careers for MSN Students
Students with a passion for management and technology can opt to focus their studies on the administrative aspects of healthcare. Nurses are now taking an active role in maintaining and improving patient record keeping and department communications. There are many new positions in the field that offer exciting managerial opportunities with tremendous growth potential. Schools now offer dual degree programs that combine an MBA with an advanced nursing degree. If managing a nursing team or evaluating information systems sounds appealing, than consider specializing in a non-clinical field while still utilizing your medical expertise.
- Clinical Nurse Leader: A clinical nurse leader (CNL) is prepared to step into a supervisory role by overseeing patient care and caseload management. A nurse leader provides leadership to other nurses and motivates staff to perform at the highest level. This role also conducts clinical instruction seminars for nursing students and assists in the development of nursing assessments and curriculum.
- Median Expected Salary: $51,862 – $100,016, according to Payscale.com’s most recent report
- Certification Requirements: RN licensure and CNL certification through a board-approved national certifying organization such as American Association of Colleges of Nursing or the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.
- Nurse Administrator: A nurse administrator is often the senior or head nurse at a hospital or health clinic. This role is responsible for a wide range of administrative tasks and provides executive support to an entire department. Physicians rely on nurse administrators to monitor staff and ensure that all proper procedures are followed.
- Median Expected Salary: $77,000, according to Indeed.com’s most recent report
- Certification Requirements: RN licensure and nurse manager certification through a board-approved national certifying organization such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center (referred to as Nurse Executive, Advanced certification).
- Nurse Educator: A certified nurse educator (CNE) has a unique role in the healthcare industry. The CNE will train new practitioners in a clinical and/or field setting and develop curriculum and other instructional strategies. Students who are passionate about both education and nursing will find this position rewarding and challenging.
- Median Expected Salary: $78,274, according to Salary.com’s most recent report
- Certification Requirements: RN licensure and nurse educator certification through a board-approved national certifying organization the National League for Nursing.
- Nurse Manager: Nurse managers assume both administrative and nursing roles by supervising and coordinating staff as well as managing patient care. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities rely on nurse managers to observe, compare, and identify the best practice techniques. Nurse managers will often handle budgets, prepare reports, and draft manuals regarding departmental operations.
- Median Expected Salary: $79,000, according to Indeed.com’s most recent report
- Certification Requirements: RN licensure and nurse manager certification through a board-approved national certifying organization such as the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.
An MSN degree is a versatile qualification that provides an excellent foundation for many different careers. Refer to our degree directory to find out more about what opportunities are available in the nursing profession. New specialty areas continue to emerge, creating exciting futures and unlimited possibilities for MSN graduates.
Top Masters in Nursing Schools
A master’s degree in nursing can be the first step to becoming a nurse practitioner, nurse educator, or clinical nurse leader (CNL). Several accredited online MSN programs are listed below. Fill out any school’s form to quickly receive additional information and application materials.
|MS in Family Nursing MS in Women’s Health||
Georgetown University – Georgetown University has been educating nurses and helping improve healthcare since 1903. The programs are designed to help the next generation of nursing leaders with majors available in: Family Nurse Practitioner and Midwifery/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner.
|MSN: Nurse Educator||
Capella University – This masters in nursing program is designed specifically for nurses who wish to enter the teaching profession as nurse educators. With practical applications and engaging assignments, student can accomplish the assets required to be successful in leadership and educational positions with in the nursing industry. The Nurse Educator degree curriculum is centered around the industry’s best practices and standards and is constantly updated to reflect the latest developments.
|RN to MS in Nursing MSN: Informatics MSN: Health Education||
Kaplan University – Kaplan University offers a number of RN to MSN degrees for those seeking career advancement. Each program allows students to focus their curriculum on their particular career interest. In addition to the general program, specializations are also offered in informatics and health education.
|MSN: Clinical Leader MSN: Nursing Education MSN: Patient Services Admin RN to MSN: Clinical Leader RN to MSN: Nursing Edu. RN to MSN: Patient Services||
Sacred Heart University – Sacred Heart University offers accredited BSN to MSN and RN to MSN programs that prepare students for leadership or specialized positions, including clinical nurse leadership (RN to MSN option), nursing education (RN to MSN option), and patient care services administration (RN to MSN option).
|MSN: Mgmt & Org Leadership MSN: Infection Prevention MSN: Case Management MSN: Informatics||
American Sentinel University – American Sentinel University offers a wide variety of accredited online masters in nursing degrees, each with a specific focus designed to teach MSN students the exact skills they need for their particular career focus. By specializing in Management and Organizational Leadership, Infection Prevention, Case Management, or Nurse Informatics through online courses as opposed to campus programs, students can complete assignments at a time and place that is convenient.
|Master’s In Nursing MSN Health Administration MSN Health Education MSN Informatics||
University of Phoenix – University of Phoenix offers a number of online master’s in nursing programs. Their general MSN degree program gives students a well-rounded master’s in nursing education, while more specific degrees are available in health administration, health education, and nursing informatics.
Drexel University – The Masters in Nursing Leadership program from Drexel is designed for students who want to take leadership positions in the health community, and involves leadership training and learning the skills needed to manage other nurses. Drexel University provides an affordable option through online courses which can cut down on many of the cost associated with on-ground programs. DU offers a Masters of Science in Nurse Leadership.
|Masters in Nursing Education||
Grand Canyon University – Grand Canyon University’s online masters in nursing programs focus on becoming a leader and an educator respectively. These accredited degrees are offered via a fully online curriculum. The Masters in Nursing Leadership prepares RNs for roles as leaders in a variety healthcare settings; the Masters in Nursing Education prepares RNs for teaching positions within the nursing profession.
|RN to MSN: Educator MSN: Nurse Educator MSN: Health Leadership||
Gonzaga University – Gonzaga University offers a wide range of Masters in Nursing degrees, allowing students to fulfill high level roles and leadership roles in Nursing. These MSN degrees, whose options include nursing education (MSN), nursing education (RN to MSN) and health systems leadership, can be completed at a relatively fast pace and provide more convenience to students with busy or inconsistent schedules.
|MSN: Nurse Educator||
Benedictine University – Benedictine University offers a fully online masters in nursing degree. This accredited program includes focuses on leadership, education, administration, global healthcare among other topics. With this versatile degree, students can choose from several opportunities as they present themselves. BU has campus and online courses available for their MSN program. The online course can be completed at a pace that is comfortable to you.