Employment Guide and Career Resources for Nurses

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
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.

Find Online Degrees in Nursing