One of the greatest benefits of a nursing career is that there are many different career paths with higher and higher nurse salaries depending upon the level of education you obtain. If you decide to earn a two year degree, for example, you can earn a decent salary, gain education, and eventually earn your bachelor’s degree or even a master’s degree.
The most popular nursing careers and their corresponding salaries include these below.
Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
A CNA provides health on health care for patients in many medical environments. Some of their duties include:
- Bathing, dressing and moving patients
- Answering calls of patients
- Documenting the patient’s’ health problems and reporting them to others
- Dressing wounds and changing bandages
- Feeding patients
- Taking blood pressure and temperature
You need to take a program of four to 12 weeks in length and pass a certification exam to become a CNA.
Top States for Certified Nursing Assistant
According to Indeed.com, the top 25 states hiring Certified Nursing Assistant’s had an estimated salary of $44,400.
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
LPNs work under the supervision of registered nurses (RNs). Doctors and RNs determine the best path of patient care, and the LPN’s job duties are to carry out their instructions with the patient’s care.
The most common duties of LPNs are:
- Work with patients and healthcare staff to carry out patient care plans
- Clean wounds and put on new bandages
- Help with bathing, feeding and dressing
- Watching the vital signs of each patient
- Report status of patients to other healthcare staff
To become an LPN, you generally need to obtain an associate’s degree of nursing, which takes two years of full time study. Some LPNs may earn their diploma of nursing, which takes approximately one year. However, most diploma of nursing programs are giving way to associate’s degree programs, as that is the education that many employers prefer.
LPNs must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) and also a state licensing exam. After earning your two-year degree and gaining valuable work experience, you may want to earn your bachelor’s degree and become an RN. More about the NCLEX test.
Top States for Licensed Practical Nurse
According to Indeed.com, the top 25 states hiring Licensed Practical Nurse’s had an estimated salary of $53,960.
Registered Nurse (RN)
Becoming a registered nurse is an outstanding career move because of the strong job demand in the field. Also, becoming an RN is a great springboard to eventually getting a graduate degree and earning an even higher salary in advanced practice nursing.
RNs assess, plan and intervene to help patients to deal with illness, and also promote health and prevent diseases. As they provide direct patient care, RNs also:
- Observe, assess and record symptoms
- Provide the basis for health care planning and intervention
- Educate the patient and family about healthy outcomes and wellness
RNs also must develop and manage innovative nursing care plans and help patients and families to learn more about proper healthcare. State laws vary about the job duties of RNs, but usually, patient needs will dictate exactly what the nurse does from day to day.
Some nurses eventually decide to specialize on a particular subspecialty. Each of them has specific training and certification requirements. Some of the most popular RN subspecialties are:
- Critical care nurse
- Emergency nurse
- Neonatal nurse
- Nurse educator
- Oncology nurse
- School nurse
- Hospice nurse
RNs must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) and also a state licensing exam. After they earn their four-year nursing degree, some nurses decide to eventually earn their master’s or even doctoral degree to earn a higher salary in advanced practice nursing, including the role of nurse practitioner.
Top States for Registered Nurse
According to Indeed.com, the top 25 states hiring Registered Nurse’s had an estimated salary of $69,360.
Nurse Practitioner (NP)
An NP is one of the most in-demand advanced practice registered nurses who provide primary and specialized care to both child and adult patients throughout their life. NPs have many of the same duties as doctors, including:
- Doing physical examinations
- Diagnosing and treating common illnesses and injuries
- Provides immunization shots
- Manages high blood pressure and other chronic conditions
- Interprets diagnostic tests
- Prescribes medications and therapies
NPs are able to prescribe most medications, including controlled substances. While they work under the supervision of a doctor in most cases, they may practice independently in 26 states. Currently, approximately 15% of NPs have their own practice.
- Adult and gerontology
- Family and women’s primary care
- Occupational health
- Mental health
- Cancer care
- Acute care
Top States for Nurse Practitioner
According to Indeed.com, the top 25 states hiring Nurse Practitioner’s had an estimated salary of $100,160.
Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
A certified nurse midwife is an RN who has completed an advanced educational program in nurse-midwifery. She also must have passed the examination given by the American Midwifery Certification Board. A CNM works in a birthing center, private practice, hospital or other medical facility and provides women during and after their pregnancy. Their major job duties are:
- Provide prenatal, postpartum and newborn care
- Give care during childbirth
- Observe fetal development
- Deliver newborns
- Do physical exams of women
- Be the primary health care provider for women
To become a CNM, you will need to earn your Midwife MSN degree and pass the national examination noted above.
Top States for Certified Nurse Midwife
According to Indeed.com, the top 25 states hiring Certified Nurse Midwife’s had an estimated salary of $85,640.
Certified Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
A CRNA is another type of advanced practice nurse who provides anesthetics for surgical, obstetrical and trauma care. CNAs provide all types of anesthetic and work in every type of health care practice, providing care for virtually all types of procedures and operations.
CRNAs give anesthetics to patients as they work closely with anesthesiologists, surgeons, dentists and other healthcare professionals. Some of the places where CRNAs work include:
- Hospital surgical suites
- Obstetrical delivery rooms
- Critical access hospitals
- Other healthcare professional offices
- Ambulatory surgical centers
To become a CRNA, you must be a registered nurse and have at least a year of acute care work. You then must earn at least a master’s of science in nursing. Note however that the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree is becoming the standard degree requirement to enter the CRNA field, so you may need to eventually earn your DNP. There are more BSN-to-DNP programs becoming available as this new standard takes effect.
Top States for Certified Nurse Anesthetist
According to Indeed.com, the top 25 states hiring Certified Nurse Anesthetist’s had an estimated salary of $161,040.
Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
A CNS is a registered nurse who holds a master’s degree. They work with patients to implement complex treatment plans, and also may resolve and mitigate serious medical or psychological issues. A CNS also:
- Serves as a mentor to other nurses
- Applies observations of direct care of patients to research
- Interacts with other healthcare professionals to provide optimal care
- Brings about changes to improve the quality of health care practices that net improved outcomes for patients.
A CNS can specialize in many areas:
- Women’s health
- Critical care
- Mental health
A CNS must be an experienced RN and earn a master of science in nursing.
Top States for Clinical Nurse Specialist
According to Indeed.com, the top 25 states hiring Clinical Nurse Specialist’s had an estimated salary of $74,560.