Top 5 Careers Requiring a Master’s in Nursing Degree

The nursing occupation will continue to experience rapid growth, according to a recent article in US News and World Report. The growth will be especially acute for many nursing professions that require a master’s degree, such as nurse practitioner.

For students or professionals interested in a good-paying nursing occupation that requires a master’s degree, you should take a close look at the following professions in nursing:

#1 Family Nurse Practitioner

The greatest demand for a nursing career that requires a master’s degree is surely family nurse practitioner or FNP. An FNP is a primary or a secondary care provider who is trained to provide advanced nursing services to clients in all age groups.

A family nurse practitioner’s daily work involves assessing patients and determining how to best improve the health of each one of them. NPs are able to do most of the duties that doctors can, including prescribing most drugs, ordering and interpreting lab results and can even work independently from doctors in some states.

FNPs typically work in doctors’ offices, urgent care facilities, managed care facilities and hospitals. NPs are particularly in high demand in urban and rural areas. One of the reasons that NP demand is increasing so much is that they can provide most of the services that doctors do at a lower price. So there is rising demand in many traditionally underserved areas of the country.

To become an FNP, you will need to earn your bachelor’s degree in nursing, followed by your master’s degree in nursing (MSN) with a specialty of nurse practitioner.

The job outlook for family nurse practitioners is excellent: 35% job demand increase anticipated by 2024.

The median salary for FNPs is $98,100.

#2 Certified Nurse Midwife

The job outlook for certified nurse midwives (CNM) is also very good, and this is leading to many nurses to move into this growing field. A CNM is an advanced nursing practice RN who offers counseling and car to women before conception, during pregnancy and afterwards.

CNMs also offer primary health care focused on the family to women all through their reproductive years.

One of the reasons that more CNMs are needed today is that a skilled midwife can reduce needs for expensive and high-tech interventions for the majority of women who go through labor.

Of course, it should be noted that CNMs also are well trained to do the latest scientific procedures regarding childbirth to help with the majority of deliveries. At least 10% of all vaginal births in the US are attended by CNMs today, and 7% of all US births are handled by CNMs.

A common misconception about CNMs is that all they do is handle child birth. In fact, attending births is a big part of what they do, but this is a small part of the total job description. CNMs only spend 10% or so of their time handling childbirth.

Most CNMs also do regular gynecological services at a lower price than a doctor. Some of these duties include:

  • Reproductive health checks
  • Gynecologic care, such as regular exams
  • Menopausal care

To become a CNM, you need to be a RN with your bachelor’s and take an MSN program with a specialty in nurse midwifery.

At least 90% of all patient visits by CNMs are for preventive or primary care, not childbirth.

Job demand for CNMs will increase by 25% by 2024, and the median salary in this field is $92,510.

#3 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

A certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) is a type of advanced practice nurse who offers anesthetic services for surgical and trauma care each year in the US.

CRNAs are qualified to administer all types of anesthetics that are legal for use in the US and can work in any type of medical practice for any operation and procedure. This can span everything from plastic surgery, to heart surgery, to pain management.

A CRNA provides anesthesia services to patients as the CRNA works with doctors, surgeons, anesthesiologists, podiatrists, dentists and other health care professionals. As a highly qualified advanced practice RN, a CRNA has a high amount of autonomy in their daily work.

Today there are more than 36,000 CRNAs in the US and this profession is poised to grow quickly in the next decade. CRNAs provide anesthesia to ⅔ of rural hospitals in the US; as with FNPs, CRNAs are booming in demand because they can do the same work as a full MD at a much lower cost. This helps to provide much needed healthcare services to underserved areas.

To become a CRNA, you need to have your BSN, earn your MSN in nurse anesthesia and accumulate several thousand hours in a clinical internship.

Job demand for CRNAs will increase by 19% by 2024, and the median salary is $157,000 per year.

#4 Nurse Educator

A nurse educator is an RN who has a master’s degree in nursing and is also a teacher. Most nurse educators work as nurses for several years before the start to teach other nurses.

Some nurse educators continue to work as nurses in a clinical role part time, and teach the rest of the time. This can be a nice position to have because nurse educators usually get holiday breaks and summers off as the students do.

Most nurse educators work as members of faculty in nursing schools and/or in teaching hospitals. They share their extensive nursing skills and knowledge so the next generation of nurses can be trained to work effectively.

Most nurse educators do the following:

  • Develop new lesson plans
  • Teach nursing classes
  • Evaluate new nursing education programs
  • Oversee clinical practice for nursing students

To become a nurse educator, you must have your BSN and have at least five years of nursing experience in a clinical setting. Then you need to earn your MSN with a speciality of nurse educator. Not every MSN program offers the nurse educator speciality, so you may need to check around.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing states that there will be a substantial nursing shortage in coming years, and that nursing schools had to turn away nearly 80,000 students in 2012 due to a faculty shortage. states that the average nurse educator salary is $91,000.

#5 Nurse Administrator

If you are an experienced registered nurse and want to move into management of a nursing department, nursing staff, or possibly an entire health care facility, you should consider the role of nurse administrator.

A nurse administrator is a type of healthcare administrator who coordinates medical, health and nursing services. Nurse administrators, like all healthcare administrators, must constantly adapt to changing regulations in health care, nursing and in technology.

As a nurse administrator, you could be responsible for hiring nurses, evaluating the performance of nurses, and also training new nurses as they come on staff. You also may be responsible for budgeting and operations as well.

To become a nurse administrator, you need to have your RN designation, a BSN degree, and earn your MSN degree. Note that only some master’s programs offer a master’s in nursing in administration. You also may decide to earn your master’s degree in health administration or MHA.

Demand for health services and medical managers will grow by 17% by 2024. It is expected that there will be rising demand for nursing administrators in particular, given that nursing departments are staffing up on  RNs to handle the influx of new patients.

The median salary for all medical and health services managers is $94,500.

If you are seeking a top paying nursing career with your master’s degree in nursing, we recommend that you begin to explore the five above specialties. We anticipate that the demand for new nurses in these fields will remain strong for at least the next decade.