Top Three (Non-management) Clinical Nursing Careers

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that more than 2.5 million nurses, the highest quantity of healthcare specialists nationwide, currently practice within the United States. There are large variety of nursing specialties, so when selecting a career nurses have numerous disciplines they can choose from.

If you’re primarily interested in job security and earning a high annual salary, use the following list to narrow your search. The following nurse specialties are currently the highest paying and in-demand within the medical industry. Since these are high paying fields, these nursing specialists are highly skilled, so they spend years completing training. The following list includes clinical specialists and excludes nurses primarily with management duties.

The following are advanced nurse specialties requiring advanced skills and knowledge, so these practitioners typically hold graduate degrees in nursing.

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

CRNAs earn average salaries exceeding $100,000 annually, making these specialists among the highest paid nurses within the healthcare industry. Those currently licensed and practicing as registered nurses (RNs) interested in a CRNA career can return to school and earn a graduate degree.

CRNAs administer anesthesia to patients undergoing surgery and struggling with chronic pain. They have duties similar to anesthesiologists. Working as a CRNA is an ideal career for individuals with technical skills who are interested in surgery but disinterested in constantly interacting and following up with patients.

Nurse Practitioner (NP)

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are mid-level specialists responsible for administering patient care under the direction of doctors. NPs are trained to conduct patient examinations and perform specified minor treatments. Each state has different regulations regarding the duties of nurse practitioners. Certain state nursing boards require NPs to administer care under the direction of doctors and have any work they perform approved by supervising doctors. Some state nursing boards permit NPs to perform treatments without doctor consent and prescribe certain medications. This is an ideal career for individuals interested in earning annual salaries comparable to CRNAs, developing friendships with patients, and performing various medical duties.

Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)

Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) are advanced practitioners with management, teaching, and research responsibilities. CNSs are licensed as registered nurses, certified through professional organizations, and hold master’s degrees in various nursing specialties.

CNSs are experts in single or multiple nursing specialties. For example, certified nurse specialists who treat patients undergoing cancer treatments specialize in oncology. These specialists help doctors administering clinical trials, conduct routine tests on recovering patients, and train other oncology staff members. CNSs also frequently develop new nursing care procedures and assess current programs within hospitals and oncology clinics for potential improvements.

There are currently more than 15 disciplines for clinical nurse specialists to develop expertise in, including cardiology, psychiatry, geriatrics, and infectious disease.

Certified nurse specialists typically earn between $70,000 – 80,000 a year. Annual salaries are affected by specialty. It’s not uncommon for an experienced CNS to earn more than $90,000 a year.

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