What can I do with a nursing degree?

There is no getting around the fact that nursing is a broad industry.

So, it is not uncommon for fresh graduates to wonder where they will end up after finishing school.

Most nurses work in hospitals, but you may also find them in nursing care facilities, schools, private clinics, military bases and prisons.

In some cases, nurses also teach essentials to students, manage administrative activities, and even perform in-depth research.

Suppose you are considering a degree in nursing. In that case, you may want to explore the most desirable specialty career options available and evaluate the potential job growth and salary expectations for each.

This article will walk you through several paths that prospective nurses can concentrate on once they enter the job market.

Pediatric nurse

Nurses specializing in pediatrics use their skills and knowledge to care for children from infancy through adolescence.

As several conditions are particular to growing and developing bodies, pediatric nurses often have extensive knowledge of child growth and development.

A day in the life of a pediatric nurse is far from boring. Because their patients are younger, pediatric nurses usually create strong bonds with them.

In addition to their daily tasks, pediatric nurses may play games, tell jokes, act funny and even hold patients’ hands during demanding procedures.

Pediatric nurses have various responsibilities throughout their workdays:

  • Check-in with child patients by assessing their symptoms and vital signs.
  • Perform diagnostic examinations.
  • Administer medications, vaccinations and other minor procedures.
  • Create a treatment plan and set follow-up medical care.
  • Inform family members of treatment choices.

Now that we’ve established the daily duties of a pediatric nurse, you might be wondering how you become one.

At a minimum, you will need a bachelor’s degree in nursing to start. You will also need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination and undergo specialized training in working with children.

Depending on your chosen healthcare institution, you may also need to get certified through the Pediatric Nurse Certification Board before or during employment.

Either way, becoming a pediatric nurse can be financially rewarding. According to Indeed, registered pediatric nurses earn an average of $109,955 annually, depending on their experience and qualifications.

Nurse educator

A nurse educator role is also on the horizon for someone with a nursing degree. A nurse educator is responsible for teaching and preparing licensed practical and registered nurses for entry into practice positions.

Most nurse educators have solid experience, and many continue caring for patients after becoming teachers.

These nurse educators work in academic settings at technical schools, community colleges and nursing universities.

However, some also share their experience in healthcare settings as clinical supervisors and staff development officers.

They often teach general courses or concentrate on areas of specialization such as nursing informatics, geriatric nursing and mental health nursing.

With experience, nurse educators can advance to administrative positions such as handling nurse education programs, writing or evaluating textbooks, helping students study better, and creating continuing education programs for working nurses.

What are the daily responsibilities of a nurse educator? Your role as a nurse educator can take many forms contingent on your chosen academic institution, but here are some duties that come with the profession:

  • Plan and teach the curriculum.
  • Lecture and guide class discussions.
  • Manage laboratory and clinical work.
  • Serve as an advisor on career and academic issues.
  • Sit on nursing department committees and develop programs.
  • Connect with the community through outreach.
  • Conduct extensive research and publish reports.

Data shows that a clinical nurse educator in the US earns an average base salary of $87,623 annually.

Salaries increase for nurse educators who complete a doctorate and those who assume leadership and administrative responsibilities in the school.

However, what makes a nurse educator an attractive position for most is its ability to provide work-life balance. Unlike clinical nurses, a nurse educator does not usually work 12-hour shifts or overnight hours.

Most often, a nurse educator’s day is spent in a classroom or an office, giving lectures, attending faculty meetings, grading papers, and keeping up with the current nursing knowledge.

Like a pediatric nurse, you must become a registered nurse to become a nurse educator.

Most nurse educators have a master’s degree, though a doctorate is needed to teach at some academic institutions.

Nursing management

A career in nursing management is also an option once you earn a nursing degree.

Like nurse educators, nurse managers do not directly care for patients.

Instead, they are focused on overseeing daily operations and supervising staff. The responsibilities of a nurse manager vary, but usually include the following:

  • Manage daily operations.
  • Supervise and provide comprehensive skills training.
  • Work with various stakeholders to enhance care and stay within budget.
  • Design and manage a budget.
  • Handle insurance and other reimbursements.
  • Manage electronic health record systems.
  • Work together with other managers to ensure better patient outcomes.

For nurse managers to be effective, they must have the skills to communicate effectively, juggle multiple priorities and solve problems.

On average, estimates show that a nurse manager can earn a base salary of $94,418 annually, depending on their skills, experience, qualifications and location.

Nursing informatics specialist

A nursing informatics specialist is a nurse who amalgamates their clinical skills and abilities with data, computers and technology knowledge.

They are responsible for taking on complex tasks such as using health data to evaluate patient care outcomes and training nursing staff in innovative patient care technology.

As healthcare technology increases, nursing informatics specialists can assume several essential roles. Their daily responsibilities include but are not limited to the following:

  • Handle the transition from paper to electronic records.
  • Build information systems based on existing evidence-based standards of care and ensure that systems stay updated.
  • Create electronic health records conducive to good care.
  • Evaluate electronic health record information to determine areas to improve care and to manage expenses better.
  • Work with policymakers and government agencies to ensure that laws and regulations support healthcare technology and work well with the provider and patient technology requirements.
  • Develop and implement healthcare technologies such as home care management systems, quality tacking initiatives, and patient health monitoring systems.

How do you become a nursing informatics specialist? Do you need to have a nursing or an IT degree?

To get started, you will usually need at least two years of experience as a registered nurse, proof of continuing education in informatics, or practice experience in nursing informatics.

Salaries for informatics nurses continue to rise as innovative technologies emerge and the demand increases. Recent data shows that a nursing informatics specialist can earn up to $92,195 annually.

As highly valued professionals, informatics nurses can also demand multiple benefits such as medical and dental insurance, paid leave, and employee-matched contributions to retirement savings.

Nurse practitioner

Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who provide care throughout a patient’s lifespan.

Clinical nurses are responsible for diagnosing and treating patients, helping them avoid illnesses, and managing their health. Their responsibilities include the following:

  • Perform in-depth and focused physical examinations.
  • Diagnose and treat common injuries and acute illnesses.
  • Provide immunizations.
  • Manage high blood pressure, depression, diabetes and other health issues.
  • Prescribe medications and therapies.
  • Educate and counsel patients and their families regarding treatment options and healthy lifestyles.

It is, however, worth noting that taking the next step from a nurse to a nurse practitioner is a huge move.

Before transitioning into a new nursing role, you must have the right skills and educational qualifications, which you can earn from a prestigious academic institution such as Walsh University.

A master’s degree is the minimum educational requirement for becoming a nurse practitioner. However, many graduate schools require students to gain a few years of nursing experience before being accepted into their programs.

You may also need to obtain a state license and certification to become a nurse practitioner.

Every state has particular licensing requirements. Therefore, you must determine those requirements before starting your education and training.

Nurse practitioners may also need to pass national certification tests. National certifications for nurse practitioners are available from numerous professional associations depending on a candidate’s chosen area of specialization.

National organizations that certify nurse practitioners include but are not limited to the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, and the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board.

Like other nursing career paths in this list, becoming a nurse practitioner also comes with multiple rewards.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a nurse practitioner earns an average base salary of $123,780 annually, depending on their skills, educational qualifications and experience.

The same data added that overall employment of nurse practitioners will grow by 40% from 2021 to 2031 as the pandemic creates a shortage of skilled nurses.

Get your nursing degree 

The possibilities are endless once you earn a nursing degree. You can work toward achieving your nursing degree by enrolling today.