What Can You Do With a Nursing Degree?
If you’re considering going to nursing school or you’ve just graduated, you may be wondering, What can you do with a nursing degree? While you might picture a typical nurse wearing scrubs tending to patients in a hospital, several other industries also need nurses.
Whether you’re an ADN- or BSN-prepared nurse, your skills are valuable across fields. That’s because nurses possess skills like:
- Critical thinking
- Knowledge of human anatomy and diseases
- Knowledge of medical systems
- Time management
- Patient education
- Cross-discipline communication
Because of these essential strengths, nurses are needed in healthcare as well as in occupations like medical sales, product development, and tech, as well as in legal and government positions. You can have a career caring for patients, working in a corporate environment, or working from home — a nursing degree gives you options.
What Jobs Can You Do With a Nursing Degree?
Nursing jobs can be broken down into two categories: clinical and non-clinical. Clinical nurses work with patients directly to help treat and prevent disease.
But what can you do with a nursing degree if you don’t want to work directly with patients? Non-clinical nursing could be a good option, because they typically work on the back end to support patient care. They might see patients, but their primary role is not to treat illness. Here are five types of nursing jobs and salaries in both clinical and non-clinical roles.
5 Types of Clinical Roles for Nurses
1. Acute Care Nursing
Working in acute care is likely what most people think of when they picture a nurse. Nurses in this hospital setting deal with patients that are so sick they can’t currently be at home. They may also see patients who are undergoing or recovering from surgery. These roles typically involve shift work, and they’re in person. Nursing positions in hospitals support care in one or more of these areas:
- Intensive care
- Emergency room
- Operating room
- Post-anesthesia care unit
- Inpatient pediatrics
- Labor and delivery
- Inpatient mental health
- Critical transport and flight nursing
Salary: The average salary for an RN in medical and surgical hospitals is $81,680 per year.
2. Post-Acute Care Nursing
Nurses in post-acute care work with patients who need assistance with activities of daily living (ALDs) — such as bathing, going to the bathroom, and eating — but who aren’t acutely sick. These roles also typically work on a shift schedule, and you’ll need to physically come in to work. Post-acute nursing positions include working in locations that include:
Salary: The average salary for an RN in skilled nursing facilities is $72,090 per year.
3. Outpatient Nursing
Specialty clinics, family medicine offices, and private practices are all outpatient medicine facilities that need nurses to help facilitate patient care. Nurses who work in these areas are typically on an office schedule, seeing different patients throughout the day rather than having a set patient assignment throughout the shift. Outpatient nursing may include:
Salary: The average salary for an RN in outpatient care centers is $89,300 per year.
4. Community and Occupational Health Nursing
Community and occupational health nursing involves providing healthcare services to patients within broader community or workplace settings. They often work outside traditional healthcare facilities and collaborate with various community organizations, employers, and public health agencies. Nurses in community health roles may work in these settings:
- Public health offices
- Occupational health clinics
- School nursing
- Home health nursing
- Community health education
- Mobile clinics
Salary: The average salary for a community health nurse is $68,168 per year.
5. Ambulatory Care Nursing
Patients who are not acutely sick but have ongoing medical needs may come into a specialty outpatient center for procedures. While outpatient medicine focuses primarily on prevention, ambulatory care centers provide specific medical interventions. Nurses who work in these settings are highly specialized, but the patients they see are not as sick as in acute care, and they don’t need as much ADL support as post-acute patients. Here are some examples of specialty outpatient nursing areas:
- Wound Care
- Cardiac rehabilitation
- Allergy and immunology
- Pain management
Salary: The average ambulatory care nurse makes $80,200 per year.
5 Types of Non-Clinical Roles for Nurses
With the rise of staffing problems and burnout, many nurses are wondering, What can you do with a nursing degree outside of patient care? Check out these non-bedside areas where nurses are valued and needed.
1. Healthcare Administration
Healthcare admins help keep clinical areas running smoothly by overseeing operations, managing budgets, implementing policies, and overseeing compliance. They may work to supervise individual units, specialty areas of the hospital, or even whole healthcare facilities. Here are some examples of roles in healthcare administration:
- Nurse managers
- Chief nursing officers
- Nurse executives
- Hospital administrator
- Nursing home administrator
Salary: The average salary for a medical and health services manager is $127,980 per year.
2. Health Informatics
Nurses who work in informatics help manage health data and improve systems. They may work within electronic medical record companies, in healthcare systems, or anywhere that health data is stored or accessed. These are examples of nursing roles in health informatics:
- Health informatics specialist
- Clinical analyst
- Nursing informaticist
Salary: The average salary for a nurse informaticist is $105,550 per year.
3. Education and Training
Mentorship and education are essential for bringing new nurses into the workforce, and developing experienced nurses as well. Nurses who work in education might train units on how to improve practices, or perform in-services for new equipment. They can also work in the academic setting of nursing schools. Check out these roles in nursing education:
- Nurse educators
- Clinical instructors
- Continuing education coordinators
Salary: The average salary for a clinical nurse educator is $87,415 per year.
4. Research and Development
Nurses who contribute to the development of new research data help move medicine forward. They may assist with or conduct research studies, collect and analyze findings, and assess whether patients are candidates to participate in trials. These nurses work in pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies, hospitals, and academic institutions, in roles like:
- Clinical research coordinator
- Research nurse
- Nurse scientist
Salary: The average salary for a research nurse is $93,686 per year.
Nurses who work in consulting provide their expertise in medicine to help clients make decisions. They may offer guidance on policy development and implementation, provide expert advice to companies, or support legal cases. Nurse consultants might hold one of these roles:
Salary: The average salary for a nurse consultant is $92,727 per year.
What Will You Do With Your Nursing Degree?
What can you do with a nursing degree? The answer is simple — a lot. Sign up for nurse job notifications with IntelyCare to get personalized recommendations sent straight to your inbox.