Working as a nurse is a great way to care for others as a career. The healthcare field offers several nursing career paths to explore, so you should think about your career goals and decide which pathway is right for you. Whether you are just getting started with becoming a nurse or considering earning an advanced degree, knowing what steps to take to plan your career is important.
Why Nursing Is an Excellent Career Path
Nursing allows you to build a career that focuses on using your skills and knowledge to help others. While you might think that nurses mainly treat illnesses and injuries in hospital settings or doctor’s offices, there are different nursing paths available that might surprise you. From working as a travel nurse to managing a nursing department, you will find that nursing offers many exciting career possibilities.
Working in nursing is also an excellent career path due to the demand for nurses. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nurses have a 9 percent job outlook from 2020 through 2030. The demand for nurses is not expected to decrease in the coming years, especially with the ongoing pandemic and an aging population that will require more healthcare services. With a steady job outlook and demand for the next several years, plenty of jobs are projected to be available for those who work in nursing.
Reasons for Advancing Your Nursing Career
When you are a registered nurse (RN), advancing your career with a graduate degree can open up other nursing pathways. With a Master of Science in Nursing, you can work on building a career that offers greater responsibilities and opportunities to take on a leadership position. Advanced degrees in nursing can allow you to consider different jobs, such as working as a nurse practitioner or a nurse educator. Depending on your career goals and interests, these other positions might fit your career path better compared to your current role, which can increase your job satisfaction.
Advancing your nursing career can also increase your earning potential. For example, the BLS shows that the average salary for registered nurses is $75,330. Earning an advanced degree and becoming a nurse midwife, for example, comes with a mean annual wage of $115,540. Although salaries can vary considerably based on multiple factors, the potential for higher earnings is one reason to consider earning an advanced degree.
How to Plan Your Nursing Career Path
Your nursing career path can take you in an entirely different direction from your current job. However, you should take the time to plan this path carefully. This involves determining what kind of nursing work you want to do and figuring out what your career goals are. Keep in mind that you do not have to stay on your current path if you are an RN. If you are just starting to work on earning a nursing degree to become an RN, knowing what steps to take to choose your career path can be incredibly helpful.
1. Explore Different Nursing Paths
Since nursing offers several paths to consider, you should spend time learning about the different ones available. When you earn an advanced degree in nursing, you can choose a specialization that provides a more targeted education for your career path.
What kinds of specializations are available in nursing? You might choose a specialization in infection prevention and control if you are interested in helping to slow or stop infectious diseases from spreading. With this kind of specialization, you can expect to learn about epidemiology, infection control data, and comprehensive infection control methods.
If you want to educate others as a nurse, a specialization in nursing education can help you accomplish this. This specialization involves learning about designing curriculum, developing performance evaluations for students or individual learners, and more.
If you have a strong interest in technology, a specialization in nursing informatics can allow you to build a career using technical and nursing skills. With this specialization, your education would include information processing, analytics, and other data-driven knowledge.
2. Identify Possible Career Options
When you have an idea of which nursing career path you want to pursue, your next step is exploring career options. Think about what kinds of jobs you might be able to pursue with your specialization. You might find several career options that are appealing, or you might be drawn to a particular career option that you come across in your research. Nursing careers can range from nurse anesthetists and nurse practitioners to chief nursing officers and nursing administrators. You can explore options for working with certain populations, such as pediatric nursing, geriatric nursing, or oncology nursing.
Identifying your skills, strengths, interests, and goals can help you figure out what kind of career you want to build. When you know what kinds of career options you are leaning toward, you can use this to plan your career path.
3. Seek Expert Advice
Talking to experts can help you succeed in creating the right career path for you. Experts can provide valuable advice and guidance in planning your nursing career. They can also answer any questions you have about choosing a career path and making sure you achieve your career goals. When you speak to experts, you can find out what different nursing jobs are like, further helping you narrow down your career options.
Who should you turn to for expert advice? You can talk to other nursing professionals at your workplace or at conferences and other nursing-related events. If you are in school, you can talk to faculty about different nursing careers.
4. Follow Nursing Blogs
Reading through nursing blogs can give you a better idea of what to expect from different nursing paths. You might look for nursing blogs run by RNs or blogs run by nurses who work in an advanced or specialized position. These blogs should contain helpful posts that provide you with information on particular nursing jobs or other aspects of the nursing field.
When you read nursing blogs, you can gain beneficial advice about building your career path. For example, you might look for a blog run by a nurse in an advanced position who writes about their journey from being an RN to earning a BSN or a nurse with a BSN who writes about earning an MSN.
5. Join a Professional Organization
Professional nursing organizations are another source of valuable advice and information when you are working on planning your nursing career. Several organizations are available at the national and state level, as well as the international level. Many of these focus on a specific nursing path, such as long-term care nurses, licensed practical nurses, or pediatric nurses. You can also find nursing organizations for nursing professionals located in different states or regions.
Look for professional organizations that fit your interests or career goals. When you join these organizations, it can provide you with opportunities to talk to nursing professionals and gather more information on possible career paths and job possibilities. You can use this information to create a solid plan for your nursing career.
6. Map Out Your Long-Term Goals
Knowing what your long-term career goals are can help you with your career planning. Think about where you want to be and what kind of work you want to do in your career. Do your career goals involve earning an advanced degree with a specialization? Are you aiming at working in a management or leadership position in nursing someday? What would your ideal career in nursing look like? Considering these kinds of questions can help you map out your long-term goals.
If you are looking into options for a degree in nursing, please contact American Sentinel College of Nursing and Health Science at Post University to get more information. Our school offers multiple nursing degree programs, including an RN to BSN program and an MSN with several available specializations.
Thank you for reading! The views and information provided in this post do not reflect Post University programs and/or outcomes directly. If you are interested in learning more about our programs, you can find a complete list of our programs on our website or reach out directly!
Please note jobs, career outcomes, and/or salaries highlighted in this blog do not reflect jobs, career outcomes, and/or salaries expected from any Post program. To learn more about Post’s program and their outcomes, please fill out a form to speak with an admissions representative.