Best Health Care Jobs

Registered Nurse

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Clinical Laboratory Technician
Clinical Social Worker
Dental Assistant
Dental Hygienist
Dentist
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
Dietitian and Nutritionist
Epidemiologist
Esthetician
Home Health Aide
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurse
Marriage and Family Therapist
Massage Therapist
Medical Assistant
Medical Equipment Repairer
Medical Secretary
Mental Health Counselor
Nurse Practitioner
Nursing Aide
Occupational Therapist
Occupational Therapy Assistant
Optician
Paramedic
Personal Care Aide
Pharmacist
Pharmacy Technician
Phlebotomist
Physical Therapist
Physical Therapist Assistant
Physician
Physician Assistant
Radiologic Technologist
Respiratory Therapist
Substance Abuse Counselor
Surgical Technologist
Veterinarian
Veterinary Technologist and Technician
All Rankings Lists »
Overall Score
(8.0 out of 10)

Number of Jobs

526,800

Median Salary

$65,470

Unemployment Rate

2.6 percent

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This Job is Ranked in
Best Health Care Jobs #4
The 100 Best Jobs #6

Registered nurses may be most visible at the hospital bedside or in the doctor’s office, but this growing community of about 2.6 million workers is steadily expanding into a host of specialized jobs. Usually, there are four main areas in which RNs specialize: offering care for a specific health condition (such as diabetes or cancer), a specific part of the body (such as a dermatology nurse or cardiovascular nurse), a group of people (such as premature babies or the elderly) and even a particular type of environment (such as an emergency room or school). Responsibilities within this field also run the spectrum, from clerical work, to administering medicine, to performing procedures and monitoring a patient’s progress.

There’s even more granularity. On our list of the Best Jobs of 2014, we profile three different categories of nurses, each of which are expected to add new positions to triage care for the aging population as well as for the expanded number of Americans who now have access to health insurance due to the Affordable Care Act. Nurse practitioner, our No. 4 job, is a type of registered nurse who is qualified to order and evaluate tests and diagnose medical conditions. This job ranks so well thanks to its projected 33.7 percent employment growth and excellent job prospects (particularly in inner cities and rural areas). Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses, who provide basic medical care to patients and usually work under the direction of a registered nurse, also belong to a fast-growing subsection of this field, which contributed to their profession securing the No. 38 slot on our list.

For registered nurses specifically, the Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates 19.4 percent employment growth and 526,800 brand new jobs between 2012 and 2022. This tremendous growth, when compounded by a low unemployment rate,just 2.6 percent, and good job prospects, helped registered nurse secure the No. 6 slot on our Best Jobs list.

Salary

The BLS reports the median salary for a registered nurse was $65,470 in 2012. The best-paid 10 percent of RNs made more than $94,720, while the bottom 10 percent earned less than $45,040. In 2012, the highest median salaries were earned by nurses working in government, hospitals and home health care. By location, the highest-paid positions are clustered in the metropolitan areas of northern California, including San Jose, Vallejo and Oakland.

Salary Range

75th Percentile $78,700
Median $65,470
25th Percentile $53,670

Training

At a minimum, an entry-level nursing job requires a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, an associate’s degree or a diploma program administered in a hospital. The two-year associate’s degree can be a quicker and more economical route, but many graduates of associate’s programs eventually aim to complete a bachelor’s degree for a more comprehensive nursing education, and the bachelor’s degree is fast becoming the industry standard. For those who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in a different field, accelerated B.S.N. degree programs can take 12 to 18 months. Students must also pass a national licensing examination known as the National Council Licensure Examination, and may have to meet other requirements that vary by state. Many nurses choose to pursue master’s degrees in advanced-practice nursing specialties, such as a nurse practitioner or nurse anesthetist.

Reviews & Advice

“Even though there’s great growth potential, the market is still competitive,” says Donna Cardillo, RN, a speaker known as the “career guru” for nurses. She recommends nurses use both traditional and virtual tricks of the interviewing trade, including printing business cards for the interview process (many nurses don’t) and keeping up-to-date profiles on social media sites like LinkedIn. The most effective job leads, however, come from one-on-one contacts that can be found by joining professional organizations, such as state chapters of the American Nurses Association or other professional groups. For older job seekers looking to enter the field, Cardillo recommends they play up their experience in non-nursing fields, as those experiences can show a diverse set of skills. Another tip: Look beyond the hospital. Nurses are fanning out into a host of jobs, ranging from rehabilitation and long-term care facilities to nurse-run community clinics, schools or corporations where preventative care and wellness are becoming a bigger focus – and a bigger source of jobs. “The whole job market is shifting,” Cardillo says.

Job Satisfaction

Upward Mobility fair Average
Stress Level poor Above Average
Flexibility fair Average
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Last updated by Jada A. Graves.


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