Registered nurses (RNs) work with other medical professionals and doctors, helping to care for patients in a range of ways. They can also further their career by pursuing education in a specialized field of medicine. They often work in hospitals or doctor's offices. Read more about career options and job duties for a registered nurse.
Registered nursing is an in-demand career choice for those in the healthcare industry. Graduates of registered nurse degree programs can work in one of many nursing specializations. Getting into this field requires completion of a nursing program and licensure. Specialized certification is also available to RNs who qualify.
|Required Education||Variable; an associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing or a diploma in nursing from an approved program|
|Additional Requirements||Licensure through NCLEX; professional certification is available|
|Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)||12% for registered nurses*|
|Median Annual Salary (May, 2018)||$71,730 for registered nurses*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that registered nurses (RNs) can look forward to excellent job prospects in the 2018-2028 decade, with employment opportunities expected to rise by 12%. This growth is considered faster than the national average for all jobs. An aging population will present more opportunities in home health nursing, because seniors need more healthcare than younger people in general. There were more than 3 million registered nurses working across the country in 2018, according to the BLS.
The vast majority of registered nursing jobs are in hospitals. Other RNs work in physician offices. Nurses who live in, or are willing to relocate to, urban areas and inner cities will have the best job prospects.
The BLS reported that registered nurses earned a median annual salary of $71,730 in 2018. The highest paid earners made more than $106,530 annually in 2018, and the lowest-paid RNs earned $50,800 annually or less.
Registered nurse job duties may vary based on their location and specialization; however, in general, RNs work with doctors and other medical professionals to help patients heal, recover and cope with their injuries and illnesses. Specific duties may range from monitoring vitals to administering medications. Nurses may also specialize in a number of areas, including:
- Critical care
- Emergency care
- Long-term care
- Home health care
- Occupational health
RNs may become specialized by completing a master's degree in nursing program, which provides advanced training on nursing skills, clinical research and specialty areas, like gerontology. Upon completion, RNs may become clinical nurse specialists, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives or nurse educators. They may also consider earning professional certifications, like those offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Certifications are offered in a number of specialties, such as pain management and perinatal nursing, and may help RNs advance their careers and incomes.
Registered nurses help to care for patients, and may have responsibilities such as giving medication or checking vitals for hospital patients. If working in a more specialized setting, their duties will vary depending on the type of medicine being practiced and the patients under their care. There are good job prospects in this field for the next ten years, and opportunities to advance an RN career with further education.