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Top Paying Nursing Career Paths

New career opportunities and a great salary potential are two advantages to pursuing a nursing career. There are career paths and jobs such as Chief Nursing Officer (CNO), VP Nursing, Nursing Administration or Nursing Department Head that are some of the highest-paying jobs in the healthcare industry. Nurses who pursue career paths such as these not only increase their opportunities to boost their incomes, but they also increase the opportunity to boost their job satisfaction.

Nursing is the largest workforce within the healthcare industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates there were about 2.6 million nurses working in 2008, with an average yearly salary of $65,130. But with additional training and education, it is possible to leverage your skills to climb the nursing career ladder and land a position with more responsibility – and the possibility of a six-figure salary.

With the right education and in-demand skills, along with the drive to fulfill your career goals, you could enjoy one of these higher-paying positions in the nursing profession:

Chief Nursing Officer

The chief nursing officer, also known as head of nursing, is usually responsible for long-range planning, personnel recruitment and retention, and policy-making. Many CNO positions require advanced education, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree.

Your path to the CNO’s office might begin with several years as a registered nurse (RN) and then advancing through managerial positions such as nurse manager, nursing department head, director of nursing and VP nursing.

VP Nursing

This nursing career path includes leadership and management duties such as performance improvement activities, and developing policies and procedures.

To qualify as a candidate for the VP nursing position, you’ll likely need several years of experience as an RN, followed by several years in a senior management position, such as nursing department head or nursing administrator.

Nursing Administration

In nursing administration, job duties often include budgeting and scheduling, as well as setting policy and serving as liaison between staff and hospital administration.

Rising through the ranks to nursing administration positions usually requires additional training beyond the RN designation, along with project management and leadership skills. Successful professionals in nursing administration often have several years of experience as a registered nurse, along with training and education in the business end of healthcare.

Nursing Department Head

A nursing department head is also referred to as the head nurse in the emergency room, obstetrics department, intensive care or critical care department.

The nursing department head interacts with patients, but takes on additional responsibilities such as creating performance reports, maintaining patient records and performing inventory control. Typically, RNs with several years of experience and demonstrated leadership skills are eligible to compete for nursing department head positions.

Set Your Nursing Career Goals High and Look Toward a Top-Paying Position

Top nursing salaries are generally tied to advanced education and specialized training. If you’re a registered nurse with high goals for your nursing career and your life – and the drive to make them happen – you might want to consider aiming for one of these more lucrative positions:

  • Chief Nursing Officer
  • VP Nursing
  • Nursing Administration
  • Nursing Department Head

Obtaining advanced education will give you the in-demand nursing and leadership skills that can really boost your confidence, as well as your income potential. You’ll be on your way toward competing for the best nursing career opportunities, with a higher level of satisfaction and job stability – and the top salary you deserve!

Prospective students are encouraged to conduct research to determine actual earning potential as salary potential may vary depending on location, level of education, and experience.