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How Can a Nurse Advance In Their Career?



Nurses have many options available to them when they want to advance their careers. They can pursue higher levels of education, specialize in a particular area of nursing, or take on leadership roles within their organization.

Each of these career advancement paths has its own benefits and challenges. Let’s take a closer look at ways an experienced nurse can move ahead.

Higher Education

One way nurses can advance their careers is by pursuing higher levels of education. It could mean going back to school to earn a master’s or doctorate in nursing. Alternatively, some nurses pursue a non-nursing degree, such as a business administration or healthcare management degree.

Pursuing higher levels of education can open up new career opportunities, such as teaching at a nursing school or working in a research role. It can also lead to higher salaries and increased job security.

However, going back to school can be a challenge for busy nurses. It takes time and effort to complete a degree, and it can be expensive. However, online courses and programs can be easier to fit into a busy schedule.


Another way nurses can advance their careers is by specializing in a particular area of nursing. This change could involve taking on a new role, such as becoming a nurse practitioner or certified registered nurse anesthetist. Or, it could mean becoming certified in an area, such as wound care or critical care.

Specializing in nursing can lead to new opportunities and higher salaries. It can also make you more marketable and increase your job satisfaction.

Nurse Practitioner

A nurse practitioner (NP) is an advanced practice registered nurse who has completed graduate-level education and training. NPs are qualified to provide a wide range of primary and specialty healthcare services.

Becoming an NP requires completing a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program. NPs usually choose to specialize in a particular area of medicine, such as family practice, pediatrics, or women’s health.


A certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) is another advanced practice registered nurse specializing in administering anesthesia. CRNAs must have at least a master’s degree in nursing and complete an accredited nurse anesthesia program.

They must also pass a national certification exam. CRNAs are one of the highest-paid nursing positions, with a median annual salary of $174,790 in 2018. It’s vital to keep in mind that specializing requires additional education and training. It can also be challenging to find a position that matches your specialty.

Leadership Roles

Nurses can also advance their careers by taking on leadership roles within their organizations. A leadership role may involve becoming a nurse manager or director. Or, it could mean assuming a role in nursing informatics or quality improvement.

Leadership roles often come with increased responsibility and higher salaries. These types of roles may pay as much as 30% more than traditional nursing positions. However, leadership roles can also be demanding and stressful. They often require long hours and extra work outside of the traditional workday.

Traveling Nurses

The past few years have seen a particular demand for traveling nurses. These nurses are hired by healthcare organizations to work for about 13 weeks. Traveling nurses often fill in for nurses on leave or help out during periods of high patient volume.

Traveling nursing can be a great way to advance your career. It allows you to work in different locations and experience a variety of different hospital systems. The downside of travel nursing is that some locations are more desirable than others. While all the positions pay well, some spots may not be fun beyond the job.

Final Thoughts About Nurse Career Advancements

No matter which path you choose, advancing your career as a nurse can be a rewarding experience. It can lead to new opportunities, increased responsibility, and higher salaries.

So if you’re looking for ways to move ahead in your career, consider pursuing higher levels of education, specialization, or leadership roles. Each of these paths has its merits and downsides. Consider applying to an RN to MSN online program to earn a degree that can advance your career.

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