Online RN to MSN
Clinical Systems Leadership

MSN Graduates Reap Education's Benefits in Diverse Occupations

Nursing can be a rewarding career, both financially and emotionally, but many who are fit for the field may not be ready to commit to it for the long term. That may be due to a misunderstanding of what opportunities exist in the nursing profession. Many people have fulfilling careers as registered nurses, which is what those outside of the field are most familiar with, but others find their needs better met in one of a variety of occupations that become available with a master’s degree in nursing.

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The height of the practice
Becoming an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) is one of the most common paths to take after completing an MSN degree. APRNs use the greater expertise they gain from completing an MSN to work in a clinical setting in more specialized roles. These careers can be the best options for those who want to take their nursing careers a step further and continue to work with patients.
Common APRN roles include nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurses in these roles have a median pay of more than $96,000 per year, compared to just over $65,000 for registered nurses.

Greater employability
Along with the potential for greater earnings comes a better chance of being hired. The BLS projects employment in the field to grow 31 percent between 2012 and 2022. Registered nurses can expect to see 19 percent job growth, compared to an 11 percentexpected average rate among all professions.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing found that demand was increased for graduates of MSN programs, regardless of the specialty they pursued. In a 2012 study, the organization found that 57 percent of BSN graduates had received job offers upon completion of their degrees, while 73 percent of MSN recipients had offers. For comparison, the AACN cited a 2011 statistic from the National Association of Colleges and Employers that reported just 25.5 percent of graduates from all college programs had job offers upon graduation.

Cutting-edge opportunities
While a career as an APRN can meet a nurse’s desire to specialize, other possibilities make the post-MSN employment landscape even more diverse. The Nerdy Nurse blog, run by a specialist in clinical informatics, laid out some of the options for nurses with MSNs in managerial and organizational roles.
Nursing informatics is a relatively recent specialization, formally recognized by the American Nurses Association in 1992. Practitioners of nursing informatics manage health information systems, often in a research or administrative position. Hospitals, governments and other health agencies need nursing informatics specialists to run and improve the way that they gather and present health care information. The average salary in this specialization was $98,000 per year as of 2011.

Research opportunities are also available in infection control and prevention. By zeroing in on specific diseases and populations or studying the ways that infections spread more generally, nurses working in infection control and prevention help both governmental and private organizations better understand how to fight everything from common infections to biological weapons. Infection control and prevention specialists had an average salary of $75,000 in 2012.

As in any profession, the nursing community is always in need of good educators to train the next generation in its practice. Nurse educators help students in a variety of disciplines prepare for the challenges of a nursing career while advancing the state of the practice by bringing new technologies and methodologies into the classroom. In 2012, the average salary for nurse educators was around $72,000.

Ultimately, becoming an APRN or pursuing research opportunities are just two of many career path options for nursing professionals. The knowledge and skills individuals acquire in an MSN degree program may only increase the professional opportunities ahead of them in the workforce.

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