Many registered nurses today are making the decision to return for graduate school to receive a master’s in nursing degree in order to advance their career opportunities within today’s thriving healthcare industry. Whether you have received an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing, pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree can be the perfect next step in your path to career success with advanced clinical skills, leadership capacities, and unparalleled job stability. In fact, Forbes magazine has listed nursing as the ninth best master’s degree for jobs with a mid-career median pay of $85,900 and a projected employment increase of 21.7 percent. Read on to learn more about the most popular in-demand career opportunities that are unlocked when registered nurses decide to earn a master’s in nursing degree.

Nurse Administrator

On the forefront of the nursing leadership team, nurse administrators are highly trained advanced practice nurses with a master’s degree who have expertise in addressing daily regulatory, safety, financial, and quality challenges faced in the operations of healthcare settings. With the goal of improving patient care, nurse administrators are responsible for analyzing budgets, addressing nursing staff shortages, ensuring regulation compliance, attending board meetings, collaborating with community members, building funds for research projects, and promoting staff development for nurses. As a skilled clinician and top-notch leader, the nurse administrator acts as the intermediary between nursing staff and doctors, patients, different departments within a healthcare organization, and the greater community.

Nurse Practitioner

With at least a master’s degree, nurse practitioners (NPs) are advanced practice nurses who are responsible for providing comprehensive care to patients throughout the lifespan for treating common acute and chronic illnesses. Often practicing independently without supervision from a physician, nurse practitioners are primary care providers that can find employment in clinics, private practices, hospitals, schools, community health centers, long-term care facilities, and more. Nurse practitioners have the unique ability to concentrate their career in different nursing specialty areas based on their own interests, such as cardiac care, pediatrics, women’s health, gerontology, critical care, oncology, medical-surgical, or neonatal nursing.

Nurse Educator

For registered nurses who are interested in combining their clinical expertise with a passion for teaching others to educate the future generation of nursing staff, a master’s degree in nursing can provide the advanced training needed to become a nurse educator. In nursing schools on college campuses and teaching hospitals, nurse educators serve as faculty members to share their knowledge, skills, and values in preparing students for competent nursing practice. As the nation faces a critical shortage of nurse educators to keep up with growing demand for new nurses, master’s-level nurses can find tremendous career opportunities in education to develop lesson plans, teach curses, oversee clinical practice, evaluate learning, and serve as role models for their students.

While you may already have a wonderfully rewarding career in nursing with an undergraduate degree, it is well worth it to consider pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree for additional opportunities with true earning power. Since healthcare is continuing to evolve quicker than ever before, medical organizations are calling upon registered nurses to further their education to stay on par with patient care needs. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you consider earning a master’s in nursing to open these plentiful career opportunities with increased specialization, demand, salary potential, and job stability.