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Nursing Careers

Job Opportunities for Nurses

Most nurses work in hospitals as staff nurses. Head nurses or nurse supervisors direct nursing activities; other nurses may be employed in outpatient care centers, doctors’ offices, emergency medical centers or nursing homes.

Many job opportunities are also available in:

  • home health care
  • industrial settings
  • public health care agencies
  • retirement communities
  • schools

Advanced career opportunities for nurses with additional education include nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified registered nurse anesthetists and certified nurse-midwives. Job openings are expected to increase in outpatient facilities such as same-day surgery, rehabilitation and chemotherapy. With baby boomers becoming senior citizens, nursing care for older people is also a huge area of growth in job expansion.

Skills Required and Working Conditions

Nurses must be physically able to care for sick patients. This involves lifting, moving, bathing and transferring patients into and out of bed. Nurses are exposed to patients with infectious diseases.

Because nurses deal with the public, a neat, well-groomed appearance and a courteous, pleasant demeanor are needed. Nurses must be good at putting patients at ease, listening to patients and explaining physician instructions. Conscientiousness and respect for the confidential nature of medical information are required.

Other job demands include:

  • Emotional stability and calm decision-making under pressure
  • The ability to work accurately and safely under stress and time constraints, read and record numbers accurately, perform repetitive tasks, concentrate in distracting situations, and make subjective evaluations and decisions where mistakes may have a high impact on patient care
  • The ability to adapt to changing environments
  • The ability to prioritize tasks
  • Effective communication in written and spoken English in order to transmit information to members of the health care team
  • The ability to make a correct judgment in seeking supervisory help and consultation in a timely manner
  • Positive personality attributes that include integrity, responsibility and tolerance
  • The ability to work independently as well as with others
  • A professional image

America’s Career Infonet gives detailed information about the skills, abilities, work activities and recommended education for jobs in fields using nursing skills:

Salaries and Projected Job Growth

Salaries for nursing professionals vary widely depending not only on education and qualifications, but on the type and size of employment facility. About three out of five nursing jobs are in hospitals, either in inpatient or outpatient departments.

Job Title Median Hourly Wage Median Annual Salary Projected Job % Growth Through 2018
Licensed practical and vocational nurses $19.71 $41,000 +26%
Registered nurses $30.87 $64,200 +32%
For details about graduation rates, program costs and other important information, view the gainful employment disclosure.