Your Ultimate Guide to Nursing Career Paths

posted by

The nursing field offers many diverging career paths, depending both on level of education and specialization. While you can begin practicing nursing with an associate degree, you may choose to advance your career by continuing your education, first with an RN to BSN program and then with a master’s degree in nursing. Though many fields offer increased salary and promotion with additional education, lifelong learning is important for nurses in particular. This is because changes and advances in the healthcare field happen rapidly; the practice of nursing is constantly evolving and adapting to the needs of society.

King University Online nursing degreesWith the right degree, a nursing career offers many possibilities.

As with any career, nursing professionals should create a plan and timeline for their goals. Doing so will ensure that you know the necessary steps to advance to senior positions as your career progresses. You may begin working as a nursing aide or a licensed practical nurse. Both of these positions require a short course of study from a vocational school or junior college. In most cases, however, students begin nursing careers with a completed RN degree. This qualifies you for hospital work that is usually entry level, at least at first. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that employment of RNs in hospitals is slowly decreasing because fewer patients are receiving treatment in hospitals for extended periods of time.

More education is required if you want to work in healthcare management, administration or a specialized aspect of advanced nursing as an RN. Completing an online nursing degree, like those available from King University, is a flexible and affordable option to advance your nursing career and reach your professional goals. We’ve put together a guide to career paths and salaries for nursing after you have your RN degree. Use this list as a resource in planning your future in the nursing field.


Professional nurses who pursue their RN to BSN degree can expect higher salaries after program completion. This is because, though experience does play a role, nursing institutions recognize the value of higher education now more than ever. Typical careers for those with their BSN include the following:

Primary care nurse manager Clinical audit manager
Nursing staff development director Hospice care program administrator
Nurse case manager Nurse manager
General registered nurse Nursing director
Clinical nursing manager Behavioral health program manager

The RN to BSN online program at King University includes 32 required credit hours of core nursing courses and can be completed in as little as 16 months. With a total of 124 credit hours, the online degree is designed to help you develop personal and professional skills and advance your career path. Having a BSN degree allows for a greater variety of career options than does an RN degree, and the median salary for someone who holds a BSN is around $75,000 annually. BSN degrees enable you to work in settings other than hospitals, and have responsibilities that surpass standard nursing duties. This means that with a BSN degree, you can become a nurse educator and work in public health, among other disciplines within nursing.

Master of Science in Nursing

MSN degrees hold significant value in today’s healthcare industry. Through the additional education that the degree requires, as a nurse you can expect to grow your skill set, learn to successfully diagnose patients and coordinate care planning. Because of the higher level of education and experience that MSN students can gain, increased autonomy is another benefit to earning this advanced nursing degree. The median salary for advanced practice nurses is around $90,000. Completing your MSN will equip you for both administration and education careers, as well as work in research and consulting. This advanced degree will give you the skills and experience required for the following:

Managing individual and group care Prescriptive and referral authority
Collaborating with clients Admitting patients to healthcare facilities
Managing health resources

King University offers an MSN program that prepares you for career advancement through continued education. Our online master’s in nursing program includes three concentrations:

  • MSN nurse educator
  • MSN administrator

This individualization allows you to focus on the skills that you need for your ideal career. All concentrations can be completed within four semesters. The nurse education concentration is 39 credits while the nursing administration is 35 credits. The dual program also allows you to earn your MBA in 63 credits. The curriculum for all concentrations is focused on an advanced level of nursing education and practice.

Nursing Career Outlook

The overall outlook for nursing jobs is excellent today, and nurses are finding employment in a wide variety of settings outside the hospital system. With increased education comes increased responsibility, and nurses with advanced degrees have a more expansive role than ever. Demand for qualified nurses is higher than ever as well, with an aging American population driving need.

Whether you are looking to advance your career with an RN to BSN program or to expand employment opportunities by earning your MSN degree, King can help get you there. For more information about our online nursing programs, visit our Online Degrees page.