Nursing is already one of the sturdiest careers available if you’re a match for what it requires, physically and mentally. But did you know that the field features dozens of micro-specialties and that a few of those are highly competitive, exciting, and can earn you a sizeable salary?
True the bulk of nursing grads head to bedside patient care in the nation’s hospitals where they may receive a prosperous sign-on bonus, work 3-12 hours shifts per week—allowing buckets of free time, and enjoy the security of a truly stable job and income even in the throes of near economic disaster. To some THIS is a hot job.
But beyond the hospital realm you’ll discover a few quite intriguing nursing career tracks.
Competitive and limited best describes the field of nursing anesthesia. This advanced practice specialty is notorious for its high salaries, or return on investment required of students. There are no options for distance learning in this specialty. In fact schools are so competitive and limited in class sizes that you must be willing and able to pack and move to attend if you’re really passionate about this particular specialty. On average, annual earnings for a CRNA fall between $80,000 and $150,000, depending upon a range of factors. A nurse anesthetist school program takes between 2 and 3 years of full-time very rigorous study.
Flight nurses often matriculate up from nursing duties in a trauma unit or an Emergency Department and the move may often be one hard won. Positions are limited, obviously, for these nursing specialists. The real paydirt on this job is the excitement—you’ll not get this adrenaline rush with any other nursing job, unless you go military. This is for serious trauma nurses, armed with excellent skills and at least a BSN, possibly an MSN. You must be able to adapt on the fly to all types of emergency and disaster situations as well as weather conditions.
Okay, not every travel assignment will get you quite $40 per hour, but it will be close and it could be more if you jump on “hot jobs.” Travel nursing is not for everyone. You must have the time and willingness to hit the road for a while. Most travel assignments last about 3 months at a clip, with opportunities to extend should you be a fit for a particular hospital. Recruiting companies take care of the details—they put you up in nice digs, pay for the essential utilities, and even offer a stipend to cover some of your travel fees.
If you’re smart you can plan a week or so between assignments and take your time getting there. Many travel nurses use these opportunities to explore new places, take in some adventure travel, or focus on earning as much money as they can.
One of the newest and more fascinating nursing careers to break out of the industry is forensic nursing. If the idea of being part of a criminal investigation, working with crime victims living or deceased, and collecting evidence whets your career appetite then this could be the hot job to sate your nursing desires. Forensic nurses engage in a variety of job activities and may work in a wide array of environments. You could find a job with a law enforcement department, with public health, or work as an independent consultant.
Forensic Nursing is an advanced specialty in nursing, so expect to earn your BSN and possibly your MSN before considering forensics. Part of your post-grad education could require some law enforcement training, as well.
Another competitive and often overlooked nursing job is that of Cruise Ship Nurse. Every cruise ship leaves port with a medical staff that could include a physician, physician’s assistant, and various numbers of nursing and allied healthcare staff. You’ll be expected to have a few years of nursing experience under your belt, be RN-licensed, and independent thinker. Experience in trauma/emergency and/or critical care is usually preferred. The more diverse your nursing background the better—you’ll be working with thousands of people all from all walks of life and cultures. Salaries are comparable to what you’d earn working as an RN in a hospital with more opportunity to earn after you have experience. The big perk here is the view.