There are many career paths in nursing. To find the type of nursing that’s right for you, it’s important that you read up about the available options to help identify your career preferences.
Your personal strengths, professional skills, and the patient population you want to care for will help determine your nursing career path. You can start by becoming a registered nurse (RN) after earning your associate’s degree in nursing, a general nursing degree that prepares you for a wide variety of nursing roles.
Next, you must take and pass the national licensure exam (NCLEX-RN®) to become registered to practice as an RN in a variety of settings. The needs of the organization where you work, and job availability, will determine where you practice at this stage. After gaining some on-the-job training, you’ll be ready to consider additional certification.
With an undergraduate nursing degree, you can pursue a career as a neonatal nurse, clinical nurse, critical care nurse, dialysis nurse, ER nurse, informatic nurse, geriatric nurse, nurse advocate, pain management nurse, pediatric nurse, psychiatric nurse, oncology nurse, telehealth nurse, and more.
With a graduate nursing degree and more experience, you could pursue work as a nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, clinical nurse specialist, certified registered nurse anesthetist, nurse educator, travel nurse, or trauma nurse, or serve in a research or public health role, among other opportunities.
Degree specializations assure health institutions and patients alike that you are highly knowledgeable and competent in a specific area of expertise. Many professional nursing organizations provide specialty certifications in nursing. Read Purdue Global’s list of nursing specialties to learn more.
Whichever nursing role you pursue, you’ll be part of a growing field with a recognized shortage of qualified professionals.
When evaluating your nursing career options, also consider the state in which you intend to practice. Check to see what your state licensure requirements are and which nursing roles are in demand where you live.
See Notes and Conditions for important information.