Best Career Paths in Nursing 2022

The recent increase in the healthcare needs of baby boomers has resulted in a nursing shortage. There has been a rapid increase in the 65+ population from 41 million in 2011 to 71 million in 2019. Moreover, most experienced nurses have also started retiring, leaving behind vacant positions that need to be filled by competent people. 

Nurses are the backbone of the health industry. They play several important roles, from advocating for their patients to devising effective treatment plans. Furthermore, nursing is not only limited to hospital settings now. As a nurse, you can choose to work in different settings such as government, academia, management, private healthcare organizations, and more. 

So, if you are passionate about helping people, then nursing is the right choice for you. Here are some of the careers you can choose from.

Chief Nursing Officer

A chief nursing officer or CNO is one of the highest managerial positions in a healthcare organization. A CNO overlooks several important matters such as managing budgets, creating policies, performance evaluations and ensuring that patients receive optimal care. They ensure that the staff follows the organization’s policies and standards and act as the nursing staff’s representatives during board meetings.

CNO is one of the best nursing leadership careers for people who want to work outside the clinical setting and have strong managerial and leadership skills.  

The salary of a CNO falls in the range of $208 060 to $283,050 in the US. The average salary was estimated to be $243,390 as of March 2022. Nevertheless, the amount can differ according to the individual’s certifications, education, experience, and other factors. 

Nurse Educator

People often choose to go into academia after earning their DNP. Moreover, several advanced practice nurses who have gained years of experience may also choose to leave the clinical setting and pursue a career in academia. 

Nurse educators use their experience and knowledge to teach the future generation of nurses and help them transition into the real world. They work in colleges, universities, and nursing schools. 

Some important skills required to become a nurse educator include leadership, communication, interpersonal skills, patience, empathy, knowledge, and expertise. 

The average salary for this position in the US is $73,633 per year. However, this amount depends on expertise, location, and setting.

Family Nurse Practitioner

As the name suggests, family nurse practitioners provide family-focused care. They deal with people of all ages, from infants to senior citizens. Their services are similar to those of physicians. A family nurse practitioner may perform the following duties:

  • Diagnose and treat common medical issues.
  • Prescribe medication.
  • Suggest and interpret medical tests.
  • Provide preventative care.
  • Developing treatment plans.
  • Provide referrals when required.

Taking care of different members of the same family through the years also helps develop long-term relationships. Thus, becoming an FNP is a good choice for people who value such connections. 

However, several important skills are required to become a successful family nurse practitioner. These skills include critical thinking, leadership, attention to detail, good communication, and empathy.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of a family nurse practitioner was $114,510 per year in the year 2020 in the US. However, an FNP’s salary also increases along with their experience.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Psychiatric nurse practitioners deal with patients who have psychological disorders. This includes a wide range of issues such as ADHD and schizophrenia. These nurse practitioners often work with psychiatrists. They have several important duties such as administering medications, monitoring the patient’s progress, communicating with the patient, etc. 

Psychiatric nurse practitioners act as the patient’s advocates and communicate their concerns with doctors. Hence, PNP’s need to be attentive, patient, and have excellent communication skills.

A DNP specializing in psychiatric nursing is required for working as a PNP. Moreover, the average salary of a PNP in the US falls in the range of $96,000 to $126,390 per year. 

Becoming a nurse practitioner, irrespective of the area of specialization is a great step towards establishing a successful nursing career. According to statistics, the overall employment of nurse practitioners is expected to grow 45% by the year 2030.

Certified Nurse-Midwife

Certified nurse-midwives specialize in labor and the whole birthing process. Besides labor and delivery, it also includes prenatal and newborn care, gynecological care, etc. These nurses can work in hospitals and clinics and also practice privately.

A master’s degree is required for pursuing a career as a certified nurse-midwife. Moreover, several DNP programs also offer courses that prepare students for leadership roles in this field. 

Although it is quite rewarding, being a certified nurse-midwife is not easy. You need to face stressful and high-pressure situations and deal with them effectively. Moreover, possessing skills such as good communication, attention to detail, and empathy are also necessary.

The average salary of a certified nurse-midwife in the US was $114,210 per year in 2021. 

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist 

A CRNA supervises and administers anesthesia to patients during medical procedures. CRNAs are often part of a team that includes an anesthesiologist as well. 

A CRNA’s duties involve assessing and informing the patient, identifying a suitable type of anesthesia for the patient, and monitoring and adjusting the dosage.

Several important skills are required to become a successful anesthesiologist. These skills include working under pressure, leadership skills, strong communication, compassion, and organization. 

In most cases, a master’s degree and experience are enough to qualify you for becoming a CRNA. However, getting a DNP degree can make you a more viable candidate and increase your successful career chances.

Becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist is quite a high-paying job. According to current statistics, the average pay of CRNA in the US is $189,190 per year. 

Director of Nursing

The Director of nursing is a managerial position. It involves overseeing and administering a healthcare organization’s nursing operations and staff. The duties of a director of nursing include assessing the nursing staff, setting objectives, and creating and enforcing policies. They use their experience, education, and managerial skills to ensure that the health care system functions smoothly. 

Other duties include hiring and training new staff, budgeting, representing the nursing staff in meetings, and other administrative responsibilities.

To become a director of nursing, you need at least a bachelor’s degree, such as a BSN. However, most health care facilities prefer candidates with a master’s degree in nursing or an administrative field like business administration. 

According to current statistics, the average salary of a director of nursing, also known as a nursing director, is $91,412 per year. This range can also increase according to a person’s qualifications and experience. In addition to this, the BLS has reported an expected 32% job growth in this field by the year 2030.


Nurses play a vital role in the smooth functioning of the healthcare system. From being the patients’ advocates to creating effective treatment plans, they do it all. However, due to the rise in healthcare needs, the demand for nurses is higher than ever. Thus, it is crucial to fill this gap to ensure that everyone receives the healthcare they deserve.

In this day and age, nursing is not only limited to hospitals. Nurses can work in academia and government organizations and also practice privately. Therefore, there are several career paths you can choose from if you are interested in nursing. For instance, someone with strong leadership and managerial skills is an ideal candidate for becoming a nursing director or a CNO.

On the other hand, people interested in teaching can opt to become nurse educators. Similarly, becoming a nurse practitioner such as a PNP or FNP is also an excellent choice for having a successful career in nursing.