It is no big secret that the upcoming retirement of the baby boomers will put enormous strain on the health care industry. While this may not be great times for hospital management, qualified nurses are in high demand and enjoy many job benefits including sign on bonuses, tuition reimbursement, and retention bonuses.

There are hundreds of career avenues for nurses, but here are five career paths that show an especially high social need and can offer nurses both financial and career satisfaction.

  1. Home Health Care Nurses. When you work as a home health care nurse in private homes, you prepare meals, offer basic bedside care, and emotional comfort. You track vital signs such as blood pressure, respiration, and pulse. You can help family members learn basic nursing tasks. The average income for a home health nurse is about $35,000 for this nursing position. To work as as a home health care nurse, you need to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN). You can attend a community college or vocational schools for about a year. The need for geriatric care is projected to drive up the demand for LPNs and should offer you good job prospects.
  2. Staff Nurses. Staff nurses work in all the places you normally think of when you think of nurses like hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices. As a staff nurse, you generally work alongside physicians in all specializations. You record medical conditions, treat patient symptoms, perform tests and analyze their results. You also administer treatments and medications. The median salary for a hospital staff nurse is about $53,500 per year. To open the door to a staff nursing career, you need a registered nurse (RN) certification. To get there you need to earn bachelor of science in nursing degree (BSN) , an associates’ degree in nursing (ADN), or graduate from a certificate programs. With a more advance degree, you have more job options and you are more likely to get a job at a higher caliber facility. 
  3. School Nurses.  Much has changed since 1902 when school nursing began in the United States. A school nurse’s duties have greatly expanded since then. Today’s school nurse provides health assessment, intervention, and follow-up with students. You ensure the health and safety of the schools staff and students by helping to maintain the school’s compliance with health care policies. School nurses can also refer students for more medical help when hearing, vision, and other issues become inhibitors to successful learning. Generally, you should already be a Registered Nurse (RN), and ideally, you should also hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Furthering a career in this field, a master’s degree in nursing or a MBA in health care will provide you career mobility and offers of policy-level positions. Many school nurses hold not only a Nurse Practitioner (NP) certification, but an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) certification
  4. Forensic Nurses. Help solve crimes by becoming a forensic nurse. If you hold your your RN certification you can begin a career in forensic nursing. Forensic nurses assist in criminal investigations of accidental death, sexual assault, homicide, and other criminal cases. Then, forensic nurses testify about their findings in court. When specializing in this field, you will spend the least amount of your time in patient contact. You must hold a current RN certification, and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Further course work or a degree in law enforcement or criminal justice will offer you an added edge for forensic nurse job openings. Specialized forensic nursing certifications are available online
  5. Legal Nurse Consultants. If you have an interest in law and if you are a registered nurse you can enter the lucrative field of legal nurse consulting. A legal nurse consultant acts as a health care liaison with attorneys, physicians, and other clients. Legal nurse consultants are needed in law firms, government offices, hospital risk management departments, and other health care or legal-related business. Probably the quickest path into this profession is to earn a legal nurse consulting certificate. Otherwise an RN certification, or ideally a bachelor of science degree in nursing, and a solid educational background in the legal system is necessary to become a legal nurse consultant. Earning a The rapid growth in the health care system is opening up many new nursing professions and opportunities. The educational system is adapting by creating courses and degrees to meet the challenges. To help meet the social needs and take part new and advanced career opportunities, continuing your education is a necessity. 

There are many avenues from accelerated programs, to online degrees, to vocational schools to help you meet your career goals.

These five nursing career paths are just a few of the hundreds of new nursing specialties that you can explore. With a solid nursing education, you can help meet the social need for more nurses while enjoying great career prospects for a long time to come.