Doctoral Nursing Career Paths
You put a lot of work into earning a doctorate in nursing, and you want to make sure your hard work pays off. Earning an in-person or online doctoral nursing degree may prepare you for a wide variety of specialized career options. On the first half of this page, you can learn more about career paths for PhD nursing graduates. The second half of the page handles Doctor of Nursing career paths.
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PhD in Nursing Career Options
After spending several years on the floor as a nurse, it’s time to find the right career path for you. But what can you do with a PhD in nursing? Earning your PhD should have provided you with plenty of experience in the areas of research, leadership, education and healthcare policy. Most available career paths fall into one of these areas of study.
Many PhD graduates hope to go into medical research. With your experience and training, you may be able to guide research in several areas. Nurse researchers often look at nursing protocols, policies, patient care standards and evidence-based practices. The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that job openings for medical scientists may swell 13% between 2016 and 2026 (2017). Most nurse researchers and medical professionals with PhD degrees work in research laboratories, post-secondary institutions or hospitals.
Nurse educators are essential to the growth of this field. Many nursing schools have to turn students away each year, due to a lack of nursing instructors (National League for Nursing, 2017). You could teach undergraduate courses, graduate courses or both. Job growth is extremely high in this field. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for nursing educators could jump 24% between 2016 and 2026 (2017). You may teach at two-year community colleges, public four-year institutions or private four-year institutions.
If you’re a natural leader and you’d like to inspire other nurses, you may be a good fit for a nurse leadership position. Medical and health services managers work in several settings. Most employed health services managers work in hospitals, physician offices and residential care facilities. The job outlook for medical managers is positive. Overall, look for an expected 20% increase in job openings by 2026 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017). In this role, you may supervise other nurses and create policies.
PhD in Nursing Salary
With your doctorate in nursing, jobs may offer you higher income levels. The expertise you bring to this field with a PhD may be well-rewarded by employers. Across all work settings, medical scientists earn an average of $80,530 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017). The average salary for nursing educators is $69,130 annually (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017). Bureau of Labor Statistics data reports an average salary of $96,540 per year for medical managers (2017).
Doctor of Nursing Practice Career
With a clinically focused doctoral nursing curriculum, you may pursue a range of Doctor of Nursing Practice jobs. Some of these jobs overlap with PhD jobs. For example, DNP graduates can often go into medical management or nurse leadership positions. However, this degree also helps students broaden their clinical expertise and job options. The most common DNP career is that of nurse practitioner, which you can learn more about here.
A popular choice for doctoral graduates is nurse anesthesia. This requires specialized training, so you must study nurse anesthesia at the doctoral level to become certified and follow this career path. From 2016 through 2026, job openings for nurse anesthetists may increase 16% across the country (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017). Professionals in this role often work in hospitals, providing pain relief and sedation services during routine and emergency surgeries.
Nurse practitioners work in many specialties, including pediatric, adult, psychiatric and gerontological care. With the growing demand for primary care providers, demand for nurse practitioners is extremely high. Job openings could jump 36% by 2026 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017).
Those who specialize in nurse midwifery work exclusively with women, primarily during the childbearing years. You may provide well-woman care, as well as pregnancy and labor care. Job growth for nurse midwives is climbing steadily and is expected to reach 21% between 2016 and 2026 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017).
Doctor of Nursing Practice Salary
While drive and passion may drive your career choice, salary potential is also a deciding factor. To answer the question “How much does a DNP make a year?” you have to compare different career paths open to DNP graduates. Nurse anesthetists report the highest salaries at this level, bringing in an average income of $160,270 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017). The average salary for a nurse practitioner hits the six-digits level, coming in at $100,910 annually (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017). Nurse midwives earn an average of $99,770 per year across the United States (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017).