America's Best Jobs: Nurse Practitioner and Registered Nurse

NursingFebruary 24, 2015

Are you looking for one of the best careers in America? According to a recent U.S. News and World Report survey, most of the nation's top jobs are in the healthcare industry. Both registered nurse (RN) and nurse practitioner (NP) rank among the top ten — and with good reason.

What Makes a "Top Job?"

The Survey identified several key areas for ranking jobs. These criteria included the balance between your personal life and work, stress level, 10-year job growth in both volume and percentage (based on U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics data), median salary, future job prospects and employment rate; the latter three carried the most weight in their calculations. Nurse practitioner and registered nurse ranked numbers four and six, respectively.

Registered Nurse

U.S. News and World Report's survey says there are four primary ways RNs specialize: either by focusing on specific health conditions, a particular part of the body, population or work setting. Nurses also perform a variety of tasks, from participating in medical procedures and treatments to performing clerical work. In the survey's most heavily weighted factors, RNs scored big. In 2012, their national median salary was $65,470 annually. It's a fast-growing profession, too. Through 2022, the number of RN jobs will increase by 19.4 percent, or 526,800 jobs. Combining this growth and job prospects with a low unemployment rate of only 2.6 percent, it's no wonder registered nurses rank sixth among America's best occupations.

Nurse Practitioner

According to the article accompanying the survey, "If you're currently training to be a nurse practitioner, you've hit the jackpot." All nurse practitioners begin as registered nurses, so many of them already have a clear idea where they want to specialize. Like registered nurses, it is the more weighted criteria that pulls the position of nurse practitioner into the top ten. The survey's authors describe their unemployment rate as an "astonishingly low" .9 percent. Some earn three-figure salaries, but the national median is $89,960. Also astonishing is the expected demand for 37,100 new jobs — a growth rate of 33.7 percent. Clearly, if nursing is the career path you expect to follow, your future is bright. There will be a need for you whether you intend to work as a registered nurse or advance in a nurse practitioner field. Nursing can sometimes be a stressful profession, but what is not included in the report is what some nurses see as most important of all — the ability to serve others. That immeasurable trait follows any nurse wherever they go. 


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