Top 10 BSN Specialties for RNs

After graduating from a BSN program, you might be setting your sights on future career growth.  One of the best places to advance your career is in one of the many BSN Specialties the nursing profession has to offer. Most employers require that new BSN graduates obtain experience prior to employment in a nursing specialty field. Once time is spent in an entry level position, these RNs have the experience necessary to continue their careers in the direction of their choice.

These BSN specialties are some of the most in-demand and lucrative options for a nurse with a BSN degree.  The specialties discussed below were selected due to high demand, an increased salary, or as a means to obtaining experience for the nurse who eventually plans to continue for a nurse practitioner degree.  These specialties are listed in no particular order.  In addition, most of these specialties are available to nurses nationwide, from the hospital, to the school system, to the police department. Most of these jobs will also take the RN away from the patient bedside and allow the nurse to work with the patient in a different context. Some even remove the RN from patient care completely and promote education of nurses, such as the informatics RN or nurse educator. Supervisory roles, while not desirable to all RNs, are also a way to further a nursing career while removing the patient care.  Top 10 BSN Specialties

  1. Clinical nurse manager: of all the BSN specialties, RN employed as a clinical nurse manager can expect to earn approximately $75,931 per year; these RNs are typically paid by salary as opposed to hourly. A clinical nurse manager is in a strictly managerial position. This RN does not work at the bedside anymore, but instead is coordinating the staff, creating schedules, fielding complaints from staff and patients, creating policies and working with the budget. A BSN is the minimum education requirement for this position. Prior work experience is absolutely necessary prior to obtaining a position as a clinical nurse manager.
  2. School nurse: an RN employed as a school nurse can expect to earn about $39,318 per year. The minimum education requirements for the school nurse differ depending on the state of employment. The National Association of School Nurses recommends that the school nurse hold a BSN degree. Johnson & Johnson recommend either an ADN or BSN degree, but for the school nurse to be credentialed as a Certified School Nurse. The salary of a school nurse is less than the salary of an average RN; however, RNs elect to take jobs as a school nurse due to job satisfaction and a sense of purpose. In addition, working as a school nurse is a stepping stone for the RN who seeks to become a family nurse practitioner (F-NP). The school nurse manages the health of chronically ill students, responds to emergencies that may occur during the school day, and promote wellness at school.
  3. Forensic nursing: an RN employed as a forensic RN can expect to earn about $39 per hour. A forensic nurse may possible hold an ADN, but a BSN is preferred. A forensic nurse may opt to take classes in nursing school that are specific to the forensic field, such as victimology, forensic mental health, and perpetrator theory. In addition, a forensic nurse may choose to become certified from the Forensic Nursing Certification Board (FNCB). According to Criminal Justice Degree Schools, a forensic nurse may “…have a variety of roles, including evaluating and caring for victims of assault, domestic abuse, child and elder abuse, neglect and sexual crimes.”
  4. Informatics nurse: an RN employed as an informatics nurse can expect to earn about $68,539 per year. An informatics nurse is “…responsible for maintaining medical hardware and software, implementation and training of medical staff, troubleshooting system problems, performing system updates and upgrades, and running reports and collecting data as needed.” Obtaining a job as an informatics nurse requires a BSN degree. However, some employers may even require a master's degree. The informatics RN is so in-demand due to the majority of healthcare using an electronic health record (EHR) that there are master's programs specifically for nursing informatics.
  5. Nurse executive: an RN employed as a nurse executive (or as a chief nursing officer) can expect to earn about $117,152 per year. According to Villanova University, a bachelor's degree is required as the minimum education. Many employers may require a master's degree. Regardless of the type of degree that is held, prior experience in management and leadership is required. The nurse executive manage all of the nursing staff in a given hospital, in addition to managing the budget, preparing plans for emergencies, and communicate with medical and administrative staff. This job undoubtedly has the highest salary of all specialties eligible to a BSN, but they also have the most responsibility.
  6. Nurse case manager: an RN employed as a nurse case manager can expect to earn about $66,000 per year. The nurse case manager may work in a variety of settings, such as a hospital, a nursing home or in an industrial setting. They evaluate the patient and determine the type of care that is needed. For example, a nurse case manager working in a hospital may assist with setting up physical therapy on an outpatient basis. They may set the patient up with home health care or aid with transfer to a nursing home after discharge. They may also assist the patient with financial concerns. This position requires an ADN, but a lot of employers require a BSN as the education minimum.
  7. Public health nurse: an RN employed as a public health nurse can expect to earn about $50,684 per year. The public health nurse typically does not always work on a one-on-one basis with patients. They identify at-risk groups and provide education to individuals, families, groups and communities. For example, a public health nurse may identify that a group of people require smoking cessation education and offer a class to benefit this group of people. The public health nurse is often employed for a large health care provider or for the government. They may reach out to various groups (such as a church) to identify groups that may need their services.
  8. Nursing educator: an RN employed as a nurse educator can expect to earn about $69,568 per year. The nurse educator is typically employed in a hospital. They oversee a group of nurses to identify their education needs. For example, a nurse educator may be employed on a Med-Surg unit. He or she would be in charge of identifying specific needs of the nurses employed on that unit, such as educating about a new surgical procedure prior to its implementation in the hospital. The nurse educator may also assist with orientation of new nurses, such as implementing an orientation schedule and assigning the new nurse a nurse mentor.
  9. Certified diabetes educator (CDE): an RN employed as a certified diabetes educator can expect to earn about $63,601 per year. This job can be held by a variety of medical professionals such as an RN with a BSN or a registered dietitian (RD). The CDE is a certification obtained after completing a specific amount of hours working with diabetic patients. The CDE provides education to diabetic patients, such as nutrition, insulin and drug therapy, exercise requirements and reducing complications. They may correspond with a patient for a long duration of time, as the nature of diabetes is progressive. Becoming a CDE is typically not an entry level position; an RN most likely requires practical work experience and baseline knowledge of pharmacology prior to obtaining this job.
  10. Credentialed nurse: a credentialed RN typically earns more than their non-credentialed coworkers. There is a credential for almost every type of discipline in nursing. For example, even an RN employed in an entry-level position as a Med-Surg nurse may earn more by obtaining their Medical-Surgical Nursing credential. Credentialing can be provided by a number of different credentialing agencies. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) is one such agency. The ANCC provides credentialing for forensic nursing, pediatric nursing, nursing case management, and nurse executive, to name a few. Obtaining a credential is a means to recognize excellence in nursing. Holding a credential not only increases salary but also promotes safer work environments and patient outcomes, which in turn increases patient satisfaction.

Regardless of the direction of specialty nurses choose to take, it is reassuring to know that there are so many BSN specialties to choose from. Nursing was once thought of as just at the patient bedside, but as healthcare is evolving, so is the role of the BSN-prepared RN.

Reference: salary figures come from PayScale

Clinical Nurse Mnager
School Nurse
Forensic Nursing
Informatics Nurse
Nurse Executive
Nurse Case Manager
Public Health Nurse
Nursing Educator
Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)
Credentialed Nurse

Krystina Ostermeyer

About Krystina Ostermeyer

Krystina is an RN with a varied background. She has worked on a telemetry unit, an allergy/immunotherapy clinic and is currently working in diabetes education, pursuing her Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) certification. She has traveled the long road to her bachelor's degree - she began her nursing career as an LPN, graduating from a local university. She pursued first her ADN, then BSN from Excelsior College. Krystina lives in a beautiful small town in the northern Midwest with her husband and son. When she's not working part-time at the Diabetes Education clinic, she enjoys freelance writing about nursing, wellness and family. She also enjoys reading, walking, traveling and drinking local craft beer.
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