A Career Ladder For Nursing: Everything You Need To Know About It

Nursing is a vast field with so many career options. You can see the nurses working in hospitals, medical centers, and nursing homes. Over the past few years, the demand for various nurses has increased. The reason is COVID-19 and other infections. However, the right career ladder for nursing is necessary to succeed as a nurse.

According to the research, more than 3 million Registered nurses(RNs) work in the US in different fields. Also, there are immense career options for aspiring nurses. This post includes a complete career ladder to help make a promising nursing career. Nurses who are looking to advance their careers should also read this post.

However, if you are still considering whether or not nursing is a great career path for you, let us help you decide first. 

Why Is Nursing A Great Career Path?

There are various reasons why nursing is considered a great career path. Nursing is one of the few professions which get respect from people. It is also a great way to use one’s skills and knowledge to help others. 

The Healthcare industry deals with saving the lives of people. Nurses are well-known as warriors who take care of patients. If you think nursing is only limited to providing care to patients, then you are wrong. 

Apart from caring for patients, nursing also deals with non-clinical areas. Today, nurses work as travel nurses and manage the department as RNs. According to the study, the demand for nurses will increase by 30% from 2020. It will be expected to grow more in the coming years. As a result, there are huge career options for aspiring nurses. You can only take advantage of these job roles once you have a complete career ladder.

What Is The Career Ladder For Nursing?

The career ladder for nursing is a complete roadmap to growing in the nursing field. It contains all the different roles, qualifications, salaries, and future benefits. Also, it is created based on demanding job roles. In this roadmap, you will know which steps are necessary for performing well as a nurse. 

Moreover, it is a great way to know about clinical and administrative roles in the medical field. The number of jobs for licensed and registered nurses is also explained in the career ladder. Apart from this, it also gives candidates an idea about salaries for different roles. The following are the things included in the nursing career ladder:

  • Careers
  • Job descriptions
  • Growth possibilities
  • Different nursing roles
  • Educational positions
  • Administrative roles
  • Outlook of salary

Nurses need to understand the nursing career ladder in detail before choosing any career path. 

Steps Of The Career Ladder To Plan A Nursing Career

The career ladder nursing deals with every step needed to be followed to become a certified nurse. It is beneficial for those who are looking to start a career in the nursing industry. On the other hand, it also provides a blueprint for advancing one’s nursing career in the coming years.

Step 1- Obtain A Nursing Degree Or Diploma

The primary step to becoming a nurse is to obtain a nursing degree or diploma. Here the students have different options for starting educational training:

  1. There is a diploma in nursing which is of short period.
  2. Students may pursue an Associate of Science in Nursing(ASN). It is a program that includes nursing training.
  3. There is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing(BSN). It is a three-year graduate program that includes nursing education and practicals.

Step 2- Pass The Exam

Whatever your nursing education medium, the next step in the career ladder for nursing is to pass the exam. National Council Licensure Exam For Registered Nurses(NCLEX-RN) is compulsory to pass for all nurses. After passing this exam, you will receive a state RN licensure.

Step 3- Begin Working As A Nurse

Once you get the RN license, you are eligible to work as a Registered nurse. You can start working as an intern in the beginning. Once you have experience, the RN role gives you a median salary of $72,000 annually. According to the survey, 12% RNs join the US healthcare industry annually.

Step 4- Career Advancement In Nursing

This step is also beneficial for nurses who are currently working. Once you have experience working as an RN, you can go for higher roles. The career option here is specialist in a certain medical field. You must obtain a Master of Science in Nursing(MSN) degree. The other option is a Doctorate of Nursing Practice(DNP).

Step 5- Look For A Specialized Role

Once you have a master’s or doctorate in nursing, you can apply for a special nursing role. Following are the different nursing roles:

  • Nurse Practitioner(NP)
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist(CNS)
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist(CRNA)
  • Clinical Nurse Leader(CNL)
  • Certified Nurse Midwife(CNM)

For each specialized role, you must pass the certification exam first. After that, apply for state licensure. Once you get a license, you can start practicing as a specialized nurse.

Various Career Paths To Grow In Nursing

Nursing is a vast field that brings a variety of roles. Nurses who have a BSN or other degrees have various career options. You can easily develop your skills and advance your career in a different field. Besides the clinical field, nurses can also work in other fields. Here is the various career path to grow in nursing:

Clinical Field

Registered nurses can easily apply for several clinical positions. You can automatically qualify for several nursing roles if you have a BSN. The job description for a clinical career is as follows:

  • Setting IV for patients
  • Conducting various tests
  • Assessing patient’s needs
  • Preparing daily reports
  • Assisting doctors
  • Prescribing medications

You can advance your RN career in the clinical field with experience and education. Most RNs work as nurse managers. You can also go for RN supervisor roles with good technical knowledge and soft skills. The average salary of a Registered nurse in the clinical field is $70,000-$75,000 per year.

Educational Field

The other field for nurses to explore is education. The career ladder for nursing is one of the best positions for nurses with good teaching skills. To work as an educational nurse, you need a master’s degree in nursing. Additionally, institutions are looking for at least three years of clinical working experience. Different job roles in the nursing education field include:

  • Lab instructor
  • Professor of Nursing
  • Clinical nurse educator
  • Dean of Nursing
  • Nursing instructor

Their job description involves supervising the teaching hospitals and universities. Educational nurses usually train students for future roles. The median salary of these nurses is between $75,000 to $133,000 per annum.

Administrative Role

An executive role is also an option to advance a career in nursing. This position is considered the higher one and deals with managing medical centers. Managerial nurses use their knowledge to help patients. They also use leadership skills to enhance staff teamwork. The job description for administrative roles is as follows:

  • Manage finances, budget, fees, and billing
  • Hire and train new nurses
  • Create short and long-term goals
  • Represent staff at board meetings

The average salary for nursing managerial roles is $110,000 per year.

Read Also: Business Growth Consultancy: A 101 Guide For Business Owners

What Are The Different Nurses In The Career Ladder?

The medical field needs a professional to provide care to the patients. For this purpose, nursing is the trusted role. There are different kinds of nurses who perform their duty in different fields. While choosing a career, you have various nursing career options.

Bedside Nurse

Bedside nurses work in hospitals, nursing homes, and medical centers. These nurses provide bedside care to patients. They use most of their time interacting and checking the group of patients. Their role also includes monitoring and giving medications daily.

Clinical Research Nurse

Clinical research is a great career option for nurses. These nurses are responsible for running a trail for researching new treatments. The major role of these nurses is to develop the therapy that increases patients’ survival rate. Nurses who work in research follow guidelines to ensure the trial remains accurate.

Surgical Nurse

You need special training to work as a surgical nurse. The knowledge of various surgical procedures is required to get selected for this role. These nurses’ role includes assisting doctors in the operation theater. Surgical nurses also prepare the room with the required equipment, tools, and safety material. 

Tips On Planning Your Nursing Career Ladder

The type of nursing career path you choose will decide your future. As choosing a career is crucial, you should take your time. In this process, you need to determine education and nursing roles. To successfully plan your nursing career path, follow the tips shown below:

Identify Possible Options

Once you have an idea about your desired nursing role, start to explore career options in it. For this, ask yourself what kind of jobs you want to do in the future. Every nursing role comes with its own benefits. The next step is to select the specialization in the field. 

Top-performing nurses are the ones who carry a certain specialization. Research different roles and choose what fits your interest. Moreover, your skills, interest, and strength also play an important role in selecting the right possible option.

Create Long-Term Goals

Knowing the long-term goals helps in selecting the right nursing role. For this, keep asking where you want to see yourself in the coming years. Select the nurses who are doing great in this field. Based on that, create your career goals. Here, it would be best to plan your education based on your chosen nursing role.

Select Nursing Advisor

Talk with a nursing career advisor. These coaches can guide you in the right direction. Also, an advisor who knows the varied nursing roles can give you a better idea of the right career. You can also ask for referrals from your friends and family to find a nursing career advisor. 

Alnicor Consulting is one of the best career advisors whose expert executives help you choose the right nursing role. The role of these coaches is to show you the path in the nursing industry. 


The nursing industry is expanding at a fast pace. Thus, the demand for a career ladder for nursing increases day by day. Most students or nurses who advance their careers seek the right advice. In such cases, the role of a career advisor also increases. It is important to know the career you want as a nurse. There are various options, like registered, licensed, and certified nurses. 

To get entry-level jobs, every candidate needs to pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Afterward, apply for state licensure to start the desired registered nurse job. Alnicor Consulting is a career advisor in Nursing. Our team helps you find the right path to success as a nurse. With our right counseling service, you can choose the desired roles. We also guide you through the process of applying and succeeding in interviews for different nursing roles.

To give your nursing career the right boost, contact us at 183-325-6267 or 18332111777.


A career ladder for nursing is a step-by-step roadmap to succeed in a nursing career. To advance a career, nurses should complete a Master’s degree in nursing and go for licensure. The higher roles in nursing consist of a Nurse midwife, Executives, and clinical nurses.

There is fours level of nursing careers that requires degree and licenses:

  • Certified nursing assistant
  • Registered nurse(RN)
  • Nursing assistant(NA)
  • Surgical nurses
  • Bedside nurses

The role of a nursing career advisor is to guide nurses toward the right path. They help in preparing for the NCLEX-RN exam. The counseling session also includes tips for performing well as a nurse.

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