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Leadership Paths for Nurses

February 21, 2023

Are you a nurse who wants to make an even bigger impact on the lives of patients? Are you ready to take your career to the next level and become a leader in your field? We have some good news for you! With dedication, experience, and education— nurses can enter many different leadership and instructional roles throughout their careers. Here are some of the most common:

Charge Nurse

Education and License(s) Required: Several years of experience working in a hospital or other healthcare setting. In general, a charge nurse will have at least a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and hold a valid RN license. Additional certifications or specialized training may be required depending on the specific role and the employer.

US Average Salary: $87 – $105k

Charge Nurses are responsible for overseeing patient care and managing nursing staff within a specific shift or unit of the healthcare facility. This role typically involves ensuring patient safety, managing staffing and scheduling, and communicating with other healthcare team members to provide coordinated care.

Clinical Nurse Manager

Education and License(s) Required: Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, although some may have an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). Many clinical nurse managers also have a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or other advanced nursing degrees. RN licensure is required, and additional certifications, such as the Nurse Executive Certification (NE-BC), may be preferred or required by employers.

US Average Salary: $70k – $103k

Clinical Nurse Managers oversee a team of nurses and ensure that patient care is delivered safely and efficiently. They are responsible for implementing and enforcing policies and procedures as well as scheduling and staffing. They work collaboratively and cross-functionally with various healthcare professionals and colleagues to ensure high-quality care delivery.

RN Supervisor

Education and License(s) Required: Several years of experience in a healthcare setting. RN supervisors must hold a valid RN license, and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is often required. Some employers may require additional certifications or specialized training.

US Average Salary: $64k – $109k

RN Supervisors are registered nurses who oversee the work of other nurses in a specific unit or department. They assign patient care responsibilities, monitor and evaluate staff performance, and ensure all patient care meets established quality standards.

Assistant Director of Nursing (ADON)

Education and License(s) Required: Several years of experience in a healthcare setting. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is often required, and many ADONs also have a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree or another advanced nursing degree. RN licensure is required, and additional certifications, such as the Nurse Executive Certification (NE-BC), may be preferred or required by employers.

US Average Salary: $135k – $178k

Assistant Directors of Nursing are responsible for assisting the Director of Nursing in the planning, development, and implementation of nursing policies and procedures. They also oversee nursing staff and ensure that patient care is delivered safely and effectively. Additionally, they may assist in managing staffing, budgeting, and administrative functions.

Director of Nursing (DON)

Education and License(s) Required: Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and several years of experience in a healthcare setting. Many DONs also have a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or other advanced nursing degrees. RN licensure is required, and additional certifications, such as the Nurse Executive Certification (NE-BC), may be preferred or required by employers.

US Average Salary: $213k – $290k

Directors of Nursing are responsible for managing nursing staff within a specific unit or department of the hospital. They collaborate with HR departments to manage the healthcare department’s staffing needs and relationships with staffing partners with the overarching goals of maintaining safe staffing ratios. This role typically involves developing and implementing policies and procedures, budgeting and resource allocation, monitoring patient care and outcomes, and overseeing the day-to-day operations of thor department.

Chief Nursing Officer (CNO)

Education and License(s) Required: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree or other advanced nursing degrees, such as a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. RN licensure is required, and additional certifications, such as the Nurse Executive Certification (NE-BC), are often required.

US Average Salary: $213k – $290k

Chief Nursing Officers oversee all aspects of nursing within the hospital, including managing nursing staff, ensuring high-quality patient care, developing and implementing policies and procedures, and collaborating with other hospital executives to achieve the hospital’s strategic goals.This is the highest career advance ment opportunity for nurses who wish to remain in operational foles for healthcare service industries, as opposed to becoming educators.

Nurse Educator

Education and License(s) Required: RNs with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree or another advanced nursing degree, such as a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. RN licensure is required, and many nurse educators also hold certifications, such as the Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) certification.

US Average Salary: $88k – $118k

Nurse educators are responsible for designing and implementing nursing education programs, courses, and curricula. They may work in academic settings, such as colleges and universities, or healthcare organizations, such as hospitals or community health centers. Nurse educators are also in extremely high demand, with job growth expected to increase even more in the coming years.

Nurse Practitioner

Education and License(s) Required: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. Nurse practitioners must also hold an RN license and pass a national certification exam in their specialty area. The specific licensure and certification requirements for nurse practitioners vary by state and specialty area.

US Average Salary: $111k – $130k

NPs are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who provide a wide range of healthcare services, including performing physical exams, diagnosing and treating illnesses, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, prescribing medications, and educating patients and families about health and wellness. NPs can work in various settings, including hospitals, clinics, private practices, and community health centers.

From bedside nursing to the everyday duties of a CNO, nurses show up every day with compassion, care, and a commitment to excellence to make a difference in the lives of patients and the healthcare community.

If you’re a nurse looking to maximize your impact, check out our contract-based, interim, and direct placement leadership opportunities to find the next step in your career path. Or call (800) 879-4471 today to connect with one of our healthcare staffing experts! They’re a free resource dedicated to helping you take the next step in your career.

Explore Leadership Opportunities for Nurses

Note: Salary estimates listed in this article are not guaranteed to reflect salaries for positions offered through GHR. Salary estimates are based on US national average and were retrieved from Salary.com in February 2023.


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