10 Doctorate in Nursing Jobs: Clinical and Non-Clinical Positions (2023)

Recent decades have brought increasing integration between health care and business, as well as health care and education. This growing collaboration creates an opportunity to explore what you can do with a doctorate in nursing beyond clinical care.

Positions for a Doctor of Nursing (DNP) are expanding in areas ranging from education, business, health policy, and telemedicine. For those wondering about career options beyond clinical practice, opportunities abound.

The leadership, analytical and organizational skills of a DNP translate well into today’s demanding job field. Many business and government sectors are hiring DNPs to fill medically oriented roles.

DNPs may occasionally need additional on-the-job training or other classes. However, much of a DNP’s education covers policy and leadership support roles outside of direct patient care.

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Benefits of a DNP

There are a number of benefits associated with earning a DNP. While nurse practitioners currently only need an MSN, some groups are advocating to make the DNP the minimum required degree for advanced practice nurses by 2025. In addition, earning a DNP can potentially lead to a lucrative salary. The salary aggregate site Payscale reports that the median annual salary for those with a DNP degree was roughly $110,000 as of March 2023, compared to $100,000 for those with an MSN and $91,000 for those with a BSN.

Many other professions, like physicians, physical therapists and pharmacists, use the doctorate as an entry to practice. The DNP provides the foundation for collaboration for nurses by making the educational preparation equal to those colleagues. A DNP degree gives nurses a voice in the boardroom as health care leaders with the knowledge and clinical expertise to make the health care system work for everyone.

4 Clinical Doctorate in Nursing Jobs

Graduates to a wide range of doctorate in nursing jobs that impact care delivery.

1. Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners prescribe medications and diagnose patient conditions. Nurse practitioners have proven that they can improve patient outcomes such as surgical mortality while reducing health care costs andimproving patient satisfaction. Nurse practitioners can specialize in care suited to different patient populations, such as neonatal, acute care or mental health. They can also serve a broader population by serving as family practice NPs or working in a hospital. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the job growth for nurse practitioners will be an impressive 46% between 2021 and 2031. The BLS also states the median salary for NPs as of May 2021 was $120,680 per year.

2. Certified Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA)

CRNAs administer anesthesia in a surgical setting. They secure the patient’s airway, ensure the patient is adequately sedated and monitor the patient throughout the surgery for complications. CRNAs are the highest-paid APRNs. The BLS lists the median annual salary for CRNAs at $195,610 as of May 2021. Beginning in 2025, a doctoral degree will be required to enter the field as a nurse anesthetist.

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3. Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)

CNMs deliver babies and provide prenatal care in outpatient offices, hospitals and rural areas. Many areas of the country do not have enough OB/GYN physicians and need CNMs to provide additional resources to those needing care. CNMs also provide birth control and other aspects of reproductive health, such as gynecologic health and family planning services. CNMs earn a median of $112,830 annually as of May 2021, per the BLS.

4. Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)

The final APRN is the clinical nurse specialist (CNS). CNSs have similar training to nurse practitioners — but instead of seeing one patient at a time, they create interventions to help entire populations through protocols and order sets. CNSs are experts in change management and can navigate a complicated system while staying clinically proficient. They work with all populations of patients in different capacities such as mental health, cardiovascular, critical care, emergency department, obstetrical and pediatrics. CNSs haveprescriptive authority in most states.

According to Payscale, the median annual salary for a clinical nurse specialist as of March 2023 was approximately $96,700.

6 Nonclinical Doctorate in Nursing Jobs

Abundant options are available for those with a doctorate in nursing. You may be surprised by what you can do with a doctorate in nursing to impact academics, government or the business sector. A DNP is a practical degree if your passion expands beyond patient care to business leadership or education. While the following doctorate in nursing jobs may not directly correspond with caring for a patient, they can significantly impact a patient’s care.

1. Medical Services Manager

Also known as health care administrators or health care executives, medical services managers coordinate care delivery strategies for a health care facility. The facilities they can manage range from an entire clinical facility to a specific area within the facility, such as a clinical department or a group of doctors. Their work is responsible for keeping a facility running efficiently and legally compliant in accordance with shifting federal laws and regulations. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for medical services managers as of May 2021 is $101,340. The BLS also projects a tremendous 28% job growth for these positions between 2021 and 2031.

2. Chief Nursing Officer (CNO)

CNOs develop and execute operational strategies for a health care facility’s nursing department. Their work can ensure cohesive, streamlined nursing processes occur in a manner that does not hinder the quality of patient care delivery. They also work with other C-suite executives to ensure their strategies effectively mesh with other departments to ensure optimized operational efficiency. Some of the duties of a CNO include:

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  • Overseeing budgets
  • Resolving service problems
  • Handling patient complaints
  • Managing staff and their schedules and caseloads
  • Consulting on complex cases
  • Implementing policy
  • Interviewing and hiring nurses
  • Serving as a liaison between a board of directors or executives and nursing staff

According to Payscale, the median annual salary for CNOs as of March 2023 was around $138,600.

3. Public Health Nurses

Public health nurses educate communities on various short-term, long-term and ongoing health issues. They can develop care strategies designed to keep people healthy, from creating vaccination programs to mitigating the impact of misinformation that may crop up during a public health crisis. They may also conduct research to determine health patterns and concerns pertaining to a specific population group. Payscale lists the median annual salary for public health nurses at approximately $69,100 as of March 2023.

4. Postsecondary Teacher

A terminal degree opens the door to becoming a professor. Academia can be an excellent option for those drawn to preparing the next generation of nurses and interested in scholarly research and publishing. Some of the typical responsibilities of a postsecondary teacher concentrating on nursing include:

  • Curriculum development
  • Teaching in-person lectures
  • Teaching online lectures
  • Leading lab or clinical work
  • Serving as a mentor or advisor

Most professor positions require a doctoral degree. Demand for nursing professors is extreme — U.S. nursing schools had to turn away more than 90,000 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2021 due in part to faculty shortages. The BLS lists the median annual salary for postsecondary teachers at $79,640 as of May 2021.

5. Medical Writer

Medical writers produce written content regarding information, innovation and research results for the medical field. They typically work with health care professionals to properly research and obtain crucial medical findings to present information that is thorough and accurate. Those in the role must also ensure their work complies with various regulations. According to Payscale, the median annual salary of medical writers as of March 2023 was around $78,500.

6. Nurse Informaticist

Nurse informaticists concentrate on technologies such as electronic health records (EHRs) that allow for efficient analysis, storage and retrieval of patient records across multiple computer systems. This can help facilitate holistic, cohesive patient care strategies across different access points, such as separate clinics, which can boost care efficiency and potentially improve patient outcomes. The median annual salary for the role as of January 2023 was around $86,100, per Payscale.

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What You Can Do with a Doctorate in Nursing Outside of Health Care Facilities

It’s also important to understand what you can do with a doctorate in nursing in other settings. Hospitals, clinics and private practices are traditional work environments for doctorate in nursing jobs. Some institutions that hire nurse administrators are hospitals, outpatient clinics, mental health facilities, health care systems and medical offices. Government facilities, rehabilitation centers, research centers, schools, and other workplaces also need DNP-educated nursing professionals.

Many educators are moving online as schools embrace distance education to accommodate increasing numbers of students in classrooms. DNPs can be ideal candidates to teach foundational courses to undergraduates. They can also teach policy, evidence-based practice and leadership to graduate students.

The Next Step in Your Nursing Career

Are you ready for the next step in exploring your nurse practitioner career options? Whether you choose a clinical or nonclinical route, earning a DNP can prepare you to make a meaningful impact on patients' lives. Learn more about what you can do with a doctorate in nursing at Marymount University Online with our DNP-FNP program, our DNP-PMHNP program and ourpost-master’s DNP program.

Request Your Free DNP Program Guide

Recommended Readings

  • The ABCs of Nursing Prioritization
  • Top 10 Tips for Nurses to Maintain Work-Life Balance
  • Why Is Specialization Important in Nursing?


10 Doctorate in Nursing Jobs: Clinical and Non-Clinical Positions? ›

Of these positions, nurse anesthetists are the highest paid, earning a median annual wage of nearly $200,000, and the most competitive, requiring a master's or DNP and CRNA certification. Other jobs with higher DNP salaries include: Medical and Health Services Manager. Nurse Manager.

What can be done with a doctorate in nursing? ›

Here are six careers you can pursue with a Doctor of Nursing Practice.
  • Nurse Practitioner. Nurse practitioners prescribe medications and diagnose patient conditions. ...
  • Certified Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) ...
  • Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) ...
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) ...
  • Leadership Roles. ...
  • Academia.
Feb 20, 2023

What is the highest paying job with a DNP? ›

Of these positions, nurse anesthetists are the highest paid, earning a median annual wage of nearly $200,000, and the most competitive, requiring a master's or DNP and CRNA certification. Other jobs with higher DNP salaries include: Medical and Health Services Manager. Nurse Manager.

What is the difference between a PhD in nursing and a DNP in nursing? ›

Put simply, the PhD in Nursing is a research doctoral degree, and the DNP is a practice doctoral degree.

What does a DNP do in a clinical setting? ›

The role of the DNP, like other practice doctorates (e.g., MD, PharmD, etc.) is to strengthen practice and health care delivery and improve patient outcomes by providing the highest level of competent nursing care in a complex clinical environment (Ketefian & Redman, 2015).

Can DNP do surgery? ›

To become a surgical NP, you must also complete graduate school with either a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree or a doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) degree. On average, it will take 2 to 4 years to complete either of these degrees, depending on your chosen path.

Do you call someone with a doctorate in nursing a doctor? ›

A doctorate is one of the highest degrees a nurse can earn and entitles them to be referred to as "doctor." The title of “doctor” (also earned through a Ph. D.), is an acknowledgment of the tremendous hard work and perseverance he or she experienced through the rigorous education requirements of a DNP or Ph. D.

Is a DNP financially worth it? ›

The income potential is tremendous.

Registered nurses have a median income of $66,152 or $30.39/hour. A nurse with an advanced degree, however, can make six figures annually, depending on your specialty and years of experience. One of the biggest reasons why a DNP is worth it is that it offers great financial rewards.

Is a DNP higher than an NP? ›

Which is higher, NP or DNP? One is not higher than the other, as it's comparing an educational degree to a certification. An NP is a master's- or doctorate-prepared nurse that is certified and licensed as an advanced practice registered nurse. A DNP is a higher-education degree.

What percentage of nurses hold a DNP? ›

That brings us to the present day—15 years after the AACN Position Statement on the Practice Doctorate—when the American Association of Nurse Practitioners reports 79.8% of APRNs hold a master's as their highest degree and just 14% hold a DNP (AANP, 2019).

Which is harder DNP or PhD? ›

A PhD degree program typically takes longer to complete compared to a DNP program. Students might spend 4-6 years earning a PhD in Nursing. However, PhD in Nursing programs do not typically require a certain number of clinical practice hours for graduation.

Why would a nurse get a doctorate? ›

Nurses with PhDs can equip the future generation of nurse scientists as faculty. In addition, they can serve as leaders in diverse settings such as clinical agencies, health policy organizations, professional organizations, governmental and state agencies, and industry.

What is the advantage of doctorate in nursing? ›

Earning a DNP has the potential to open professionals to a host of leadership and executive-level health care positions, including some roles that may not be accessible with only an MSN. These roles can put individuals in a unique position to directly influence care delivery in meaningful, tangible ways.

What can a doctor do that a DNP Cannot? ›

In about half of the US states, there is one significant role that a doctor can do that nurse practitioners cannot do; that is to prescribe medication independently. In these limited or restrictive practice states, nurse practitioners must have a doctor's approval before prescribing medication.

What are the four advanced practice roles available to a DNP? ›

There are four types of roles for an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN): clinical nurse specialists, certified registered nurse anesthetists, certified nurse practitioners, and certified nurse midwives. All of these roles require a master's degree in addition to appropriate certification and licensing.

What are the challenges of the DNP role? ›

DNP challenges include lack of understanding by others of the role and the lack of recognition and respect for their educational preparation.

What is the highest paying nurse? ›

The Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist consistently ranks as the highest-paid nursing career. That is because Nurse Anesthetists are highly skilled Registered Nurses who work closely with medical staff during medical procedures that require anesthesia.

Can DNPs treat patients? ›

With a blend of clinical and leadership responsibilities, DNP-FNPs can provide direct patient care and work in more organizational roles. DNP-FNPs can also enter independent practice, besides finding employment in hospitals, local clinics, private practice and other institutions.

How long does a DNP last? ›

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), DNP programs typically contain three to five years of full-time study. In fact, nurses have comparatively more disruption to their careers and education than other professions according to the AACN.

How do I write my DNP credentials? ›

For example, an NP certified through the ANCC and AANP respectively would sign his/her name Kyle Andrews, DNP, AGNP-BC, FNP-C. If both certifications are of the same specialty, the name would appear as Kyle Andrews, DNP, AGNP-BC, NP-C. Here are a few more examples: Michelle Adams, DNP, MSN, APRN, ACNP-BC.

Am I a doctor if I have a doctorate? ›

In answer to the question, “Is a PhD a doctor,” the answer is yes. Both a PhD and a professional doctorate like an EdD earn you the title of “doctor.” But there are differences between the types of doctoral degrees. Learn more about a PhD vs. a professional doctorate below.

When you get your doctorate are you a doctor? ›

A doctoral degree (PhD) is a degree that one earns after a master's degree. A PhD entitles a person to use the title doctor.

How difficult is it to get a DNP? ›

To get your DNP, you will need to complete at least 1000 clinical practice hours, but you can reduce this number by applying some of the hours that you completed in your previous MSN degree. According to some online sources, you can apply up to 500 hours.

What is the average GPA for DNP? ›

These requirements vary, but typically, students must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher to be considered for a DNP program.

Is it hard to get a DNP? ›

Enrolling in a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program can be a daunting task for many students due to the rigorous academic requirements often associated with it.

Can a DNP diagnose? ›

With a DNP degree, the nurse can provide medical care to patients. For a DNP degree holder that decides to become a nurse practitioner, he or she will be able to diagnose and treat patients, prescribe medications, order imaging tests and bloodwork, and provide education to patients about their healthcare.

Is DNP harder than BSN? ›

Courses and content are more challenging. The level of knowledge you're required to have as a Nurse Practitioner is a huge step up from a RN. You'll take a lot of the same courses as you did with your BSN, but will go into each topic with a lot more depth because you'll be diagnosing and treating health problems soon.

What is the highest degree for nurse practitioner? ›

A DNP is the highest level of education certification available to nurses, and its curriculum centers on various healthcare research methods, data analysis, and evidence-based nursing practice—making it ideal for NPs who want to hold leadership or senior-level positions, educate other nurses, perform advanced patient ...

How do you address a DNP? ›

Nurses with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or PhD can be called “doctor.” A DNP is an advanced degree in nursing and does not change the nurse's role in a hospital or practice. The nurse will usually tell you to call them “nurse” or their first name to avoid confusion with physicians and medical doctors.

Does a DNP require a dissertation? ›

The DNP degree is a practice doctorate. The PhD is a research doctorate.
DNP-PhD Comparison.
Doctor of Nursing PracticePhD in Nursing
Mentored Teaching ExperienceOptionalMinimum of 140 hours
Clinical Hours400 minimum within scholarly projectNone
Scholarly ProjectYesNo
15 more rows

Should an NP get a DNP? ›

Nurse practitioners, including family nurse practitioners (FNPs), often seek a DNP to develop the skills, knowledge and experience needed to deliver high-quality care at the highest levels of practice, or to manage the performance of nursing staff and health care organizations.

What are the easiest doctorate to get? ›

Subjects like the humanities, education, theology, and psychology are generally considered the easiest, mostly because they involve less quantitative research and rely on qualitative study methods.

What is the easiest medical doctorate degree to get? ›

Least Competitive Medical Specialties
  1. Family Medicine. Average Step 1 Score: 216.1. ...
  2. Psychiatry. Average Step 1 Score: 223.1. ...
  3. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Average Step 1 Score: 224.2. ...
  4. Pediatrics. Average Step 1 Score: 226.4. ...
  5. Internal Medicine (Categorical) Average Step 1 Score: 231.4. ...
  6. Anesthesiology.
Mar 21, 2023

How many nurses in the US have a DNP? ›

From 2020 to 2021, the number of students enrolled in DNP programs increased from 39,530 to 40,834. During that same period, the number of DNP graduates increased from 9,158 to 10,086.

How many nurses have a PhD? ›

Fewer than 30,000 of the nation's more than 3 million nurses have doctoral degrees in nursing, and many of them have DNPs, not PhDs, which prepare nurses to conduct research and teach. PhD-prepared nurses tend to be older.

What are the disadvantages of getting a doctorate degree? ›

Cons of earning a Ph. D.
  • Incurring additional costs and time. Doctorate degrees can take several additional years to complete compared to standard higher education degrees. ...
  • Increasing workload. The further education you pursue, the more specialized the subject matter becomes. ...
  • Limited job experience. ...
  • Working independently.
Nov 28, 2022

Is Masters in nursing same as doctorate? ›

A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) are both graduate nursing degrees; however, the differences between them involve the required length of study and personal career goals.

Is nursing school harder than med school? ›

However, don't take it for granted that nursing school will be much easier than medical school, especially in an accelerated format. Both offer a unique set of challenges and demand the utmost in student commitment and work rate.

Can you have two DNP degrees? ›

Some dual DNP degree programs pair the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree with another specialization area to prepare the graduate for advanced leadership positions focused on patient care. With a dual-degree program, students may earn two degrees simultaneously at an accelerated schedule.

What are the 8 DNP essentials? ›

The combination of the instruction and the final DNP project addressed the eight DNP essentials including: (1) Scientific Underpinnings for Practice, (2) Organizational Leadership for Quality Improvement and Systems Thinking, (3) Clinical Scholarship and Analytical Methods for EBP, (4) Technology to Improve and ...

What are the different types of DNP? ›

What are the Different Types of DNP Specialties?
  • 1) DNP Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) ...
  • 2) DNP-Women's Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) ...
  • 3) DNP-Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) ...
  • 4) DNP-Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGNP) ...
  • 5) DNP-Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)

What is the professional goal for DNP? ›

DNP Program Goals

Provide multidisciplinary leadership through analysis of critical health indicators to promote high quality health care. Develop and implement models of care and healthcare policies to effect desired change at different system levels.

What is the attrition rate for DNP programs? ›

The purpose of this study is to examine completion and attrition of students in DNP programs. The completion rate of DNP students of the 2006-2015 matriculating cohorts was 77.3% and the attrition rate was 19.3%.

Is it worth getting a DNP? ›

One of the most common reasons nursing professionals obtain a DNP degree is to increase their knowledge and move up to executive roles. APRNs in leadership roles have more power to decide how healthcare institutions operate. Nurse leaders and nurse managers must have proficiency in: Communication.

What is the highest degree in nursing? ›

What is the highest level of nursing? The highest level of nursing education is the doctoral level. Positions that require doctoral nursing degrees include certain types of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), as well as leadership positions such as chief nursing officer or director of nursing.

Does DNP make more money than NP? ›

The national average salary for nurse practitioners is $122,054 per year . By contrast, professionals with DNPs earn an average annual income of $110,912 per year . It's important to remember that some of this salary data may overlap, as many NPs hold DNP degrees.

What is the average age of a DNP? ›

The average age of a nurse practitioner is 43.4 years old, but the nurse practitioner age range starts between 20 and 24 years to 65 years old and over. Most nurse practitioners are between 35 and 44 years old, equaling almost 39% of all nurse practitioners in the United States.

What percentage of nurses hold a doctorate? ›

More than 64% of today's nursing workforce is prepared at the baccalaureate and higher-degree level, but only 1.2% have a DNP degree and 0.6% a PhD, according to American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) statistics.

Why is a doctorate better than a masters? ›

A master's degree is designed to deepen career-oriented knowledge and skills. A doctorate degree is a heavily research-based degree, designed to develop critical research,analytical and writing skills in an effort to fill industry knowledge gaps.

Who are the highest paid nurses? ›

What is the highest-paid nurse? Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists! Earning $195,610 annually, CRNAs earn significantly more than any other type of nurse or nursing specialty.

What is the hardest year of a nursing degree? ›

It is said that up to 90% of what you do on the job after graduation was not learned while in nursing school. I'm not convinced the learning curve is that high, but there is a lot of on-the-job training required. Nursing is a complex profession.

What is the lowest nursing degree? ›

In general, nurses fall into three categories: non-degree, degree, and advanced degree. Non-degree nurses include certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs), who complete nursing education programs that don't culminate in a degree.


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