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August 18, 2015

Adult Nurse Salary and Career Opportunities

Salary Overview

Healthcare professionals sometimes refer to adult nurses as gerontological nurses. These professionals are registered nurses (RNs) and provide services to adults who are usually at least 60 years old. This nursing specialty has two subspecialties, adult primary care and adult acute care.

With the graying of the baby boomer generation, the number of adult nursing vacancies over the next decade will rise rapidly. It might even exceed the 19 percent increase predicted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for RNs overall.

The BLS cites 2012 median annual compensation for RNs as $65,470. The working level for adult or gerontological nurses is at the advanced practice nurse level. This is beyond the RN credential and pays more. Advanced practice nurses who specialize in caring for older adults are either nurse practitioners or clinical nurse specialists. According to PayScale , the salary range for an adult nurse practitioner (ANP) is $74,408 to $110,295, with an $88,037 median.

These in-demand nurses diagnose diseases and other illness, perform routine care, order lab tests, stress preventive care, and as ANPs prescribe therapy and medications. They work in varied settings such as step-down units in hospitals, long-term care facilities, community health agencies, and their own practices. According to the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing , primary care opportunities are also available in internal medicine offices, patients’ homes, and prisons and jails.

Paths to Increase Adult Nurse Salary

Adult nurses must first obtain an RN credential. This requires completing a college-level or hospital nursing program, then passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). This qualifies them for licensing in the state where employment is desired. An experienced RN can increase annual compensation by becoming an advanced practice nurse.

Johnson & Johnson indicates that the advanced practice path begins by earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with courses in managing acute and chronic health conditions, geriatrics, primary healthcare concerns, leadership preparation, and research. Some nurses earn a doctorate and enjoy an increased salary while teaching in nursing programs, serving as administrators, or working in research on aging.

Nurses can also increase their salary by becoming certified in several ways. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers an Adult Nurse Practitioner (ANP-BC) certification. The ANCC also offers a Gerontological Nursing (RN-BC) specialty certification for nurses after their initial RN licensure and a clinical nurse specialist certification in adult/gerontological nursing.

Adult nurses are in demand throughout the United States and increase their salaries by working as travel or per diem nurses. Many employers offer financial assistance for relocation or housing.

Related Specialties

Several related specialties provide opportunities for nurses wanting to gain experience to advance in adult nursing:

  • Rehabilitation nurses care for adults who have suffered injuries such as broken hips or other traumatic issues. Their acute care background is ideal for helping seniors take advantage of intense, multidisciplinary rehabilitation and for working as adult nurses.

  • Hospice nurses provide care for patients whose lives are ending. Due to experience with pain management supporting patients’ families and caregivers, as well as their level of comfort with death, they have valuable adult nursing skills.

  • Community health nurses focus on health education and preventive care. They often focus on particular segments of the local population. Community health nurse practitioners are skilled at creating and administering programs aimed at keeping seniors as healthy as possible.

Further Your Career

As the U.S. population ages, adult care nurses will have increasing opportunities for employment and advancement. Job boards show many openings in a variety of settings. The outlook for this specialty is a very positive one indeed.

Vonda J. Sines is a freelance writer based in the Washington, DC area. She specializes in health/medical, career, and pet topics and writes extensively about Crohn's disease. Her work has been published at EverydayHealth, Lifescript, womansday.com, Yahoo! Health, Catholic Digest, Angie's List Health, and on many more sites.

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