Rehabilitation Nurse Salary and Career Opportunities
Many people believe that rehabilitation nurses work only in rehabilitation hospitals or in rehabilitation departments of a general hospital. They also work at long-term care facilities, physicians’ offices, insurance companies, and assisted living facilities. Some visit patients at home. All of them focus on taking care of individuals with long-term physical disabilities and on helping patients recover from debilitating injuries.
Rehabilitation nurses are registered nurses (RNs). Industry-specific pay data for them isn’t available because a majority are compensated at the same range as other RNs by their employers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) cites 2012 median RN pay as $31.48 per hour, or $65,470 annually. However, certified rehabilitation nurses often work as charge nurses and RN supervisors. Within these categories, certified professionals can earn as much as $44.18 per hour, PayScale reports.
BLS estimates a 19 percent jump in RN job growth from 2012 to 2022. The demand for rehabilitation nurses should be at least that great. This is due mainly to the graying of America and passage of the Affordable Care Act.
Paths to Increase Rehabilitation Nurse Salary
This nursing career starts with an RN credential. Candidates complete a hospital nursing program, an associate’s degree in nursing, or a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Graduates must pass the NCLEX-RN exam to be eligible for licensing in their preferred state, Johnson & Johnson indicates. There are two ways to boost the chance of getting an entry-level rehabilitation job. The first is taking rehabilitation courses. The other is snagging an internship offered by a rehabilitation facility.
Rehabilitation nurses can increase their compensation by earning the Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse (CRRN®) distinction. This requires passing an exam and having two years’ experience in rehabilitation nursing.
According to WhyBecomeANurse , some nurses opt to earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) to advance to clinical nurse specialist. An MSN nurse might consider becoming a nurse practitioner (NP) with a rehabilitation specialization. Career advancement could also include becoming a charge nurse, nursing administrator, or nursing educator.
For nurses not planning on additional formal education, working as a per diem or a travel nurse can increase compensation. Per diem nurses typically fill in for individual shifts. Travel nurses have longer placements and sometimes receive financial assistance from employers for relocation and housing costs.
Interested in travel nursing? View open positions now.
Current rehabilitation nurses might have an interest in choosing one of these related paths:
- Geriatric nurses care for patients who are at least 50. Since many rehabilitation patients are seniors, nurses who have worked in that specialty are particularly familiar with their needs. They also have important knowledge of how to prevent injuries and illnesses in this age group. See geriatric nursing opportunities now .
- Hospice nurses take care of patients facing the end of life. Due to their experience dealing with the grief and adjustment associated with sudden disability or illness and the needs of the family, rehabilitation nurses can make valuable contributions to hospice care. Find hospice nurse job openings near you .
- Occupational health nurses observe and assess a worker’s health in regard to tasks and hazards associated with a job. They develop health and safety programs for organizations. Dealing with rehabilitation and return-to-work issues is an important part of many jobs. Employers are looking for occupational health nurses now .
Further Your Career
Is rehabilitation nursing the right career for you? Rehabilitation nurses have a high degree of patience. They must also be comfortable working with patients and their families who are suffering from grief and frustration. Demand for these nurses continues to escalate, making jobs plentiful. The outlook for a career as a rehabilitation 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.