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CAREER GUIDE MSN—Leadership & Management

WGU degree programs correspond with careers that promise continued growth. Start on your path today.

Career guide: nurse manager.

Where is the future of nursing headed? If you have a passion for your career and strong ideas about how nursing administration can be made more efficient and effective in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare environments, perhaps your calling is in nursing leadership and management.

The American Nurses Association (ANA) has certain standards for nurse administrators to uphold and promote, and the organization is committed to empowering nurses to be professional, competent leaders in healthcare. Among the advanced knowledge and skills you’ll need to have in order to make an impact on your profession are how to build and motivate a team, how to implement sound financial principles in a healthcare environment, and how to exercise strategic leadership focused on evolving trends and directions within the healthcare industry.

From developing systems that improve patient care and implementing programs for staff development to understanding regulatory standards governing the massive healthcare industry, there’s a lot to learn, and it’s a big responsibility. But with the right education and training, you can build the confidence and earn the credentials to claim your place as a valuable leader and manager in a variety of nursing settings.

Job listing growth 2016–2026.

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Career opportunities.

There’s a clear path you can take to a rewarding career in nursing leadership and management. A Master of Science in Nursing degree with a focus on leadership and management can help you develop the organizational, analytic, strategic planning, financial, human resources, and evaluation skills necessary to qualify important positions throughout the healthcare industry.

If you are an RN with your bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), a specialized online MSN degree program can prepare you for management and leadership positions in hospitals, long-term care facilities, community service agencies, governmental agencies and facilities, and corporations.

Positions in the field.

  • Chief nursing officer (CNO)
  • Long-term care nursing director
  • Nursing director
  • Nursing home director
  • Clinical services director
  • Patient care unit coordinator
  • Nurse case manager
"The MSN – Leadership program is rigorous, and the courses help prepare you to advance as a nursing professional." Mary Harris
M.S. Nursing — Leadership and Management (BSN to MSN)

Job market forecast.

The healthcare industry is expanding rapidly, and the job outlook for managers with industry-specific leadership skills and training is off the charts. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of medical and health services managers to grow 20% by 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. The American Nurses Association (ANA) states that nurses graduating from bachelor’s and master’s nursing degree programs are much more likely to receive a job offer upon graduating than any other field. That’s a solid reason to consider learning more about a career-focused MSN in Leadership and Management.

Job growth 2016–2026.

Work environment.

As a nursing management professional, you may find yourself with a wide range of career opportunities in hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities, physicians’ offices, government agencies, and home healthcare service providers. You’ll be responsible for tasks like recruitment and retention of a nursing staff, collaboration with doctors, managing finances, and overseeing paperwork such as medical records and disciplinary actions.

It’s a full-time job with big-time responsibility, but with industry-relevant expertise and polished communication and critical thinking skills, you can set yourself on a path for an exciting, rewarding career.

Professional organizations.

If you’re an RN with a BSN ready to advance your leadership skills for a career in nursing management, these organizations offer a wealth if information, resources, and support.

Job search resources.

Nursing leaders are in demand, and the right education and training can put you on the path to a higher salary and a rewarding career. Check out some of the current opportunities!

Salary stats.

In 2016, the American Organization for Nurse Executives (AONE) conducted a salary and compensation study that revealed that half of nurse leaders’ salaries fall between $90,000 and $150,000. Those with a doctoral or master’s degree were the most likely to earn more than $160,000.

The median annual wage for medical and health services managers, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, was $96,540 in May 2016. Clearly, if you want to elevate your career in nursing and rise through the ranks of professionals committed to leadership in healthcare, opportunities are abundant for anyone with the right knowledge and skills and a commitment to nursing management. Start by earning your Master of Science in Nursing, and there’s no telling how far your credentials will take you.

Average salary of jobs with related titles.


The future of nursing is in the hands of those who accept the challenges and opportunities being presented by a rapidly growing and evolving healthcare system. Not every nurse has what it takes to pursue and assume a position of leadership, but the time is right for those who do. If you are committed to the field of nursing and believe in your capacity to lead, mentor and manage a team in a hospital, clinic or other healthcare environment, it’s time to identify and define your role and pursue your calling. 

Next Start Date

May 1

Start the 1st of any month—as soon as you complete enrollment!


Your career’s next step: Earn a degree.

Ready to jump-start your career in nursing leadership and management? The next step could be earning your MSN — Leadership and Management. Accredited, competency-based WGU offers this degree online for at a surprisingly affordable flat-rate tuition. Flexible enough for a working adult’s schedule with the option to accelerate, your degree may be closer than you think!