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Military Nurse Career


What is a Military Nurse?


There’s no question that being a member of the military can be a dangerous occupation, rife with opportunity for injury or harm. Luckily, military nurses are there to care for members of the military and give them the medical treatment they need. A military nurse is a registered nurse who is also enlisted in one of the branches of the military, serving their country by providing medical care to other service members. They also support the families of our servicemen and servicewomen. Military nursing is a crucial branch of nursing that is vital to military success.


What Does a Military Nurse Do?

Get ready for action—this role isn’t your typical registered nurse job. Imagine all the things nurses have to do on a regular basis, such as employing critical thinking skills in high-pressure situations, managing emergencies with swift and decisive action, and maintaining a sense of calm for medical teams and patients alike. Now imagine doing all of that in a military setting, especially in instances of combat assignments. No doubt about it: being a nurse in the military is an intense role, but it’s also incredibly rewarding.

Depending on which branch of the military you choose to work with, assignments can vary—but there’s definitely never a dull moment. You may be expected to travel both nationally or internationally as part of your nursing duties, depending on what your branch of the military needs. Military nurses can also be called in to offer support during natural disasters. No matter where your post may be, you’ll be navigating highly sensitive situations that require the utmost care and professionalism—and you’ll need to be ready for anything at a moment’s notice. Some of the experiences you may encounter include:

Active War Zones

This is where critical care skills come into play. Being a military nurse in an active war zone is very much a grace-under-pressure situation, as you’ll be expected to provide immediate critical care to active-duty military members who have been injured in combat. You’ll be on the front line right alongside officers in combat. Injuries can range from gunfire wounds to loss of limbs, battle trauma to vehicular injuries, and other mission critical medical situations that can be highly stressful, especially under the added pressure of being in a war zone. It can be an intense and emotionally draining job, but many say that the sacrifice is worth it. This frontline work is possible for all kinds of military nursing specialties—army nurses, Navy nurses, and more can all be nursing on the frontlines, helping service members.

Army Bases

Working on an army base doesn’t have the same kind of stress as providing care in an active war zone, but in some instances, you’ll be supporting recovering personnel. For the most part, think of working at an army base as working in a community or small town, where you’ll be offering standard and preventative care to military families. Your day-to-day workload will include treating a variety of diseases, medical conditions, and other assorted injuries. These army nurses are no less valuable than other nursing specialties within the military.

Aeromedical Evacuation Liaison Teams

If being a flight nurse in the Air Force is your role of choice, you may find yourself as a member of the AELT. Working alongside a medical services corps officer and radio technicians, you’ll be called upon to provide care to both military and civilians as needed in active war zones, providing care for those with active combat injuries while being transported to a different facility for more specialized care. This can include amputations and other life-threatening wounds—think of it as “an ICU in the sky.” You may also offer emergency medical assistance to locals and other partnering military outfits from other countries via hospital partnerships.

Naval Nursing

As a member of the Navy Nurse Corps, your role as a nurse in the Navy means you’ll also be providing top-notch care to naval families, as well as providing care for those in need across the globe. It’s similar to providing care in the Army. Being a Naval nurse may mean being stationed on a ship, where you’ll provide care to active-duty members of the Navy. While employing all the standard registered nurse techniques, you’ll also be collaborating with physicians, surgeons, cardiologists, and more.


Military nurses can also have specialties, such as pediatrics or oncology, allowing for a more tailored version of care for our nation’s heroes. Specializing in a specific form of care as a military nurse can help increase salary and contribute to personal and professional growth.


How to Become a Military Nurse?

You will need to be a licensed registered nurse with a BSN in order to serve as a military nurse. A BSN program will involve clinical experiences, rigorous training, and will prepare you to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NLCEX) exam.

Once you decide which branch of the military you’d like to serve in, you’ll be required to take a training course to get you up to speed on the military life, helping you to develop leadership skills and prepare you for the pressures of working in a military environment. You may also be required to take a physical fitness test just to make sure you’re ready for anything, whether you’re on the front lines or working closer to home.

Another benefit of becoming a military nurse is that the military offers a multitude of options for those who are looking to advance their careers. There are opportunities for continuing education and clinical specialization, with the option to choose one of three career tracks: Clinical/Operational, which can place you in advance practice nursing, clinical specialization, and more; the Staff Track, which can help you branch out into a variety of departments such as case management or education and training; and the Executive/Leadership Track, which can elevate you to the role of colonel.

Best Degrees for a Military Nurse

Nursing (Prelicensure) – B.S.

A one-of-a-kind nursing program that prepares you to be an RN and a...

A one-of-a-kind nursing program that prepares you to be an RN and a baccalaureate-prepared nurse:

  • Locations: Due to in-person clinical requirements, students must be full time residents of FL, GA, ID, IN, IA, KS, KY, NE, NV, NM, NC, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, UT to enroll in this program. The coursework in this program is offered online, but there are in-person requirements.
  • Tuition: $6,430 per 6-month term for the first 4 terms of pre-nursing coursework and $8,755 per 6-month term for the remaining 4 terms of clinical nursing coursework.
  • Time: This program has a set pace and an expected completion time of 4 years. Certain coursework may be accelerated to finish faster.
  • WGU offers the prelicensure program in areas where we have partnerships with healthcare employers to provide practice sites and clinical coaches to help teach you and inspire you on your path to becoming a nurse.
  • If you don't live in one of our prelicensure states or don't qualify to apply, consider getting our Bachelor's in Health and Human Services instead. This degree allows you to work inside the healthcare industry, while also working directly with patients who need help.

Nursing (RN-to-BSN Online) – B.S.

An online BSN degree program for registered nurses (RNs) seeking the added...

An online BSN degree program for registered nurses (RNs) seeking the added theoretical depth, employability, and respect that a bachelor's degree brings:

  • Time: 77% of graduates finish within 24 months.
  • Tuition: $4,685 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 23 total courses in this program.
  • Transfers: Students can transfer up to 90 credits.

With over 35,000 BSN alumni, this is one of WGU's most popular online degree programs. View our RN to BSN degree guide. If you are an RN ready to earn your BSN, this program will help you accelerate to earn your degree.

If you don't currently have an RN and don't qualify for your nursing prelicensure program, consider getting our Bachelor's in Health and Human Services instead. This degree allows you to work inside the healthcare industry in a unique way.

How Much does a Military Nurse Make?


The average yearly pay for military nurses was approximately $75,766 in 2023. Pay is dependent on location, experience, and branch of the military. Pay for military nurses can also include sign-on bonuses, student loan repayment, and other benefits.

Are There Opportunities for Growth?


As you advance your career as a military nurse and move up in the ranks, your salary can move right along with you. Certifications and continuing education can also foster personal growth in many areas of the military nursing field. Additionally, those who are sent out on active deployments may receive hazard pay. Learn more about how your salary will grow as your role expands.


What Skills Does a Military Nurse Need?

There are many skills that could contribute to success in a military nurse career. Some of those skills include:

  • Listening and communication skills
  • Physical fitness (as it pertains to the specific job requirements)
  • Self-responsibility
  • Attention to detail
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • The capability to connect with other individuals
  • Strong work ethic
  • Ability to work in fast-paced environments

Our Online University Degree Programs Start on the First of Every Month, All Year Long

No need to wait for spring or fall semester. It's back-to-school time at WGU year-round. Get started by talking to an Enrollment Counselor today, and you'll be on your way to realizing your dream of a bachelor's or master's degree—sooner than you might think!

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Interested in Becoming a Military Nurse?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this meaningful career.