Career Paths for Nurses With a DNP Degree

Nursing is a well-respected field. Nursing specialist salaries fall in the range of top-earning professionals. Earning a Doctorate in Nursing Practice prepares you for many unique opportunities throughout your career. And as the healthcare industry continues to grow in complexity, DNP graduates can contribute to meaningful reforms, improve their workplace and tackle emerging technologies.

However, your nursing career options will highly depend on your skillset and area of interest. If you’re considering earning a doctorate in nursing while still working, you should consider enrolling in one of the flexible online DNP programs available in California. Most importantly, make sure the curriculum offerings of your chosen program meet your educational needs and fit with your career goals. Here are some of the top career opportunities for DNP graduates:

1. Health Care Lobbyist

Working as a healthcare lobbyist may not come to your mind immediately when you contemplate your nursing career path. However, if you enjoy politics and are interested in shaping healthcare policies, you should consider this specialty. As a lobbyist, you can work for government agencies, insurance companies, or professional health organizations that seek to lead the change in healthcare regulations and legislation. This is an ideal field for graduates interested in law or who have some working experience in the corporate healthcare environment.

Lobbyists play a crucial role in representing their professional organization’s interests to legislators. They also help build rapport with government officials by elaborating on the impact of laws and bills on the healthcare industry. Lobbyists must stay up to date with emerging industry trends and constantly evaluate how current events affect their agenda.

2. Nursing Faculty

Members of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) have called out the looming nursing crisis and are working hand in hand with universities, policymakers, the media, and nursing organizations to raise awareness about the problem. As the healthcare industry prepares to respond to this crisis, it opens vast opportunities for DNP graduates eager to specialize in administering higher education. The increased demand for nurses will require additional nursing faculty to prepare and train them.  

As a nursing faculty, you’re responsible for the student’s educational experience. Depending on the job description, your role may include conducting research, publishing academic journals, advising students, and mentoring future nurses. This specialty is ideal for doctoral students eager to mentor the next generation of nurses and direct them in their nursing career paths of choice.

3. Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)

Another career path you can get into as a DNP graduate is the advanced practice registered nurse. Advanced practice registered nurses can hold positions such as nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and clinical nurse specialists. As an APRN, you can practice in various clinical settings, including nursing homes, hospitals, private practices, clinics, and medical offices.

Due to their advanced training, APRNs are often certified to diagnose and prescribe treatment without a doctor, counsel patients, make referrals, and conduct research. They may also help coordinate patient care and offer other specialist healthcare services. However, the scope of their responsibilities often depends on the specialty area. It’s also important to note that the experience requirements and job responsibilities may vary depending on the facility or state.


Earning a DNP degree can help qualify you for the top nursing careers mentioned above. Before enrolling in any DNP program, always ensure that your chosen specialty fits well with your career goals and that its curriculum format meets your unique educational needs. Online DNP programs offer intensive and flexible coursework to support your advanced nursing career and leadership goals.

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