Clinical Nurse Specialists


Employment Prospects


Approximately 3.1 million registered nurses, a profession that includes clinical nurse specialists, are employed in the United States. Clinical nurse specialists work in a wide range of health care settings, depending on their particular area of specialization and interest. They are employed in hospitals, clinics, community health centers, mental health facilities, nursing homes, home health care agencies, federal Veterans Affairs facilities, nursing schools and other educational institutions, physicians' offices, and the military. A few are in private or independent practice.

Starting Out

Information about job openings for clinical nurse specialists is available from many sources. Your nursing school career services office is the best place to start; other avenues include nursing registries, nurse employment agencies, and online job posting sites such as Contacts you have made through clinical work or involvement in professional societies can be helpful sources of information. The organization that formerly employed you as a staff nurse may be eager to rehire you as a clinical nurse specialist once you have received your master's degree in nursing and been certified in an advanced practice specialty. Information about federal government jobs can be found at 

Advancement Prospects

As clinical nurse specialists gain experience, they become qualified for positions that involve greater responsibility and give them opportunities to have a greater impact on nursing practice. Some people choose to broaden their base of expertise by adding nurse practitioner qualifications to their credentials.

Many clinical nurse specialists become involved in nursing education, research, publishing, and consulting. Some may want to make their voices heard in the current debate on the future of health care.

Moving into faculty or administrative positions is the form of advancement chosen by some clinical nurse specialists, while others prefer to remain in positions that are more direct-care oriented.

Tips for Entry

The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) provides job listings at its Web site, Additionally, visit the following Web sites for job listings:


Join the NACNS to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities.

Volunteer or find a part-time job at a hospital or health care facility.