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4. Nurse Practitioner
Nurse Practitioner
Edwidge Thomas is a nurse practitioner at NYU Nursing Faculty Practice in Manhattan.
Top 50 rank: 4
Sector: Healthcare

What they do: In addition to performing routine caretaking tasks, nurse practitioners have the advanced medical training to diagnose and treat a wide range of ailments. They can also prescribe medication without consulting an MD.

Why it's great: Thanks to the growth of retail health clinics and the shortage of primary-care doctors, opportunities abound for nurse practitioners in settings from hospitals and urgent-care centers to private practice. They can specialize in fields such as women's health or oncology. Experienced nurse practitioners looking for a change of pace can shift to teaching or medical research.

Nurse practitioners are also specifically trained in patient teaching; disease prevention is typically a large part of their practice. "Helping people see that small changes in their lifestyles can make a big difference to their health is very rewarding," says New York City nurse practitioner Edwidge Thomas.

Drawbacks: Constant insurance headaches. Education requirements are ratcheting up.

Pre-reqs: Must first complete training to get license as a registered nurse; master's degree, plus certification. A doctor of nursing practice degree is increasingly in demand, which requires about three additional years of study.

Do Nurse Practitioners have great jobs, or what?
Nurse Practitioner stats
Median salary
(experienced)
$85,200
Top pay $113,000
10-year job growth
(2006-2016)
23%
Total jobs
(current)
23,000
Online want ad growth
(April 2009-August 2009)
30%
Personal satisfaction A
Job security B
Future growth A
Benefit to society A
Low stress D
From the November 2009 issue
Notes: All pay data from PayScale.com. Median pay is for an experienced worker (at least two to seven years in the field). Top pay represents the 90th percentile. Job growth is estimated for 2006-16. Total current employment level is estimated number of people working in each specific job.

Sources: PayScale.com, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Conference Board Help Wanted Online Data Series, and MONEY research
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