Degree Finder - Find your online college in 3 easy steps:

Clinical Nurse Specialist

Clinical nurse specialists are experienced, advanced practice nurses who specialize in a certain area of nursing and play a leadership role in health care centers across the nation. Because of their expert knowledge, they are very successful in diagnosing and treating illness by using evidence-based practices. As part of an interdisciplinary leadership team, they use their clinical expertise to develop strategies that can improve patient outcomes. They work in three areas?with patients and their families in a more classic nursing role, with lower-level nursing personnel in a coaching sense and with the health care organization itself, initiating positive change from the inside out. Because of their expertise, they often serve as consultants.

Being a clinical nurse specialist requires that you be prepared at the master’s level, and the degree most often earned is the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). However, there is a push within the industry that they be trained at the doctoral level and earn their Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Aside from having an RN license in the state you plan to work in, you must also have a current clinical nurse specialist (CNS) license through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Many employers will require their clinical nurse specialists to have at least three years of experience in acute care with at least one year putting their skills to use in a specialty, such as mental health or gerontology.

Entry-level clinical nurse specialists earn between $54,000 and $70,600, according to, but those who choose to make this advanced practice nursing role a lifelong career can earn between $65,200 and $93,600. Aside from the excellent pay prospects, the job prospects are also anticipated to be excellent for clinical nurse specialists. While nurses of all varieties will be high in demand over the next 10 years, the most in-demand will be advanced practice nurses, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS anticipates clinical nurse specialists to be particularly in demand in areas that are underserved in terms of health care, such as rural areas and inner cities.