Nursing school is a big commitment and it can take a lot of time, energy, and mental focus to get through all of your courses. While working during nursing school can be difficult, working in one of these jobs during nursing school can help you learn faster and improve your chances of getting a job after graduation. 

Some examples of good jobs during nursing school include medical assistant, surgical tech, certified nursing assistant, or home health aide. 

This guide goes over basic information about the best jobs for nursing students. These jobs are the most likely to give you an excellent learning experience while earning a decent salary and giving you a better chance of getting a job after you graduate.

Best Jobs for Nursing Students

Here are some of the best jobs you can get during nursing school that can help you get a job once you graduate:

Medical Assistant

A medical assistant is someone who works in a healthcare facility, usually a clinic or doctors office and helps care for patients and keep the office organized. 

They perform basic clinical tasks like drawing blood and taking vital signs, as well as administrative tasks like handling billing and scheduling appointments. 

Medical assisting jobs are great for people who hope to become nurses someday. Medical assistants learn a lot about common health conditions, basic laboratory tests, and bedside procedures. 

  • Average salary: $37,190
  • Number of jobs in the US: 123,000
  • Education/training/certification required: High school diploma required, medical assistant certification preferred. Certification can be completed in as little as four months. 

Certified Nursing Assistant

Certified nursing assistants usually work in long term care facilities and hospitals. They often care for patients who need help with activities of daily living like getting to the bathroom, brushing their teeth, and eating meals. 

Certified nursing assistants do a lot of physical labor like lifting patients out of bed and carrying heavy hospital equipment. In some states, CNAs can learn to insert IV catheters and help with sterile dressing changes. 

It's worth noting that there are many job opportunities for nursing assistants abroad in today's job market, which can also contribute to your skill development and overall success in the healthcare industry.

  • Average salary: $30,310
  • Number of jobs in the US: 220,200 open jobs
  • Education/training/certification required: Certification required. Certification takes between 4 and 12 weeks. 

Emergency Medical Technician

Emergency medical technicians are first responders who usually work in an ambulance, responding to emergency medical calls and transporting patients between medical facilities. 

Emergency Medical Technicians can do things like take vital signs, measure blood sugar levels, give injections, and perform CPR. In some states, emergency medical technicians are trained to give intranasal naloxone to treat opioid overdose. 

  • Average salary: $36,930
  • Number of jobs in the US: 20,000
  • Education/training/certification required: Certification required. Certification programs generally last 1-2 years.  

Phlebotomist

A phlebotomist specializes in collecting blood samples for laboratory testing. Phlebotomists can work in hospitals, clinics, and outpatient centers. Phlebotomists must learn good techniques to avoid causing injury or infection and prevent contamination of their samples. 

  • Average salary: $37,380
  • Number of jobs in the US: 21,500
  • Education/training/certification required: High school diploma. Certification preferred. Certification courses can be as short as 30 hours long. 

Hospital Volunteer

While it won't help you build your savings account, volunteering at a hospital can give you great experience working with patients, becoming familiar with hospital systems, and helping you give back to the community. 

Hospital volunteers can do anything from greeting patients, keeping hospital grounds clean, and holding NICU babies while their parents are away. 

  • Average salary: $0 
  • Education/training/certification required: None 

Home Health Aide

Home health aides travel to patients in their homes to help with basic tasks such as bathing, grooming, and eating. Home health aides may also change simple bandages and measure vital signs during their time with the patient. 

Home health aides usually work without any other healthcare providers present, meaning they have to use critical thinking skills and know how to respond in case of an emergency. 

  • Average salary: $29,620
  • Number of jobs in the US: 711,700
  • Education/training/certification required: High school diploma 

Hospice Aide

A hospice aide is someone who takes care of people at the end of their lives. Hospice aides focus on keeping their patients calm and comfortable in their last weeks, days, or hours before death.

Hospice aides must learn to have a fantastic bedside manner and excellent communication skills. Hospice aides have a difficult, but extremely meaningful job. 

  • Average salary: $29,620
  • Number of jobs in the US: 711,700
  • Education/training/certification required: High school diploma

Medical Scribe

A medical scribe is a healthcare professional who helps a physician stay organized and keeps patient charts up-to-date. Medical scribes often document patient-physician encounters in real-time, making sure that each part of a procedure or examination is documented accurately. 

Medical scribes become familiar with medical language and learn about each step involved in many common procedures. 

  • Average salary: $30,100
  • Number of jobs in the US: 9,300
  • Education/training/certification required: High school diploma required, certification preferred. Certification can take up to one year. 

Physical Therapy Assistant

Physical therapy assistants can work in home health, hospitals, or physical therapy offices. They work with physical therapists to help injured or weak patients gain strength and mobility. 

Physical therapy assistants can help with range of motion exercises, apply electrostimulation, and help give massages. 

  • Average salary: $29,200
  • Number of jobs in the US: 25,500
  • Education/training/certification required: High school diploma. 

Hospital Clerk

A hospital clerk helps to keep the entire hospital organized. They help to control the flow of patients in and out of units, keeping track of how many clean beds are available, when patients are expected to discharge home and help coordinate the staffing of nurses. 

A hospital clerk can also answer patient visitor questions and help manage the front desk of the hospital, helping worried families locate their loved ones and get status updates as appropriate. Working as a hospital clerk will give you great customer service practice, an understanding of medical terminology, and organizational skills that can all be helpful when becoming a nurse. 

  • Average salary: $41,241 per year
  • Number of jobs in the US: 55,000
  • Education/training/certification required: High School Diploma

Medical Interpreter or Translator

A medical interpreter or translator has to complete special training and pass a test that ensures they are fluent in the language they plan to use for their interpreting job. Medical interpreters often have to help healthcare providers give complex diagnoses and instructions about how to manage diseases. 

Medical interpreters play an important role in helping patients make decisions about their care, understand instructions about medications and follow-up appointments, and get all of their questions answered appropriately. Many medical interpreters work remotely and interpret patient-to-caregiver conversations over the phone. 

  • Average salary: $49,110 per year
  • Number of jobs in the US: 69,400
  • Education/training/certification required: Fluency in both languages and certification in medical interpretation. 

Orderly

Orderlies work in operating rooms, keeping things organized including supplies and surgery schedules. They often transport patients from the surgical suite out to the recovery rooms and play a vital role in keeping things moving on time. 

Orderlies keep supplies stocked and organized in each operating room, which can be life-saving in an emergency. Orderlies must be detail-oriented and be able to stay focused in case of an emergency. 

  • Average salary: $29,990 per year
  • Number of jobs in the US: 1,389,900
  • Education/training/certification required: High school diploma

Transporter

Transporters in hospitals help patients travel from their hospital rooms to different procedure areas. Patients in the hospital often have to travel to different areas to get things like CT scans or MRIs. Transporters are responsible for getting the patient to and from their destination safely. 

Transporters usually push a stable patient to their destination in a wheelchair, but at times their job can become quite complicated. Some intensive care unit patients may need to travel in their hospital bed and can be connected to a ventilator, tube feedings, IV medications, and even devices like an artificial heart during transport. These types of extremely sick patients should always travel with a transporter and a nurse. 

  • Average salary: $28,080 per year
  • Number of jobs in the US: 17,308
  • Education/training/certification required: High school diploma

Surgical Technician

Surgical technicians get to work right alongside surgeons as they perform their procedures. Surgical techns are often responsible for preparing sterile instruments and then handing those tools to the surgeon as they work. 

They can also suction blood from the patient to improve the surgeon’s view of the area of operation and can hold traction—meaning they hold skin, bones, or organs out of the way to give a better view of the surgical field. 

Surgical technicians must also pay close attention to make sure that everyone working on the patient in the operating room remains sterile during the procedure. They also keep count of each stitch, gauze, and surgical tool used during the operation to make sure that nothing is left inside the patient at the end of surgery. 

  • Average salary: $55,960 per year
  • Number of jobs in the US: 102,000
  • Education/training/certification required: Certificate or Associate’s Degree

Monitor Technician

A monitoring technician is someone who is specially trained in reading heart rhythms on a monitor and being able to recognize problems. While there are usually alarm systems in place that can alert staff of a medical emergency, monitoring technicians are trained to notice subtle changes that can happen when a patient starts to decline. 

A good monitoring technician can help prevent an emergency by identifying subtle changes in heart rhythm or other vital signs. Monitoring technicians may also be asked to directly watch over a patient who is confused or combative to make sure that they do not harm themselves during their hospital stay. 

  • Average salary: $35,460 per year
  • Number of jobs in the US: 18,000
  • Education/training/certification required: High school diploma plus certification or associate degree. 

Sanitation Technician

Sanitation technicians or environmental services staff are invaluable members of the healthcare team. A good sanitation technician ensures that rooms are prepared and ready to accept the next patient who needs care, prevents the spread of infection between patients, and helps keep things organized and tidy. 

Sanitation technicians help with regular housekeeping tasks like mopping, laundry, and taking out garbage bags. In addition, they may use special light equipment to destroy harmful bacteria and viruses and have to go through special training on how to protect themselves from needlestick injuries or exposure to body fluids and hazardous chemicals. 

  • Average salary: $32,703 per year
  • Number of jobs in the US: 152,119
  • Education/training/certification required: On-the-job training. 

Dietitian Aide

A dietitian aide helps deliver meals and snacks to patients in the hospital while keeping everyone safe. Not only do dietitian aides have to use safe food handling practices to prevent illness, but they also have many other things they must pay attention to. 

Dietitian aides have to pay attention to each patient’s allergies and what type of diet they are allowed to eat while in the hospital. Dietary restrictions may include liquid only, soft foods only, low salt, fluid restrictions, calorie counts, and special diabetic diets. 

  • Average salary: $36,370
  • Number of jobs in the US: 16,290
  • Education/training/certification required: High school diploma. 

How Working in Healthcare During Nursing School Can Help You Get a Job

Working in healthcare during nursing school is a great way to jumpstart your career. Getting used to working around patients or in a hospital can make things easier once you start your nursing career.

Getting experience in a hospital or other healthcare setting is especially important if you plan to work in a critical care setting after getting your nursing license. Places like labor and delivery, intensive care units, operating rooms, and emergency departments almost always require some healthcare experience before they will allow someone to work for them. 

  • Improve your resume. Having some experience in healthcare will make your resume much more competitive. Unit managers almost always prefer to hire someone with at least a little experience and a proven record of managing their responsibilities well. In fact, 82% of employers require or strongly prefer candidates with experience. 
  • Get comfortable with patient care. Each day, nurses deal with body fluids, strong emotions, naked bodies, and severe illnesses. It can take some time to get used to a healthcare environment and start to feel comfortable with patient care. Not only do nurses have to learn to stay calm in a crisis, they must learn how to help patients do things like get to the bathroom or have a bed bath while allowing them to maintain some dignity. 
  • Learn healthcare routines. Before you start working as a nurse, it can be helpful to familiarize yourself with hospital or healthcare facility routines. Knowing the steps to admitting a patient or how to deal with paperwork can make starting out as a new nurse much less stressful. 
  • Practice medical terminology. Medical terminology can often feel like a completely different language. Learning medical terminology in addition to all of the acronyms used in healthcare is no easy task. Working in healthcare can help you get used to medical language before you accept your first nursing job. 
  • Decide on a specialty. One of the best things about becoming a nurse is that there are so many different job options. Nurses can work in medical helicopters or from home, and everything in between. Having a healthcare job during nursing school can give you an idea of what type of nursing specialty you might enjoy the most. 
  • Make connections. In hospitals and long-term care centers, it is common for employees to simply transition from their less advanced role into a nursing role once they graduate from their program. Working somewhere that will allow you to do this means you will already have made friends, know the layout of the hospital, and understand most policies and procedures on your first day as a nurse. 
  • Prepare for NCLEX. Before you can become a registered nurse, you have to pass the NCLEX exam. Working in healthcare before you take the exam can help you get more familiar with patient conditions, normal laboratory values, and medications that may come up on your exam. 

Tips for Getting a Job During Nursing School

While there are many healthcare job openings across the United States, the best ones usually have several competitive applicants. These tips can give you the best chance of getting a great job during nursing school. 

  • Craft a strong resume & cover letter. Your resume and cover letter have to make a good first impression. Without a strong resume or cover letter, you are unlikely to get an interview, much less be hired for the job. There are many school programs that will help you build a resume, and apps like Grammarly can help you avoid embarrassing typos in your work. 
  • Recommendations from professors. If you are in nursing school, your professors may be willing to write you a letter of recommendation or accept a phone call as a reference. 
  • Prepare for the interview. Make sure you practice before you head in for your interview. Look up some practice interview questions and prepare potential answers early. Have a friend or family member pretend to interview you and give you feedback on your answer.
  • Be willing to work nights & weekends. If you do not have much work experience, you might have to be willing to work less desirable shifts in order to get a good job. Healthcare facilities often have a higher demand for night shift and weekend employees. Showing a willingness to work those shifts can improve your chances of getting hired. 
  • Look for facilities with tuition reimbursement programs. While it may not help you get a job right away, choosing a healthcare facility with a tuition reimbursement program can help you pay for school while also setting yourself up to have a nursing job as soon as you graduate. 

Deciding Which Job During Nursing School is Best for You

When deciding which job during nursing school is best for you, there are several factors you need to consider. 

The first thing you should think about is whether or not you will enjoy the job. Try to find a job that interests you or that will lead you to your dream nursing specialty. 

Since nursing school is highly time-consuming, make sure that you choose a job that works well with your school schedule. Talk to potential employers early about days you may need off for nursing school clinical days or big examinations. Many healthcare facilities are very supportive of nursing students and are willing to accommodate their needs. 

It is also important to consider pay and benefits when looking for a job during nursing school. You may be limited in your working hours while in nursing school, so it is important that you can earn enough money without depending on overtime while completing your education. 

Perhaps the most important thing to consider is whether a job is supportive of staff members and provides growth and learning opportunities. In your interview, ask about how well employees seem to get along and work as a team, and how management helps to support their employees. Find out about any extra certifications or training they offer new employees and always try to find out about tuition reimbursement programs for nurses. 

FAQs About Jobs During Nursing School

Can working in healthcare during nursing school help you get a job?

Yes, getting some healthcare experience during nursing school can help you get a nursing job after you graduate. Many facilities allow CNAs or medical assistants to transition right into a nursing role within their facility upon graduation. 

Do I need special training or certification for jobs before nursing school?

Many of the easiest healthcare jobs do not require special training or certification before nursing school. If you choose a job working directly with patients, you may have to get your CPR certification. 

What’s the best way to find a job during nursing school?

The best way to find a job during nursing school is to look at online job boards like Indeed and Monster. If you have a specific healthcare facility in mind, you can browse their company website for job openings. 

You can also complete a training program that helps with job placement support. For example, Stepful has an online medical assistant certification program that helps you find a job after graduation.

How closely related to medicine should my job during nursing school be?

While it is not required, choosing a job in the medical field during nursing school will help you learn nursing concepts faster, look good on your resume, and help you get used to working with sick patients. 

Are jobs during nursing school paid?

Yes, you can get paid for working during nursing school. Unless you choose to become a volunteer, you should be paid for your work. 

What’s the highest-paying job I can get during nursing school?

Surgical technician jobs are among the highest-paying jobs you can get during nursing school. However, they also require special education and training. 

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