Nurse Hierarchy | What Are the Levels of Nursing?
What Is the Hierarchy of Nursing?
What Are the Different Levels of Nursing?
Entry-Level Positions in the Nursing Hierarchy
Registered Nurse (RN)
Advanced-Level Positions in the Nursing Hierarchy
Nurse Practitioner (NP)
Senior-Level Positions in the Nursing Hierarchy
Chief Nursing Officer (CNO)
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)-Prepared Practitioner
Nurse Hierarchy FAQs
The highest level of nursing education is the doctoral level. Positions that require doctoral nursing degrees include certain types of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), as well as leadership positions such as chief nursing officer or director of nursing. In a traditional hospital setting, the chief nursing officer is the topmost nursing position.
The nursing field has many different entry points and career paths, depending on your career goals. Understanding the nursing hierarchy can help you explore different career possibilities and learn about opportunities for career advancement. The nursing hierarchy also shows how different levels of nurses interact with one another, so you may get a better feel for what to expect in each role.
Generally, positions found at the lower level of the nursing hierarchy require less education, while more advanced roles require master’s degrees or even doctoral degrees. To obtain an entry-level position in nursing, you may only need to complete an approved educational program at a technical college. As you obtain further education, more job opportunities may be available to you. For example, earning a bachelor’s degree could help prepare you to become a registered nurse.