15 Best Government Nursing Jobs For 2023

Written By: Andrea Mosher, CPNP, PMHS

Often people think that working for the government means you work in Washington D.C. or one of the state capitals, but that is only partially true. Working for that government can mean many things, and there are many careers that are necessary to make our government run smoothly. So, how does healthcare become part of the government?

Healthcare is not entirely funded or run by the government, but they create laws and policies that healthcare systems must follow. Healthcare workers must be involved to help make these rules, regulations, and programs. Additionally, there are specific departments of the government that fund healthcare and develop programming to improve health outcomes.

Nurses play a significant role in governmental healthcare positions. As a nurse, you may be wondering, what are the best government nursing jobs? Below you will find the 15 best government nursing jobs for 2023. We will also provide you with information about the best federal and state government agencies to work for as a nurse and how to apply.


What Is A Government Nurse?

The term government nurse embodies a wide variety of roles that nurses can take within the government. Registered nursing jobs in the government can include working in city, state, or even federal governmental agencies. Nurses can work clinically, bedside, remotely, and even on committees.

Government nursing jobs do not necessarily mean you work specifically for the government, but you could also provide healthcare to government employees. Additionally, government nurses include those who work in and with the military.

How Many Government Nurses Are There In The U.S.?

There are 4.2 million registered nurses in the United States and 950,000 licensed practical nurses/licensed vocational nurses. Throughout the many branches of local, state, and federal government, there are 508,420 employed nurses. So, approximately 10% of nurses work for a branch of government.


A Brief History Of Nurses Working For The Government

Nurses have technically worked for the government as early as the Revolutionary War. Women followed troops through battles in hopes of food, safety, and shelter but began working as nurses for the sick and wounded. This trend continued throughout the various battles and wars of the United States. Even though modern nursing was not revolutionized until the mid-1800s, the nurse's role has been recognized since the 1700s. After Florence Nightingale founded the nursing profession, Army nurses became recognized in the Civil War.

Nurses have not always worked solely for military branches; in the 1930s, the National Institute of Health was created. The National Institute of Health offers roles for nurses to help create and implement policies. Additionally, in the 1960s, the Center of Medicare and Medicaid was founded, and nurses were utilized for their skills and knowledge of the world of healthcare.

In the 1980s, nursing homes became a more prominent form of care for aging family members. Some of these facilities were government-owned and employed many nurses. As the 1990s rolled around, forensic nursing was created. The forensic nurse's role created a variety of opportunities for government nursing jobs.

As technology advanced in healthcare in the early 2000s, there was an increased need for healthcare policy, thus creating a need for health policy nurses. This role in the government continues to grow, especially over the past few years with the current pandemic.

Where Exactly Do Government Nurses Work?

Government nurses can work in a variety of locations and settings. Some of the settings they may work in include: inpatient, outpatient, remote, in an office, or out in the field. Their work environment truly depends on their role and their governmental organization.

What Are The Working Conditions For Government Nursing Jobs?

Similar to the working environments of government nurses, the working conditions for government nurses can vary based on their roles. Some RN government jobs require nurses to work in hospitals or clinics, thus having a relatively predictable schedule and role. Other government nursing jobs require nurses to work at crime scenes or with victims of crimes, creating unpredictable and somewhat chaotic working conditions. Additionally, some of these government nursing roles are in a government organization’s office; this creates a relatively predictable working environment but not necessarily predictable working materials.

How Do You Become A Government Nurse?

Because the role of a government nurse is so diverse, there is not one specific way to become a government nurse. Obviously, to become a government nurse, you must first complete an accredited nursing program and then pass your National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and obtain your state RN license or a compact state license. You can apply for many RN government jobs without further certification or education. Some government nursing jobs, like health policy nursing or forensic nursing, require additional certification and education.

5 Benefits Of Taking Up Government Nursing Jobs

1. A good work-life balance
2. Many locations to choose from
3. A variety of exciting positions
4. Advancement opportunities
5. Good benefits and competitive pay

5 Drawbacks Of Taking Up Government Nursing Jobs

1. Constant changes in leadership
2. Long hiring process
3. Changes in policy can take a long time
4. Many rules, regulations, and policies to understand and follow
5. Low levels of control in your work


There are numerous roles that nurses can take and many of them are necessary in our city, state, and federal government. Here is a list of the most common nursing specialties that are utilized in our government. Don’t see your specialty? Don’t worry there is most likely a need for your specialty too!

1. Health Policy Nurse

Health policy nurses are utilized in city, state, or even national governmental agencies to provide expertise on current healthcare laws and policies. They are also imperative in implementing new policies and regulations within hospitals and other healthcare centers. They are essentially the liaisons between lawmakers and the healthcare field as a whole. A health policy nurse focuses on creating a more efficient healthcare system for healthcare workers and patients. They must consider many factors, including the safety of patients, cost reduction, patient access to care, and the implementation of healthcare policies.

To apply for a health policy nurse position, it would be beneficial if the applicant had a public health nurse certification or experience in public health. To apply for these RN government jobs, nurses can either go through their state government or the national government website. Additionally, nurses may find positions or connections through groups like the American Organization of Nursing Leadership or the Organization of Nurse Leaders.

2. Military Nurse

Nurses can work in the military as active military members or as civilians. The Army, Navy, National Guard, and Air Force currently have the most nurses on staff. Military nurses work in various settings and care for a variety of patients. Military nurses not only care for active members, but they can also care for their families working on military bases. Additionally, they may care for the population of the state or country in which they are stationed. Military nurses can work in active war zones, military bases, or aeromedical evacuation teams.

As previously mentioned, you can work in the military as an active member or civilian. If you work in the military as a civilian, you will be required to complete military training before starting. The training is not the same as boot camp or basic training. If you are interested in becoming, you can apply online or speak with a recruiter for the Army, Navy, Air Force, or National Guard.

3. Emergency Department Nurse

Emergency department nurses are nurses who work in emergency departments or with flight care. These nurses are typically the first responders of the hospital. They are responsible for: triaging the acuity of patients coming through the doors, stabilizing patients who need to be admitted or transferred; treating injured patients; and responding to local disasters.

To become an emergency department nurse, you must have an unencumbered license. Most emergency departments require additional certifications such as basic life support, advanced cardiac life support, trauma nurse core course, and/or emergency nurse pediatric course. You may also become a certified emergency nurse, although this is not always required.

Emergency nursing is one of the best government nursing jobs because there is such a high demand and great versatility in work environments. Emergency department nurses can work in military hospitals, clinics, war zones, and Veterans Affairs hospitals. Additionally, they can be utilized by the FBI or CIA for their first responder and trauma experience.

4. Legal Nurse Consultant

Legal nurse consultants bridge the gap between healthcare and the law. These government nursing jobs require nurses to consult during legal cases related to nursing, healthcare services, patient health outcomes, and the negligent causes of illness and injury. They are responsible for analyzing patient charts to evaluate for any injury or illness-causing events. These nurses are consulted on various topics, including medical malpractice suits, product liability, personal injury, workman’s compensation, forensic cases, and Medicare set-aside.

There is no specific degree or certification other than your nursing license that is required to work as a legal nurse consultant. You do have the option to become a certified nurse consultant through the American Legal Nurse Consultant Certification Board.

Due to their wealth of knowledge related to healthcare and appropriate protocols, legal nurse consultants are imperative in healthcare law cases. Legal nurse consultants can be helpful in many government entities. They can work for the Centers for Disease Control, National Institute of Health, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, the Food and Drug Administration, the FBI, or the CIA.

5. Operating Room Nurse

Operating room nurses are obviously nurses who work in operating rooms. They are responsible for prepping the patient for surgery, assisting the surgeon, ensuring the safety of the patients during the surgery, and caring for them postoperatively. There are three different types of OR nurses: scrub nurses, circulating nurses, and RN first assist.

To become an operating room nurse, you are typically required to be basic life support certified, advanced cardiac life support, and have at least one year of clinical experience. Additionally, you can obtain the Certified Preoperative Nurse Credential after you have at least two years of experience.

Operating room nurses can be used throughout the federal government, either on military bases or in Veterans Affairs Hospitals. They not only work in operating rooms but also in outpatient surgery centers.

6. Informatics Nurse

Informatics nurses bridge the gap between technology and healthcare. Informatics nurses are vital in creating safe and efficient workflows as well as understanding and streamlining the electronic health records (EHR). To work as an informatics nurse, it is vital to have clinical setting experience as well as understanding medical economics. There is an Informatics Nursing Certification available, but you must have at least two years of experience to apply and sit for the exam. It is not suggested to work in nursing informatics as a new graduate.

Informatics nurses work hand in hand with health policy nurses, as this role is crucial in the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid making new recommendations. This can be considered one of the best government nursing jobs because you can take your experience and ideas from working clinically and design better interfaces for your fellow nurses and healthcare workers. Additionally, you interpret and utilize patient data to create safer protocols and workflows.

7. Public Health Nurse

If you are looking for one of the most in-demand government nursing jobs, public health nursing is for you. This is considered one of the best government nursing jobs due to its high demand during the pandemic. Public health nurses provide education and create plans for disease prevention. Their main focus is on long-term primary care versus secondary or tertiary care.

To become a public health nurse, you must have state licensure in good standing. You may work as a new grad, but it is helpful to get bedside nursing experience first. You may also obtain a Certification in Public Health as long as you have a BSN and five years of public health experience.

Public health nurses can work for the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institute of Health, or county health departments.

8. Travel Nurse

Travel nursing is considered one of the best government nursing jobs. As a travel nurse, you can travel almost anywhere in the country and work in a hospital or healthcare facility for a short time. Often travel nurses are paid handsomely and receive housing stipends. Most travel nursing contracts are approximately three months. As a travel nurse, you are employed by the travel nurse company and the hospital you are working in.

To become a travel nurse, you must have a license in good standing in the state you are interested in working or obtain a compact license, which is a license that is accepted in several states. There are currently 34 states that participate with the compact licensure. There aren’t any required certifications to be a travel nurse, but if your department or specialty requires a certification, you will be required to get it.

During the pandemic, travel nurses have been in high demand, often getting sent to healthcare facilities in crisis areas or covering departments that are significantly understaffed due to resignation or ill staff members. Additionally, several of the nursing roles in the government require nurses to travel, sometimes domestically and sometimes internationally.

9. Hospice Nurse

Hospice nurses provide care to their patients in a different way than other nurses. These nurses offer comfort at the end of life versus treating medical conditions. In addition to providing comfort care, they can also offer psychosocial support, spiritual support and educate families on the upcoming process. Hospice nurses typically work with patients that have six months or less to live. Hospice nurses can work with patients for several weeks to several months and, on occasion, work with patients urgently for a few hours or days.

There are no required certifications to become a hospice nurse, but a few are recommended. After a few years of nursing experience, you can become a Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse or Certified Hospice and Palliative Licensed Nurse. These government nursing jobs can be found in Veterans Affairs Hospitals and other departments caring for current or former government employees or their immediate family members.

10. Cardiac Nurse

Working as a cardiac nurse is one of the best RN government jobs because of the variety of environments you can work in and the type of patients you will encounter. As a cardiac nurse, you can work in a cardiac catheterization lab, cardiac care/telemetry unit, outpatient cardiology, or cardiac rehabilitation centers.

To work as a cardiac nurse, you do not need any special certifications, but it is recommended. After obtaining your RN or BSN, you can get Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certification, Acute Cardiac Care certification, Non-acute Cardiac Care certification, Cath Lab Nursing Certification, Cardiac Rehabilitation Nursing certification, or Cardiac Vascular Nursing certification. This additional education will not only help you be a better, more informed cardiac nurse, but it will also increase your marketability.
Cardiac nurses can work in a variety of government environments. The most common locations for these government nursing jobs include Centers of Medicare and Medicaid, military branches, and Veterans Affairs Hospitals.

11. Home Health Nurse

Home health care nurses take on a different role than the bedside nurse. Instead of working bedside in a hospital, you will work one-on-one with your patient in their home. Your patients can be elderly, disabled, critically ill, or homebound for various reasons. It is possible to work as a home health care nurse as a new graduate, but it is recommended that you have some experience since you often will be working alone. There are no specific certifications or licenses outside of your RN or BSN that you need to work as a home health care nurse.

These government nurses typically care for patients working with Veteran’s Affairs, but their job duties can also include caring for current and former government employees. Additionally, home health care nurses can work on military bases caring for family members who may require additional care at home or who are recovering from an injury or an illness.

12. Forensic Nurse

The forensic nurse's role bridges the gap between law and medicine, similar to legal nurse consultants as mentioned above. They help victims of violence manage the acute and long-term consequences, collect evidence, and provide consultation and testimony during court cases. There are various types of forensic nurses, including sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE), domestic violence nurses, child abuse/neglect nurses, elder mistreatment nurses, and death investigation nurses.

To become a forensic nurse, it is preferred that you have experience in either med-surg, pediatrics, emergency medicine, or psychiatry. After approximately two years of experience, you can take a forensic nurse certification program. The length of the course is dependent on which program you choose. You can work as a forensic nurse with the certification, but you may also become an adult or pediatric SANE nurse.

These government nursing jobs can be found in various branches of government and are commonly used in the military, FBI, and CIA.

13. Critical Care Nurse

Critical care nurses have one of the most versatile registered nursing jobs in government. Because of its versatility, critical care nursing is one of the best RN government jobs that you can find. Critical care nurses can work in a variety of settings such as burn units, cardiac care/telemetry units, cardiac catheterization labs, intensive care units (adult, pediatric, neonatal, surgical, medical, or cardiovascular), emergency departments, progressive care units, and post-anesthesia care units. You can work in any of these departments without any specific certification, but it is recommended that after you gain experience, you obtain a critical care registered nursing certification (CCRN).

To apply for your CCRN certification, you must complete a specific amount of critical care hours. According to, you must meet either of the following. A “minimum of 1,750 hours caring for critically ill patients within their last two years of service, with half of those hours completed within the most recent year or [a] minimum of 2,000 hours caring for critically ill patients within their last five years of service, with 144 of those hours completed within the most recent year”.

14. Correctional Facility Nurse

Correctional facility nurses work with a vulnerable and underserved population through the Department of Justice. As a correctional nurse, you will be faced with a variety of patients, some with acute illnesses and others with chronic medical problems.
Working with incarcerated individuals often means that your patients received little to no medical care outside of the jail or prison. This, in turn, means your patients may have poorly managed chronic illnesses, undiagnosed illnesses, or they may be very ill when they come into your care.

Additionally, you will have to help manage if there are disease outbreaks within the correctional facility and monitor any patients who may have substance abuse problems. Monitoring your patients' mental health is another vital responsibility for correctional facility nurses.

If you are interested in one of these government nursing jobs, you do not typically need any additional pieces of training or certifications. The correctional facility will most likely train you on-site for any skills or procedures they require.

15. Crisis Nurse

Crisis nurses are nurses who either help individuals in crisis or facilities in crisis. Working with individuals in crisis includes working with those struggling with comorbid disorders, addiction, and mental health struggles. Typically, in this role, you are responsible for coordinating your patient’s care and getting them the resources they need as soon as possible. Crisis nurses that work for facilities as a whole help when there are nursing shortages or natural disasters in a specific area.

Regardless of the role of the crisis nurse, the position is typically a travel nursing position. These government nursing jobs usually require that nurses have at least two years of experience as well as additional certifications like a certified emergency nurse (CEN), certified critical care nurse (CCRN), or certified pediatric nurse (CPN). Even though these are the most common certifications, many other certifications can be helpful if you are seeking a crisis nurse position.


There are several opportunities for nurses to work with the federal government, you can work inpatient, outpatient, or outside of direct patient care. If you are looking for a rewarding career with a variety of options, working as a federal government nurse is for you! Here are the 10 federal government departments that are great for nurses.

1. Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services

Nurses at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services may work directly with the various programs by creating or implementing them. Additionally, they may act as nursing consultants on the programs. As a consultant, they will provide insight into the design or the feasibility of implementation. Additionally, nursing consultants for the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services “review, analyze and evaluate the effectiveness and quality of services delivered by Medicare and Medicaid providers." Due to its many programs, many government nursing jobs are available within the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services.

How to Apply:

Applying for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is similar to other government nursing roles. Visiting their website provides a list of current jobs for the general public, current or former government employees, military veterans, students, people with disabilities, and Peace Corps volunteers.

2. Native American Reservations

The Indian Health Service is a federal health program for Alaska Natives and American Indians. Working for the Indian Health Services provides nurses with the opportunity to work with a diverse, culturally rich, and often underserved population. These federal nursing jobs help support the physical, mental, and spiritual health of those living in American Indian and Alaskan Native communities.

How to Apply:

To apply for a job on a Native American Reservation with the Indian Health Service, you may visit a clinic or healthcare center and directly apply if you live in the area. You may also visit the Indian Health Services website to apply for jobs throughout the country.

3. Military Branches

Since there are several military branches in the U.S., nurses have some variability when applying to jobs within the military. Nurses have the option to work in military branches as members of that branch or as a civilian. Working in the military as a nurse provides a variety of experiences, both domestic and international. It is important to note that if you would like to work for a military branch, you must be a U.S. citizen and have at least 12 months of full-time nursing experience.

How to Apply:

If you are an active member of the military, there are protocols and procedures you will have to follow to apply internally. If you are applying for a civilian position on a military base, you can apply online. The application can be completed on Each nursing application requires submitting an online application with a complete resume attached. Additionally, you must complete an assessment questionnaire similar to other government jobs.

4. Correctional Facilities

Working in a correctional facility is more rewarding than you may think. As a corrections nurse, you will be helping a high-risk population with a variety of health concerns. Additionally, you will be assisting a grossly underserved population with their physical and mental health. Within the Federal Bureau of Prisons, there are various requirements for application depending on the level of employment that you are looking for.

How to Apply:

To apply for a job within a federal correctional facility, you can apply directly with the facility if you have a contact at that facility or apply directly through the Federal Bureau of Prisons website. You will fill out your application and submit the necessary documents for the position.

5. National Institute of Health

There are various roles that nurses can take within the National Institute of Health. The most common nursing jobs in the National Institute of Health are health policy nurse, public health nurse, or legal nurse consultant. Working with the National Institute of Health could be considered one of the best federal nursing jobs, as you directly have contact with those creating policies and procedures for healthcare.

How to Apply:

Visiting their website provides a list of current jobs for the general public, military veterans, students, interns, and people with disabilities. Each nursing application requires submitting an online application with a complete resume attached. Additionally, you must complete an assessment questionnaire similar to other government jobs.

6. Centers of Disease Control

Working for the Centers for Disease Control can be a different experience for nurses. You will not directly be caring for patients, but you will be working with public health as a whole. You can work as a health policy nurse, or a public health nurse in nursing informatics if you are interested in applying at the Centers for Disease Control.

How to Apply:

Like many nursing jobs in the government, the application process requires completing an online application and submitting your resume, cover letter, transcripts, and any additional certifications. You must also complete a questionnaire. After you have submitted a complete application and are chosen to move forward in the hiring process, you will be contacted by a hiring manager.

7. Department of Defense

Nurses can also work for the Department of Defense, more specifically the Defense Health Agency. These nursing jobs have you working bedside and in clinics and as nurse educators for various projects. If you are interested in working for the Department of Defense but don’t have any interest in working as a bedside nurse or a clinical nurse, there are opportunities for you.

How to Apply:

To apply for a Department of Defense, you must have an unencumbered license and submit your application online. Additionally, you will have to submit a resume and complete an online questionnaire.

8. Federal Bureau of Investigation

Nurses working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation can work either in a clinical aspect, legal aspect, or even forensically. Typically, if you are working clinically, you are caring for members of the FBI or their families. If you are working as a legal nurse consultant, you may be working in an office or the courtroom. Finally, if you work forensically, you will most likely spend a majority of your time in the field.

How to Apply:

Applying for a nursing job in the FBI requires you to decipher whether or not you are eligible to work for the FBI. You must be a U.S. citizen, abide by the FBI drug policy, as well as be able to obtain Top Secret security clearance. You may either speak with an FBI recruiter or apply online for your desired role.

9. Central Intelligence Agency

Working for the Central Intelligence Agency is similar to working with the FBI. You will most likely provide healthcare to agents or individuals they are working with. The major difference in working with the FBI and the CIA is that it is uncommon that the CIA will work with legal nurse consultants or forensic nurses.

How to Apply:

Like applying to the FBI, you must identify your eligibility when applying for the Central Intelligence Agency. First, you must be in the United States when you complete the online application. Additionally, you must provide your resume, unofficial transcripts from all of your degrees, and a copy of your certifications and licenses. Finally, you must provide at least one professional reference.

10. Veterans Affairs Hospitals

Working as a nurse in a Veterans Affairs hospital or clinic is similar to working in other hospitals and clinics. Obviously, the major difference is that all of your patients are military veterans. Working in these environments can be very busy, as there is a high demand for healthcare for our veterans, whether it is chronic care, mental health care, or preventative health care.

How to Apply:

To apply for a job at a Veterans Affairs hospital, you must submit an online application with your resume. Like other government nursing jobs, you must be a U.S. citizen, but unlike other government jobs, you are not required to complete a questionnaire. It is recommended that you have at least one year of nursing experience, but it is not a requirement.


Some of the best government nursing jobs can be found at the state level. Not all states in the U.S. have the same state departments. If you are interested in working at the state level, you will have to research your state government's departments. Here are the 10 most common state departments across the U.S. that are great for nurses.

1. Department of Aging

Working as a nurse for the Department of Aging allows you to help those who are aging to safely live independently. Some of the services offered by these departments are case coordination and respite care. Nurses would be responsible for coordinating coverage for medicare, doctor's appointments, follow-up, and prescription access. Additionally, this department needs home care nurses to care for their patrons, so family members are allowed respite time. These jobs can be found on your state’s Department of Health and Human Services website or your local county website. You may also apply for these positions directly at your local county health department.

2. Department of Developmental Disabilities

Nurses who work for a Department of Developmental Disabilities may have similar responsibilities to those who work with the Department of Aging. These nurses, however, work with patients with physical, cognitive, and intellectual disabilities. They will coordinate doctor’s appointments, follow-up appointments, prescription access, and therapy appointments for their patients. Nurses working for this department can also be home healthcare nurses, especially for patients with physical developmental disabilities that may limit their ability to leave their homes. Additionally, nurses perform their roles based on trauma-informed practices. These jobs can be found on your state’s Department of Health and Human Services website or your local county website. You may also apply for these positions directly at your local county health department.

3. Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services

Nurses who work for the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services provide a wide variety of care to their patients who are struggling with addiction and mental health disorders. These departments offer services for suicide prevention resources, opiate and heroin overdose prevention, forensic services, trauma-related services, and senior outreach. The most common nursing roles within this state department are often crisis nurses or forensic nurses, but there are opportunities for nurses outside of these specialties. These jobs can be found on your state’s Department of Health and Human Services website or your local county website. You may also apply for these positions directly at your local county health department.

4. Department of Veterans Services

Nurses who work for the Department of Veterans Services work similarly to those who work for the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. These nurses typically operate at the county level, providing care coordination and outpatient healthcare for military veterans. Similar to other state departments, crisis nurses and home health nurses are in high demand. If you are interested in working for your local department of Veterans Services, these jobs can be found on your state’s Department of Health and Human Services website or your local county website. You may also apply for these positions directly at your local county health department or veterans office.

5. Community Healthcare Clinics

Working for your state’s community healthcare clinics is an excellent opportunity for nurses to work in an outpatient clinic setting through their state. These roles typically do not require a specific specialty nurse or specific certification; they are often similar to privately owned and hospital-owned outpatient clinics, but the state government funds them. These clinics may offer community outreach programs as well that require nurses. Jobs with your local community healthcare clinics can be found on your state’s Department of Health and Human Services website or your local county website. You may also apply for these positions directly at your local county health department.

6. Health Department

Similar to community healthcare clinics, nurses have the opportunity to work in a variety of roles at their local health department. Nurses often work with immunization clinics, infectious disease control, mother, infant, child programs, and women’s health. Not only do these nurses work within the offices of the health department and the outpatient clinics, but they also create and implement community outreach programs. These jobs can be found on your state’s Department of Health and Human Services Department website or your local county website. You may also apply for these positions directly at your local county health department.

7. Commission on Women

The Commission on Women is a nursing role that is not directly affiliated with patient care. This commission is involved in regulating all things related to policies and legislation that affect women. Health policy nurses would be ideal for a role like this as they have a thorough understanding of how policies are created and have a grasp of women’s health, which is often a topic of legislation.

8. Department of Health Professions

The Department of Health Professions is often the governing body of the state’s Nursing Boards. It is vital to have nurses within this department provide information related to the nursing profession as a whole. Health policy nurses and informatics nurses are essential for this department. Typically, nurses working for this department do not apply for the position. They generally are appointed. Nurses that are selected often have experience working in other state departments.

9. Department of Medical Assistance Services

The Department of Medical Assistance Services provides a plethora of services to the citizens of their state. Services provided by this department may include, but are not limited to, long-term care, managed care, maternal and child health, addiction and recovery treatment services, behavioral health, high needs support, school-based services, and/or telehealth services. Due to the variety of services offered, there is a need for many different types of nurses and specialties. These jobs can be found on your state’s Department of Health and Human Services Department website or your local county website. You may also apply for these positions directly at your local county health department.

10. State Nursing Boards

Working for state boards of nursing is different than all other state nursing jobs. As a state board of nursing member, you do not have any patient care responsibilities. It is your job to assist in creating, implementing, and monitoring nurse licensing. This may mean: assessing or adjusting the amount or type of continuing education that is necessary to be licensed in your state or assisting in the investigation of accusations against nurses in your state. Additionally, there is typically no official application process for a job like this as you are usually appointed to these roles.

What Are The Major Differences Between State And Federal Nursing Jobs?

The most significant difference between state and federal nursing jobs is the grandiosity of the population you work with. Obviously, working at the state level, you will be working with the state population or a county population. Typically, federal government roles include a much larger population.

Additionally, many state government nursing jobs do not require international travel. They may require domestic travel, but they rarely require you to leave the United States.

Finally, the benefits of state and federal nursing jobs may vary. Federal benefits are most often consistent across the board, but state government nursing jobs can vary from state to state.

4 Ways To Stand Out When Applying For Government Nursing Jobs

1. Have a detailed resume or curriculum vitae (CV):

Find a template or layout that you prefer for your resume or CV. Be thorough when discussing roles, responsibilities, and accomplishments in your current and previous position.

2. Make sure licenses are up to date:

Ensure that nursing licenses and certifications are up to date and updated on your resume and CV.

3. Have thorough information on any formal training:

In a comprehensive yet concise manner, discuss additional certifications or training you have completed. Include the benefits of having the training.

4. List reliable references:

List references you know will respond if the employer contacts them. Also, make sure to notify your references, so they are aware they may be contacted as a reference.

On Average, How Much Can You Make With A Government Nursing Job?

On average, government registered nurses make $39.32 per hour, which equates to an average annual salary of $81,780. The average non-government nurse starting salary is $34,560. With some experience, the average non-government nurse makes $37.24 per hour or $77,460 annually.

In addition to the annual salary, government nursing jobs offer additional benefits in their compensation packages. See the section below for the breakdown of other benefits of government nursing jobs.

(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

In Addition To Salary, What Other Benefits Are Included In A Government Nursing Job Pay Package?

In addition to your annual salary, federal government nursing jobs provide a significant compensation package, including health benefits as well as various retirement benefits. Most often, you must work for the government for at least five years before claiming your retirement benefits.

Health benefits include but are not limited to health insurance, vision insurance, dental insurance, a flexible spending account, workman’s compensation, long-term disability, and survivor benefits. The retirement benefits include, but are not limited to, a 401K account, social security benefits, life insurance policy, employee assistance programs, and child and dependent care assistance.

Some government nursing jobs are in underserved areas, which qualifies nurses to apply for loan repayment programs. Government nurses also receive paid holidays, paid vacation time, and paid sick leave. The amount of paid time off typically increases with each year of service. Depending on your role, you may receive commuter assistance or bonus pay if you work in a danger zone.

State Wise Salary For Government Nursing Jobs

There is a wide range of salaries across the United States regarding government RN jobs. Annual full-time income can range from $61,560 in Alabama all the way to $123,230 in California! Additionally, the hourly range is also vast, starting at $29 per hour all the way up to $59 per hour. These figures are the average, so the hourly and annual income could be slightly less or more depending on the job.

State Hourly Monthly Annual
Alabama $29.60 $5,130 $61,560
Alaska $46.82 $8,120 $97,380
Arizona $39.50 $6,850 $82,160
Arkansas $31.27 $5,420 $65,050
California $59.25 $10,270 $123,230
Colorado $38.26 $6,630 $79,580
Connecticut $41.70 $7,230 $86,730
Delaware $36.52 $6,330 $75,970
Florida $34.16 $5,920 $71,050
Georgia $35.14 $6,090 $73,090
Hawaii $51.51 $8,930 $107,150
Idaho $35.20 $6,100 $73,220
Illinois $36.64 $6,350 $76,210
Indiana $33.16 $5,750 $68,980
Iowa $30.75 $5,330 $63,950
Kansas $31.55 $5,470 $65,620
Kentucky $31.81 $5,510 $66,160
Louisiana $33.42 $5,790 $69,510
Maine $34.91 $6,050 $72,610
Maryland $40.09 $6,950 $83,390
Massachusetts $47.30 $8,200 $98,380
Michigan $36.36 $6,300 $75,620
Minnesota $39.78 $6,900 $82,750
Mississippi $30.10 $5,220 $62,600
Missouri $32.38 $5,610 $67,360
Montana $34.66 $6,010 $72,090
Nebraska $34.14 $5,920 $71,020
Nevada $44.11 $7,650 $91,740
New Hampshire $37.33 $6,470 $77,650
New Jersey $42.13 $7,300 $87,620
New Mexico $37.20 $6,450 $77,370
New York $44.11 $7,650 $91,750
North Carolina $33.88 $5,870 $70,480
North Dakota $34.22 $5,930 $71,170
Ohio $34.27 $5,940 $71,290
Oklahoma $32.73 $5,670 $68,070
Oregon $47.29 $8,200 $98,360
Pennsylvania $36.45 $6,320 $75,810
Rhode Island $40.68 $7,050 $84,620
South Carolina $33.00 $5,720 $68,630
South Dakota $29.96 $5,190 $62,310
Tennessee $31.51 $5,460 $65,540
Texas $37.74 $6,540 $78,500
Utah $34.58 $5,990 $71,930
Vermont $35.45 $6,150 $73,740
Virginia $36.55 $6,340 $76,030
Washington $44.87 $7,780 $93,330
West Virginia $32.00 $5,550 $66,570
Wisconsin $36.74 $6,370 $76,410
Wyoming $35.68 $6,180 $74,210

What Is The Future Outlook For Government Nursing Jobs?

The future outlook for government nursing jobs is promising at this time. There continues to be a significant need for nurses in all aspects of healthcare, but due to the everlasting COVID-19 pandemic, government nursing jobs continue to be in high demand. Due to the increase in demand, nurses are finding that compensation packages that are offered are more significant than they have been in the past and may be more than the averages discussed above. Conversely, due to the pandemic, the government jobs for registered nurses may be more stressful and taxing than before as well.

My Final Thoughts

Because the United States Government is so expansive and contains so many sectors and branches, there are various opportunities to work for the government as a nurse. These government nursing jobs can be in either the federal government or departments of your state government. In addition to working in the different government sectors, you may also work in various environments. The 15 best government nursing jobs for 2023 may take you from bedside to outpatient, the Capitol, or even another country! Decide for yourself which role is calling your name!


1. How Easy Is To Get A Federal Government Nursing Job?

Working for the Federal Government is not necessarily an easy job to get. Not all government sectors are hiring at all times, and when they are hiring, the application pool can be competitive.

2. Are There Any Part-Time RN Government Jobs?

Although not typical, it is possible to find part-time RN government jobs. They are most frequently found in Health Departments and Veteran’s Affairs facilities.

3. Are There Any Remote RN Government Jobs?

Yes, some government entities do offer remote RN government jobs. Some of the jobs are full-time remote, some are part-time remote, and others are per diem remote positions.

4. What Are The 3 Highest Paying RN Government Jobs?

The top three highest paying RN government jobs are:

1. Chief Nursing Officer
2. Director of Nursing
3. Nurse Consultant

5. What Are The Top 3 RN Government Jobs For New Grads?

Working for the government as a new grad may be difficult. Most government entities require RNs with experience or have additional training or certifications. The top three types of government jobs for new grads would be military nursing, health departments, and Veteran’s Affairs hospitals.

6. Are RN Government Jobs Stressful?

All RN jobs are stressful in one form or another. Military jobs on international bases can cause significant stress and work with the FBI and CIA. Additionally, working in forensic nursing can cause increased stress levels. Depending on the type of government nursing jobs you are interested in depends on the amount of stress you may experience.

7. Can Government Nurses Work Overseas?

Yes, government nurses can work overseas. Nurses that work in the military, the State Department, the CIA, and the FBI often work overseas at some point in their career.

8. How Can I Get A Nursing Job With The State Department?

The United States State Department does hire nurses to work in various ways. Suppose you are interested in getting a job with the State Department head to their website to see if they are accepting applications at this time. If they are accepting applications, check to see if you meet the qualifications and submit your application!

9. Can I Work As A Government Nurse At U.S. Embassies?

Yes, Foreign Service Registered Nurses are stationed across the globe. They are assigned a specific embassy and will provide healthcare to the U.S. Government employees in that area.

10. Can I Work As A Government Nurse In The FBI?

Yes, nurses do get hired by the FBI for a few roles. They can be hired to care for FBI agents, or forensic nurses can be consulted for criminal investigations.

11. Can I Work As A Government Nurse For The CIA?

Similar to the FBI, the CIA also hires nurses. They, again, can work to care for CIA agents, or forensic nurses can also be helpful for the CIA.

Andrea Mosher, CPNP, PMHS
Andrea Mosher, CPNP, is a primary care pediatric nurse practitioner with a variety of nursing experience. She has worked in medical-surgical, emergency departments, urgent care and primary care pediatrics.