March 5, 2024

Top Jobs for Nursing Students Looking to Gain Experience

A nursing student stands smiling in front of a building with scrubs on and a backpack on her shoulders.

Gaining work experience before becoming a full-time nurse can be very beneficial for nursing students, providing them with a varied skill set, enhanced confidence, and a deeper understanding of healthcare.

Practical job experience allows students to apply theoretical knowledge in real-world scenarios, honing clinical skills and fostering the ability to adapt to diverse patient needs. Exposure to various healthcare roles, such as certified nursing assistants, patient transporters, or hospital clerks, not only broadens their perspective on the industry but also cultivates essential qualities like empathy, effective communication, and critical thinking. 

Below we’ll explore some of the top job options for nursing students both with and without medical certifications

Jobs for nursing students that require a certification

For nursing students who want to work in a clinical setting, a certification of some kind will often be required. Below are some of the top jobs for nursing students with an interest in pursuing a medical certification to gain experience.

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA): 

Working as a CNA allows nursing students to provide direct patient care under the supervision of licensed nurses. This role provides hands-on experience with patient interactions, basic nursing skills, and familiarity with healthcare settings.

Working as a CNA can also provide a flexible employment option for students needing to work around their class schedule. Platforms like CareRev offer flexible shifts for CNAs who want to choose their own schedules.

Patient Care Technician (PCT): 

Similar to CNAs, PCTs assist with patient care but may have a broader scope of responsibilities. They may be involved in tasks such as monitoring vital signs, performing EKGs, and assisting with basic medical procedures.

Medical Assistant: 

Medical assistants work in various healthcare settings, including clinics and physician offices. They perform administrative tasks, such as scheduling appointments, and may also assist with clinical tasks like taking patient histories and vital signs.

Home Health Aide: 

Home health aides provide care to patients in their homes, assisting with activities of daily living and monitoring health conditions. This role offers exposure to diverse patient populations and the opportunity to work independently.

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT): 

EMTs respond to medical emergencies and provide pre-hospital care. This role offers hands-on experience in critical situations and can enhance a nursing student's ability to handle emergencies.


Phlebotomists specialize in drawing blood from patients. This role helps nursing students develop skills in specimen collection, patient interaction, and working within clinical laboratories. Learn more about becoming a Certified Phlebotomist.

Jobs for nursing students without medical certifications

Not all nursing students have the time or financial means to gain medical certifications outside of their primary schooling. The jobs below are great opportunities for students who want to gain experience but don’t want to invest in additional education. These jobs may also offer more part-time and flexible work opportunities for students with busy schedules.

In-Home Caregiver:

Working as an in-home caregiver provides nursing students with the opportunity to develop interpersonal and caregiving skills in a one-on-one setting. This role involves assisting individuals with daily activities, monitoring health conditions, and offering companionship. Nursing students in this position gain valuable insights into the challenges faced by patients and their families in a home environment, enhancing their ability to provide holistic and patient-centered care.


Lifeguarding offers nursing students a unique perspective on emergency response and the importance of quick decision-making. In addition to honing observation skills, lifeguards learn to stay calm under pressure, an invaluable trait for nurses in fast-paced healthcare settings. 

The role emphasizes vigilance, teamwork, and effective communication, which are transferable skills for managing critical situations in a nursing career. This can also be a great summer job for nursing students who can't take on work during the semester.

Hospice Aide:

Becoming a hospice aide exposes nursing students to end-of-life care and the emotional aspects of healthcare. This role involves providing comfort and support to patients with terminal illnesses and their families. Nursing students gain experience in pain management, emotional support, and communication, developing the empathy and compassion necessary for nursing roles that involve palliative and hospice care.

Patient Transporter:

Patient transporters play a crucial role in the smooth operation of a healthcare facility. Nursing students in this role learn about the importance of efficiency in patient flow and the need for clear communication between departments. This experience enhances their understanding of the logistics involved in patient care, fostering organizational and teamwork skills that are beneficial in a nursing career.

Hospital Clerk:

Hospital clerks contribute to the administrative aspects of healthcare, exposing nursing students to the behind-the-scenes operations of a medical facility. This role involves tasks such as managing patient records, scheduling appointments, and coordinating information between departments. Nursing students working as hospital clerks gain valuable administrative skills, an understanding of healthcare systems, and improved communication abilities that will benefit them in various nursing roles.

Whether you are looking for part-time work while in nursing school or planning to work several years in the medical field before pursuing your nursing degree, these jobs can provide valuable experience. The path to becoming a registered nurse is not always linear and often looks different for every nurse. 

By exploring job opportunities that are adjacent to your future nursing career, you are showing future employers your passion and tenacity to make it in the field. Whatever path you choose, make sure it aligns with your career goals, and you are sure to be on the road to success.

Know a nurse looking for more freedom in their career?

Learn how CareRev works