Career growth is often a high priority for many Houston nurses, but what’s the best way to get ahead? Whether you’re researching permanent or temporary nursing jobs in Houston or already working in Space City, learning more about in-demand specialties, local pay norms and top employers can help you find opportunities that check your boxes. Consider the following career tips to assist you in developing your nursing practice in Houston.
1. Gain Experience with Houston Travel Nurse Positions
Nurses with a minimum of one year of experience may consider taking shifts in the Houston metro through travel nursing contracts. Being a travel nurse can provide exciting opportunities in various nursing specialties, as well as letting you temporarily live in diverse locations.
Travel nursing may open doors to working in high-performing healthcare facilities and expose you to new technologies, treatment regimens and procedures. It often helps nurses develop skills in communication, adaptability, confidence, leadership and cultural awareness while offering diverse career and personal development opportunities.
If you’re thinking about permanently relocating to Houston, a travel nurse assignment is a great way to discover what life in Texas is like for a nurse. You also have the opportunity to build your professional network before potentially making it your new home.
2. Research Top Healthcare Employers in Houston
Working with one of Houston’s highly-rated healthcare employers typically provides plentiful opportunities to advance your career. For example, positions may offer additional specialist training or professional certifications, opportunities to attend conferences and greater promotion potential.
According to U.S. News & World Report, the top hospitals in Houston include:
- Houston Methodist Hospital: This Magnet-certified facility is one of the largest hospitals in Texas. The system-wide float pool lets RNs enjoy travel nursing perks without leaving Houston.
- Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center: Jointly owned by Baylor College of Medicine and CommonSpirit Health, this nationally ranking hospital was the first in Texas to obtain Magnet status.
- Memorial Hermann Hospital: This level 1 trauma center is one of the busiest in the country and the primary teaching facility for McGovern Medical School.
- Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital: This Magnet-certified hospital uses modern technology and offers more than 40 specialty medical services.
Each hospital is high-performing in various clinical specialties, medical procedures or conditions.
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is another one of Houston’s great healthcare employers and the country’s biggest cancer treatment and research facility. Specialist positions include those in the oncology and pediatric oncology, radiology and palliative care fields. Nurses specializing in the musculoskeletal system may find attractive opportunities at Texas Orthopedic Hospital, while those specializing in pediatrics may consider jobs at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.
3. Discover Average Nurse Salaries in Houston
Nursing salaries can differ substantially across the nation, so it’s important to research Houston pay norms before accepting a position. In 2021, Texas was among the top five highest-paying states for nursing in the U.S.
As of late October 2022, Houston registered nurses (RNs) in permanent positions earned an average of $39.11 per hour. This average was higher than the state and national averages of $35.84 and $37.24, respectively.
Houston travel nurse jobs paid an average of $2,388 per week during this period, which was higher than the state weekly average of $2,310 but lower than the national average of $2,672. Of course, you must consider tax rules and rates and travel housing costs when determining the average travel nurse salary in Houston. According to Sperling’s Best Places, the overall cost of living in Houston is lower than the national average, with potentially significant savings on housing.
Salaries also vary according to experience and specialty, so it’s helpful to compare various nursing fields. The average weekly wages in late October 2022 for travel RNs in Houston in a few top specialties included:
- Utilization review: $3,743
- Pediatrics operating room: $3,408
- Hematology/oncology: $3,052
- Cardiovascular operating room: $2,987
- Pediatrics emergency room: $2,886
- Operating room: $2,802
During this same period, licensed vocational nurses in Houston averaged $23.24 hourly in permanent roles and $1,327 per week in travel positions. The average hourly rate for staff certified nursing assistants (CNAs) was $13.65, while the weekly average for travel CNAs was $693. Nurse practitioners (NPs) earned an average of $60.07 per hour and $3,554 per week for permanent NP roles and travel NP jobs, respectively.
4. Find Out Which Houston Nurse Employers Pay the Most
Find jobs with Houston’s best travel nurse agencies with competitive salaries. Top-paying agencies for Houston travel nurse jobs in late October 2022 included:
- EGA Associates
- CrossMed – Cath Lab
- American Traveler
- Pamela’s List
- Jackson Nurse Professionals
- Vibra Travels
- Spire Workforce Solutions
Healthcare organizations paying permanent RNs particularly well during this period included Houston Methodist, Memorial Hermann Health System, Insight Global and Core Medical.
5. Check Additional Employment Benefits
Alongside a good salary, consider any extra employment benefits when comparing nursing jobs in Houston. Job perks may include:
- Comprehensive insurance coverage
- Wellness and employee assistance programs
- Paid time off and sick leave
- Childcare services
- Flexible shift patterns
- Funding or reimbursement for tuition or training
- Relocation expenses
- Commuter benefits and free on-site parking
Both permanent and travel nurse positions can include a variety of attractive benefits, so don’t overlook these non-monetary benefits.
6. Apply for In-Demand Roles
You can increase your employment prospects by applying for in-demand specialty positions and obtaining sought-after certifications. However, jobs are plentiful in Houston for all types of nursing positions.
Per Philadelphia’s Drexel University, the United States is experiencing a nationwide shortage of qualified nurses and cites Texas as one of the top five states with the biggest demand.
In a University of Houston 2022 interview, Kathryn Tart, the founding dean of UH College of Nursing, said the nursing shortage had been around for decades. She also mentioned issues surrounding nurses suffering from burnout caused by insufficient staffing and the inability to take meaningful breaks.
Healthcare specialties currently in high demand in Houston include telemetry and emergency department. Job listings also include multiple openings for nurses specializing in neurology, pediatrics, home health, labor and delivery, intensive care, orthopedics, operating room and case management. If you’re seeking senior roles, Vivian’s job board includes leadership, management and director positions for qualified RNs.
7. Network with Other Houston Nurses
Building local connections can be a beneficial stepping stone in your career, with contacts potentially referring you for promotions and providing details about exciting vacancies. Getting to know other Houston-based nurses can bring friendship and support from those who understand the profession’s daily triumphs and challenges. Additionally, networking is a great way to share knowledge, build skills and stay updated about local news and industry developments.
Meetup and Eventbrite regularly list events for medical professionals. You could also join Facebook groups for Houston nurses, including:
- Houston Nurses: This private Facebook group has 15,000+ members who actively share information related to training and education, job opportunities, internships and informal meetups.
- Houston Area Nurses: This group has around 10,000 members and provides a safe, private and inclusive online space for nurses to engage openly and share information.
You should also check your professional nursing organizations and follow their social media groups for even more networking opportunities.
8. Join Local Nursing Organizations and Associations
Becoming a professional nursing organization member is a terrific way to enhance your career outlook. Organizations typically provide training and certification options, networking groups, opportunities to attend conferences and webinars, and various other membership benefits.
National organizations include the American Nurses Association (ANA) and the Professional Association of Nurse Travelers. You’ll also find organizations based around particular nursing specialties, such as the American Association of Critical Care Nurses and the Emergency Nurses Association, and those serving nurses from minority backgrounds or underrepresented groups, such as the National Black Nurses Association and Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality.
Many national organizations have regional or state chapters to provide local news, opportunities and networking, with some local groups specific to Houston and Texas. Some professional organizations for nurses working in Houston include:
- Black Nurses Association of Greater Houston (BNAGH): A chartered organization of the National Black Nurses Association, the BNAGH provides an outlet for Black Houston nurses to advocate for the medical needs of African Americans and develop strategies for equal healthcare access. It also offers support to Black nurses and facilitates discussions and the sharing of ideas.
- Houston Korean Nurse Association (HKNA): The HKNA connects Korean nurses to provide support, comradeship, discussions and opportunities. Members work on diverse projects to improve healthcare access for Korean Americans, including screening programs, seminars and health fairs.
- Houston Area Association of Neonatal Nurses (HAANN): HAANN is the local chapter of the National Association of Neonatal Nurses and supports neonatal nurses through networking, learning opportunities and practice-related research and developments. Membership includes local leadership and volunteer opportunities, seminars and conferences, publications and discounts.
- Houston Chapter Oncology Nursing Society (HCONS): The HCONS represents Houston-based nurses specializing in oncology and cancer care. Members benefit from free training, education and professional development, including webinars, conferences and courses. The chapter also offers grants and scholarships for nurses interested in pursuing further education or obtaining certification in the oncology field.
- Association for Nursing Professional Development – Houston Affiliate (ANPDH): ANPDH advances general nursing developments and supports nurses wishing to progress in their careers. It holds monthly meetings and offers opportunities for local leadership, networking, mentoring and education. Members may also connect with professional development specialists to discuss best practices in diverse nursing fields.
- Houston Area Nurse Practitioners (HANP): HANP offers support, training and development for nurse practitioners throughout Houston and encourages nurses wishing to enter the profession. It maintains a vast collection of professional resources, promotes diverse local volunteering opportunities and facilitates local meetings.
- Texas Nurses Association (TNA): TNA is an affiliate of the ANA and the largest state nursing association nationwide. Membership is open to all nurses throughout Texas, regardless of specialty, experience, workplace or city. Members can attend live webinars to learn more about current topics and benefit from virtual and in-person training and education. TNA also offers several tools and initiatives to help nurses develop their practice, including the Texas Nurses app and the Peer Assistance Program, and statewide nursing awards help motivate, celebrate, inspire and honor Texas’ many nurses.