Many people are daunted by the incredible amount of work and education expense involved in becoming a doctor, but still would like to work in the field of healthcare. One fantastic option is choosing a career in nursing. It may not be as glamorous, while still involving a great deal of stress, long hours, and the acquisition of expert knowledge. But the rewards are certainly worth it. While some people may be happy in a repetitive office job, the working nurse is presented with new challenges each and every day, leading to a whole different level of fulfillment. Here are five of the top benefits of a career in nursing.

First and foremost, there are many different career paths to take once you choose nursing. We’ve all seen those emergency room nurses in action, but that’s only one of the myriad ways you can work as a nurse. Nursing can be highly specialized. You can work with a patient in his home, or in a busy private practice. You can take your skills and experiences into education or administration, or fulfill your love of sightseeing as a traveling nurse. Even inside a hospital there are tons of departments you can work within. All of this variety practically guarantees you will never be bored.

Even though the healthcare industry is in dire straits, nursing is a growing field. Regardless of the ebbs and flows of the economy, the demand for nurses will never flag. People get older, people get sick, and they always need care. You can be sure that the time you spend in education as a nurse will guarantee constant job opportunities. Even young nurses straight out of college will usually find swift placement. For students concerned about heavy loan debt, that can be very comforting.

On top of that consistent work schedule, you can also expect to make a good living as a nurse. It will always depend on your amount of experience, how specialized you are, and the education you’ve received, but you can also control salary levels by choosing to live in a growing geographic location. But even nursing assistants, the lowest rung on the ladder, start at $30,000 a year. And if you take the time to specialize, you could expect to make as much as six figures in yearly salary. That guarantees a comfortable lifestyle when you’re off duty.

A career in nursing also brings a good deal of flexibility. Sure, you’ll see your fair share of weekend, night and holiday shifts. But as far as time off is concerned, you’ll be able to take it when necessary. There are always other nurses on staff you can trade shifts with, and since it is a year-round career, you can plan vacations when they work for you, without concern for any particular busy season. And most positions will offer overtime pay if you are required to work long days.

Finally, there are a host of additional benefits that have nothing to do with pay. Most nurses don’t do it for cash, but for a love of people and a desire for personal fulfillment. Even nurses who focus on masters in health informatics get to work with people on a daily basis, making a difference in the lives of others that can last forever. The gratitude you receive from a patient can light you up for weeks. And really, that passion and inspiration is the most important aspect of any career.