31 Types of Nursing Career Paths & Salaries

When choosing a career in nursing, prospective nurses can focus on specialized areas of medicine. The following list provides 31 nursing career paths, along with the requirements to successfully obtain each role.

This guide highlights the basic role of nurses within each specialization and includes projected job growth rates and average salary data. A general overview of each nursing career option can help prospective professionals determine if a specialty career in nursing aligns with their professional goals.

Specialty Career Choices to Consider

We selected the following 31 best nursing jobs for their salaries, work settings, and high demand. An individual seeking a career in nursing can consult this list to identify their ideal role.

1. Certified Dialysis Nurse

Certified dialysis nurses in one of the fastest-growing specialties, assist individuals who have severe problems with their kidneys.

    • How to Become One: A certified dialysis nurse needs 2,000 hours of experience caring for nephrology and dialysis patients over two years. Each candidate must also complete 15 hours of continuing education in nephrology, earn a registered nurse (RN) license, and pass a certification test.

2. Legal Nurse Consultant

A certified legal nurse consultant uses their expertise to consult on medical lawsuits, offering information about the healthcare system.

    • How to Become One: These consultants need RN licensure, but a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree is not always required.

3. Nurse Midwife

A nurse midwife delivers babies and provides healthcare before, during, and after birth for mother and child. They conduct gynecological exams, deliver prenatal and postnatal care, and provide family planning information.

    • How to Become One: A nurse midwife needs a master of science in nursing (MSN). Many employers seek candidates who have completed midwife specialty programs.

4. Nurse Anesthetist

A nurse anesthetist provides patients with anesthesia for surgery and can assist in caring for individuals during their time in the operating room.

5. Nurse Case Manager

A nurse care manager monitors patient progress, suggests alternative treatments, and evaluates care.

6. Nurse Educator

Nurse educators combine a passion for teaching with clinical expertise to design, evaluate, and implement education programs for nurses in schools, universities, and colleges.

7. Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners (NPs) provide primary and specialty care, often working in collaboration with doctors. Some states allow NPs to maintain their own clinics.

8. Nurse Researcher

Nurse researchers create reports based on analysis and research gathered in the nursing field. They aim to improve medical and healthcare services.

    • How to Become One: Although RN candidates with BSNs qualify, individuals with MSNs or higher have a better chance of obtaining the position.

9. Informatics Nurse

Informatics nurses provide healthcare data to doctors, nurses, patients, and other healthcare providers, along with providing training on updated applications.

    • How to Become One: An informatics nurse needs at least a BSN, though many employers require candidates to possess an MSN in health informatics, quality management, or healthcare management.

10. Endocrinology Pediatric Nurse

Pediatric nurses specializing in endocrinology help children with diseases and disorders affecting the endocrine system, along with educating patients and their parents about sexual development and growth issues.

11. Travel Nurse

Travel nurses provide healthcare services to medical facilities and hospitals with short-term needs.

    • How to Become One: A candidate for this position needs an RN license, two years of nursing experience in one or more facilities, and a BSN.

12. Chief Nursing Officer

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13. Nursing Administrator

Nursing administrators provide management support and specialized human resources within medical facilities. They also recruit, train, and hire staff, along with handling various business aspects within healthcare organizations.

14. Critical Care Nurse

Critical care nurses work in hospital intensive care units, often collaborating with teams to provide the best possible care.

15. Diabetes Nurse

Diabetes nurses work with individuals with diabetes, providing patient education, including fitness and nutrition information.

    • How to Become One: Each candidate must become an RN and work in a facility specializing in diabetes. A diabetes nurse needs an MSN and 500 hours working in a diabetic clinic.

16. Family Nurse Practitioner

A family nurse practitioner takes care of most of a person’s ailments throughout their lives. They examine patients, diagnose illnesses, and prescribe treatments.

17. Health Policy Nurse

Health policy nurses work with patients on a social level, creating policies to promote a healthier population, analyzing laws and suggesting new policies where necessary.

    • How to Become One: A health policy nurse needs an RN license, a BSN, and an MSN, along with completing a 10-week residency with an appropriate facility.

18. Medical-Surgical Nurse

Medical-surgical nurses perform several jobs, including caring for and monitoring adult patients, working with medications, and assisting in surgeries.

19. Nurse Advocate

A nurse advocate provides a link between medical professionals, doctors, and patients to explore alternative treatment options.

20. Nurse Attorney

Since few attorneys have medical knowledge of nurses, nurse attorneys typically remain in high demand. These professionals work in various settings, including hospital legal departments and litigation firms.

    • How to Become One: A nurse attorney needs a BSN and an RN license, followed by three years of education at a law school and successful completion of a bar exam.

21. Pain Management Nurse

A pain management nurse examines patients and helps determine the cause of the pain before consulting with other nurses and doctors to decide on the correct course of treatment.

22. Perianesthesia Nurse

A perianesthesia nurse works with individuals coming out of anesthesia.

    • How to Become One: A perianesthesia nurse needs an RN license and a BSN, along with years of experience. Each candidate can pursue electives in perianesthesia and anesthesia and aim to complete 1,800 hours in a perianesthesia setting before taking the certification exam.

23. Psychiatric Nurse

Psychiatric nurses use experience and knowledge in mental health to help their patients navigate mental illnesses, helping them to avoid disability, social isolation, and other issues.

    • How to Become One: These nurses need a BSN from an accredited college. Candidates planning to diagnose or prescribe medications need a master’s degree or higher.

24. Trauma Nurse

Trauma nurses work in emergency rooms and urgent care centers.

25. Orthopedic Nurse

Orthopedic nurses offer care for patients suffering from musculoskeletal ailments, such as joint replacement or arthritis.

26. Neonatal Nurse

A neonatal nurse works with premature babies, typically within intensive care.

27. Pediatric Nurse

Pediatric nurses work with children in intensive care or clinical settings to provide specialized care.

28. Geriatric Nurse

Geriatric nurses work with elderly patients in nursing homes or hospitals, handling these patients’ specific challenges, such as dementia, arthritis, and heart or lung problems.

29. Public Health Nurse

Public health nurses care for entire populations, generally focusing on preventative medicine by educating patients about health issues and how to make improvements.

    • How to Become One: A public health nurse must possess RN licensure and a BSN, plus experience as a regular nurse. Some public health nurses hold an MSN.

30. Oncology Nurse

An oncology nurse provides specialist care for cancer patients in clinical care centers, homes, or hospitals by administering chemotherapy and other treatments.

31. Clinical Nurse

A clinical nurse treats and diagnoses patients with serious health conditions in hospitals and clinics.

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