Types of Nursing Specialties: 20 Fast-Growing Nursing Fields

With the nursing field constantly evolving, there are a variety of different types of nurses you can be. The demand for nurses is continually growing, and the nursing career path offers many worthwhile benefits such as strong salaries, numerous opportunities, and a feeling of fulfillment. With this article, you’ll learn what kind of nurses there are and the unique opportunities for each of these types of nursing jobs.


20 Fast-Growing Nursing Specialties

With so many nursing specialties, it can be hard to decide what type of nurses would be a good fit for you. From an oncology nurse to a nurse practitioner, there is a type of nurse for every interest. Below you can find a list of different types of nurses and descriptions for the 20 fastest-growing nursing specialties.

1. Registered Nurse (RN)

  • Education Requirement: Associate Degree or Bachelor’s of Science Degree
  • Expected Job Growth: 15% increase
  • Employment Locations: Hospitals, residential care facilities, etc.
  • Relevant Certifications: State Nursing License
  • Salary Range: $60,300 - $75,900

Registered Nurses (RN) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members. Most registered nurses work in a team with physicians and other healthcare specialists in various settings.

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2. Cardiac Nurse

  • Education Requirement: Associate Degree or Bachelor's of Science Degree, Registered Nursing License (RN)
  • Expected Job Growth: 16% increase
  • Employment Locations: Hospitals, In-Home Care and Rehab Centers
  • Relevant Certifications: State Nursing License
  • Salary Range: $67,490 median annually

One of the leading causes of death in the United States today is heart disease. The demand for cardiac nurses continues to grow with the rising number of patients affected with heart-related problems. As a cardiac nurse, you will also assist with surgical procedures such as bypass, angioplasty, or pacemaker surgery.

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3. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

  • Education Requirement: Masters Degree (MSN), Registered Nurse License (RN) and One Year in Acute Care Setting
  • Expected Job Growth: 16% increase
  • Employment Locations: Hospitals, Surgical Centers, Specialty Doctor’s Offices
  • Relevant Certifications: CRNA Certification
  • Salary Range: $153,780 median annually

A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) is a highly trained nurse that specializes in assisting with anesthesia during surgeries. CRNA’s make up some of the highest-paid nurse specialties in the medical field due to the high demand of these nurses in surgical settings and detailed training they receive.

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4. Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)

  • Education Requirement: Masters Degree and sometimes a Doctoral degree
  • Expected Job Growth: 15% (much faster than average)
  • Employment Locations: Hospitals, Physician’s Offices, In-Home Healthcare services, etc.
  • Relevant Certifications: N/A
  • Salary Range: $85,723 median annually

Clinical nurse specialists are a type of advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), who provide direct patient care by working with other nurses and staff to improve the quality of care a patient receives. They often serve in leadership roles and may educate and advise other nursing staff.

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5. Critical Care Nurse

  • Education Requirement: Associate Degree or Bachelor’s of Science Degree, Registered Nursing License (RN)
  • Expected Job Growth: 19% increase
  • Employment Locations: Hospitals and Doctor’s Offices
  • Relevant Certifications: Certification in Advanced Cardiac Life Support
  • Salary Range: $71,694 median annually

Critical Care Nurses are very similar to Registered Nurses, especially in education level, but the main difference is a critical care nurse is specifically trained for emergency situations. A critical care nurse can be expected to tend to serious wounds and monitoring life support systems in stressful scenarios.

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6. ER Nurse

  • Education Requirement: Associate Degree or Bachelor’s of Science Degree, Registered Nursing License (RN)
  • Expected Job Growth: 16% increase
  • Employment Locations: Hospitals
  • Relevant Certifications: Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN)
  • Salary Range: $62,010 median annually

With their team in the emergency room, an ER nurse performs an array of tasks after careful evaluation and stabilization of a patient. An ER nurse can be expected to determine proper medication administration by reviewing a patient’s medical charts, as well tend to basic wounds or ailments.

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7. Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

  • Education Requirement: Masters Degree in Nursing (MSN) and Registered Nursing License (RN)
  • Expected Job Growth: 16% increase
  • Employment Locations: Doctor’s Offices and Hospice Facilities
  • Relevant Certifications: 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours
  • Salary Range: $100,910 median annually

A family nurse practitioner (FNP) are specifically trained in primary health care services for all ages. Normal duties of a family nurse practitioner include diagnosing and treating illnesses, physical exams, diagnostic testing and prescribing medications.

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8. Geriatric Nursing

  • Education Requirement: Associate Degree or Bachelor’s of Science Degree, and Registered Nurse License (RN)
  • Expected Job Growth: 19-26% increase
  • Employment Locations: Hospitals, Doctor’s Offices and Nursing Homes
  • Relevant Certifications: Certification in Geriatric Nursing
  • Salary Range: $66,169 median annually

A geriatric nurse specializes in the treatment of older patients in order to provide care for injuries or ailments, illness and maintain their quality of life. In addition to caring for older patients, they can also anticipate future care for their patients and long-term illnesses such as cancer or Alzheimer’s disease.

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9. Perioperative Nurse (Surgical/OR Nurse)

  • Education Requirement: Associate Degree or Bachelor’s of Science Degree, and Registered Nurse License (RN)
  • Expected Job Growth: 16% increase
  • Employment Locations: Hospitals, Surgical Centers and Outpatient Facilities
  • Relevant Certifications: CNOR and Certified Nurse First Assistant (CNFA) Certifications
  • Salary Range: $68,450 median annually

A perioperative nurse, also known as a surgical nurse or an OR nurse, focuses on pre- and post-operation care for a patient. They can set up a surgical room for operations, manage the tools for operations, and apply bandages during surgeries to control and maintain the bleeding of a patient.

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10. Mental Health Nurse

  • Education Requirement: Masters Degree and Registered Nurse License (RN)
  • Expected Job Growth: 31% increase
  • Employment Locations: Hospitals, Rehabilitation Centers, Psychiatric Facilities
  • Relevant Certifications: N/A
  • Salary Range: $64,50 median annually

A mental health nurse specializes in the diagnosis and treating of psychological disorders in patients. Counseling services are also often an essential duty within this nursing discipline.

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11. Nurse Educator

  • Education Requirement: Masters Degree and Registered Nurse License (RN)
  • Expected Job Growth: 19% increase
  • Employment Locations: Hospitals, Universities, Community Colleges
  • Relevant Certifications: Certified Nurse Educator Examination
  • Salary Range: $68,450 median annually

Nurse educators are responsible for teaching nursing students about caring for patients. They may teach comprehensive lessons about nursing in general, or focus on specific areas of nursing.

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12. Nurse Manager

  • Education Requirement: Associate Degree or Bachelor’s of Science Degree, and Registered Nurse License (RN)
  • Expected Job Growth: 19% increase
  • Employment Locations: Hospitals, Surgical Centers and Outpatient Facilities
  • Relevant Certifications: Certified in Executive Nursing Practice (CENP) or Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML)
  • Salary Range: $80,707 median annually

The role of a nurse manager is that of a supervisory clinical path. Many nurse managers move into an administrative role and handle tasks that include recruitment of nurses, creating schedules and make decisions regarding budget and management.

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13. Nurse Midwife

  • Education Requirement: Associate Degree or Bachelor’s of Science Degree, and Registered Nurse License (RN)
  • Expected Job Growth: 9% increase
  • Employment Locations: Hospitals and Doctor’s Offices
  • Relevant Certifications: American College of Nurse Midwives Certification
  • Salary Range: $63,000 median annually

A nurse midwife specializes in the care of pregnant women. They also assist in labor and delivery, as well as in prenatal appointments. Nurse midwives continue their care after the delivery room by educating and counselling new mothers on adjusting to life with a newborn.

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14. Nurse Practitioner

  • Education Requirement: Master of Science Degree or Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree (DNP)
  • Expected Job Growth: 31% Increase
  • Employment Locations: Hospitals, Doctor’s Offices
  • Relevant Certifications: Certifications dependent on specialty of care
  • Salary Range: $103,880 median annually

Nurse practitioners serve as primary and specialty care providers, delivering advanced nursing services to patients and their families. They may also perform physical examinations, order testing and prescribe medications.

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15. Nursing Administrator

  • Education Requirement: Bachelor’s of Science Degree and Registered Nurse License (RN)
  • Expected Job Growth: 20% Increase
  • Employment Locations: Hospitals, Outpatient Care Centers
  • Relevant Certifications: Certifications dependent on area of specialty
  • Salary Range: $96,540 median annually

A nursing administrator is similar to a nurse manager, but on a much larger scale. One of the primary duties of a nursing administrator is to oversee entire units of nursing teams. The operation of the unit relies on the management of the nursing administrator to run smoothly and effectively.

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16. Oncology Nurse

  • Education Requirement: Associate Degree or Bachelor’s of Science Degree, and Registered Nurse License (RN)
  • Expected Job Growth: 19% Increase
  • Employment Locations: Hospitals, Cancer Treatment Centers
  • Relevant Certifications: 1000 hours of training as an RN
  • Salary Range: $65,470 median annually

The treatment of cancer is what oncology nurses are highly trained in, and they help educate patients about their treatment options or remission status. Oncology nurses will continue to monitor their patients progress and symptoms, and can prescribe medications.

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17. Orthopedic Nurse

  • Education Requirement: Bachelor’s of Science Degree, and Registered Nurse License (RN)
  • Expected Job Growth: 26% Increase
  • Employment Locations: Hospitals, Doctor’s Office, Rehabilitation Centers
  • Relevant Certifications: Orthopedic Nurse Certification Exam (ONC)
  • Salary Range: $76,282 median annually

Orthopedic nurses focus on musculoskeletal issues and diseases that include fractured bones, arthritis, joint replacements and osteoporosis. They can help care for physical issues, as well as intricate disease management.

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18. Pediatric Nurse

  • Education Requirement: Associate Degree or Bachelor’s of Science Degree, and Registered Nurse License (RN)
  • Expected Job Growth: 26% increase
  • Employment Locations: Doctor’s Offices, Hospitals
  • Relevant Certifications: N/A
  • Salary Range: $64,600 median annually

From infancy into teenage years, a pediatric nurse specializes in care for children. Much like other nurses, pediatric nurses can perform physical examinations, diagnose illness and develop treatment plans.

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19. Public Health Nurse

  • Education Requirement: Associate Degree or Bachelor’s of Science Degree, and Registered Nurse License (RN)
  • Expected Job Growth: 19% increase
  • Employment Locations: Hospital, Community Clinic
  • Relevant Certifications: Public/Community Health Nursing Exam
  • Salary Range: $56,111 median annually

A public health nurse advocates and teaches communities about important health information concerning their society. They strive to educate their patients about different treatment options, prevention of disease and assist individuals with medical care.

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20. Travel Nurse

  • Education Requirement: Associate Degree or Bachelor’s of Science Degree, and Registered Nurse License (RN)
  • Expected Job Growth: 19% increase
  • Employment Locations: Hospitals, Doctor’s Offices
  • Relevant Certifications: Dependent upon specialty
  • Salary Range: Varies by Contract/Location

Travel nurses are unique in that they are able to move from location to location based on their contract, and interact with patients from numerous locations. Travel nurses also receive their hourly pay, accompanied by a housing stipend. Along with the satisfaction of working and learning in new locations, travel nurses are able to broaden their experiences both professionally and personally through their journey.

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