Top 7 Nursing Careers and Specializations

The increasing dangers of unhealthy lifestyles, substance abuse, and environmental threats are causing an increased demand for nurses globally. As a result, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that registered nurse employment will grow by 15% from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.

Nursing careers are expanding beyond traditional bedside care. Nurses can now work in hospitals, schools, homes, and research facilities. In addition, they can get certified in geriatrics, oncology, or palliative care specialties.

You may believe it’s a long and challenging journey. But the charm of taking home a handsome salary, working with the ease of technology, and networking in an inclusive community motivates many people to consider a nursing career

If you are a practicing nurse looking for ways to climb the ladder, we recommend pursuing in-demand certifications and education programs. These will qualify you for higher autonomy, improved roles, and a better pay scale.

1. Nurse Midwife:

Nurse-midwives are the care providers for mothers and newborns. They are a vital part of the healthcare system.

A Nurse-Midwife’s responsibilities include:

  • Prenatal care
  • Offer support throughout the delivery period
  • Deliver babies
  • Guide with postpartum self-care.

Although nurse midwives focus on pregnancy-related care, they are also trained to provide primary gynecological reproductive and preventive health care for women of all ages.

To become a nurse-midwife, you require a license as a registered nurse. In addition, you must have completed a graduate-level program in nurse-midwifery.

Prospective nurse-midwives with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and an R.N. license may enroll in a master’s program or a doctor of nursing degree.

After earning their master’s degree, nurses must pass the American Midwifery Certification Board Certified Nurse Midwife examination. It will certify that they are eligible to practice nurse-midwifery in their state.

The average midwife nurse salary is $108,810 per year.

2. Nurse Anesthetist:

Nurse anesthetists offer care to patients needing pain management or surgery anesthesia. These nurses work closely with surgeons and anesthesiologists.

They are responsible for:

  • Preoperative evaluations
  • Administering anesthesia
  • Monitoring patients during surgery

Nurse anesthetists must have at least a master’s degree in nursing and complete a nurse anesthesia program. These programs typically take about 24 months to complete and include classroom and clinical work.

To become a nurse anesthetist, you must pass the National Certification Examination. The National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists offers this exam.

The salary for a nurse anesthetist is $174,790 per year.

3. Family Nurse Practitioner:

The need for primary care is on the rise. It is why family nurse practitioners are in high demand. These nurses provide a full range of services, from preventive care to diagnosis and treatment of chronic conditions. They also take care of childhood vaccinations, managing diabetes, and treating minor injuries. Family nurse practitioners provide comprehensive care for patients of all ages.

The minimum educational requirement for FNPs is an MSN. Most nurse practitioner programs, including those offered online, demand a BSN. However, some institutions admit students without a bachelor’s degree.

By completing specific nursing certifications like the Family Nurse Practitioner Certification, you can show potential employers that you have the skills and knowledge to provide quality care.

An FNP can earn up to $114,000 per year.

4. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner:

Mental health is a compromised area in the U.S. A large population still believes in the stigma that surrounds mental illness. To address this, psychiatric nurse practitioners provide crucial services to patients suffering from mental health disorders.

These services include:

  • Conducting initial psychiatric evaluation
  • Prescribing medication
  • Providing long-term care.

Psychiatric nurse practitioners also work with patients to help them cope with stress, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and avoid self-destructive behaviors.

A nurse requires a minimum of MSN for an APRN license. Several psychiatric nurse practitioner programs take two to three years to complete. They include both classroom and clinical work.

To become licensed, N.P. program graduates specializing in psychiatric mental health must acquire a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

With the proper qualification, a psychiatric nurse practitioner can earn up to $120,000 annually.

5. Geriatric Nurse:

Age-related changes can lead to various physical and mental health problems, like arthritis, dementia, and depression. Therefore, an increasing population of elderly Americans means a growing need for nurses specializing in geriatric care.

Geriatric nurses work with elderly patients to:

  • Prevent, identify, and treat age-related health problems.
  • Provide support and education to patients and their families.
  • Geriatric nurses may work in hospitals, nursing homes, or home health care.

Most geriatric nurses have a bachelor’s degree, although some positions may require a master’s degree.

To become a geriatric nurse, you must first become a registered nurse and complete a geriatric nursing program.

The average salary for a geriatric nurse is $57,500 per year. Certifications from the Gerontology Nursing Certification Commission can also help you earn more.

6. Nurse Researcher:

Nurse researchers conduct studies to improve patient care and outcomes.

  • Nurse researchers are responsible for:
  • Developing new treatments and therapies
  • Testing the effectiveness of current treatments
  • Finding ways to prevent or manage chronic conditions

Nurse researchers work in various settings, including hospitals, clinics, research centers, and pharmaceutical companies. They are crucial members of the health care team and play a vital role in improving patient care.

Most nurse researchers have a Ph.D. However, some positions may require a master’s degree.

To become a nurse researcher, you must first become a registered nurse and complete a research program.

Although nurse researchers do not require specific qualifications, they may improve their job prospects by obtaining the Certified Clinical Research Professional certification. The Society for Clinical Research Associates offers these programs. They can also undertake other research credentials administered by the Association of Clinical Research Professionals.

The average salary of a nurse researcher is $81,500 yearly.

7. Nurse Educator:

Health education is a contributing factor when it comes to maintaining community health. Whether teaching individuals or groups about health risks, providing screenings, or managing immunizations, nurse educators play a vital role in keeping the public informed and healthy.

Nurse educators typically work in hospitals, clinics, or community health centers. They may also work in schools, universities, or government agencies. Children, adults, and the elderly are all potential audiences for nurse educators.

Becoming a nursing educator necessitates fulfilling numerous educational needs. It includes a satisfactory score on the NCLEX- Completing an MSN is the best way to satisfy these requirements. Acquiring additional experience in the field is also necessary to become a nursing educator.

Increasingly, nursing schools prefer to hire nurse educators with a doctor of nursing practice degree or a Ph.D. in nursing. To be eligible for the Certified Nurse Educator credential, these specialist nurses must also pass the National League of Nursing exam.

On average, nurse educators earn $79,319 per year.


Nursing is a diverse, fulfilling, and self-rewarding career. Many different nursing careers are available with specific qualification requirements, responsibilities, and average salaries. The best way to find the nursing career that is right for you is to explore all of your options and speak with a nursing career counselor.

It’s always safe to pursue higher levels of education, as this will give you a better chance at getting the job you want and earning a higher salary. Keep growing!

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