If you have decided that nursing is the right career for you, the question still remains regarding which type of nursing specialization you want to go into. The different careers for a nurse can really vary: from working in a private clinic to working in an emergency room to tending to injured soldiers in a field hospital, the options are almost limitless when it comes to providing this essential service.
This article lays out the different types of nursing careers you can pursue as well as their respective salaries and educational requirements. It’s worth bearing in mind that while some hospitals do accept nurses with an Associate Degree, to be competitive and stand out among your peers, as well as qualify for the vast majority of roles on this list, it’s recommended to get a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. It is also worth pursuing all the additional certifications that you can in order to be truly specialized in the field you want to work in.
This article outlines 15 different career paths that you might be interested in specializing in. Read on to figure out which career might be the right one for you.
Average Salary Range: $60k- $76k
Educational Requirements: Degree in Nursing and RN License
Description: Simply put, a registered nurse is someone with either an associate (two years) or bachelor’s degree (three to four years) in nursing who has also obtained a registered nurse license. It’s worth keeping in mind that you will not be able to practice nursing unless you have an RN license. It is a generalized role that most nurses go through before obtaining more focused specializations, usually awarded from a certification body. If you would like to have more autonomy as a nurse, for example being able to administer treatment without a physician present, then it also makes sense to pursue a Master’s of Science in Nursing as well.
Average Salary Range: $51k – $105k
Educational Requirements: Bachelor of Science in Nursing, RN License and Neonatal certification
Description: A neonatal nurse is tasked with one of the most difficult all nursing jobs: dealing with babies just after they have been born. When a baby has been born, they act as a conduit between the infant and their parents, helping them to hold, feed, and clothe the baby. The role becomes far more difficult if the baby is in a critically ill condition, as they will be tasked with ensuring that the baby overcomes any difficulties while constantly checking its vital signs. Most neonatal nurses work in a maternity clinic, but many are also tasked with home calls, making sure the baby is healthy once it has arrived in the family home.
Family Nurse Practitioner
Average Salary Range: $82k – $126k
Educational Requirements: Bachelor of Science in Nursing, RN Licence, and MSN or DNP Degree
Description: A family nurse practitioner works with both individuals and families to help ensure that they have a happy and healthy lifestyle. Focusing on holistic care, most people working as family nurse practitioners have already had a fair few years already working in a healthcare setting. Additionally, family nurse practitioners can move into further sub-specialties such as pediatrics, gerontology, and orthopedics, the likes of which are further described below. If you would like to become a family nurse practitioner, then you will need to do a conversion course. With the online courses offered by Marymount University, you can do a BSN to FNP course that takes over just two years to complete. You can learn more by visiting their website.
Average Salary Range: $81k – $128k
Educational Requirements: Bachelor of Science in Nursing, RN License, and Master’s of Science in Nursing
Description: A nurse practitioner has additional qualifications in nursing and are trained in diagnostics, prescribing treatments, and the promotion of health. While their role is concerned with the general promotion of good health, they are more specialized than a traditional nurse and are expected to hold leadership roles. Unlike a generalized registered nurse, the minimum requirement to become a nurse practitioner is at least a Master’s of Science in Nursing. The amount of autonomy a nurse practitioner has varies significantly from state to state; while in some places they are able to practice independently, in others they are still under the supervision of a physician.
Health Policy Nurse
Average Salary Range: $71.5k – $100k
Educational Requirements: Bachelor of Science in Nursing, RN license, several years of practical experience
Description: The goal of a health policy nurse is to promote the health of society as a whole. They have a strong background working in the field, before working within both government and healthcare systems as a policy advisor and maker. They can make sizeable differences, including helping with the process of academic grant giving, the types of laws needed for healthcare, and dealing with the threat of pandemics. As a result of coronavirus spreading across the globe, it is likely that the role of a health policy nurse will only rise in the future. The minimum requirement for this degree is a bachelor’s, although due to its competitiveness, a master’s is usually recommended.
Average Salary Range: $46k – $106k
Educational Requirements: Degree in Nursing, Master’s of Science in Nursing, RN license and a Cardiac-Vascular Nursing Certification
Description: A cardiac nurse’s role is to treat patients suffering from a variety of heart-related issues, including coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure or recovery from surgery. They are tasked with monitoring heart health, prescribing and administering medication, and even assisting with defibrillation. Working hand-in-hand with a cardiologist, they are expected to have a very strong grasp of cardiological issues as well as being able to communicate them in a clear and effective way to the patient. They work across hospitals, clinics, homes and cardiovascular centers.
Clinical Nurse Specialist
Average Salary Range: $61k – $123k
Educational Requirements: Bachelor of Science in Nursing, RN License, Master’s of Science in Nursing and a Clinical Nurse Specialization course
Description: A clinical nurse specialist is a nurse with a graduate level qualification who has a focus on consulting, research and education. This is often a leadership role, meaning that clinical nurses lead on teaching others about the practice, recommending necessary reforms within a hospital setting, and co-ordinating research. They usually have additional specialties in other roles, meaning that clinical nurses have a broad range of knowledge, and can work across physician offices, student and community health centres, medical facilities and hospitals.
Emergency Room Nurse
Average Salary Range: $51k – $97k
Educational Requirements: Bachelor of Science in Nursing, RN License, Certified Emergency Nurse Credentials
Description: A job not for the faint of heart, an emergency room nurse works right in the thick of the action assisting trauma surgeons performing life-saving surgery. A stressful yet ultimately very rewarding job, it requires not only quick thinking and strong reflexes but extremely good empathy skills as they are tasked with relating difficult news to family and friends in traumatic situations. That said, the role isn’t just about being in the emergency room 24/7, with time not in emergency situations spent getting rooms ready and keeping records. They all have a public health role in promoting wellness and tactics to avoid the kind of injuries that lead people to the emergency room in the first place.
Mental Health Nurse
Average Salary Range: $51.5k – $68.5k
Educational Requirements: Bachelor of Science in Nursing, RN License, Master’s of Science in Nursing for more Advanced Roles, Psychiatric-Mental Health Certification
Description: A mental health nurse is tasked with a variety of issues pertaining to emotional and psychiatric health. They provide an evaluation of mental health issues, provide therapy, create treatment plans, provide personal care, prescribe necessary medication, and work closely with both doctors and families. They work across a variety of different places, including both general and psychiatric hospitals, mental health institutes, substance abuse clinics, home settings, and private practices. They can work across a wide variety of issues, meaning that this kind of job is constantly shifting and always surprising.
Pain Management Nurse
Average Salary Range: $33k – $71k
Educational Requirements: Bachelor of Science in Nursing, RN License, Certification from the American Society for Pain Management Nursing.
Description: As the name suggests, pain management nurses work with patients who have either chronic or acute pain. Their role is to locate the source of pain then co-ordinate with doctors and other nurses on the best way to deal with these issues. Also working as teachers, they recommend to their patients the right method and medication in order to deal with their pain. Due to the rise in elderly populations, obesity levels and more intake of patients using affordable health care, it is likely that the demand for pain management nurses will increase, making it as important as ever.
Average Salary Range: $35k – $70k
Educational Requirements: Bachelor in Nursing, RN License, Gerontological Nursing Certification
Description: A geriatric nurse is specialized in working with elderly people and the range of issues that come with older age, including: Alzheimer’s, arthritis, diabetes and other related mental and physical conditions. They educate patients, recommend medication plans, help patients maintain physical and mental health and provide bedside care. With the elderly population across the United States rising, it is likely that the demand for people in these types of role will increase.
Average Salary Range: $41k – $85k
Educational Requirements: Bachelor’s and Master’s in Nursing, RN License, and further certifications
Description: A pediatric nurse is tasked with promoting and dealing with the overall wellbeing of children, working closely with a pediatrician to recommend best healthcare practices. They can work almost anywhere, ranging from Pediatric Intensive Care Units all the way to private clinics. Their responsibilities include regular screening of children’s health, delivering vaccinations, diagnosing illnesses, and guiding on children’s health. In order to qualify, you will probably need to complete a Certified Pediatric Nurse Qualification.
Average Salary Range: $53k – $94k
Educational Requirements: Bachelor in Nursing, RN License, Accreditation from the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation
Description: An oncology nurse has an incredibly emotionally demanding role, assisting patients with the difficulties of diagnosis and treatment. It requires a lot of empathy, especially when dealing with patients who are facing serious illness and death. Treatment options are increasing, however, with the odds of beating cancer better than ever — oncology nurses can help with diagnosis, managing pain and the side effects of treatment, as well as recommending a variety of different treatment options. They work around a variety of different places, including providing home care as well as working in hospitals and general clinics.
Average Salary Range: $99k – $127k
Educational Requirements: Bachelor of Science in Nursing, RN License, Certified license from the Orthopaedic Nurses Certification Board
Description: Simply put, an orthopedic nurse is specialized in a variety of issues related to musculoskeletal issues. These can include broken or fractured bones, joint replacements, and osteoporosis. They often go beyond this as well, dealing with the mental issues that are related to these issues, helping during physiotherapy, and giving a strong educational base so people recovering from fractures have the best knowledge possible to take care of themselves when they are out of the hospital. These types of nurses can work across acute and critical care situations, assist with surgeries, and also be present across private clinics.
Average Salary Range: $58k – $103k
Educational Requirements: Bachelor in Nursing, RN License, army position
Description: A military nurse is a broad term referring to any nurse who also holds a position with the military. It is expected that on top of the necessary nursing qualifications, a military nurse would have to apply for and hold some rank within the army as well. They can work in a variety of locations, from recovery facilities inside the United States of America to being stationed on one of the country’s 800 off-shore bases, to even being part and parcel of a military operation.