Great news: You’ve chosen a solid career path by becoming a nurse. All nursing specialties are in demand. After all, patients will always need care and employers will always be staffing qualified nurses and physicians to provide it.
In this article, we’ll break down your options in the nursing field. We’ll start by looking at the different nursing degrees and their requirements. We’ll also review the types of nursing specialties in high demand. The goal is to help you make an informed decision as you take this important step forward in your career as a healthcare professional.
What are the different types of nurses by education level?
There are many ways to practice nursing. First, there are different levels of nursing, and there are a wealth of specialty areas. What kinds of nurses are there? Let’s begin with a leveled breakdown of the types of nurses and what they do.
- Nursing aid: Want to dip your toe in the nursing pool but not dive in? Becoming a nursing aid could be a great first step because it gives you access to the field without requiring nursing school (yet).
- Certified nursing assistant (CNA): If you like being a nursing aid, but you’re still not ready to take the nursing-school plunge, consider getting your certification as a nurse assistant. You’ll work under the supervision of a registered nurse to help patients with their everyday needs.
- A licensed professional nurse or licensed vocational nurse (LPN/LVN): In this liaison role, you’ll manage the flow of communication and information between a patient and the healthcare staff. You’ll also perform basic medical tasks like administering injections and preparing patients for surgery.
- Registered nurse (RN): The registered nurse degree is a classic. This role pops into most of our heads when we think about nursing. As an RN, you’ll provide patient care and even get the opportunity to specialize in a field you love. There are two educational routes to becoming an RN: an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor Degree of Science in Nursing (BSN). A BSN is a more advanced degree that can set you up nicely for specializing later on.
- Doctor of nursing practice (DNP): A DNP is one of the two highest-ranking degrees in nursing. The other is a Ph.D., which focuses heavily on academic work and research. DNPs offer direct and more advanced patient care than other nurses.
Top eight in-demand nursing specialties
All nursing specialties are in high demand, so you virtually can’t go wrong no matter which certification you choose. The following nursing jobs have recently performed well in the projections and rankings, but remember, the opportunities are seemingly endless when it comes to nursing (and medical careers in general)! We encourage you never to shy away from your interests and passions, no matter how far along in your career you happen to be.
Here are the most popular nursing careers expected to grow rapidly in the coming years:
This career will reward you two-fold if you love working with babies (so cute!). Not only will you nurse prematurely born infants to good health, but you’ll also have a stellar career outlook with an estimated 17% growth rate and, in the United States, an average salary of $65,000.
Clinical nurses tackle advanced cases, working with patients with severe conditions like chronic illnesses or cancer. This important nursing role is experiencing a growth rate of approximately 20% and offers an average salary of $67,000 in the U.S.
A dialysis nurse works with patients with kidney failure, specifically. It’s a very niche specialty that expects a 7% spike by 2029, and the average annual salary in the U.S. hovers around $70,000.
Critical care nurse
As the name implies, critical care nurses work with patients who have grave and life-threatening illnesses and injuries. In the U.S., this sensitive, specialized work has a compensating average annual salary of $76,600, and you should be able to find a job given the career growth rate of 7%.
If you want to support mothers in one of the most significant moments of their lives, becoming a midwife is a rewarding way to do so. You’ll help with gynecological exams, prenatal care, and deliveries. This unique role is rewarding as far as pay goes, too, with a mean annual wage of $115,400 in the United States. The 11% job growth rate is another major perk.
Operating room nurse
If the operating room is a setting that calls to you, consider going into surgical nursing. You’ll provide pre-and post-operative care and assist surgeons during surgery. This career is growing slower than others at just 2%, but any growth is good. Plus, you’ll enjoy a salary of around $74,000 a year.
Nurse case manager
This unique role allows you to focus on care plans for patients. You’ll have the opportunity to walk patients through treatment options and help them feel as comfortable as possible as they do so. The average annual salary for a nurse case manager in the United States is around $74,100, and the 10-year project growth rate is an impressive 32%.
This specialty could also go on the list of nursing levels above. Why? It’s not exactly a specialty; it’s an advanced nursing role that requires a master’s degree and licensure. NPs work alongside doctors to perform lab work, diagnose conditions and prescribe medication. Nurse practitioners earn around $94,000 a year in the U.S. There’s no shortage of work, with a booming 25% growth rate.
There are many other types of nurses and salaries, and some roles boast six-figure paychecks. There’s no shame in considering money as an important career factor, along with lifestyle, type of care facilities, working hours, and specialization areas. If the previous nursing positions weren’t for you, research some of these additional areas:
- Intensive care unit (ICU)
- Emergency room (ER)
- Mental health
- Pain management
- Long-term care
- Acute care
Wherever your career goes, we’ll be the wind beneath your wings (and provide you with chic fits for the office). Count on us for information on medical careers and scrubs that won’t quit.