Types of Nursing Career Specialties

I currently am on the waiting list for my local community college's ADN program. I am taking my pre-required classes in the meantime. Nursing is a second career for me, and I still don't know "exactly" what kind of nursing I want to do. I have been looking for a list like this for a long time. I hope it will help others out also. Nurses Career Support Article Video


Types of Nursing Career Specialties

Agency Nurses

Agency Nursing is essentially where a nurse will register or sign up with an agency or similar group and tell them what hours they are available to work. The nurses are then contacted and offered work on a shift to shift basis.

Agency Nurses are now in high demand, particularly, in the case of nurses with specialized training or experience. See also: travel nursing

2018 Median Salary: $46,240 year / $22.23 hour
Education Needed: BSN, ADN

Source onetonline.org

More Reading:
Agency Nurses

Ambulatory Care Nurses

Ambulatory Care Nurses care for patients whose stay in the hospital or other facility will last for less than 24 hours. Ambulatory care nursing covers a broad range of specialties in the out-patient setting.

Ambulatory Care Nurses care for individuals, families, and groups in a variety of settings outside the hospital. Ambulatory care nursing is a nursing specialty with its own professional society, standards of practice, certification, performance measurement criteria, and body of literature for evidence-based practice.

With patients living longer with chronic diseases, complications, and comorbidities, patient care is shifting to the outpatient setting, bringing sicker patients into the ambulatory care arena. Hospital stays are shorter today with follow up care being handled in ambulatory care settings. The need for more and better prepared RNs has never been greater. As a result of these changes, RNs have more opportunities for a variety of roles in a broad array of settings.

Education Needed: BSN, ADN, RN

More Reading:
American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing
Ambulatatory Care Questions and Articles

Nurse Anesthesia

Nurse Anesthetists work with surgeons, dentists, podiatrists, anesthesiologists, and other doctors to provide anesthesia to patients before, during, and after surgery or childbirth.

2018 Median Salary: $167,950 year / $80.75 hour
Education Needed: MSN, BSN, ADN

Source onetonline.org

More Reading:
American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) Questions and Articles

Cardiac Care Nurses

The Cardiac Care Nurse works with other members of the medical staff in assessing, intervening, and implementing nursing care for the cardiac patient.

2019 Median Salary: $88,425 year
Overtime Compensation: $10,250 year
Education Needed: BSN, ADN, RN

Source indeed.com

More Reading:
American Board of Cardiovascular Medicine

Case Management Nurses

Case Management is a collaborative process of assessment, planning, facilitation and advocacy for options and services to meet an individual's health needs through communication and available resources to promote quality cost-effective outcomes.

American Case Management Association

Critical Care Nurses

Critical Care nurses provide care for patients and families who are experiencing actual or potential life-threatening illness. More specific fields that fit into the critical care category include cardiac care, intensive care, and neurological and cardiac surgical intensive care.

2018 Median Salary: $71,730 year / $34.48 hour
Education Needed: BSN, ADN

Source onetonline.org

More Reading:
American Association of Critical Care Nurses
Critical Care Nurses

Watch Nursing Specialties with the Best Work and Life Balance (as selected by allnurses.com members) video...

Emergency Nurses

Emergency Nurses assess patients, provide interventions and evaluate care in a time limited and sometimes hectic environment. Emergency Nurses work independently and interdependently with various health professionals in an attempt to support patients and their families as they experience illness, injury or crisis.

Emergency Nurses Association

Forensics Nurses

Forensic Nurses provide medical care to victims of crime, collect evidence after crimes occur, and provide medical care to patients within the prison system.

International Association of Forensic Nurses

Gastroenterology Nurses

Gastroenterology (GI) Nurses provide care to patients with known or suspected gastrointestinal problems who are undergoing diagnostic or therapeutic treatment and/or procedures. GI Nurses practice in physician offices, inpatient and outpatient endoscopy departments, ambulatory endoscopy centers and inpatient hospital units.

Society of Gastroenterology Nurses Association

Geriatrics Nurses

Geriatric Nurses care for elderly patients in a number of settings which include the patients home, nursing homes, and hospitals. Geriatric Nurses face constant challenges because their patients are often very ill, very complex, and very dependent on the nurses skills.

American Geriatrics Society

Holistic Nurses

Holistic Nurses provide medical care for patients while honoring the individual's subjective opinions about health, health beliefs, and values. Holistic nursing requires nurses to integrate self-care, self-responsibility, spirituality, and reflection into their daily nursing care.

American Holistic Nurses Association


HIV/AIDS Nurses provide healthcare for patients who are HIV or AIDS positive. These nurses usually have specialized training in HIV/AIDS.

Association of Nurses in AIDS Care

Informatics Nurses

Nursing Informatics is a broad field which combines nursing knowledge with the use of computers. Jobs in this field could range from the implementation of a new computer network within a hospital to the sales of computer systems to hospitals by an outside computer company.

American Nursing Informatics Association

Legal Nursing

Legal Nursing combines the use of the legal system with a thorough knowledge of the nursing field. Legal Nurses are usually seasoned veterans of the nursing field who work with attorneys to review medical documents and determine if medical negligence occurred.

American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants

Midwifery Nurses

Midwives are nurses that are specially trained to deal with childbirth and providing prenatal and postpartum care. The midwife is qualified to deliver babies by themselves unless there are extenuating circumstances which require the midwife to consult with a physician.

2018 Median Salary: $103,770 year / $49.89 hour
Education Needed: MSN, BSN

Source onetonline.org

More Reading:
American College of Nurse-Midwives
Certified Nurse-Midwives

Military Nurses

Military Nurses work in a variety of settings, ranging from family practice at a local military base to providing emergency care for the wounded during war times.

Neonatal Nurses

Neonatal Nurses provide care for newborns by assessing the patient to ensure good health, providing preventative care to prevent illness, and caring for the babies which are sick. The neonatal nurse is responsible for anticipating, preventing, diagnosing and minimizing illness of newborns.

National Association of Neonatal Nurses

Neuroscience Nurses

Neuroscience Nurses care for patients using new therapies and innovative technologies to treat diseases of the nervous system.

American Association of Neuroscience Nurses

Nurse Practitioner Nurses

Nurse Practitioners are advanced practice nurses who have obtained their masters degree and are qualified to prescribe medication, and interpret diagnostic and laboratory tests.

2018 Median Salary: $107,030 year / $51.46 hour
Education Needed: MSN, DNP

Source onetonline.org

More Reading:
American Academy of Nurse Practitioners
American College of Nurse Practitioners
Nurse Practitioners / NP

Occupational Health Nurses

The Occupational Health Nursing is responsible for improving, protecting, maintaining and restoring the health of employees. by providing this care for employees, the occupational health nurse is able to influence the health of the organization.

American Association of Occupational Health Nurses

Oncology Nurses

Oncology Nurses provide health care for cancer patients at all stages of treatment and remission.

Oncology Nursing Society

Pediatric Nurses

Pediatric Nurses care for children in all aspects of health care. Pediatric nurses practice in a variety of settings which include hospitals, clinics, schools, and in the home.

Association of Pediatric oncology Nurses
National Association of Pediatric Nurse Associates and Practioners

Perioperative Nurses

Perioperative Nurses work in operating rooms in tertiary care hospitals, community and rural hospitals, day care surgery units and specialized clinics. They often provide post-anesthetic care in rural hospitals or specialized units where nurses provide total patient care.

American Society of Perianesthesia Nurses
The Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses

Psychiatric Nurses

Psychiatric Nurses provide care for patients and families with psychiatric and mental illnesses. these nurses practice in a variety of settings which include hospitals, and institutions.

International Society of Psychiatric - Mental Health Nurses

Research Nurses

Research Nurses perform clinical and basic research to establish a scientific basis for the care of individuals across the life span-from management of patients during illness and recovery to the reduction of risks for disease and disability, the promotion of healthy lifestyles, promoting quality of life in those with chronic illness, and care for individuals at the end of life.

National Institute of Nursing Research

School Nursing

School Nurses work with students and faculty of schools providing medical care and other support in an in-school environment.

National Association of School Nurses

Transplant Nurses

Transplant Nurses work in a variety of settings and function in various aspects of transplant procedures. They assist in the transplantation of various body parts which include, but are not limited to: liver, kidney, pancreas, small bowel, heart, and lungs.

International Transplant Nurses Society

Trauma Nurses

Trauma Nurses care for patients in an emergency or critical care setting. these nurses generally care for patients who have suffered severe trauma such as a car accident, gun shot wound, stabbing, assault, or other traumatic injury.

Trauma Nurse

Travel Nursing Nurses

Travel Nurses work for an agency that provides nurses to hospitals and other health care facilities across the country. Travel nurses usually get to choose which locations they are willing to travel to and are typically given assignments which last for 13 weeks or more. travel nurses usually make a very good salary, receive paid housing accommodations, sign-on bonuses, and other excellent benefits.

Travel Nurse

Urology Nurses

Urology Nurses care for patients in such specialties as oncology, male infertility, male sexual dysfunction, kidney stones, incontinence, and pediatrics. Urology nurses may also participate in such urological surgeries as surgery for cancer, general urology, plastic, infertility, brachytherapy, lithotrispy, and pediatric surgery.

American Nephrology Nurses Association
Society of Urologic Nurses and Associates

Women's Health Nurses

Women's Health Nurses participate in fields such as OB/GYN, mammography, reproductive health, and general women's health. These nurses practice in a variety of settings.

Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses

Wound/Ostomy/Continence Nursing

Wound ostomy and continence (WOC) nursing is a specialty involved with caring for patients with acute and chronic wounds (fistulas, vascular ulcers, pressure ulcers, neuropathic wounds, surgical wounds, lacerations), bowel or bladder diversional ostomies, or continence conditions involving skin care issues. WOC nurses provide a multidisciplinary approach to treatment across a continuum of care and in a number of settings.

Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society
Wound Ostomy Continence Nursing Certification Board (WOCNCB)

Watch Nursing Career Specialties - What's Right for you? video...


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18 Articles; 34,705 Posts

Specializes in Education, FP, LNC, Forensics, ED, OB.

Excellent, Mona. Thank you for the research. This should prove very helpful for all.


5 Posts

Hi Mona, I was just wondering, do you plan on going for your BSN after you get your ADN? Or are you just going to stick with your ADN?

Mona Mona, BSN, RN

1 Article; 90 Posts

For now, it's an ADN. Because I don't have the money for more. :) I plan on working for a large University hospital here, and then will reimburse for tuition. Eventually, I would love a BSN, however, I don't even know if I would want to be a Nurse Manager. In my area, BSN's don't get paid much more either, maybe 25 cents more an hour?? Or so the nurses tell me. Where I volunteered they all thought I had a good plan. :)


4 Posts

What great information! Nursing is my 2nd career also. I am currently FINALLY in my first semester of an RN program. Don't be discouraged with the waiting. I highly recommend CNA work in the meantime as the 1st semester is all about skill and this will help take the edge off if you have never worked with patients before. I wish I had done this.

Thank You. I Am In The Same Boat As You, And This Has Helped!!! I Now Know What Type Of Career Path I Want To Take.:)


30 Posts

I have just made the decision to get into Nursing. I'm 39 and am going to go the community college route. This information was very helpful. Any advice for the NET? I'm humbled, but determined to become an associate RN.


15 Posts

i've found sites that give the specific careers withing nursing, except they didn't mention a lot of the ones you gave.

thank you so much, all of your information was extrmeley helpful!

I am thankful that I am able to get the information I am searching for, yet I suggest that you might include their nursing responsibilities, noy just their definitions. Then again, I am thankful enough. By the way, today is my birthday. I just wanna greet everybody (visitors and members) a Happy New Year!


1 Post

Thanks for the info list! I'm an old nursing student (changed careers after our children left home and started school part-time in late 40's), am in my last semester for ASN, and have no idea of any particular area of nursing I want to get into.

One piece of advice to any "youngster" reading this--go to school when you're young!!

leslie :-D

11,191 Posts

And don't forget about Hospice Nursing- caring for the dying.

Specializes in Child/Adolescent Mental Health.
I currently am on the waiting list for my local community college's ADN program. I am taking my pre-required classes in the meantime. Nursing is a second career for me, and I still don't know "exactly" what kind of nursing I want to do. I have been looking for a list like this for a long time. I hope it will help others out also.


Thanks for all of the links. This is really good info Mona:)

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