21 Types of Nurses (With Salaries, Duties and FAQS)
Updated June 30, 2023
Nursing can be a lucrative career with many opportunities for skills development and advancement. With the right credentials, you can work in many settings and focus on a particular specialty, such as pediatrics or oncology. Understanding the nursing industry's various specializations and primary duties can help you choose the right career.
In this article, we discuss 21 types of nurses, including the average salaries and general duties, and FAQs about nursing specialties.
21 types of nurses
The nursing field is evolving, with certain specialties becoming more in demand as health care changes. If you're considering a nursing degree or already have one but are in the process of looking for a new position, here's a list of different types of nurses:
For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, visit indeed.com/salaries.
1. Public health nurse
National average salary: $65,066 per year
Primary duties: A public health nurse works to help improve the overall public health by offering various services, such as illness, disability and injury prevention and health promotion. They can work with lawmakers in local, state and federal government to advocate for improved health policies that can affect the nation. Additionally, these nurses can work for government agencies, nonprofit organizations and community health centers.
2. Occupational health nurse
National average salary: $69,429 per year
Primary duties: An occupational health nurse prepares presentations on health and safety topics and hosts programs for individuals, such as employees working in hazardous conditions. Occupational nurses may have direct contact with employees and answer their health-related questions.
3. Private duty nurse
National average salary: $64,821 per year
Primary duties: A private duty nurse is a nurse who helps care for patients at home with complex medical needs. They can provide long-term, comprehensive care for patients requiring extended individual care, such as those who have suffered a birthing injury, traumatic brain injury or congenital disease. These nurses can have various tasks daily depending on their patients, but many nurses perform ventilator, G-tube and tracheostomy care.
4. Home care nurse
National average salary: $88,866 per year
Primary duties: A home care nurse works with patients individually in their homes. Generally, these nurses have patients who are elderly, critically ill or people with health conditions or impairments. Home care nurses assess health conditions, plan care and manage medicine. Additionally, they ensure the home is safe and comfortable for the patient.
5. Director of nursing
National average salary: $96,914 per year
Primary duties: Directors of nursing, also called nursing directors, oversee all nursing operations and staff within health care facilities. Unlike nurse managers, who usually directly supervise and interact with the nursing staff, the director of nursing role typically has a broad scope, with nursing managers from multiple departments directly reporting to them. This nursing career usually requires medical, managerial and leadership skills.
Read more: Learn About Being a Director of Nursing
6. Nurse midwife
National average salary: $104,974 per year
Primary duties: A nurse midwife is a primary caretaker for pregnant people, providing critical supervision before and after labor. Nurse-midwives conduct diagnostic tests, develop treatment plans and assess and diagnose patients, often working closely with an obstetrics and gynecology (OB-GYN) physician. Additionally, they conduct annual and medical exams. This role may work at a medical facility or a private practice.
7. Pediatric nurse practitioner
National average salary: $109,235 per year
Primary duties: A pediatric nurse practitioner addresses all primary care concerns, such as illnesses, and manages the side effects of conditions. They work with children from birth to adolescence. They can work in a physician's office or a clinic and give helpful advice to caretakers to prevent illnesses and promote wellness strategies to improve their long-term health.
Read more: What Is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?
8. Nursing home administrator
National average salary: $112,302 per year
Primary duties: A nursing home administrator works with the aging population. They combine their experience and education in health care with business skills to supervise and manage administrative and clinical activities within nursing home facilities. They may hire and train staff, handle the budget and assist in patient care.
9. Physician assistant
National average salary: $117,221 per year
Primary duties: A physician assistant (PA) diagnoses injuries, examines patients and administers treatments. A surgeon or physician supervises them as they practice medicine, and some nurse practitioners may work as physician assistants because the training programs and duties are similar.
10. Pain management nurse
National average salary: $117,567 per year
Primary duties: Pain management nurses often work within hospital oncology units, palliative care or hospice programs to help identify the cause of a patient's chronic or acute pain and help prepare a care plan. They may also work as advocates to help obtain the patient's medication or as liaisons for vocational programs to help patients manage pain while returning to work.
Related: What Is Pain Management Nursing?
11. Nurse practitioner
National average salary: $118,806 per year
Primary duties: A nurse practitioner assists in nearly every aspect of patient care, including conducting and interpreting diagnostic tests, such as X-rays and lab work, diagnosing conditions, creating treatment plans and consulting with patients and their families. They may work as part of a clinic or hospital treatment team or independently as part of a private practice.
12. Psychiatric nurse practitioner
National average salary: $124,733 per year
Primary duties: A psychiatric nurse is an advanced RN with an emphasis on mental health. They work with patients to assess, diagnose and treat mental health needs. These nurses can provide therapy sessions and prescribe medication for individuals with mental health needs or substance addictions. Psychiatric nurses can collaborate with other health care specialists to create patient treatment plans.
13. Travel nurse
National average salary: $126,330 per year
Primary duties: A travel nurse responds to a health care facility's nursing shortages and completes temporary assignments, typically lasting up to 13 weeks. They work closely with a physician and medical teams to design treatment plans and make adjustments as needed. Travel nurses often have a background as registered nurses (RNs) and work for an independent nursing staffing agency.
14. Chief nursing officer
National average salary: $129,234 per year
Primary duties: A chief nursing officer is a senior-level nurse who oversees nursing operations in their facility. They combine medical and clinical expertise with business knowledge regarding hospital systems to help ensure the hospital's or private clinic's daily operations function efficiently. They often implement training programs for new nurses and nurse managers and manage the business side of nursing.
15. Intensive care registered nurse
National average salary: $129,479 per year
Primary duties: An intensive care (ICU) or critical care nurse treats patients with life-threatening illnesses or conditions. ICU nurses can have tasks where they respond to emergencies, care for patients during their recovery journey in the intensive care unit, monitor their progress, conduct full-body assessments and provide emotional support to patients and their families.
16. Telemetry nurse
National average salary: $140,849 per year
Primary duties: A telemetry nurse monitors and cares for critical care patients. They administer diagnostic tests and use advanced medical equipment to monitor patient vital signs, such as blood pressure, heart rate and breathing. Telemetry nurses also assist doctors with medical procedures and educate patients as needed.
Read more: What Is a Telemetry Nurse?
17. Emergency room registered nurse
National average salary: $142,485 per year
Primary duties: An emergency room (ER) registered nurse cares for patients with serious injuries or illnesses in a hospital or during transport in an ambulance. Their responsibilities include stabilizing incoming patients, administering medications as instructed by physicians, cleaning wounds and giving patients stitches. This type of position can be fast-paced and has various daily duties when treating patients with diverse conditions.
18. Oncology registered nurse
National average salary: $145,452 per year
Primary duties: An oncology registered nurse works with cancer patients. Some typical tasks include monitoring patients, developing care plans, administering medications, reviewing a patient's medical history, educating the patient and their family about the disease and treatment plan, evaluating results from a patient's lab tests, examining the patient's overall health and offering support through counseling. Oncology nurses help patients nationwide navigate their cancer treatment and manage their symptoms.
19. Labor and delivery nurse
National average salary: $148,609 per year
Primary duties: A labor and delivery (L&D) or obstetric (OB) nurse helps pregnant patients throughout childbirth. Tasks for an L&D nurse include consulting with patients during prenatal visits, monitoring the fetal heartbeat and contractions during labor, performing tests on newborns and providing guidance on infant care to patients. While they typically work with healthy patients, these nurses may occasionally encounter emergency deliveries, such as unscheduled cesarean sections or high-risk patients.
20. Operating room registered nurse
National average salary: $156,793 per year
Primary duties: An operating room (OR) registered nurse works with a physician and medical team in an operating room to help care for a patient before, during and after surgery. This includes stocking the operating room with sterile equipment, assisting surgeons during a procedure, updating a patient's medical files and collaborating with the team to determine the patient's post-surgical care.
21. Certified registered nurse anesthetist
National average salary: $206,615 per year
Primary duties: Certified registered nurse anesthetists are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who deliver anesthesia and pain care services, such as epidurals and nerve blocks. They may work with surgeons, anesthesiologists, podiatrists, dentists and other health care specialists to help prep, stabilize and monitor patients during medical procedures and post-operation recovery.
Frequently asked questions
What is the general job outlook for registered nurses?
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment for registered nurses (RNs) to grow by 6% between 2021 and 2031. The BLS expects the rise due to an increased emphasis on preventive care, chronic conditions and demand for health care services as the population lives longer and stays more active.
What are nursing specialty categories?
Nursing specialists are typically divided into three categories with different education requirements: non-degree, degree and advanced degree. Here are some specialties within each category:
Here are some non-degree specialties, which means to obtain these roles, you can pursue a certification:
Here are some specialties you can obtain with an associate or bachelor's degree:
Some nursing occupations require you to earn an advanced degree, like a master's degree or doctorate, including:
How do you choose a nursing specialty?
With the numerous programs, specialties and medical focuses available to nursing students, you may find it challenging to pick a career path. You might narrow your career choices by considering the following criteria:
Educational institutions, like a college, university or online program
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