In-Demand and High-Paying Types of Nurses (Plus FAQs)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated October 25, 2022 | Published October 27, 2020

Updated October 25, 2022

Published October 27, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

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Nursing can be a lucrative career field filled with opportunities. With the right credentials, you can work in a number of settings and focus on a particular specialty, such as pediatrics or oncology. Learning about the specialties most in demand and which ones pay the most can help you can make the best choice for your career. 

In this article, we provide lists of nursing specialties in demand, positions that pay the most and offer average salaries, job outlooks and general duties. 

Read more: What Is It Like To Be a Nurse? Common Elements To Expect

5 fast-growing nursing specialties

The nursing field is constantly evolving, with certain specialties becoming more in-demand as health care needs change. If you're considering a nursing degree or already have one but are in the process of looking for a new position, here is a useful list of in-demand nursing jobs specialties with salaries from Indeed and job outlook information from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics:

For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the salary link.

1. Certified registered nurse anesthetist

National average salary: $152,608 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 professionals to help prepare a patient for a procedure, assist in stabilization and monitor patients during post-operation recovery.

Job outlook: 40% increase by 2031, much faster than average.

2. Nurse midwife

National average salary: $102,746 per year

Primary duties: A nurse midwife is a primary caretaker for pregnant women, 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 OB/GYN physician. Besides caring for expectant and delivering mothers, they also conduct annual and medical exams for women.

Job outlook: 40% increase by 2031, much faster than average.

3. Nurse practitioner

National average salary: $123,441 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.

Job outlook: 40% increase by 2031, much faster than average.

4. Nursing home administrator

National average salary: $89,945 per year

Primary duties: A nursing home administrator combines experience and education in health care with business skills to supervise and manage administrative and clinical activities within nursing home facilities. They may be responsible for hiring and training staff, handling the budget and other financial matters and assisting in patient care as needed.

Job outlook: 28% increase by 2031, much faster than average.

5. Physician assistant

National average salary: $107,585 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 very similar.

Job outlook: 28% increase by 2031, much faster than average.

A health care professional in light blue scrubs smiles at a patient in the foreground at a clinical setting. The person has a stethoscope draped around their neck.

Highest-paying nursing positions

The average salary for a registered nurse is $89,877 per year. Here are 10 highest-pay nursing positions to consider:

1. Intensive care registered nurse

National average salary: $130,781 per year

Primary duties: An intensive care (ICU) or critical care registered nurse treats patients with life-threatening illnesses or conditions. Job duties include responding to emergencies when alerted by doctors, caring for patients during their recovery journey in the ICU, monitoring a patient's progress, conducting full-body assessments and providing emotional support to a patient and their family members.

Related: How To Become an ICU Nurse (Plus Areas for Specialization)

2. Telemetry nurse

National average salary: $126,431 per year

Primary duties: A telemetry nurse is responsible for monitoring and taking care of 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 procedures and educate patients as needed.

Related: What Is a Telemetry Nurse?

3. Chief nursing officer

National average salary: $123,134 per year

Primary duties: A chief nursing officer is a senior-level nurse who oversees the 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 help implement training programs for new nurses and nurse managers as well as manage the business side of nursing.

Related: What Is a Chief Nursing Officer and What Do They Do?

4. Labor and delivery nurse

National average salary: $121,397 per year

Primary duties: A labor and delivery (L&D) or obstetric (OB) nurse helps pregnant patients throughout the childbirth process. Duties 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 types of nurses may occasionally deal with emergency deliveries, such as unscheduled cesarean sections or high-risk patients.

Related: 6 Labor and Delivery Nurse Skills: Definition and Examples

5. Emergency room registered nurse

National average salary: $119,911 per year

Primary duties: An emergency room (ER) registered nurse cares for patients with serious injuries or illnesses either 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 a variety of day-to-day duties when treating patients with a range of conditions.

Related: Paths To Becoming an ER Nurse (Educational Requirements)

6. Pediatric nurse practitioner

National average salary: $113,180 per year

Primary duties: A pediatric nurse practitioner addresses all primary care concerns such as illnesses and managing the side effects of key conditions. They can be employed by a physician's office or a clinic and render the best advice to parents on the practical ways to prevent illness and promote wellness strategies to improve their long-term health. They can attend to the needs of their patients by themselves and make in-home visits if it's required by the patient.

Related: What Is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?

6. Travel nurse

National average salary: $111,975 per year

Primary duties: A traditional 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 team to design treatment plans for patients and make adjustments as needed. Travel nurses often have a background as registered nurses and work for an independent nursing staffing agency.

Related: What You Need To Know About Becoming a Travel Nurse

7. Pain management nurse

National average salary: $111,292 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 pain and assist in preparing 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?

8. Oncology registered nurse

National average salary: $110,982 per year

Primary duties: An oncology registered nurse works with patients with cancer. Some job duties 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 across the country navigate their cancer treatment and manage their symptoms.

Related: Oncology Nurse Career Guide: Definition, Salary and Requirements

9. Operating room registered nurse

National average salary: $99,380 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-surgery care. Since this nursing specialty requires a variety of nursing knowledge for various conditions, they have the potential to earn more than other types of travel nurses.

Related: 12 Reasons To Become an Operating Room (OR) Nurse

10. Director of nursing

National average salary: $92,593 per year

Primary duties: Directors of nursing, also called nursing directors, oversee all nursing operations and staff within a health care facility. Unlike nurse managers, who usually directly supervise and interact with the nursing staff, the director of nursing role typically has a wider scope, with nursing managers from multiple departments within a health care facility directly reporting to them. Like nurse manager roles, director of nursing jobs usually require both medical and managerial skills, so earning a master's degree in nursing leadership can help you excel in this position.

Related: Learn About Being a Director of Nursing

FAQs about nursing specialties

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about types of nurses:

What is the general job outlook for nurses?

Employment of registered nurses is projected by the BLS to grow by 6% each year to 2031. The BLS expects the increase 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: non-degree, degree and advanced degree. Here are some specialties within each category:

Non-degree

  • Certified nursing assistant (CNA)

  • Licensed practical nurse (LPN)

  • Licensed vocational nurse (LVN)

Degree

  • Registered nurse

  • Assistant nurse manager

  • Chief nursing officer

  • Nurse educator

  • Nurse executive

  • Nurse manager

  • Nursing director

Advanced degree

  • Family nurse practitioner

  • Adult-gerontology nurse practitioner

  • Advanced practice registered nurse

  • Neonatal nurse practitioner

  • Pediatric nurse practitioner

  • Women’s health nurse practitioner and related gender specialties

  • Psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner

  • Certified nurse midwife

  • Clinical nurse specialist (CNS)

  • Certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA)

  • Clinical nurse leader (CNL)

How do you choose a nursing specialty?

With the wide variety of programs, specialties and medical focuses available to nursing students, it can be tough to pick a career path. However, you might narrow down your career choices by considering the following criteria:

  • Education program

  • Medical specialty

  • Interests

  • Time commitment

  • Income level



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