9 Best Specialty Career Choices for Nurses

Nursing is one of the most rewarding career paths that you can choose because it enables you to not only help to improve the lives of your patients, but also it’s a varied career with a huge amount of scope for learning new skills and using your problem-solving abilities. No two days are ever the same in this career, and you never know who you might meet! It’s also a career that has excellent options for progression, should you want to.


If you have a strong interest in women’s gynecological health and prenatal and postnatal care, then becoming a nurse-midwife is a great career choice for you. It’s also one of the most lucrative nursing careers.

To become a nurse-midwife you must be a Registered Nurse with enough experience to gain entry to a Master’s or Doctoral Degree in Nurse Midwifery. Most APRN (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse) programs prefer candidates who have a Bachelor’s degree in nursing, so if you became an RN via an associate degree program you may need to seek out a bridge program to allow you to proceed on to your masters. Once you have your degree you will need to be registered as a nurse-midwife by your state.

The mean salary for a certified nurse-midwife as of May 2019 was $108,810.

Registered Nurse case manager

An RN case manager works with all of the healthcare providers who are collaborating on a particular patient’s case, to ensure that they are working as a well-organized team. They also act as the main point of contact for the patient to keep them informed of progress and updates. They work with patients and providers to determine the specific care that is required and the best options for that care.

Positions as Registered Nurse Case Managers are gained firstly through experience. If you are interested in this career path, make your interest known to your superiors and try to gain on-the-job experience in case management. The end goal is to obtain a position that specializes in case management. Once you are in a position that specializes in case management, you can earn your certification in case management.

As of April 2020, the average salary for an RN case manager was $72,017 per year.

Nurse Anesthetist

Nurse anesthetists are highly respected for their work and earn some of the best salaries in the nursing field. Their responsibilities are to administer anesthesia and other medication, and to monitor patients while they are under anesthesia and later while they are coming round. They may work with patients coming in for scheduled surgery, or on patients who are having surgery relating to trauma or other life-threatening events.

To become a nurse anesthetist you will need to have enough experience as an RN to gain entry to an accredited nurse anesthesia program. By 2025, nurse.org predicts that Nurse Anesthetists will need to complete a doctorate level degree. Once you have received your degree you will need to take an exam to become licensed.

In 2019, the median annual salary for Nurse Anesthetists was $181,040.

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Nurse Practitioners are Registered Nurses who have gone on to study at Masters or Doctorate level, and because of their advanced education are afforded similar autonomy and responsibility for caring for patients as physicians have. A Pediatric Nurse Practitioner specializes in caring for children from birth until they are considered adults. They see patients on a one-on-one basis, offering care ranging from wellness check-ups and immunizations to diagnosing illnesses and treating chronic and acute conditions.

To become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner an RN must gain enough experience to gain access to an accredited nurse practitioner program. It is now possible to carry out online pediatric nurse practitioner programs, which makes it much easier to fit your study in around your work. Once you have completed your graduate program you will need to take an exam to become certified by your state.

The average salary for a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner is $121,659 per year.

Nurse Educator

Nurse educators generally work in academia. Their role is to develop coursework curriculums, teach courses, evaluate the success of educational programs, oversee clinical rotations and conduct research.

To become a nurse educator you must take a master’s degree in nursing education. Generally, you will need to have some experience as a Registered Nurse in order to qualify for the degree.

The average salary for a Nurse Educator in 2019 was $77,360.

Legal Nurse Consultant

Legal Nurse consulting is for people who enjoy medical problem solving, research, analyzing information and working with others. An LNC will provide experience and advice to attorneys about medical issues.

They may work in a number of different settings including government agencies, healthcare facilities, law firms and insurance companies. The average salary for Legal Nurse Consultants in 2020 is $77,773.

To become an LNC you need to have experience working as a Registered Nurse, but there is no specific educational pathway outside of that.

Nurse Researcher

Research nurses play a pivotal role in the development of potentially life-saving new treatments. They assist in the development of medication studies, vaccines and medical procedures, and they are also responsible for the care of patients who are participating in those studies.

To become a Nurse Researcher, a Registered Nurse will take part in existing research programs in the role of research assistant, clinical data collector or clinical research monitor to gain experience, and then they will need to get an advanced degree.

The average salary for Nurse Researchers is $72,055.

Chief Nursing Officer

The chief nursing officer is a non-clinical role sitting at the top level of the nursing profession. Their role is to oversee the other nurses and the implementation of patient care. The CNO acts as the voice of the nurses within an organization. They must have strong communication and leadership skills.

To become a CNO you will need to get an MSN, typically in healthcare administration or nursing leadership. Once you have this you will need to become certified in nursing management or similar. You may also find that you will need to enroll in a doctorate level program of study.

According to Salary.com, the average yearly salary for a CNO in April 2020 was $232,500.

Psychiatric Nurse

Psychiatric (Psych) nurses work with patients of all ages, who are living with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, substance abuse and many other mental illnesses. Their patients often rely on them quite heavily to help manage their emotional and physical needs. They must have good communication and relationship skills, flexibility, openness towards diverse lifestyles, and a strong foundation in the basic and behavioral sciences.

To become a Psychiatric Nurse you must first be a Registered Nurse. You will then need to gain a minimum of 2,000 hours of nursing psych practice within two years, along with 30 hours of continuing education in psych nursing within three years. You can then gain your certification in psychiatric nursing. If you would like to progress further, you can then train further as a psychiatric Nurse Practitioner.

The median annual salary for Psychiatric Nurses was $73,590 in 2020.