Which Nursing Speciality Is Right for You?

Explore these trending nursing careers and see where your degree can take you.

If you see yourself in the wide world of nursing, or are looking to advance your nursing degree, there’s a field that meets your interests—and needs your skills and passion. With dozens of specialties available, the nursing career path you select depends on whether you’re looking for an entry-level position, an executive role, or something in between—and what level of education you want to pursue. Our guide to the top nursing specialties available, as well as the potential outlook for trending careers, can help focus your search.

Put Your Passion to Work

While the following list of nursing specialties is by no means all-encompassing, it can give you an idea of the different areas you can pursue. Most of these specialties could also be pursued as an advanced practice path. Many of these nursing careers have some overlap in setting and duties, and they also offer the opportunity to break the standard perceptions of what nurses do and redefine the importance of the role in the home and community, and not just the hospital.

Or, if you know what area of nursing you’d like to pursue and you’re ready to start researching nursing schools that can help you apply your skills and passion for helping all kinds of people, click the Find Schools button below.

Administrative, legal and workplace nursing

All types of environments outside the hospital or clinic need nursing expertise. You can make a difference in the courtroom, at the crime scene or in victim advocacy, the classroom, and even the corporate working world in these nursing roles.

charge nurses takes team of nurses on rotations

Charge Nurse

Take the lead on shifts with strong communication skills and a knack for leadership

nurse on laptop explains cases to doctors and leadership team of hospital

Clinical Nurse Leader

Improve patient outcomes as you take on high-level leadership duties and lead healthcare facilities

nurse case manager reviews patient forms with family

Nurse Case Manager

Use your knowledge and organizational skills to coordinate all aspects of patient care

nurse administrator holds team meeting on laptop

Nurse Leadership Administrator

Create positive change and improve outcomes in patient health as a nurse administrator

telehealth nurse confers with patient on computer with headset

Telehealth Nurse

Provide care virtually in a variety of settings as a telehealth nurse

nurse reviews insurance forms with patient prior to procedure

Utilization Review Nurse

Serve as a liaison between patient and insurance as a utilization review nurse

Community nursing

If you’re a people person and shine in the day-to-day care of those in rural, home health care, parish—and other neighborhood environments—here are some areas where you could make a difference on a personal, or community, level.

community health nurse prepares to give boy a shot

Community Health Nurse

Identify health problems in the community and create intervention plans to prevent health and safety issues

school nurse checks girl students temperature

School Nurse

Focus your skills on students and staff in public or private schools

Emergency nursing

If you’d rather be on the front lines of patient care, you may choose to assist people who are dealing with trauma, intensive and time-critical injuries, illnesses and issues.

emergency nurse holds oxygen on patient being wheeled to er

ER Nurse

Perform critical care in a fast-paced environment with patients who have acute, urgent needs

flight nurses loading emergency situation patient into plane

Flight Nurse

Provide medical care to patients as they’re transported by aircraft to emergency medical facilities

team of nurses run down corridor with injured patient on gurney

Trauma Nurse

Treat patients with serious injuries from accidents and emergencies

Geriatric and palliative care nursing

If you’re the special type of nurse or carer who brings comfort and care to elderly patients who have a unique set of health concerns or to those enduring possible end-of-life conditions, this may be a satisfying area of nurisng for you.

male nurse practitioner explains procedure to elderly woman lying in hospital bed

Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

Address broader senior health and wellness issues, including food insecurity and housing

icu nurse listening to patient heartbeat

Critical Care Nurse

Care for and treat patients with urgent life-threatening illnesses and trauma

geriatric nurse strolls with smiling elderly patient

Geriatric Nurse

Care for the elderly through plan development treatment for chronic illnesses

nurse holding elderly persons hands

Hospice Nurse

Care for patients, and sometimes their families, facing terminal diagnosis

oncology nurse checks cancer patient vitals

Oncology Nurse

Provide and supervise care for cancer patients who are chronically or critically ill

Specialized areas of nursing

If you work better in a particular environment—think OR or med-surg—or in a specific group, such as heart patients or those dealing with rehabilitation—you might fit best in one of these specialized fields of practice.

adult nurse practitioner smiles at patient in wheel chair

Adult Nurse Practitioner

Promote constructive health practices and disease prevention in young and old

aesthetic nurse checks patients procedure outcome

Aesthetic Nurse

Support plastic surgeons and other physicians with various cosmetic procedures

cardiovascular nurse checks on recuperating patient

Cardiovascular Nurse

Care for people with heart disease and interact with your patients’ families

dermatology nurse looks at patient burn scar tissue

Dermatology Nurse

Work alongside dermatologists to perform procedures, treat wounds and provide patient education

med-surg nurse in mask checks patients iv bag

Med-Surg Nurse

Work in hospitals caring for patients recovering from surgery, illness, emergency stays and more

military nurse preps shot for officer

Military Nurse

Provide care in a variety of specialties to military personnel, veterans and their families

nurse navigator accompanies male patient in hospital hallway

Nurse Navigator

Serve as a patient advocate to ensure patients are being cared for appropriately

or nurse assisting surgeon in the operating room

OR Nurse

Help care for patients before, during and after surgery

orthopedic nurse works on woman patients shoulder

Orthopedic Nurse

Care for patients with musculoskeletal disorders and diseases, often in recovery from invasive surgeries

respiratory nurse works with young patient

Respiratory Nurse

Treat patients with a variety of acute and chronic respiratory illnesses across the lifespan

doctor and nurse discuss patient vital signs

Telemetry Nurse

Use the latest technologies to monitor cardiovascular patients in stable condition

Women’s health and birth-related nursing

From pregnancy planning stages to birth and beyond, you’ll care for women for their routine and preventive health issues, reproductive issues and pre- and post-pregnancy wellness.

Start, Change or Advance Your Nursing Career

As you can see, under the broad umbrella of nursing, there are many different types of Registered Nurses (RNs), which, along with a Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN) role, is the traditional starting place for a career in nursing. Some RN specialties include working with specific types of patients and focusing on certain conditions or working in administrative and leadership positions after going on and earning an MSN.

Many RN specialties in the fastest-growing areas of nursing will take you outside the usual settings, such as a hospital or clinic, and put you into the community or courtroom. According to American Nurse Today, the official journal of the American Nursing Association, there is a substantial movement to community-based care and an increasing number of RNs are moving into roles in public and community health. In addition, the journal reports, nurses are moving to Fortune 500 companies as organizational and occupational nurses and opening their own businesses to care for patients.

If you’re ready to start researching nursing schools that can help you apply your skills and passion for helping all kinds of people, click the Find Schools button below.