Which Nursing Specialty 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.

Start, Change, or Advance Your Nursing Career

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. 

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 nurses and opening their own businesses to care for patients.

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.

What Kind of Nurse Are You?

Just as with any profession, every nurse is different, and different people excel in a variety of environments. With community- and-corporate nursing taking a front seat within the nursing industry alongside specialties that are still strong, there are several careers within each sector. Regardless of which role you choose, you’ll always be able to put patient care first.

Community and family nursing

If you’re a people person and shine in the day-to-day care of everyone from infants to the elderly, a nursing career helping new mothers, women, or entire families, may work best for you. Here are some areas where you could make a difference on a personal, or community, level.

Educate and treat rural communities regarding health and wellness issues

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

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

Corporate, leadership, and administrative 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.

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

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

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

Specialized focus nursing

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

Care for the elderly through plan development treatment for chronic illnesses

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

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

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

Treat patients with serious injuries from accidents and emergencies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Use the latest technologies to monitor cardiovascular patients in stable condition

Put Your Passion to Work

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.