Types of Nurse Practitioner Specialties

14 Min Read Published April 12, 2024
The Complete List of Nurse Practitioner Specialties

Just as there are countless specialties available for registered nurses (RNs), there are almost as many different specialties available for nurse practitioners (NPs). These can range from pediatric to trauma to family medicine. 

This guide will help explain the many different nurse practitioner specialties, including what they do, their salary, and certification requirements. Read on to learn more about the diverse range of NP specialties and find out which is right for you.

Popular Online Nurse Practitioner (NP) Programs

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Grand Canyon University

GCU's College of Nursing and Health Care Professions has a nearly 35-year tradition of preparing students to fill evolving healthcare roles as highly qualified professionals. GCU offers a full spectrum of nursing degrees, from a pre-licensure BSN degree to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Walden University
Walden’s online programs for nursing meet rigorous standards for academic quality and integrity, and the School of Nursing teaching faculty all hold doctorates. With three degree completion options, you can choose a bachelor’s in nursing path that makes sense for your busy, unpredictable schedule.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding NY, RI and CT. Certain programs have additional state restrictions. Check with Walden for details.

Western Governors University

WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Georgetown University
Nursing@Georgetown delivers Georgetown University’s MS in Nursing program online, preparing RNs with a BSN to pursue certification in an APRN specialty. Students can earn their degree in as few as 19 months.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding NY and WA.

Types of Nurse Practitioner Specialties

  1. Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  2. Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
  3. Aesthetic/Cosmetic Nurse Practitioner
  4. Cardiac Nurse Practitioner
  5. Emergency Nurse Practitioner
  6. Family Nurse Practitioner
  7. Oncology Nurse Practitioner
  8. Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner
  9. Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
  10. Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
  11. Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  12. Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

1. Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

What They Do

Acute care nurse practitioners focus on caring for adults with complex diseases. They care for ill, hospital-admitted, and post-trauma or post-surgical patients. Acute Care NPs are also responsible for ordering and interpreting tests and laboratory values, developing treatment plans, and collaborating with other healthcare providers.

Salary

Acute care nurse practitioners are among the highest-paid NP specialties. According to ZipRecruiter, they can earn an average annual salary of $117,423, or $56 an hour. 

Requirements

2. Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

What They Do 

Adult-gerontology nurse practitioners (AGNPs) specialize in the care of adults from adolescence to geriatrics. They work with patients and their caregivers to manage chronic conditions, diseases, and other health conditions.

Salary

Adult-gerontology nurse practitioners earn an average annual salary of $118,644 or $57 an hour, according to reports from ZipRecruiter.

Requirements

Popular Online Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGNP) Programs

Sponsored
Grand Canyon University
GCU’s RN-BSN program is tailored to meet the needs of the RN adult learner and to maximize the strengths that the working RN already possesses. Transfer up to 90 credits and earn a BSN in as little as 12 months. GCU’s online classes allow you to study at the times that work for your schedule while still enjoying a close connection with your classmates and instructor via online discussions.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Walden University
Walden’s online programs for nursing meet rigorous standards for academic quality and integrity, and the School of Nursing teaching faculty all hold doctorates. With three degree completion options, you can choose a bachelor’s in nursing path that makes sense for your busy, unpredictable schedule.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding NY, RI and CT. Certain programs have additional state restrictions. Check with Walden for details.

Georgetown University
Nursing@Georgetown delivers Georgetown University’s MS in Nursing program online, preparing RNs with a BSN to pursue certification in an APRN specialty. Students can earn their degree in as few as 19 months.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding NY and WA.

Seton Hall University
Seton Hall University’s College of Nursing, founded in 1937, provides a wide variety of undergraduate and nationally ranked graduate programs that prepare students for leadership in the nursing industry. We are pioneers in evidence-based practice, servant leadership and cutting-edge technology, and encourage our students to integrate their values into their daily nursing practice. College of Nursing students spend most of their time at Seton Hall’s Interprofessional Sciences Campus in Nutley, New Jersey. This integrated and interprofessional environment allows for a unique and innovative team-based approach to medical education. This gives a large advantage to our student’s ability to work collaboratively, improve patient care and be better prepared for entering the healthcare profession. Seton Hall’s College of Nursing is recognized by U.S. News and World Report as having one of the top programs in the nation for Online Graduate Nursing Programs, ranking 17th in the nation, making it the top online graduate nursing program in New Jersey in 2020. All nursing programs at Seton Hall are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding AL, CA, KS, LA, OR, TN, WA, WY

Wilkes University

The R.N. to M.S.N program is for registered nurses with associate degrees who want to become nurse practitioners. It focuses on advanced clinical skills, professionalism and evidence-based practice. Our integrated exam preparation courses provide dedicated study resources, leading to impressive passing rates consistently above the national average and graduate success.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

3. Aesthetic or Cosmetic Nurse Practitioner

What They Do

Aesthetic/cosmetic nurse practitioners specialize in cosmetic medical procedures that improve their patients’ appearances. Those working in these nurse practitioner specialties do a variety of tasks, including:

  • Examining and evaluating patient needs
  • Providing consultations for various procedures
  • Performing certain procedures
  • Providing recovery care for patients

Salary

Aesthetic/cosmetic nurse practitioners can earn an average annual salary of $130,295 or $63 per hour, according to ZipRecruiter

Requirements

4. Cardiac Nurse Practitioner

What They Do

Cardiac nurse practitioners perform a variety of tasks generally related to the heart, blood vessels, and cardiac system. Their tasks include conducting physical exams, prescribing medications, and counseling patients and families regarding their diseases. 

Cardiac NP's responsibilities include but aren’t limited to the following:

  • Assisting with cardiac catheterizations
  • Conducting cardiac research
  • Assisting with patients requiring ECMO and VADs
  • Monitoring postoperative cardiac patients

Salary

Cardiac NPs are the highest-paid nurse practitioner specialty, at an average of $144,905 a year or $70 an hour, according to ZipRecruiter.

Requirements

  • Be a licensed registered nurse
  • Gain 1-3 years of experience as a bedside nurse in cardiology
  • Earn an MSN or DNP from an accredited nurse practitioner program
  • Become a certified NP after passing your national examination
  • Earn a post-NP certification specializing in cardiology
  • Obtain APRN state licensure

5. Emergency Nurse Practitioner

What They Do 

Emergency nurse practitioners (ENPs) assess, diagnose, and manage injuries and illnesses that need urgent care. ENPs can work with or without supervision and often perform the following duties:

  • Determining which patients need the most immediate care
  • Make decisions about treatment
  • Monitor patient conditions
  • Provide education and consultation

Salary 

ZipRecruiter reports an average annual salary of $130,295 or $63 an hour for emergency room NPs.

Requirements

6. Family Nurse Practitioner

What They Do

Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) are the most common types of nurse practitioners. These advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) deliver family-focused care to patients ranging from infants to the elderly. 

FNPs often act as primary care providers for their patients, which can be especially rewarding if you enjoy developing long-term relationships and getting to know people over time.

What does a family nurse practitioner do? Some common FNP duties include:

  • Performing physical exams
  • Ordering diagnostic tests and procedures
  • Diagnosing and treating illnesses
  • Prescribing needed medications
  • Teaching patients how to develop healthy lifestyles

Salary

FNPs earn an average annual salary of $127,976 or $62 an hour, according to ZipRecruiter.

Requirements

>> Related: FNP-C vs FNP-BC: What's the Difference?

7. Oncology Nurse Practitioner

What They Do

An oncology nurse practitioner provides comprehensive care to patients diagnosed with cancer. They collaborate with other healthcare providers, including physicians, to develop treatment plans for cancer patients.

Salary

On average, oncology nurse practitioners earn $130,295 a year or $63 an hour, according to ZipRecruiter.

Requirements

  • Be a licensed registered nurse
  • Gain 1-3 years of experience as a bedside oncology nurse
  • Earn an MSN or DNP from an accredited nurse practitioner program
  • Become a certified NP after passing your national examination
  • Earn an Advanced Oncology Certified NP (AOCNP) through the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC)
  • Obtain APRN state licensure

8. Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner

What They Do 

An orthopedic nurse practitioner focuses on the care and treatment of patients suffering from musculoskeletal problems. These can include disease and/or injuries to bones, muscles, joints, and supporting connective tissue. 

Salary

Orthopedic NPs earn an average annual salary of $134,369 or $65 per hour, according to reports from ZipRecruiter

Requirements

  • Be a licensed registered nurse
  • Gain 1-3 years of experience as a bedside nurse in a related field 
  • Graduate from an accredited orthopedic NP program with either an MSN or DNP
  • Pass the Orthopedic Nurses Certification Board’s ONP Certification (ONP-C) exam
  • Obtain APRN state licensure

9. Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

What They Do

Neonatal nurse practitioners (NNPs) care for premature and sick newborns. NNPs diagnose, provide treatment plans, and prescribe medication for infant patients. They can also assist in delivering patients in specific settings. 

Salary

NNPs can earn an average annual salary of $136,649 or $66 an hour, according to ZipRecruiter.

Requirements

  • Be a licensed registered nurse
  • Gain 1-3 years of experience as a bedside neonatal nurse 
  • Earn an MSN or DNP from an accredited neonatal NP program
  • Get your NNP Certification from the National Certification Corporation
  • Apply for APRN state licensure

10. Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

What They Do 

Pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) focus solely on the pediatric population. They provide care and education to parents as well as to their patients. 

PNPs usually focus on holistic-centered care (more so than other NP specialties), which includes:

  • Education
  • Assessment
  • Planning
  • Evaluation

They can also diagnose and treat patients, order diagnostic tests and medications, and perform many procedures.

Salary 

PNPs can earn an average annual salary of $135,161 or $65 an hour, according to ZipRecruiter

Requirements

  • Be a licensed registered nurse
  • Gain 1-3 years of clinical experience working as an RN, preferably in pediatrics
  • Attend an accredited acute care NP program
  • Attend an accredited MSN or DNP NP program with a pediatric nursing curriculum
  • Pass the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) certification exam
  • Apply for state APRN licensure

11. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

What They Do 

Psychiatric nurse practitioners - also called psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs) - specialize in caring for patient’s mental health needs. These patients can include:

  • Adults
  • Children
  • Families
  • Groups
  • Communities

What does a psychiatric nurse practitioner do? Their primary duties include helping people cope with psychiatric disorders and illnesses. They can also help people with substance abuse disorders.

Salary

Psychiatric NPs can earn an average annual salary of $141,112 or $68 an hour, per ZipRecruiter reports.

Requirements

Popular Online Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) Programs

Sponsored
Walden University

Earn your nursing degree from one of the largest nursing education providers in the U.S. Walden University’s BSN, MSN, post-master’s APRN certificate, and DNP programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Get enhanced practicum support with our Practicum Pledge.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding NY, RI and CT. Certain programs have additional state restrictions. Check with Walden for details.

Liberty University
At Liberty, you’ll benefit from 30+ years of learning, growing, adapting, and innovating for the distance learner — and more than a decade of researching the needs of the online student. You can be confident that we’ve taken the time to learn what’s important to you.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Western Governors University

WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Wilkes University

The R.N. to M.S.N program is for registered nurses with associate degrees who want to become nurse practitioners. It focuses on advanced clinical skills, professionalism and evidence-based practice. Our integrated exam preparation courses provide dedicated study resources, leading to impressive passing rates consistently above the national average and graduate success.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Seton Hall University
Seton Hall University’s College of Nursing, founded in 1937, provides a wide variety of undergraduate and nationally ranked graduate programs that prepare students for leadership in the nursing industry. We are pioneers in evidence-based practice, servant leadership and cutting-edge technology, and encourage our students to integrate their values into their daily nursing practice. College of Nursing students spend most of their time at Seton Hall’s Interprofessional Sciences Campus in Nutley, New Jersey. This integrated and interprofessional environment allows for a unique and innovative team-based approach to medical education. This gives a large advantage to our student’s ability to work collaboratively, improve patient care and be better prepared for entering the healthcare profession. Seton Hall’s College of Nursing is recognized by U.S. News and World Report as having one of the top programs in the nation for Online Graduate Nursing Programs, ranking 17th in the nation, making it the top online graduate nursing program in New Jersey in 2020. All nursing programs at Seton Hall are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding AL, CA, KS, LA, OR, TN, WA, WY

12. Women's Health Nurse Practitioner

What They Do

A women’s health nurse practitioner (WHNP) specializes in the comprehensive care of women throughout their lives. They focus on reproductive, obstetric, and gynecological health and usually work in a primary care office rather than a hospital or delivery room.

Salary

ZipRecruiter reports an average annual salary of $124,362 or $60 an hour for women’s health NPs. 

Requirements

  • Be a licensed registered nurse
  • Gain 1-3 years of experience as a bedside nurse in a related field 
  • Earn an MSN or DNP from an accredited women’s health NP program
  • Earn board certification from the National Certifying Corporation by passing the Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner (WHNP-BC) exam
  • Obtain APRN state licensure

How to Choose the Right Nurse Practitioner Speciality for You

As you choose between the different types of NP, you should consider your nursing field. Each nurse practitioner type requires relevant experience before attending a program.

If you're already a NICU nurse, becoming a neonatal NP would be easier than becoming an oncology NP. Essentially, you would have to find a new bedside job and gain experience before applying to an oncology NP program.

You can also consider how much money you want to earn. Different types of nurse practitioners earn different amounts. To optimize your income potential, aim for NP specialties in fields like acute care, neonatology, and cardiology. 

Ready to begin your dream job as a nurse practitioner? Read our guide on how to become a nurse practitioner to get started.

Kathleen Gaines
MSN, RN, BA, CBC
Kathleen Gaines
News and Education Editor

Kathleen Gaines (nee Colduvell) is a nationally published writer turned Pediatric ICU nurse from Philadelphia with over 13 years of ICU experience. She has an extensive ICU background having formerly worked in the CICU and NICU at several major hospitals in the Philadelphia region. After earning her MSN in Education from Loyola University of New Orleans, she currently also teaches for several prominent Universities making sure the next generation is ready for the bedside. As a certified breastfeeding counselor and trauma certified nurse, she is always ready for the next nursing challenge.

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