Types of Nurse Practitioner Specialties

8 Min Read Published July 7, 2023
Types 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.

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 NPs can earn an average annual salary of $121,877 or $59.00 an hour, according to ZipRecruiter

Requirements

  • Be a licensed registered nurse
  • Gain 1-3 years of clinical experience 
  • Attend an accredited acute care NP program and earn either an MSN or DNP 
  • Pass the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses acute care NP certification exam
  • Apply for APRN State Licensure

2. Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

What They Do 

Adult-gerontology nurse practitioners specialize in the care of adults from adolescence all the way up to geriatric care. 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 $127,587 or $61.00 an hour, according to reports from ZipRecruiter.

Requirements

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 $114,937 or $55.00 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 $160,983 a year or $77.00 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 $114,777 or $55.00 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 $128,141 or $62.00 an hour, according to ZipRecruiter.

Requirements

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 $128,254 a year or $62.00 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 bones, muscles, joints, and supporting connective tissue injuries. 

Salary 

Orthopedic NPs earn an average annual salary of $114,496 or $55.00 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 $125,877 or $61.00 an hour, according to ZipRecruiter.

Requirements

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 $121,950 or $59.00 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 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

Psychiatric nurse practitioner 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 $122,960 or $59.00 an hour, per ZipRecruiter reports.

Requirements

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 $130,333 or $63.00 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

Becoming an NP is a significant investment of both time and money. It requires clinical expertise, money, patience, and commitment.

 In order to determine the type of NP you are interested in becoming, you should consider the nursing field you are in. For example, if you start your nursing journey as a NICU nurse, then it would be very difficult to become a Psychiatric NP. Essentially, you would have to find a new bedside job and gain the appropriate and necessary experience. 

You can also consider how much money you want to earn, different specialties earn different amounts, check out our list of the highest-paying nurse practitioner specialties to learn more. 

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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