What Are All the Types of Nurses?

11 Min Read Published November 1, 2023
Group of different healthcare professionals in hospital

There are a lot of different ways to enter the field of nursing and even more career options available to nurses. To help you figure out what path you want to take, here’s an extensive list of every nursing career and specialty available to you. Get ready to scroll!

What Are the Different Types of Nurses? 

In order of nursing level, starting with the lowest and going to the highest, here are the different types of nurses:

1. Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

  • Median salary: $36,220 per year or $17.41 per hour (BLS)
  • Career outlook: 4% growth from 2022 to 2032
  • Education requirements: State-approved training program
  • Job duties: Gathering bedside supplies, assisting patients with ADLs, assisting with medical procedures, answering patient calls, and obtaining vital signs.

2. Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

  • Median salary: $54,620 per year or $26.26 per hour (BLS).
  • Career outlook: 5% growth from 2022 to 2032.  
  • Education requirements: Accredited practical nursing certificate program, which is usually offered at community colleges and takes about a year to complete.
  • Job duties: Provide patients with essential care, including eating, drinking, and bathing, as well as taking blood pressure, inserting catheters, and recording vital signs.

3. Registered Nurse (RN)

  • Median salary: $81,220 per year or $39.05 per hour (BLS).
  • Career outlook: 6% growth from 2022 to 2032.
  • Education requirements: ADN, BSN, or RN diploma.
  • Job duties: Care, education, and coordination of sick and dying patients. Responsibilities include assessing patients, administering medications and treatments, and collaborating with other healthcare providers. Responsibilities include assessing patients, administering medications and treatments, collaborating with other healthcare providers, educating patients and families on disease processes and management, and assisting with procedures.

4. Labor and Delivery

  • Salary: $96,039 per year or $46 per hour (ZipRecruiter).
  • Education requirements: ADN or BSN degree.
  • Certifications: Optional Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB) certification through the National Certification Corporation.
  • Job duties: Timing contractions, monitoring both the baby’s and mother’s vital signs, administering medications, aiding in inducing labor, and identifying and assisting with handling complications.

5. Pediatrics

  • Salary: $134,328 per year or $65 per hour (ZipRecruiter). 
  • Education requirements: ADN or BSN degree.
  • Job duties: Administering and educating about vaccines, administering medications, performing assessments, creating nursing care plans, assisting healthcare professionals with tests and procedures, monitoring vital signs, and documenting observations and findings.

6. Neonatal ICU Nurse

Job duties: Treat critically ill neonates and newborns, monitor vital signs, give medications, record newborn’s recovery and progress, change diapers, and calm distressed babies.

7. Oncology Nurse

8. Emergency Room Registered Nurse

  • Salary: $83,503 per year or $40 per hour (ZipRecruiter).
  • Education requirements: ADN or BSN degree.
  • Certifications: Optional Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) from the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing.
  • Job duties: Administer blood products, medications, and vaccines; clean and dress wounds; set broken bones; triage patients, and aid trauma, cardiac arrest, stroke, and sexual assault care.

9. Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Registered Nurse

  • Salary: $92,568 annually or $45 per hour (ZipRecruiter).
  • Education requirements: ADN or BSN degree.
  • Certifications: Adult Critical Care Nurses (CCRN) from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.
  • Job duties: Administer medications, evaluate vital signs, respond to changes in patient conditions or medical emergencies, clean and bandage wounds, and identify patients’ ongoing needs.

10. Surgical Registered Nurse

11. Operating Room Registered Nurse

  • Salary: $134,966 per year or $65 per hour (ZipRecruiter).
  • Education requirements: ADN or BSN degree.
  • Certifications: Optional Certified Perioperative Nurse (CNOR) or Certified Ambulatory Surgery Nurse (CMAB) from the  Competency and Credentialing Institute.
  • Job Duties: Prepare OR equipment and verify its functionality, monitor patients during operations, assist surgeons, and provide pre and post-operative patient care and education.

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12. Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) Registered Nurse

  • Salary: $84,928 per year or $41 per hour (ZipRecruiter).
  • Education requirements: ADN or BSN degree.
  • Certifications: Optional Certified Post-Anesthesia Nurse (CPAN) from the American Board of Perianesthesia Nursing Certification.
  • Job duties: Diligently monitor patients as they come out of sedation and take immediate action if there are any complications.

13. Trauma Registered Nurse

  • Salary: $134,966 per year or $65 per hour (ZipRecruiter).
  • Education requirements: ADN or BSN degree.
  • Certifications: Trauma Certified Registered Nurse (TCRN®) certification from the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing.
  • Job duties: Care of patients with major injuries (e.g. car accident, stabbing, or shooting victims), giving CPR, patient monitoring, starting IVs, and administering medication and blood products. 

14. Nurse Practitioner (NP)

  • Median salary: $124,680 per year or $59.94 per hour (BLS).
  • Career outlook: 45 percent growth from 2022 to 2032. 
  • Education requirements: MSN from an NP program.
  • Job duties: Varies by NP specialty, but generally, they prescribe medication, examine patients, order diagnostic tests, diagnose illnesses, and provide treatment.

15. Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)

  • Median salary: $122,450 per year or $58.87 per hour (BLS).
  • Career outlook: 6 percent growth from 2022 to 2032.     
  • Education requirements: MSN from a CNM program.
  • Job duties: Deliver babies, provide prenatal and postpartum care, perform routine check-ups for pregnant patients, perform annual exams, prescribe medications, and offer patient education.

16. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

  • Median salary: $205,770 per year or $98.93 per hour (BLS).
  • Career Outlook: 9 percent growth from 2022 to 2032.
  • Education requirements: Current - MSN, DNP, or DNAP from a CRNA program. By 2025 - DNP or DNAP from a CRNA  program.
  • Job duties: Care for patients under anesthesia, identify patient risks, administer anesthetic and patient medication, and educate patients and families.

17. Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)

  • Median salary: $87,359 per year or $42 per hour (ZipRecruiter).
  • Career outlook: 38 percent growth from 2022 to 2032.
  • Education requirements: MSN from CNS program.
  • Certification: ACCNS‐Neonatal, ACCNS-Pediatric, and ACCNS-Adult-Gerontology from AACN Certification Corp and Adult-Gerontology CNS (AGCNS-BC) from ANCC.
  • Job duties: Assist with evidence-based practice projects and research; educate patients, families, and communities; provide transitional care; assist nurses with patient care as a resource.

18. Nurse Educator

  • Median salary: $78,580 annually (BLS).
  • Career outlook: 7 percent growth from 2022 to 2032.          
  • Education requirements: MSN from a nurse educator program
  • Job duties: Develop lesson plans, teach courses, oversee students’ clinical practice, maintain clinical competencies, and mentor students.

19. Nurse Administrator

  • Median salary: $104,830 per year or $50.40 per hour (BLS).
  • Career outlook: 28 percent growth from 2022 to 2032.
  • Education requirements: MSN with business & administration focus
  • Job duties: Specific duties vary by nurse administrator role; Commonly, they manage day-to-day nursing operations, budgets and financial planning, and staff schedules, create operational strategies, and interview and hire new staff.

20. Clinical Nurse Leader

  • Median salary: $84,631 per year or $41 per hour (ZipRecruiter).
  • Career Outlook: Although this position is relatively new, the employment prospects for Clinical Nurse Leaders are highly favorable.
  • Education requirements: MSN from a CNL program.
  • Job duties: Advocate for patients and families, coordinate and delegate patient care, mentor new staff, be liaisons to the administration,  and educate staff on new policies and procedures.

    Types of Nurse Specialties

    Beyond the main roles we covered above, there are so many more nursing specialties. Here are all the different nurse specialties sorted by RN specialties and APRN specialties.

    Aesthetic/Cosmetic Registered Nurse

    Ambulatory Care Registered Nurse

    Bariatric Registered Nurse

    Burn Registered Nurse

    Camp Registered Nurse

    Cannabis Nurse

    Cardiac Cath Lab Registered Nurse

    Cardiac Intensive Care Registered Nurse

    Case Management Registered Nurse

    Clinical Instructor Registered Nurse

    Community Health Registered Nurse

    Correctional Facility Registered Nurse

    Crisis Registered Nurse

    Critical Care Registered Nurse

    Dermatology Registered Nurse

    Diabetes Registered Nurse

    Dialysis Registered Nurse

    Domestic Violence Registered Nurse

    Emergency Room Registered Nurse

    Endocrine Registered Nurse

    Enterostomy Registered Nurse

    Fertility Registered Nurse

    Flight Registered Nurse

    Forensic Registered Nurse

    Gastroenterology Registered Nurse

    Genetics Registered Nurse

    Geriatric Registered Nurse

    Gynecology Registered Nurse

    Health Policy Registered Nurse

    Hematology Registered Nurse

    HIV/AIDS Registered Nurse

    Holistic Care Registered Nurse

    Home Health Care Registered Nurse

    Hospice Care Registered Nurse

    Infection Control Registered Nurse

    Informatics Registered Nurse

    Infusion Therapy Registered Nurse

    Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Registered Nurse

    International Medicine Registered Nurse

    Lactation Consultant Registered Nurse

    Legal Nurse Consultant

    LGBTQ Registered Nurse

    Long-Term Care Registered Nurse

    Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse

    Military Registered Nurse

    Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Registered Nurse

    Nephrology Registered Nurse

    Neurology Registered Nurse

    Newborn Nursery Registered Nurse

    Nurse Attorney

    Nurse Health Coach

    Nurse Writer Registered Nurse

    Obstetrics (OB) Registered Nurse

    Occupational Health Registered Nurse

    Oncology Registered Nurse

    Operating Room Registered Nurse

    Ophthalmic Registered Nurse

    Orthopedic Registered Nurse

    Ostomy Registered Nurse

    Otorhinolaryngology Registered Nurse

    Pain Management Registered Nurse

    Parish Registered Nurse

    Pediatric Care Registered Nurse

    Perinatal Registered Nurse

    Perioperative Registered Nurse

    Plastic Surgery Registered Nurse

    Poison Control Registered Nurse

    Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) Registered Nurse

    Postpartum Registered Nurse

    Psychiatric Registered Nurse

    Public Health Registered Nurse

    Pulmonary Registered Nurse

    Quality Improvement Registered Nurse

    Radiology Registered Nurse

    Rehabilitation Registered Nurse

    Research Registered Nurse

    Rheumatology Registered Nurse

    School Nurse

    Sub-acute Registered Nurse

    Substance Abuse Registered Nurse

    Surgical Registered Nurse

    Telemetry Registered Nurse

    Telehealth Nurse

    Telephone Triage Registered Nurse

    Toxicology Registered Nurse

    Transcultural Registered Nurse

    Transplant Registered Nurse

    Transport Registered Nurse

    Trauma Registered Nurse

    Travel Registered Nurse

    Triage Registered Nurse

    Urologic Registered Nurse

    Utilization Management Registered Nurse

    Vascular Access Registered Nurse

    Wound Care Registered Nurse

    Family Nurse Practitioner

    Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Ambulatory Care Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Bariatric Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Dermatology Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Diabetes Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Dialysis Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Endocrine Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Genetics Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Hematology Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Home Health Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Hospice Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Infection Control Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Medical Surgical Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Oncology Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Orthopedic Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Otorhinolaryngology Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Pain Management Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Plastic Surgery Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Poison Control Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Primary Care Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Public Health Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Pulmonary Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Radiology Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Rehabilitation Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Rheumatology Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Substance Abuse Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Telemetry Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Transplant Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Transport Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Trauma Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Urologic Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Wound Care Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

    Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

    Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Ambulatory Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Burn Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Cardiac Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Critical Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Dermatology Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Diabetes Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Dialysis Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Emergency Medicine Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Endocrine Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Gastroenterology Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Hematology Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Home Health Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Hospice Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Infection Control Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Medical-Surgical Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Nephrology Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Neurology Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Oncology Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Ophthalmic Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Orthopedic Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Ostomy Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Otorhinolaryngology Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Pain Management Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Palliative Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Plastic Surgery Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Psychiatric Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Pulmonary Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Radiology Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Rheumatology Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Substance Abuse Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Surgical Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Telephone Triage Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Transplant Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Transport Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Trauma Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Travel Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Urologic Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Wound Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner and Related Gender Specialties

    LGBTQ Health Nurse Practitioner

    Obstetrics Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

    Postpartum Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

    Reproductive Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

    Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

    Certified Nurse Midwife

    Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)

    Adult Health

    Psychiatric and Mental Health

    Child/Adolescent Psychological and Mental Health

    Diabetes Management

    Gerontology

    Home Health

    Pediatrics

    Public and Community Health

    Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

    Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL)

    How to Choose a Nursing Specialty

    One of the easiest ways to choose a specialty is to see what you connect with and love the most during your nursing school clinical experiences. 

    Sometimes that is easier said than done, depending on the clinical location, population, and experience. However, it’s important to use that time to determine if you could see yourself working in that specific specialty. 

    If you do - then great! If not, there are countless possibilities. Also, ask yourself some questions,

    • Do you like to engage with people?
    • What is your personality like? Are you shy or outgoing?
    • What are your interests?
    • Do you thrive under pressure?
    • Do you like constant movement during your day?

    Answering questions about yourself and your personality will help you also determine the best nursing specialty fit. 

    The great thing about nursing is that you have the opportunity to change your specialty whenever you want. Some positions do require specific experience, but that can be easily achieved. 

    It’s also important to remember that even though you might not get the job you wanted in the specialty you wanted - it’s always possible to switch at a later time. Also, consider positions that are vacant. For example, if you are interested in being a pediatric nurse but there is no pediatric hospital or jobs in your area, then this may be difficult.

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    >> Related: What are the highest-paid nursing specialties?

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    Types of Nurses FAQs

    • What type of nurses get paid the most?

      • CRNAs are the highest-paid nursing specialty. According to the BLS, the median salary for CRNAs is $203,090 per year or $97.64 per hour.
    • What are the 3 fields of nursing?

      • Nurses can fall within three fields: non-degree (CNA), degree (ADN or BSN, RN), and advanced degree (NP).
    • What is the best type of nurse to become?

      • This will depend on your professional and personal goals. All aspects of nursing are excellent, and one isn’t better than the others.
    • What type of nurse is most in demand?

      • Currently, all fields of nursing are in high demand, but the greatest need is for ICU nurses and geriatric nurses. However, keep in mind that the demand for different types of nurses can vary based on factors such as location, population demographics, and healthcare needs.
    • What is the lowest level of nursing?

    • What are the 4 branches of nursing?

      • The four branches of nursing are CNA, LPN, RN, and NP.
    • What is the hardest type of nursing?

      • Nursing, in general, is very difficult. All aspects of nursing are very difficult. Most would say that ICU nursing, ER nursing, and trauma nursing are among the hardest types of nursing. 
    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.

    Read More From Kathleen
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