11 Nursing Specialties in Demand

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nurses rushing patient on gurney in hospital

Nursing is far from a monotonous career. Countless roles are available to nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. With all these choices, it’s reasonable to ask, what are the most in-demand nursing specialties? Especially considering the nursing shortage and the high demand for nurses in all areas, choosing what kind of nurse you want to become can be a challenge.

Thankfully, you have plenty of time to decide between the many nursing specialties in demand. After entering an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program like ours at Northeastern University, you’ll be able to try many specialties hands-on through clinical rotations. At Northeastern, we’re committed to providing our nursing students with the best possible learning experiences. We can help you earn a BSN and become a practice-ready nurse in as few as 16 months.

Because nursing offers so many diverse, high demand nursing specialties, that means you’ll be able to find a job that truly matches your personality and aspirations. We’ll discuss 11 of the most in-demand nursing specialties so you can see the many possible paths after a BSN.

1. Inpatient Care Nurse

Nurses are needed within a variety of units throughout inpatient hospital environments. Inpatient care nurses make an average base salary of $83,343. Inpatient nurses treat patients with myriad health conditions, from heart disease to infections to cancer. These nurses are masters of managing ever-changing healthcare situations, often caring for different patients each shift.

These nurses can work the pulmonary, cardio, rehabilitation, or orthopedic units, to name a few. If you enjoy shiftwork within a hospital setting, inpatient care nursing may be an ideal fit.

Skills of Inpatient Care Nurses

  • Adaptability to changing work environments
  • Collaboration with a large healthcare team
  • Reliability with managing patient care plans
  • Relationship building with patients and families

2. Critical Care Nurse

One of the most in-demand nursing specialties is critical care nursing. With an average base salary of $89,514, these nurses are masters at managing complex patients and handling high-stress health situations. These nurses care for patients in the intensive care unit, so they often manage people on ventilators and those with life-threatening, acute conditions.

Critical care units use a similar schedule to other hospital units, where you may work day shifts, night shifts, or weekend shifts. If you aspire to become an expert in the nursing field while working in a busy, ever-changing environment, critical care nursing is an excellent option. Many nurses also enjoy gaining critical care experience for a few years so they can improve their nursing craft and carry those skills into other specialties.

Skills of Critical Care Nurses

  • Crisis management in life-threatening situations
  • Efficiency with processes and patient care
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Communication and teamwork with a highly involved care team
critical care nurse checking on patient in hospital bed

3. Emergency Nurse

Nurses in the emergency department are the first line of care for patients who come into the hospital seeking healthcare. Emergency nurses make an average base salary of $83,976. They work with patients of all ages, and their role focuses on stabilization, triage, and diagnosis.

ER nurses treat patients with heart attacks, broken bones, traumatic injuries, pain, breathing difficulty, abdominal pain, and more. Every day is different with these patients, so if you’re someone who enjoys no two days looking the same, emergency nursing is a great option. These nurses can work day or night shifts during the week or weekend.

Nurses in the ER focus on treating urgent concerns and determining if further care is needed. They help stabilize a patient’s condition before heading to surgery, transferring to another hospital unit, or discharging to their homes.

Skills of Emergency Nurses

  • Stress management during intense situations
  • Patient diagnosis and stabilization skills
  • Empathy with a diverse patient population
  • Streamlined communication with patients and care team

4. Surgical Nurse

As a surgical nurse, you will work with a variety of patients before, during, and after surgery. Earning an average base salary of $82,732, these nurses provide care surrounding surgery. They evaluate patients prior to their procedure, assist the surgical team in the operating room, and manage patients after they wake up from surgery.

Surgical nurses have high standards of excellence when dealing with high-stakes situations daily. If you enjoy working as part of the operating room surgical team, and you excel at collaborating with a well-oiled, protocol-driven team, surgical nursing may be a great fit for you.

Skills of Surgical Nurses

  • Precision with following protocol
  • Collaboration with an interdisciplinary team
  • Comfort in the high-pressure surgical environment
  • Ability to reassure patients and families in stressful health situations

5. Travel Nurse

Travel nurses work as short-term staff for healthcare facilities, working for a few weeks or months in each location. They cover nursing shortages caused by increased patient loads and nurse staffing gaps. Travel nursing roles are available for many specialties. They make excellent pay rates, averaging $87,352 base salary, and can make even more in specialties that require more advanced knowledge or certifications.

nurse packing the back of her car

If you desire to visit different cities across the country or world, travel nursing is a great opportunity. These nurses enjoy living a flexible lifestyle and changing environments often. Another option is to work as a travel nurse for a few years to gain experience and earn a high salary before settling down into a nursing role at a facility near your home.

Skills of Travel Nurses

  • Adaptability to changing environments and ability to learn quickly
  • Confidence with nursing care
  • Relationship-building skills

6. Long-Term Care Nurse

Long-term care nurses work with patients in a nursing home setting. These nurses make an average base salary of $87,133. They develop close bonds with residents who live in the nursing home for months or even years. Nurses in these settings manage chronic conditions, give medications and treatments, and help patients recover and gain strength.

As the baby boomer generation continues to age, the number of people needing nursing home care is increasing. Therefore, nurses who are experts in caring for nursing home patients will be in increasingly high demand.

Nursing home nurses manage patients with chronic conditions as well as those with disabilities related to aging. If you enjoy working with patients long-term and getting to know them well, working in a nursing home may be a perfect fit.

Skills of Long-Term Care Nurses

  • Reliability and consistency in treating patients
  • Listening skills and ability to earn patient trust
  • Compassion for those with disabilities

7. Obstetric Nurse

In obstetrics, the nurse’s role consists of caring for mothers during and around childbirth. OB nurses monitor the fetal condition, aid mothers in the labor and delivery process, and help new mothers care for their newborns. With an average base salary of $78,429, these nurses enjoy working in the hospital setting with a female population.

OB nurses generally have 12-hour shift schedules that may be day or night during the week or weekend. They work closely with their patients and develop a strong sense of trust and loyalty throughout the labor process. If you are a relationship builder with a passion for pregnant patients, you may consider a career in obstetric nursing.

Skills of Obstetric Nurses

  • Ability to earn patient trust and care for their unique needs
  • Respect for women during vulnerable health situations
  • Comfort with the fast-paced and ever-changing environment of labor and delivery
  • Attention to detail and ability to monitor patient status carefully

8. Nurse Educator

With the increasing need for nurses amid the nursing shortage, educating quality nurses is of high importance. Nurse educators teach the next generation of nurses, earning an average base salary of $84,099 yearly. These educators teach nursing skills and simulation labs, helping nursing students learn hands-on nursing skills. They also teach didactic nursing courses that provide foundational knowledge about health conditions and treatment.

Nurse educators generally need at least a master’s degree, and they can work for universities or for healthcare systems. Educators benefit from working a daytime weekday schedule. If you have a passion for teaching others, and you enjoy working with new nurses, becoming a nurse educator may be a great growth opportunity for you.

nurse speaking and presenting to a room of people

Skills of Nurse Educators

  • Teaching skills and ability to simplify complicated health information
  • Empathy for students
  • Organization with creating a teaching plan

9. Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)

Advanced practice nursing is a specialty for those with high career aspirations who desire more independence in their nursing practice. APRNs can work in the hospital or clinic setting. They can manage patients independently, determine treatment plans, and prescribe medications in many states.

There are various advanced practice specialties to choose from, each earning competitive salaries, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Nurse practitioner - $120,680
  • Nurse anesthetist - $195,610
  • Nurse-midwife - $112, 830

Advanced practice nurses need either a master’s or doctorate degree, which you can pursue after you earn your BSN and gain a couple years of clinical nursing experience. If you’re looking for a great way to grow your career and expand your scope of practice, consider working toward becoming an APRN.

Skills of APRNs

  • Communication skills with patients
  • Leadership skills for diagnosing and implementing treatments
  • Passion for excellence and lifelong learning
  • Collaboration with other healthcare providers

10. Outpatient Clinic Nurse

Nurses can work in a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings, and for those who enjoy a predictable, daytime schedule, outpatient clinics are a great option. These nurses make an average base salary of $75,663. In the clinic setting, nurses assist physicians and other healthcare providers in managing a busy clinic schedule. Nurses in the clinic interview and examine patients, take patient vitals, administer vaccines, provide treatments, and manage charting in the electronic medical record.

Depending on your interests, you can choose one of many specialties for outpatient clinical nursing, including:

  • Family medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Neurology
  • Orthopedics and sports medicine
  • Mental health
  • Cardiology

If you enjoy participating in preventative care visits, treating patients with chronic conditions, and building long-term patient relationships over several years, outpatient nursing is a great option.

Skills of Outpatient Care Nurses:

  • Accuracy and attention to detail
  • Efficiency with a busy clinic schedule
  • Communication skills with patients and healthcare providers

11. Home Healthcare Nurse

Home health nurses provide nursing care for patients in their home. These nurses make an average base salary of $75,805. They often treat elderly patients or those who are physically unable to visit a physician’s office or treatment facility. They manage long-term illness or disability and help patients recover from major surgery.

When these nurses visit their patients’ homes, they take assessments and vitals, evaluate progress, monitor medications, and recommend inpatient care if needed. Home healthcare nurses also have the benefit of advocating for mental health and developing long-term bonds with their patients. If you prefer working closely with patients in the home environment, home healthcare nursing is an excellent career.

Skills of Home Healthcare Nurses

  • Excellence in patient assessment and monitoring
  • Friendliness and listening skills
  • Consistency and trustworthiness
  • Passion for relationship development

Discover the Nursing Specialty of Your Future

As you can see, the options for high demand nursing specialties are endless. The first step to choosing a nursing specialty that suits your passions and lifestyle is earning a BSN.

At Northeastern University, we’re committed to educating our students to become excellent care providers no matter what specialty they choose. As a nurse, you’ll be in a career where you can make a tangible difference in people’s lives every day.

In the accelerated BSN program at Northeastern near Boston, MA, and in Charlotte, NC, our students learn both online and in-person:

  • Online courses provide a flexible environment for learning didactic information.
  • Skills and simulation labs offer a safe place to practice hands-on skills and protocols.
  • Clinical experiences allow you to apply your education to the real-world environment through clinical experiences.

Eligible students with a prior bachelor’s degree can earn a BSN at Northeastern in as few as 16 months. We also offer three start dates each year so you can save time and accelerate your career.

Contact our admissions counselors to learn more about how to begin your nursing journey. Now is the time to transform your nursing goals into a reality.

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