Top Registered Nursing Careers

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Community Nursing

Provide preventative care and education as a community health nurse working in public institutions, schools, and clinics.

Family Nursing

Pursue a concentration in family nursing to work as a geriatric, hospice, or neonatal nurse, and provide support to families in crisis.

Nursing Management

Use your experience and training to specialize in nursing management, working behind the scenes as an informatics nurse or nurse advocate.

Apply to Jobs Using These Resources

Search for a job on general and government job boards, as well as on these specialized sites for nurses.

See What Registered Nurses Do

Registered nurses work in a variety of healthcare facilities, from hospitals and clinics to private practices, elder care facilities, hospices, community clinics, and rehabilitation centers. Here, they care for the health of individual patients and assist other healthcare professionals in performing medical procedures. Direct care nurses take patient histories, check vital signs, administer medications, discuss treatment options, and assist doctors during surgeries. Others work in management positions, where they oversee other nurses or handle the cases of individual patients.

Explore Popular Registered Nursing Specializations

Many nurses choose to specialize in order to gain better career opportunities and focus on the aspect of nursing that most interest them. Earning an RN to BSN degree is a great way to accomplish that goal. Below you will find some of the most popular nursing specializations for those with a BSN degree to choose from, along with their average salaries and job outlook.

Community Nursing

Community nurses treat not only individual patients, but also groups of people and organizations to improve public health for an entire community or region.  This is done via education and screening programs.

Projected national job growth: 26%

Average salary: $64,690/year

Entry-level education: Associate’s degree, RN

Job description: Ambulatory care nurses work in the community, providing such services as medical screenings and education for patients who may not have access to proper care facilities. You will work outside of hospital settings in places such as community centers or other public areas, where you will administer vaccinations, take blood, or perform routine exams that can be conducted outside of a clinic.

Why would I want to do this? Pursue this specialization if you are interested in public health and health education and have strong teaching skills, particularly in explaining the importance of preventative care.

Projected national job growth: 26%

Average salary: $64,690/year

Entry-level education: Associate’s degree, RN

Job description: Community health nurses work with public institutions, schools, and community clinics to improve the health of an entire community through health screenings and other preventative measures. You will be working with local leaders, often in underprivileged communities, to run events such as blood drives or cancer screenings, and may work in teams with other nurses and other healthcare professionals, often treating many patients in a single day.

Why would I want to do this? Consider specializing as a community health nurse if you are passionate about improving the overall health of members of communities, especially those without access to regular healthcare.

Projected national job growth: 26%

Average salary: $64,690/year

Entry-level education: Associate’s degree, RN

Job description: Correctional nurses work in jails, prisons, or juvenile facilities, where they treat inmates with acute injuries or chronic illnesses.

Why would I want to do this? Pursue a career as a correctional nurse if you want to practice general nursing in a setting that is not a hospital or clinic. You will need to be skilled in basic care and diagnosing serious illnesses or injuries that need the attention of a specialist.

Projected national job growth: 26%

Average salary: $64,690/year

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree, RN

Job description: Public health nurses act as educators, spreading information about disease prevention, immunization, and proper nutrition to an entire community.

Why would I want to do this? Consider a career as a public health nurse if you have good communications skills and a strong desire to educate people about preventative health measures and proper nutrition. You may be employed by a non-profit
organization, and can expect to work with community organizers and leaders to provide clinical programs for members of the community, as well as visiting individuals in their homes.

Projected national job growth: 26%

Average salary: $64,690/year

Entry-level education: Associate’s degree, RN

Job description: School nurses treat children for ailments and injuries incurred while in school, administering daily medications and treating allergic reactions. You can also expect to treat injuries on the playground, including scrapes and cuts, and provide emergency care for more serious injuries such as broken bones until the child can be taken to a hospital.

Why would I want to do this? Pursue a career as a school nurse if you like being around children and teenagers and have a strong general nursing or pediatric background. You will be administering medication to children who need regular treatment for conditions such as diabetes or ADHD.

Clinical Nursing

Clinical nursing is the most popular nursing concentration, as it allows nurses to treat patients directly in hospitals or clinics. You can further specialize in specific diseases, such as oncology nursing, or procedures, such as radiology nursing.

Projected national job growth: 26%

Average salary: $64,690/year

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree, RN

Job description: Genetics nurses specialize in the treatment of hereditary diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, or diabetes.

Why would I want to do this? Choose to become a genetics nurse if you are interested in disease treatment and the pathology of diseases and their effects. You will need to communicate to patients how diet, exercise, and other factors may affect their condition, and explain various treatment options and what they entail in non-scientific terms. Pursue this career if you want to improve the lives of those with long-term illnesses.

Projected national job growth: 26%

Average salary: $64,690/year

Entry-level education: Associate’s degree, RN

Job description: Infectious disease nurses specialize in preventing and treating communicable diseases, and mainly work in hospital and clinical settings where infection rates are high. You will implement preventative measures by communicating with patients and medical staff, ensure proper antiseptic procedures are carried out, and inform patients how to prevent the spread of disease.

Why would I want to do this? Pursue this specialization if you have an inquisitive nature and are interested in pathology and public health., and if you want to participate in educational training as a nurse educator.

Projected national job growth: 26%

Average salary: $ 69,810/year

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree, RN

Job description: Oncology nurses specialize in treating patients with various types of cancer, and work closely with oncologists to administer chemotherapy, cancer medications, and other treatments. You will administer specific treatments an oncologist has prescribed, such as giving patients chemotherapy and ensuring that they are taking prescribed medications when not in the clinic or hospital. This specialization allows you to become an expert in treating cancer at various stages, and you may work with children or adults of all ages.

Why would I want to do this? Choose a specialization in oncology nursing if you are interested in helping treat different types of cancer and are able to compassionately care for seriously ill patients. Know that working with terminally ill patients is emotionally taxing.

Projected national job growth: 26%

Average salary: $64,690/year

Entry-level education: Associate’s degree, RN

Job description: Palliative care nurses specialize in treating chronic or acute pain a patient may experience from a variety of causes. They often work in hospitals and specialty clinics treating chronic illnesses. You will help manage pain by administering medications to patients following surgery or in emergency situations, or to those with chronic pain due to illness. You will also advise and instruct patients on taking pain medications properly when at home.

Why would I want to do this? Consider this specialization if you want to relieve the pain of patients under your care and are interested in physical therapy and pharmacology.

Projected national job growth: 26%

Average salary: $64,690/year

Entry-level education: Associate’s degree, RN

Job description: Pulmonary nurses treat patients with respiratory diseases such as tuberculosis or asthma, and work in specialty clinics or critical care units of hospitals. You can expect to help patients of all ages adjust to using inhalers and other medical devices designed to help them breathe, and assist in treating patients when they are suffering from asthma attacks.

Why would I want to do this? Consider a career in pulmonary nursing if you have strong interpersonal skills and are interested in working with patients over many years to help them live with asthma or other respiratory problems.

Projected national job growth: 26%

Average salary: $74,310 /year

Entry-level education: Associate’s degree, RN

Job description: Radiology nurses operate medical devices used in the diagnosis and treatment of illness, including ultrasound machines, MRIs, and radiation therapy devices used for cancer treatments. You will be trained on one or several specialized medical devices, and will work with doctors to run tests and determine the causes or types of diseases or ailments patients may have.

Why would I want to do this? Consider this specialization if you are good with computers and other machines and want to learn how to use that technology to help patients.

Projected national job growth: 26%

Average salary: $64,690/year

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree, RN

Job description: Renal dialysis nurses perform inpatient procedures that require the use of dialysis machines, such as kidney replacements or the treatment of renal failure. You will be specifically trained to operate hemodialysis machines and prepare patients for procedures involving dialysis. You can expect to work with seriously ill or injured patients whose kidneys have failed, and can save lives through the use of this medical technology.

Why would I want to do this? Pursue a specialization in renal dialysis nursing if you want to work with specialized medical equipment and are interested in nephrology, pharmacology, and nutrition.

Projected national job growth: 26%

Average salary: $64,690/year

Entry-level education: Associate’s degree, RN

Job description: Telemetry nurses are trained in the use of electrocardiograms and similar machines used to measure a patient’s heartbeat and other vital signs. Expect to spend much of your time connecting patients to EKGs, taking readings, and alerting doctors to any significant changes. Telemetry nurses typically work in the cardiology departments of hospitals and clinics.

Why would I want to do this? Pursue a career in telemetry nursing if you have experience in cardiology and an interest in operating medical equipment.

Projected national job growth: 26%

Average salary: $64,690/year

Entry-level education: Associate’s degree, RN

Job description: Urology nurses work in hospitals or clinics and specialize in treating patients who are having problems with their urinary tract, kidneys, bladder, or urethra.

Why would I want to do this? Consider specializing in urology nursing if you are interested in nephrology and preventative care, and want to help patients suffering from a variety of diseases and conditions of the urinary tract.

Family Nursing

Family nurses treat very young or very old patients, and will often involve their family members in discussing treatment options and making medical decisions. They may work in the pediatric or geriatric departments of hospitals, or in specialized facilities.

Projected national job growth: 26%

Average salary: $65,120 /year

Entry-level education: Associate’s degree, RN

Job description: Geriatric nurses treat elderly patients and are experts in illnesses and conditions common in seniors, such as diabetes, cancer, or Alzheimer’s. You will work directly with patients and their families, as many under your care may no longer be able to communicate or understand their diagnosis or treatment options.

Why would I want to do this? Consider this specialization if you prefer to work with older patients in a hospice or elder care facility. Choose this specialization if you are very patient, kind and interested in geriatrics and long-term care.

Projected national job growth: 26%

Average salary: $65,120/year

Entry-level education: Associate’s degree, RN

Job description: Home health nurses care for patients inside their homes, primarily elderly or chronically ill patients who would prefer to receive treatment outside of a hospital.

Why would I want to do this? Choose to specialize as a home health nurse if you have strong interpersonal skills and are able to develop relationships with your patients, as you will be working closely with a few patients at a time in their homes. You will spend most of your time at a patient’s home, checking their vital signs and fluids, administering medications, and caring for the hygiene of elderly or immobile patients.

Projected national job growth: 26%

Average salary: $60,830/year

Entry-level education: Associate’s degree, RN

Job description: Unlike other nursing specializations, hospice nurses treat patients who are terminally ill and will not recover, striving to make their lives as comfortable as possible. You will work in a hospice and administer pain medications, change sheets and clothing for patients who are unable to do so themselves, and regularly monitor vital signs and other indications that a patient may die.

Why would I want to do this? Pursue a career in hospice nursing if you are comfortable being around patients who are dying, and are skilled at communicating with them and comforting members of their family.

Projected national job growth: 26%

Average salary: $69,810/year

Entry-level education: Associate’s degree, RN

Job description: Neonatal nurses treat newborn babies who may have been born premature or with birth defects, and most commonly work in the Neonatal Infant and Care Units (NCIU) of hospitals. You will also instruct parents on administering medications to their newborn when needed.

Why would I want to do this? Pursue this specialization if you want to work with newborns and infants and are interested in intensive care as well as pediatrics. You can expect to work in stressful situations where the life of a newborn depends on your actions. You will be working with pediatric doctors in the NICU and pediatrics departments of hospitals.

Projected national job growth: 26%

Average salary: $64,690/year

Entry-level education: Associate’s degree, RN

Job description: Pediatric nurses specialize in treating children and infants who are suffering from a variety of acute and chronic illnesses or trauma.

Why would I want to do this? Choose pediatric nursing if you primarily want to treat children, infants, and toddlers and are good at communicating with these age groups. You should be patient and able to console children who are going through painful procedures they don’t understand, and be able to explain treatments to their parents in everyday language.

Emergency Nursing

Emergency nurses typically work in the emergency rooms of hospitals or clinics or in emergency vehicles, and assist patients who need immediate medical attention due to trauma or accidents.

Projected national job growth: 26%

Average salary: $64,690/year

Entry-level education: Associate’s degree, RN

Job description: Critical care nurses work in the emergency or ICU departments of hospitals or trauma centers, where they treat critically ill or injured patients in serious condition. You will be treating patients whose conditions are often very serious, and will help doctors conduct life-saving emergency procedures by taking vitals and blood samples.

Why would I want to do this? Consider a career as a critical care nurse if you thrive in high-stress environments and are able to make quick decisions regarding the health of a patient. You need to have good attention to detail and be able to maintain calm in high-pressure situations.

Projected national job growth: 26%

Average salary: $64,690/year

Entry-level education: Associate’s degree, RN

Job description: Emergency nurses work in hospital emergency rooms or on ambulances and other rescue vehicles, and treat trauma and other very serious medical conditions. You will also administer pain medications and help doctors to perform life-saving procedures such as CPR or emergency surgery.

Why would I want to do this? Pursue this specialization if you are able to work under conditions of high stress, where time is an important factor in the survival or recovery of a patient. You can expect to work closely with doctors and other medical staff to address the immediate causes of a patient’s trauma.

Projected national job growth: 26%

Average salary: $66,339/year

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree, RN

Job description: Forensic nurses work with law enforcement and other legal professionals in order to produce medical evidence relevant to a crime, such as in cases of accidental death or sexual assault. You will interview victims of crimes such as sexual assault, take medical samples, and help the police determine the facts of a case through medical evidence. You may also be asked to appear in court to explain this medical evidence to the jury.

Why would I want to do this? Pursue a career in forensic nursing if you have an inquisitive mind and are interested in helping victims of violent crimes gain evidence against their attackers.

Nursing Management

Unlike other types of nursing, those who choose to specialize in management spend less time treating patients and more time on administrative matters. They oversee other nurses and medical staff at healthcare facilities and ensure the clinic or department in their charge runs smoothly.

Projected national job growth: 22%

Average salary: $84,270/year

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree, RN

Job description: Case management nurses work with patients who have chronic conditions to coordinate long-term treatments with their doctors, educate them on their ailments, and oversee their general progress. You may also supervise other nurses treating the patient in your care.

Why would I want to do this? Choose a career in case management if you are interested in the long-term care of individual patients and have a background in chronic diseases.

Projected national job growth: 26%

Average salary: $98,702/year

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree, RN

Job description: Informatics nurses are experts in the software used to compile and manage healthcare data, as well as the computer systems used in clinics and hospitals.

Why would I want to do this? Pursue informatics nursing if you have a background in information technology and are good with computers and their usage in the nursing field.

Projected national job growth: 22%

Average salary: $64,690/year

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree, RN

Job description: Nurse advocates serve as intermediaries between doctors and patients, and can interpret a doctor’s recommendations as well as a patient’s concerns to develop with the best course of treatment.

Why would I want to do this? Pursue a career as a nurse advocate if you have strong communication skills and an interest in health education. You must be able to explain medical terms and diagnoses to patients in plain language.

Apply to Jobs Using These Resources

The job outlook is positive for registered nurses overall, and those with specializations and advanced degrees such as a BSN are even more in demand. We have compiled below some of the best websites to find nursing jobs around the country.

Nursing Websites

There are many websites on all aspects of nursing, and some also feature their own job directories. There are particularly helpful, as they only list nursing jobs.

Allnurses – Allnurses.com is a social network for nurses and nursing students, and gives RNs a chance to network when searching for career opportunities.

NPJobs.com – This directory allows nurses to search for jobs based on specialty, state, region, and date, and also offers employment contracts and other resources.

Nurse.com – Nurse.com’s jobs site offers a directory of nearly 10,000 nursing positions in every specialty, as well as resources for career advice and listings of nursing career fairs.

Professional Organization Websites

Many websites of professional nursing organizations have their own job databases and are excellent places to look for nursing jobs. These listings are intended for RNs and only feature nursing jobs.

American Nursing Association – The ANA’s Nurses Career Center allows members to search for jobs based on their specialization and location.

ANANurseSpace – The ANA’s NurseSpace is a social network where nurses and nursing students can interact online and pursue career opportunities through networking.

National Student Nurses Association – The NSNA’s Career Center has listings for select hospitals and healthcare facilities in several U.S. states.

General Job Sites

General career websites offer listings of jobs in every industry. They are a good place to start your search for nursing jobs, and you can use them to determine average salaries and demand for your specialization.

AfterCollege.com – After College lets recent graduates explore a variety of careers in related fields based on their education levels.

CareerBuilder.com – CareerBuilder.com has a database of jobs in all industries, which you can search by location and keywords for your specialization.

Craigslist – The employment section of Craigslist is a great resource for finding local jobs in larger cities, and is updated daily with new postings categorized by industry.

HotJobs – This job search engine allows users to upload their résumé or search job listings by keyword and location.

Indeed.com –Indeed.com compiles a wide variety of job listings from different websites and allows you to search by keyword and location.

Job-Hunt.org – This site has a large job directory and also provides resources to help make searching within your specialization easier and more effective.

LinkUp.com – LinkUp is a job board that posts openings from corporate websites, and is great for those searching larger hospital systems.

Monster.com – Monster.com is a popular career search engine that allows users to create profiles and upload résumés to match up with employers.

SimplyHired.com – SimplyHired posts listings from company job boards and classifieds that may not appear on other career websites.

TweetMyJobs.com – TweetMyJobs.com aggregates job listings posted on Twitter and allows you to search for jobs based on specialization and location.

Government Job Boards

The federal and state governments employ nurses in a variety of specializations, including in the military or in emergency situations such as disaster relief. You can use the directories below to search for nursing jobs in public service.

Department of Veterans Affairs – This government site is intended for U.S. veterans returning from serving in the military, and lists jobs around the country in different industries.

USAJOBS – USAJOBS is the official job search engine for all federal government positions, and it lets users search for jobs by occupation and location.

US.Jobs –US.Jobs lists a wide array of public and private sector jobs from state and federal job banks and company websites, and is run by a non-profit organization.