18 Best Nursing Career Choices in 2022 [Infographic]

Skyrocket your Earnings with these Nursing Careers

Nursing careers will continue to flourish due to the growth of the healthcare sector. It will grow annually at 5.4% from 2018 to 2022 according to Deloitte.  This is higher than the growth rate of just 2.9% from 2013 to 2017.

This article will tackle the nursing career paths that have the highest earning and growth potential.

If you are looking into being a nurse in the future, it is valuable to know as early as now what type of nurse you aspire to be.

Career progression (and the salary, too) highly depends on the education that you acquired to become a nurse.

The median salary of licensed practical or vocational nurses, whose training took only about a year or two, is lower by about $25,000 compared to that of a registered nurse.

To become a registered nurse (RN), there are several pathways:

  • 4-year Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing
  • 3-year hospital diploma program
  • 2-year associate’s degree in nursing

More than passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), many of the higher-paying jobs will require further studies.  Commonly it is a master’s degree and further examinations specific for the chosen field.

Going further into details, read on to learn more about the top nursing careers.

Emergency Room / Trauma Nurse

  • Median Salary: $75,109
  • Projected Growth: 16% by 2024
  • Requirements: Emergency care requires high levels of education and experience. After becoming an RN, obtain a master’s degree in Nursing, undergo specialized training and get certified by the Board of Certification in Emergency Nursing.
  • Who It Is For: If you want a lot of action, become an emergency room nurse. You should be able to work well under pressure.  This is because most of the time, you will be handling injuries or trauma, some of which are life-threatening. Quick-witted and fast, you should be able to work well with the emergency physician and must understand triage. This job requires good documentation skills, too.

Not all emergency room nurses work in the emergency room of hospitals all the time.  Some of them are transport nurses who care for patients while on transit to a medical facility.

Some ER nurses also work in crisis intervention centres, sports events, or transport facilities like airports.

Cardiac Nurse

  • Median Salary: $65,470
  • Projected Growth: 19% by 2022
  • Requirements: This nursing career requires being a Registered Nurse with at least two years of experience and 2,000 hours in cardiac care nursing before applying for certification under the American Board of Cardiovascular Medicine.
  • Who It Is For: Cardiac nursing is for those who can work under pressure and can work well in a team.

Cardiac care nurses are the ones who provide care for patients with heart problems. They work on a myriad of diseases including coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure.

Under the supervision of a cardiologist, they look after the patient and help with the procedures conducted to assess the patients such as an electrocardiogram test.

cardiac nurse

Travel Nurse

  • Median Salary: $66,000 (RN)
  • Projected Growth: 16% by 2024
  • Requirements: As the title suggests, this job requires you to travel, be assigned in understaffed healthcare units and support for a while, or be sent overseas. Usually, travel nurses work under an agency and are contractual employees.
  • Who It Is For: If you do not want to be confined to work in a fixed hospital setting, then, this nursing career may just be right for you.

Their tasks include recording the patient’s medical history, checking up on the patient and measuring their vital signs.

Sometimes, they go to patients’ homes and educate the family members about the patient’s condition and home care.

Dialysis Nurse

  • Median Salary: $67,808
  • Projected Growth: 26% by 2022
  • Requirements: This nursing career will require an RN license, 2000 hours of experience in nephrology and two years in dialysis area and passing a certification exam. In addition, you would need fifteen hours of continuing education in nephrology.
  • Who It Is For: This nursing career is for the compassionate ones who would need to deal with the same ill patients on a regular basis for their treatment.

Dialysis nurses are RNs who are responsible and accountable for patients undergoing dialysis. This is a procedure wherein the blood of patients with kidney diseases is cleaned through a machine. They prepare the patient and assess their condition prior to the procedure.

Dialysis nurses are also tasked to maintain the machine, prepare it for use, and recover once done using.

Surgical Nurse

  • Median Salary: $67,000
  • Projected Growth: 16% by 2024
  • Requirements: Being a surgical nurse will require a surgical nursing certification and license as an RN.
  • Who It Is For?: Surgical nurses must have good observation and communication skills as they must work with a team during surgeries.

Surgical nurses work inside the operating room with three possible roles: as a scrub nurse, as a circulator nurse, or a Registered Nurse First Assistant.

Scrub nurses work directly with the surgeon, preparing and handing over the tools and instruments.

On the other hand, circulator nurses help monitor the patient during the surgery, they bring in the patients, and create a relaxing environment for them.

The Registered Nurse First Assistant is the most trained among the three types as nurses of this type helps the doctor directly in cutting tissues, suturing wounds, and controlling bleeding.

With advanced education, this nursing career can be progressed into becoming a nurse anaesthetist or patient educator.

Surgical Nurse

Oncology Nurse

  • Median Salary: $68,000
  • Projected Growth: 19% by 2022
  • Requirements: An RN wanting to take this nursing career path will need to have at least a year of related experience. Then, he or he must take the Oncology Nurse Certification by the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation.
  • Who It Is For: This nursing career is for compassionate and optimistic nurses who would have to uplift weak cancer patients.

Oncology nurses are nurses who provide nursing care to cancer patients. To treat cancer patients, oncology nurses assist in chemotherapy and radiation procedures.

Not only that, their job is to look after the cancer patients, monitor their symptoms and health condition.

They also help in educating the public, especially those high-risk, on how cancer can possibly be prevented.

Since patients of oncology nurses are potentially weakened by their illness, the job is quite emotionally and physically draining but can also be rewarding when the patients are treated.

Nurse Researcher

  • Median Salary: $69,000
  • Projected Growth: 26% by 2022
  • Requirements: You must be able to work with a team of other healthcare providers. Be on tip-top shape as some researches could require tough, physical conditions.
  • Who It Is For: This nursing career is for those with excellent technical writing skills and analytical thinking.

Nurse Researchers are those whose work is involved in clinical trials aimed to advance healthcare.

Usually, their work is to provide patient care for those who are undergoing a new treatment or taking a new medication. They work for projects commissioned by pharmaceutical companies or other health-related firms, medical laboratories or universities.

Nurse Researcher

Occupational Health Nurse

  • Median Salary: $70,000
  • Projected Growth: 16% by 2024
  • Requirements: You must be an RN with certification from the American Board for Occupational Health Nurses, Inc.
  • Who It Is For: This nursing career is for those who would be willing to be assigned away from the hospital to attend to sick employees (or as preparation for any untoward incident in the workplace).

Occupational health and safety is a top priority of many industries as a loss in manpower due to illnesses and accidents may ultimately lead to a loss in income.

Laws and regulations are also in place to protect employees against risks and hazards that come with their job. This is where occupational health nurses help companies.

An occupational health nurse’s main objective is to keep employees healthy. In case of an accident, they are also the ones who administer first aid. They monitor the health condition of employees and educate them on how to prevent illnesses and job-related injuries.

Geriatric Nurse

  • Median Salary: $71,000
  • Projected Growth: 16% by 2024
  • Requirements: If you want to advance in geriatrics, be prepared to be an RN, render 2,000 hours in this specialty and then, pass a certification exam.
  • Who It Is For: This nursing career is good for those who are patient, empathetic, and physically strong.

As the baby boomers grow old, demand for healthcare workers in nursing homes has increased over the years. The World Health Organization reports that people are living longer lives which could be beneficial to societies globally.

However, this does not mean that our elders are spared from health deterioration due to aging. Old people tend to get into more injuries that hurt themselves and even when they are careful, their bones get weaker over time. Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease are common in old patients, too.

nursing specialty

Obstetrics Nurse

  • Median Salary: $73,000
  • Projected Growth: 26% by 2020
  • Requirements: Due to the high risk that nurses in this field face, training and certifications are stricter. After being an RN, an aspiring obstetrics nurse shall render 2,000 hours of experience in this field. Immediately after, he or she can apply for certification by passing the Obstetric Nursing exam from the National Certification Corporation.
  • Who It Is For: This nursing career is good for those who are committed to working with pregnant women. He or she must be patient.

Obstetrics nurses, or OB-GYN nurses, assist in the labor of expectant mothers and in the delivery of the babies. They also help in treating gynecological diseases.

The routine work involves common tasks of an RN but the goal of an OB-GYN nurse is more specialized.  It is their duty to keep both mother and baby healthy before, during, and even after the pregnancy.

They also educate women about reproductive health.

Informatics Nurse

  • Median Salary: $73,000
  • Projected Growth: Up to 26% by 2022
  • Requirements: Registered nurses who wish to take this nursing career path must complete a master’s degree in Health Informatics, Health Care Management or Quality Management.
  • Who It Is For: This nursing career is good for those comfortable with computers.

An informatics nurse’s line of work is not limited to nursing per se, but it extends to the high level of information management.  This is required in order to maintain patient records and ensure quality management.

With the use of software, computer programming, data science, and other related technologies, and informatics nurse sees to it that data are effectively communicated to end-users in a fast, comprehensible way.

At the same time, technology advancements like the ones that informatics nurses develop help in boosting productivity and cost.

He or she also makes sure that information is available for those who need access.

A reliable information database that informatics nurses maintain can ease decision-making which is significant in life-threatening situations.

Informatics nurse

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

  • Median Salary: $87,000
  • Projected Growth: 19% by 2022
  • Requirements: To become one, an RN must be able to render sufficient hours prior to getting the certification from the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board.
  • Who It Is For: If you like young children, then, this nursing career can be a good fit for you.

As the population continues to grow, health care for children becomes in demand, too.

Pediatric nurse practitioners work hand in hand with pediatricians in ensuring good health of young patients.

Working in pediatrics, it is the nurse who administers shots, prepares young patients in medical procedures, and conducts check-ups.

Additionally, their role includes educating the child and his family on proper nutrition and disease prevention.

Family Nurse Practitioner

  • Median Salary: $92,000
  • Projected Growth: 35% by 2024
  • Requirements: To become one, an RN should study family nursing practice in a master’s degree specializing in this field.
  • Who It Is For: This nursing career is for those that are flexible and can relate well to patients of all ages.

A family nurse practitioner is also an RN who, guided by a doctor’s diagnosis, can treat illnesses and prescribe medications.

They accommodate a wide range of cases from pediatrics to geriatrics. They observe patients, order laboratory tests, and assists in minor surgeries.

This position also has common functions with a physician, and so, they can work independently.

Some put up their own clinics and see patients, more like a family doctor.

With this, family nurse practitioners also advise patients and families of a holistic approach in curing and preventing diseases. This includes such advice as to diet adjustments and habit changes.

Certified Nurse Midwife

  • Median Salary: $93,000
  • Projected Growth: 25% by 2024
  • Requirements: To become one, an RN must continue with a master’s degree and render at least two years of experience in a midwife setting. Following this, work on the certification from the American College of Nurse-Midwives Council.
  • Who It Is For: This is for nurses who welcome challenges and adrenaline rush that come with every labor and delivery.

A certified nurse midwife’s role starts from the moment that a pregnant mother comes for regular prenatal visits, up until the time that the mother has delivered the baby.

He or she must be on call to assist when the patient goes into labor.

Sometimes, a certified nurse-midwife establishes her own clinic, but oftentimes, she works with gynecologists and obstetrics physicians in a hospital setting.

She provides counseling, assists in the delivery, and provides postpartum care. She must be well-versed in mother and child health care.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

  • Median Salary: $98,000
  • Projected Growth: 31% by 2022
  • Requirements: This nursing career is a type of advanced nursing. Two years of experience being an RN will be required to be accepted into a master’s degree. After completing the graduate program, nurses will then complete a thesis related to neonatal care. Check out the laws in your state, additional licenses may be required.
  • Who It Is For: This is for nurses who have a lot of patience and affection in taking care of babies.

The neonatal nurse practitioner works in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). This is where pre-term babies, or babies born with problematic health conditions stay after birth and assessment.

In the NICU, they take care of the baby by administering medications, doing kangaroo care, soothing the baby, and even changing the diapers.

Aside from looking after the baby, they also provide support to the family by updating them of the treatments and educating them about how they can better take care of the baby once discharged from the hospital.

neonatal nurse

Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

  • Median Salary: $99,000
  • Projected Growth: 19% by 2022
  • Requirements: An RN must also study further to have a master of science in nursing or, preferably a doctorate in nursing practice. These centres provide certifications: American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC); the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN); and the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB).
  • Who It Is For: This is for those who want an adrenaline rush.

This nursing career mostly deals with addressing severe injuries and trauma for a short period of time.

Apart from routine nursing activities like checking on the patient’s condition and symptoms, acute care nurses administer medications, insert intravenous fluids, and prepare the patients for operations.

An acute care nurse practitioner must be well-versed in emergency care and life support since many acute care patients are in severe health conditions.

Most acute care nurse practitioners specialize in one field, may it be geriatrics or cardiac care.

acute care nurse

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

  • Median Salary: $102,000
  • Projected Growth: 5% by 2024
  • Requirements: This requires a master’s degree or higher, with specialization in psychiatric nursing.
  • Who It Is For: This nursing career is perfect for those with great communication and observation skills, extreme focus, and a lot of patience.

There is a rising need for psychiatric nurse practitioners as more patients are now seeking mental health care.

In the US alone, about a quarter of adults have mental health problems according to estimations.

With more people seeking professional help, the healthcare sector will also need more nurses working in this sector.

Psychiatric nurse practitioners work alongside psychiatrists in evaluating patients and administering treatments.

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

  • Median Salary: $144,000
  • Projected Growth: 25% by 2022
  • Requirements: Ideally, he or she must have a bachelor’s degree in nursing who will go on to complete a master’s degree, specializing in anesthesia. A master’s degree would require a full year of clinical experience. Additionally, being an RN in Critical Care would be an advantage.
  • Who It Is For: This nursing career is fit for those with attention to detail and good communication skills.

A certified registered nurse anesthetist is a type of advanced practice registered nurse.

Working hand in hand with anesthesiologists, CRNAs are usually in charge of pre-operative, intraoperative and post-operative care of patients.

They check the physical state and review the medical history of the patient. They are also the ones who prepare and administer the anesthesia.


Best Nursing Careers

Share this Image On Your Site

There you have it!

Nursing careers are greatly varied as you can see in the list enumerated. But, as in any profession, each specialization has different demand and supply levels which affect the salary.

Additionally, there are factors affecting the salary of nurses such as location, shifting, and experience.

Taking up a nursing career should not be just about the money you will make. More than the salary, remember why you chose the profession.

Was it because you want to serve people? Was it because of personal advocacy?

Because at the end of the day, only the passionate ones who find satisfaction in their chosen nursing career stay and persevere.