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Manchester Nursing Students
Academics | 4/17/2024

Types of Nurses: Descriptions, Salaries, and Work Environments

Manchester Nursing Students

Are you considering going into nursing? If so, there are plenty of options for specialization within this field. If you’re unsure what types of nursing jobs are available to you or what each role would look like, then use this blog as your guide. We'll cover the many types of nurses, potential salaries, and more. Let's get started.

Benefits of Becoming a Nurse

Before we explore the many types of nurses, let's briefly touch on the benefits of this line of work. Nurses can enjoy an extremely fulfilling career as they assist people in difficult moments and help them overcome their health challenges. They significantly shape the health and wellness of the individuals they serve, their families, and the surrounding community. 

For this reason, there are about 3 million registered nursing jobs in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). As a result, it's one of the largest professions in the healthcare industry. The nursing industry provides opportunities for students looking for a people-focused career, ensuring they’ll find a specialty and area they’re most suited for. The role also allows workers to enjoy flexibility in their schedules, which can lead to a healthy work-life balance. 

On top of customizable hours and the ability to make a positive impact on the patients they serve, nurses make fair wages. Per the BLS, the average salary is about $86,070.

16 Types of Nurses

There’s no shortage of roles that both new graduates and life-long nursing professionals can choose from. With the freedom to select from dozens of specializations, age ranges, and locations, workers can ensure they go into a field they’re most passionate about and suited for. Here are just a few of the many types of nursing jobs available:

School Nurse

A school nurse provides care to students within a school or district. This could include diagnosing illnesses, treating minimal injuries, and assisting with other medical concerns that don’t require further action. School nurses generally need an associate's or bachelor’s degree in nursing, and they also make an average of $65,052 per year, according to Indeed. 

Public Health Nurse

A public health nurse focuses on improving the overall health of their communities and surrounding areas. They do this by offering various services, like disability, illness, and injury prevention, as well as health programs and best practices. Unlike other nursing roles, public health nurses work alongside lawmakers in local, state, and federal governments to advocate for better health policies globally. They can work in many settings, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Government agencies
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Community health centers 

On average, public health nurses make $71,913 annually, per Indeed. To enter the nursing career path, individuals need an associate's degree or a Bachelor of Science. 

Registered Nurse

RNs set up plans for nursing care and deliver medical attention, including assessing patients, administering medications, assisting in diagnostic testing, and providing emotional support to patients and their families. The BLS states that the median salary is $86,070. Workers in this role need an associate’s degree in nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). A certified nursing assistant does similar tasks but only requires an associate's degree.

This role is one of the most diverse nursing jobs, allowing professionals to work in: 

  • Hospitals
  • Doctor’s offices
  • Nursing homes
  • Prisons
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Homes

The daily roles of RNs depend on the type of facility, but most professionals work closely with the patient to manage care and promote and maintain their health. 

Home Care Nurse

A home care nurse works closely with individuals in a nontraditional setting, providing them with nursing care, like assessing health conditions, planning treatment, and managing medications. Often, patients are elderly, critically ill, or have serious health conditions or impairments that require them to need at-home services. A home health nurse’s main role is to partner with patients to ensure their home is safe and comfortable for the best health and recovery or maintenance results. 

Home care nurses make an average of $107,077, per Indeed, and must have a BSN.  

Nursing Directors

Nursing directors—also referred to as directors of nursing—are in charge of leading nursing operations and staff members. It’s their responsibility to oversee healthcare facilities, ensuring there are smooth processes and smart decisions made within medical departments. While a nurse manager generally interacts closely with nursing staff, directors of nursing don’t have as much contact with employees. Oftentimes, nursing managers directly report to directors, keeping them informed on important information and internal details.

Nursing directors make $105,556 annually, according to Indeed. On top of having either a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice, individuals in this role must have managerial and leadership skills. 

Nurse Educator

A nurse educator’s primary role is to teach prospective nursing professionals clinical skills, patient care methods, and best collaboration practices. On top of that, they develop education programs, facilitate training, and provide educational resources to staff members. 

The average salary for nurse educators is $102,904, per Indeed. Nurse educators need an MSN or Doctor of Nursing Practice. 

Intensive Care Nurse

An intensive care or critical care nurse works with patients with life-threatening illnesses or conditions. It’s their role to respond to emergencies, care for people in recovery in an intensive care unit, conduct full-body assessments, and deliver emotional support to patients and their families or caregivers. They work mainly in hospitals and healthcare centers with intensive care units, and they partner with doctors, radiologists, therapists, and other medical professionals to guide patients in their healing journey. 

Intensive care registered nurses make about $117,447 on average per year, according to Indeed. They must have a BSN to practice. 

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner 

A psychiatric nurse practitioner helps diagnose and treat patients who deal with mental illnesses or disabilities. They aid in medication management and provide education for patients and loved ones on mental health conditions and best practices. 

This type of nurse makes an average of $115,495 annually, according to Indeed. To be a psychiatric nurse, individuals must obtain a Master of Science in Nursing - Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) degree.

Nurse Practitioner

A nurse practitioner (NP) is a nurse who has advanced education and training in the field. Their responsibilities include examining patients, diagnosing health problems, analyzing test results, and administering medicine. They work in several medical settings, like hospitals, physicians’ offices, and clinics. The median salary is $129,480, per the BLS. To be in this role, workers must have an MSN or another master’s degree in a specialty role. 

Although nurse practitioners and RNs focus on the same types of tasks, NPs are permitted to prescribe medications, order tests, and diagnose patients. RNs cannot.

Travel Nurse

A travel nurse works in a similar role to a registered nurse. However, they respond to a healthcare facility‘s nursing shortages and complete temporary assignments around the country—or even throughout different parts of the world. Typically they work closely with physicians and medical teams to design treatment plans and care for patients. Their assignments can last any length of time but are often about 13 weeks long. 

Professionals in this role earn an average salary of $114,163, according to Indeed, and must have an associate’s degree in nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Generally, the path to becoming a travel nurse is similar to that of a registered nurse. 

Clinical Nurse Specialist

A clinical nurse specialist is an advanced practice registered nurse with extra training to provide clinical specialty expertise. Their job includes improving patient care plans by working with social workers and providing bedside care to patients. They also diagnose, prescribe, and treat patients and specialty populations across the continuum of care. The average salary for clinical nurse specialists is $127,226, per Indeed. To enter this field, individuals need an MSN. 

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

A pediatric nurse practitioner addresses all primary care concerns for children from birth to adolescence. They diagnose and treat illnesses and manage the side effects of potential conditions. Generally, pediatric nurses practice in a physician’s office or a clinic, giving helpful advice to caregivers or family members to improve children’s long-term health. 

The average salary of a pediatric nurse practitioner is $131,959, according to Indeed. Workers must have an MSN, especially in a family nurse practitioner or pediatrics program. 

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

A neonatal nurse practitioner is an advanced type of registered nurse who works closely with infants in their first month of life. They provide primary, acute, chronic, and critical care to patients. For babies born prematurely, a neonatal intensive care nurse steps in. 

Salary.com states that the average salary for a neonatal nurse practitioner is $138,396 , and workers are required to hold a master’s degree or doctorate in nursing. 

Oncology Nurse

An oncology nurse is a specialized medical worker who cares for cancer patients or those at risk of developing the disease. Their responsibilities include providing for patients who are undergoing treatment for cancer, administering medication, and closely monitoring patient conditions. They also deliver emotional support and companionship to their patients. The median salary oncology nurses make is $119,810, per Indeed. To enter this career, professionals must hold a BSN. 

Labor and Delivery Nurse

Those who work as labor and delivery nurses or obstetric nurses are responsible for assisting mothers through labor and delivery, performing cognitive tests on newborn babies, and helping parents select care plans. They consult with patients during prenatal visits, monitor the babies’ heartbeat and mother’s contractions during labor, and perform tests on newborns. This type of nurse—as well as a nurse midwife— generally works within emergency medical departments and may occasionally encounter different delivery styles, such as an unscheduled cesarean section. 

Indeed states that this role's average salary is $122,820, and a labor and delivery professional or nurse midwife needs an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in nursing. 

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

A certified registered nurse anesthetist is an advanced practice registered nurse who can deliver anesthesia and pain management services like epidurals and nerve blocks. They work in hospitals, doctors' clinics, and long-term care facilities alongside surgeons, anesthesiologists, podiatrists, dentists, and other healthcare specialists to stabilize and monitor patient pain during operations and recovery. 

This type of nurse makes an average of $235,562, per Indeed, and needs a doctoral degree in nursing. 

How To Choose a Nursing Specialty

With numerous job opportunities, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. However, the amount of specializations is an exciting chance to find a career you’re interested in. To narrow your career choice, you can consider your:

  • Educational institution 
  • Educational program
  • Medical specialty or interest
  • Interests outside of work or school 
  • Time availability 
  • Income needs or desires

Understanding the programs available to you and the medical facilities near your university could make pinpointing a specific role a bit easier. Also, your interests may develop and change as you earn a BSN, giving you a clearer idea of what role you’d like after you graduate.

Study To Become a Nurse At MCPHS 

Are you ready to start your career in the nursing profession? At Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS), we’re excited to welcome you into the world of nursing through high-quality and industry-leading courses and programs. 

Our university offers several pathways you can choose from:

Undergraduate Nursing School Programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing - Postbaccalaureate: Designed for individuals who already have a bachelor’s degree and want to enhance their skills to prepare for the nursing field. During this 16-month program, students will work alongside experts in clinical and classroom settings, learning the essential techniques to provide adequate patient care. 
  • Bachelor of Science (BSN): This accelerated 32-month program helps students gain real-world experience while studying biology, chemistry, pharmacology, and community health. Like the BSN postbaccalaureate option, this program makes individuals eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN.

Master and Doctoral Nursing School Programs

  • Master of Science in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP): A 24-month, part-time course of study that provides students the flexibility to work while earning a nursing diploma. This path advances students’ bachelor’s degrees with a specialization in family medicine. Classes revolve around delivering primary patient care services and diagnosing and treating a variety of healthcare concerns for people of all ages.
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP): Students can acquire a specialty in psychiatric mental health in only 24 months. This program builds students' knowledge of mental health and critical neurological disorders like dementia, anxiety, and other psychiatric conditions.
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP): This 24-month, online doctoral program focuses on organization and systems leadership. Those who wish to go into this program must hold a BSN or an MSN. This gives them the foundational knowledge necessary to excel in nursing and beyond. 

Ready To Start Your Education?

Learn more about the nursing field at MCPHS University by applying to one of our many nursing programs