10 Happiest Nurse Practitioner Specialties That Also Pay Well


Written By: Kasee Wiesen DNP, APRN, FNP-C


The opportunities for nurse practitioners are endless. You can work in various specialties and settings—allowing you to find a job that leads to happiness. And happiness in the workplace is essential as it leads to a more engaged employee with high job satisfaction. This happiness with their job will also create a better work environment leading to the delivery of high-quality patient care.

You may be wondering what are the happiest nurse practitioner specialties. This may be a great starting point to help narrow down the specialty you want to work in or even provide ideas for NPs wishing to make a career change. Below I will give a list of the 10 happiest nurse practitioner specialties that also pay well.


WHAT ARE THE HAPPIEST NURSE PRACTITIONER SPECIALTIES?


Below you will find 10 of the happiest nurse practitioner specialties that also pay well—these are in no particular order and does not mean that you will not find happiness working in one of the many other NP specialties.


1. Dermatology Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do:

Dermatology nurse practitioners specialize in caring for a person’s skin. This includes diagnosing and treating rashes, completing skin cancer screenings, and removing or biopsying suspicious moles and skin lesions, among many other skin concerns. The dermatology NP must be comfortable prescribing topical and oral medications, performing skin biopsies, and other treatments such as cryotherapy when needed.

How Much Do They Make:

The average annual salary of a dermatology NP is $111,828.

What Makes it One of the Happiest:

Working as a dermatology NP is one of the happiest nurse practitioner specialties because of its work-life balance. In most, if not all, settings, there is no on-call required. If working in the outpatient setting, you will typically only work Monday through Friday during the day with very few or no evenings. The average annual salary is a bonus to the already great job.


2. Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do:

The adult-gerontology acute care NP cares for the adult and older adults while they are admitted to the hospital—providing care for acute and chronic problems. This may include caring for a patient with new-onset atrial fibrillation, post-op hip replacement, or a stroke. They will assess their patients daily, order diagnostic tests and treatment plans based on the results, and work closely with other specialties and the interdisciplinary team to ensure the patient is treated appropriately.

How Much Do They Make:

The average annual salary of the adult-gerontology acute care NP is $105,590.

What Makes it One of the Happiest:

One of the many aspects of the adult-gerontology acute care NP role is the work-life balance. Working as an adult-gerontology NP, you go to work and care for your patients for your 8 or 12-hour shift and then go home—and the next time you return, you may have a new set of patients depending on who had been discharged. This often leads to an outstanding work-life balance because you do not bring your work home with you—when you are done with your shift, you are done for the day.


3. Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do:

Pediatric acute care nurse practitioners work in the inpatient setting and care for pediatric patients. They provide care to patients with acute and chronic problems such as an upper respiratory infection to type 1 diabetes post-op surgical patients—including routine assessments, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, and treatment plans. They also work closely with specialty and interdisciplinary teams to ensure the highest quality of care.

How Much Do They Make:

The average annual salary of a pediatric acute care NP is $99,432.

What Makes it One of the Happiest:

Working as a pediatric acute care NP you get the opportunity to care for pediatric patients daily in the inpatient setting. This alone can make the job happier than other NP specialties, but it also allows for the ability to leave “work at work,” meaning when you go home, you do not have to bring work home with you.


4. Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do:

The psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner cares for patients and their mental health needs. This includes performing assessments and diagnosing and treating mental health disorders. The psychiatric mental health NP may work in the outpatient or inpatient setting and even complete appointments via telehealth. They often work closely with the patient’s therapist and primary care provider when delivering care to their patient.

How Much Do They Make:

The average annual salary of the psychiatric mental health NP is $147,383.

What Makes it One of the Happiest:

As mentioned many times already, one of the reasons why psychiatric mental health NPs are one of the happiest nurse practitioner specialties—with a good work-life balance being one. As a psychiatric mental health NP, the flexibility of working from home while still treating patients makes it enviable--and this is done through telehealth. And while it may be challenging at times, the reward and opportunity to help people improve their mental health is an excellent aspect of this career.


5. Neonatal Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do:

Neonatal NPs care for high-risk infants with diagnoses such as pre-maturity, low-birth weight, congenital heart problems, infections, and other problems. While they primarily care for young infants, they may care for patients with chronic health problems up to the age of two. They typically work in the inpatient setting, such as the NICU, but may also work in the emergency departments and outpatient developmental clinics.

How Much Do They Make:

The average annual salary of a neonatal nurse practitioner is $112,357.

What Makes it One of the Happiest:

Neonatal nurse practitioners care for neonates in the inpatient setting, allowing them to work only three or four shifts a week. The neonatal NP will also complete their work before they go home, allowing them to leave work at work.


6. Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do:

Aesthetic nurse practitioners perform cosmetic procedures on their patients. This can include Botox, chemical peels, laser hair removal, etc. They often have a consultation and assessment with their patient before the procedure, assist with surgery when needed and observe the patient during the recovery phase.

How Much Do They Make:

The average annual salary of an aesthetic NP is $112,321.

What Makes it One of the Happiest:

Aesthetic nurse practitioners are one of the happiest nurse practitioner specialties because the overall stress from their job is low compared to other NP specialties. The hours are also typically great as evenings or weekends are rarely required.


7. Surgical Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do:

Surgical nurse practitioners typically work closely with the general surgeon in varying roles depending on where they work. They often assist the surgeon with surgical procedures, provide post-op assessments and education, and help with follow-up appointments in the clinic, among many other duties.

How Much Do They Make:

The average annual salary of the surgical nurse practitioner is $108,778.

What Makes it One of the Happiest:

Working as a surgical NP is one of the happiest nurse practitioner specialties partly because of the great pay. It is also highly specialized, indicating that the NPS who pursue this path have worked in this environment in the past—whether as a peri-op, surgical, clinic nurse, or some other similar area leading to higher job satisfaction and overall happiness.


8. Emergency Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do:

An emergency nurse practitioner provides care to patients seeking treatment in the emergency department. They must have a broad range of knowledge and skills because they can care for various patients ranging from urinary tract infections, diagnosing appendicitis, or caring for a heart attack patient. They also provide multiple skills such as suturing and splinting and work closely with the emergency department physician to ensure the best care.

How Much Do They Make:

The average annual salary of an emergency nurse practitioner is $121,800.

What Makes it One of the Happiest:

Working as an emergency NP is very specialized, and most emergency NPs have experience as an RN in the emergency department. Therefore, they already know what to expect in their work environment, and they typically enjoy a fast-paced environment that is unpredictable and ever-changing.


9. Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do:

Women’s health nurse practitioners care for women at various stages throughout their life. This includes performing annual wellness appointments, OB check-ups, and postpartum concerns. They work closely with the OB-GYN when delivering care and may even assist in gynecological surgeries and round on inpatients when needed.

How Much Do They Make:

The average annual salary of a women’s health NP is $97,117.

What Makes it One of the Happiest:

Women’s health is one of the happiest nurse practitioner specialties because, just like many of the specialties above, it is very specialized. Many NPs working in this specialty have experience with women’s health as a nurse—whether as an OB nurse, postpartum nurse, clinic nurse, etc. They are passionate about caring for women and ensuring their needs are met. The hours are also ideal in that they rarely have to work evenings or weekends or be on-call, leading to better work-life balance.


10. Cardiac Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do:

Cardiac nurse practitioners care for patients with cardiac concerns—and may work in inpatient and outpatient setting. They work closely with the cardiologist to manage chronic issues such as hypertension and hyperlipidemia, acute problems such as chest pain or palpitations, and annual appointments to ensure a patient’s heart health is at its best.

How Much Do They Make:

The average annual salary of a cardiac nurse practitioner is $130,244.

What Makes it One of the Happiest:

One of the reasons cardiac nurse practitioners are happy is because they are compensated well. It is highly specialized, and most cardiac NPs have cared for patients with cardiac problems as an RN--may have worked in the cath lab, in a cardiac ICU, step-down unit, or even a cardiology clinic. They often have a strong passion for caring for patients with cardiac concerns increasing their happiness with their job.


My Final Thoughts


Happiness is essential for job satisfaction and the delivery of high-quality patient care. After reading the article above, can you answer the question, what are the happiest nurse practitioner specialties? Above I provided information on the 10 happiest nurse practitioner specialties that also pay well—but please remember this is a list of only 10 NP specialties, and one of the many other specialties may bring happiness to you.


Kasee Wiesen DNP, APRN, FNP-C
Kasee Wiesen is a practicing family nurse practitioner. Her nursing background includes emergency medicine, pediatrics and peri-op. Education is a passion of Kasee’s, and she has taught BSN, RN-BSN and DNP students, and has enjoyed every moment of it!