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Nurse Practitioner Specialties and Salaries – Which is the One for You?


Written By: Lauren Jacobson MS, RN, WHNP-BC

Maybe you are considering becoming a nurse practitioner (NP) and want to choose a specialty, or perhaps you already are one and are looking to specialize further, so how do you go about it? Well, there are a lot of things to consider including but not limited to what interests you clinically and the salary you are hoping to make. When we talk about nurse practitioner specialties keep in mind that the population focus that you choose in school will sometimes (including here) be referred to as a specialty. It is important to note that no matter what kind of nurse practitioner you want to be, you will need to first become a nurse and then become a nurse practitioner through an accredited master’s in nursing (MSN) or doctorate in nursing practice (DNP) degree. When you start nurse practitioner school you will have to pick your population focus: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP), Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGNP), Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP), Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP), or Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP). Within these population groups, you can further specialize or work in a variety of environments. Here we will go over a list of nurse practitioner specialties and the salaries they are paid to help you make the best decision.


What are the Different Types of Nurse Practitioner Specialties? (Ranked in the Order of Highest to Lowest Paying)

The following is a list of the different types of nurse practitioner specialties ranked in descending order starting with the highest salary based on latest figures. We have also provided information on what these nurse practitioners do and how you can become one.


1. Cardiology Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do: Cardiology nurse practitioners are heart specialists who can work in a variety of clinical environments. As a cardiology nurse practitioner, you will be skilled in assessing patients with potential heart conditions, making diagnoses, developing treatment plans, and following up with them. You may work in a specialty outpatient clinic, on an inpatient hospital floor, emergency rooms, home health, and more.

How to Become One: Becoming a cardiology nurse practitioner starts with earning your MSN or DNP likely with an FNP or AGNP population focus. Next, you must pass your board examination to become certified. Then you must apply for licensure through your state board of nursing. After this, you can do a specialty certificate in cardiology like the one offered at Duke University, though it is not always required to work in cardiology settings. You can also simply apply for jobs in cardiology clinics, inpatient hospital units, transplant units, and more.

Salary & Outlook: Cardiovascular diseases are the leading non-communicable diseases in the United States. This coupled with the Bureau of Labor Statistics prediction that nurse practitioner employment will increase by 52 percent between 2019 and 2029, it is unlikely that cardiology nurse practitioners will be in short demand in the coming years. Cardiology nurse practitioners are paid well at an average hourly rate of $67.49 or $140,380 annually.

Per Hour $67.49
Per Year $140,380


2. Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do: Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners are trained to manage psychiatric illness through medication management, providing counseling to patients, and more. As a PMHNP you can work in outpatient or inpatient settings, addiction centers, residential treatment facilities, and home care, as well as other settings. You will be able to assess, diagnose, and treat psychiatric conditions.

How to Become One: Like all NPs in our list of nurse practitioner specialties, you first need to complete an accredited nurse practitioner program in this population focus. This can be an MSN or DNP program. Then you must pass your certification exam and become licensed in your state and register with the DEA. Once this is done you are a PMHNP! Now, all that is left is to apply for jobs.

Salary & Outlook: PMHNPs earn one of the most competitive salaries among nurse practitioner specialties even among new grads. At $60.96 per hour or $126,800 per year, you will be living comfortably. Mental illnesses are a common diagnosis in the United States and there is a shortage of mental health providers, so the job outlook for PMHNPs is good.

Per Hour $60.96
Per Year $126,800


3. Oncology Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do: Oncology nurse practitioners provide care for patients suffering or recovering from cancer. In this role, you can work in hospitals, cancer treatment centers, patient’s homes, research facilities, and more. Oncology nurse practitioners provide both physical and mental support to the patients they care for.

How to Become One: Once you become an NP through earning your MSN or DNP you can sit for your certification exam and apply for state licensure. Depending on what type of cancers you want to focus on you can be an FNP, PNP, AGNP, or WHNP to work in this field. Completing a post-graduate certification in oncology can boost your candidacy when applying for jobs in this field, but is not necessarily required to work as an NP in oncology.

Salary & Outlook: Cancer makes up 22 percent of mortality due to non-communicable disease in the United States, so oncology nurse practitioners are going to continue to be in high demand in the coming years. You will be paid well at $57.74 an hour and $120,100 per year on average.

Per Hour$57.74
Per Year $120,100


4. Acute Care Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do: Acute care nurse practitioners can work with the adult-gerontology population or with pediatrics. In this NP specialty, you will be assessing, diagnosing, and treating patients who present with acute illness or conditions and can work in hospital floors, emergency departments, nephrology, cardiology, infectious disease, diabetes, and more.

How to Become One: To become an acute care nurse practitioner you first need to decide if you want to work with adults or children and then pursue an MSN or DNP within that population foci. After you earn your degree you will need to be certified as an Acute care AGNP or an acute care PNP. After certification, you must apply for state licensure and DEA registration. Keep in mind that depending on what type of nurse practitioner you are and what your experience is you may find yourself being employed in acute care settings without an acute care certification, and that’s ok!

Salary & Outlook: Working in acute care can be fast-paced and stressful, so you will be compensated well. On average hourly pay for acute care nurse practitioners is $57.74, and the annual salary is $120,090.

Per Hour$57.74
Per Year $120,090


5. Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do: Orthopedic nurse practitioners provide care for people with musculoskeletal injuries or diseases or people with degenerative diseases. Some orthopedic nurse practitioners work in operating rooms assisting with surgery, some work in rehabilitation facilities, and others work in clinics or orthopedic floors in hospitals as well as other locations.

How to Become One: First step? You guessed it! Earn your MSN or DNP. For this specialty it is best to start with becoming an FNP, AGNP, or PNP depending on the population(s) you want to work with. Once this is done you will take your NP certification exam, apply for state licensure and DEA registration, and then you can apply for jobs in orthopedic settings. However, if you want to boost your candidacy or be formally recognized as an orthopedic expert you can also get certified as an orthopedic nurse practitioner. However, you will have to have NP experience before doing this special certification.

Salary & Outlook: As an orthopedic NP you will make around $55.08 an hour or $114,560 annually. With the demand for nurse practitioners increasing between 2019 and 2029, you can rest assured that there will be jobs available and room for professional growth.

Per Hour$55.08
Per Year $114,560


6. Neonatal Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do: Neonatal nurse practitioners have a very special job as they care for the newest and most vulnerable babies. In this role, you will work in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), pediatric surgery, delivery rooms, or other locations providing clinical care to newborns with complications or in need of a little extra assistance at the start.

How to Become One: The first step is to complete a neonatal nurse practitioner program, either an MSN or DNP. Once you have earned your degree you will need to be certified through your credentialing agency. Then you can apply for state licensure, your DEA registration, and jobs.

Salary & Outlook: The demand for nurse practitioners between 2019 and 2029 is expected to grow by 52 percent so you can relax knowing that you will have job security. Neonatal nurse practitioners earn $54.38 per hour or $113,100 per year on average.

Per Hour$54.38
Per Year $113,100


7. Urology Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do: As a urology nurse practitioner you will provide care to people who have complications with their bladder, kidneys, and/or at times reproductive organs. You will work in a urology clinic or a hospital and will be able to assess, diagnose, and treat the patients that you care for.

How to Become One: Becoming first an AGNP or FNP through an MSN or DNP program is the best option if your long-term goal is to be a urology nurse practitioner. Once you graduate you will sit for (and pass!) your certification exam. Then you can get licensed in the state you wish to practice in, register with the DEA, and get a job! You can become specialized in urology by either getting experience in the specialty or with a certification from the Certification Board for Urologic Nurses and Associates, though this is not required.

Salary & Outlook: Nurse practitioner job security is not something to overlook when you are considering your future career. With expected growth over the next 8 years according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you will have plenty of opportunities to advance your career. As a urology nurse practitioner, you will make around $54.25 per hour or $112, 840 per year.

Per Hour$54.25
Per Year $112,840


8. Endocrinology Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do: Endocrinology nurse practitioners can work in many settings from specialty clinics, diabetes centers, hospitals, in-vitro fertilization clinics, pediatrics, and more. Working in endocrinology will offer you a lot of flexibility as there are many disorders of the endocrine system that you could focus on. In this field, you will evaluate patients with possible endocrine complaints, make diagnoses, and develop treatment plans and follow up.

How to Become One: Earning your MSN or DNP and becoming either an FNP, AGNP, PNP, or WHNP is the first step. Once you have your degree you will sit for certification within that population foci, and then either get experience working in endocrinology to build your expertise or complete an additional certification like the one offered at Duke University. Once you are ready to practice you can register with the DEA and start working!

Salary & Outlook: Endocrinology can be a tough specialty and is compensated well. At $54.17 per hour or $112,680 annually on average, you will be living a comfortable life. As with all nurse practitioner roles, the anticipated job growth will ease your mind when it comes to job security.

Per Hour$54.17
Per Year $112,680


9. Nephrology Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do: These nurse practitioners are kidney specialists. As a nephrology nurse practitioner, you will work with people who have conditions such as chronic kidney disease, decreased renal function, diabetes, hypertension, and more. You will play a pivotal role in increasing your patient’s quality and duration of life. You can work in hospital or outpatient clinics, and specialty or primary care settings.

How to Become One: To become a nephrology nurse practitioner you will first need your MSN or DNP in the FNP, AGNP, or perhaps even PNP population foci. Once this is done and you have passed your certification exam, obtained state licensure and DEA registration, you can become specialized by gaining experience in nephrology, or by gaining the required experience and then taking a certification exam that verifies your skills and expertise.

Salary & Outlook: Unfortunately end-stage renal disease patients has increased steadily in the second half of the 21st century at a rate of 9 to 12 percent annually. If this trend continues the demand for nephrology nurse practitioners also will. In this nurse practitioner specialty, you can expect to earn about $112, 500 annually or $54.09 per hour.

Per Hour$54.09
Per Year $112,500


10. Neurology Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do: Nurse practitioners working in neurology are trained to manage conditions that affect the nervous system. This can include things like multiple sclerosis, seizure disorders, postoperative care, rehabilitation, and more.

How to Become One: After earning your MSN or DNP (likely in the FNP, AGNP, or PNP population foci) you will sit for your certification exam. Once you have obtained certification and state licensure you can apply for jobs in neurology settings to become a neurology nurse practitioner. The other option is to do a neurology or neurosciences fellowship. Don’t forget to register with the DEA as this is essential for practicing as a nurse practitioner!

Salary & Outlook: Neurology nurse practitioners can make about $54.03 per hour or $112,390 per year. With a physician shortage in this specialty, there is a high demand for this nurse practitioner specialty.

Per Hour$54.03
Per Year $112,390


11. Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do: As an AGNP you can work in acute care (discussed previously) or primary care. AGNPs provide care for adults of all ages. You will be skilled in preventative care, as well as managing chronic conditions and health issues that arise as people age. Like all NPs you will diagnose and prescribe medication and will develop relationships with your patients that will better enable you to help them live healthy lives. AGNPs can work in many settings including emergency departments, primary care clinics, specialty clinics, addiction centers, home care, and nursing homes.

How to Become One: Like all nurse practitioner specialties you will first need to earn your MSN or DNP through an accredited AGNP program at a university. Once this is done you can sit for the AGNP certification exam through the American Nurses Association or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. Then you can apply for state licensure, DEA registration, and jobs as an AGNP.

Salary & Outlook: Given the broad range of environments you can work in, the anticipated NP employment growth, as well as the aging older adult population, AGNPs will have no shortage of job opportunities. Although salary can vary depending on many factors you will make around $109,790 annually and $52.78 per hour.

Per Hour$52.78
Per Year $109,790


12. Pain Management Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do: Pain management nurse practitioners can work in hospitals, clinics, oncology, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, addiction centers, and more to help patients with chronic pain achieve comfort through medication management and/or other therapeutic methods in a safe way.

How to Become One: After completing an MSN or DNP program and becoming a nurse practitioner in your chosen population foci you can sit for your NP board certification exam. Then you can get licensed in your state. Once you are registered with DEA, you can begin working in pain management or once you meet certain qualifications you can apply for advanced practice pain management certification.

Salary & Outlook: With an aging population there may be an increased need for pain management nurse practitioners in certain settings such as nursing homes and hospice care. This will offer additional job security on top of the growing opioid crisis requiring specialists in this field. As a pain management nurse practitioner, you will make on average $52.66 per hour or $109,540 per year.

Per Hour$52.66
Per Year $109,540


13. Women's Health Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do: Women’s health nurse practitioners provide care for women across the lifespan both during and outside of pregnancy. They can also provide care to men, particularly with reproductive health concerns. While specialized in reproductive health you can also provide primary care. WHNPs can work in OBGYN clinics, breast care centers, family planning clinics, college health, gynecological oncology, STI clinics, and more.

How to Become One: You need to complete an accredited WHNP MSN or DNP program and sit for your certification exam with the National Certification Corporation. Once this is done you can apply for state licensure and register with the DEA. There is no further education or certification needed after you complete a WHNP program.

Salary & Outlook: People often think WHNPs cannot work in many settings since they are so specialized, however, this is not true. Being able to work in a variety of settings means that you will have more job flexibility and thus security. WHNPs make on average $52.40 per hour or $108,990 annually although this will vary depending on work environment and experience.

Per Hour$52.40
Per Year $108,990


14. Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do: Palliative care nurse practitioners provide care for individuals with life-threatening illnesses with a focus on providing them with optimal quality of life. They work closely with the rest of the care team, the patient, and the patient’s family. As a palliative care nurse practitioner, you will be skilled in pain management and management of a variety of chronic diseases as well as patient education and meeting psychosocial needs to help make your patients as comfortable as possible.

How to Become One: After you complete an MSN or DNP program likely in the FNP, AGNP, or PNP population foci depending on what patients you want to work with, you can take your board certification in your population foci and apply for state licensure and DEA registration. Then you can apply for jobs in palliative care and gain experience. Once you have the experience you can verify your expertise through a palliative care certification like the one offered through the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center.

Salary & Outlook: With a disease such as cancer posing high mortality in the US, and an aging older adult population, palliative care will continue to be in high demand. In this nurse practitioner specialty, you will make $108,950 annually or $52.38 hourly on average.

Per Hour$52.38
Per Year $108,950


15. Family Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do: Family nurse practitioners are popular because of their versatility. As an FNP you will be able to care for males and females across the lifespan. You will be skilled in assessing, diagnosing, and treating a variety of conditions, as well as providing patient education and preventative care. FNPs can work in primary care clinics, pediatric departments, women’s health, infectious disease, hospital settings, home care, and more.

How to Become One: Completing an accredited FNP MSN or DNP program is essential for you to be able to sit for your FNP certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. Once certified you can apply for state licensure and your DEA registration. Then you are ready to work as an FNP in a variety of clinical environments.

Salary & Outlook: As an FNP you will have a level of job security rooted in the fact that you can work in so many environments and are qualified to manage various clinical conditions in patients of all ages. FNPs on average make $52.23 per hour or $108,630 annually.

Per Hour$52.23
Per Year $108,630


16. Pediatric Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do: Pediatric nurse practitioners care for children, adolescents, and young adults. They can work in specialty clinics, hospitals, primary care, and more. As a PNP you will provide preventative care, immunizations, and manage acute and chronic conditions that affect children. Like all nurse practitioners, you will be qualified to assess, diagnose, and prescribe medication to and develop treatment plans for the patients you care for.

How to Become One: To become a pediatric nurse practitioner you first need to decide if you want to work in acute care (discussed previously) or primary care. Then you will need to complete an accredited PNP program in acute or primary care and earn your MSN or DNP. Once this is done you can take your certification exam, become licensed in your state, and get your DEA registration.

Salary & Outlook: You will earn an attractive salary of approximately $108,120 annually or $51.98 per hour depending on your experience and work setting. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that nurse practitioners are likely to be in high demand through 2029 so you will have opportunities to advance your career.

Per Hour$51.98
Per Year $108,120


17. Surgical Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do: I am sure you can guess what these nurse practitioners do…surgery! Surgical nurse practitioners work alongside surgeons to assist in surgery and/or do some surgical procedures on their own. They may work in hospitals or private practices.

How to Become One: First you must become a nurse practitioner by completing an MSN or DNP in a particular population focus. Then you pass your certification exam administered by your population foci credentialing agency, apply for state licensure, and your DEA registration. To be a surgical nurse practitioner you gain experience and training by working in surgical settings. It is not necessary to complete a separate surgical NP certification.

Salary & Outlook: Surgery pays well with surgical nurse practitioners making $50.41 per hour or $104,860 annually. As with all NP specialties anticipated employment growth means you will have job security over the next 8 years.

Per Hour$50.41
Per Year $104,860


18. Dermatology Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do: Dermatology nurse practitioners are skin experts who can work in dermatology offices doing routine checks and treating people with skin conditions such as skin cancer, eczema, acne, and more. You will assess, diagnose, and treat the patients that you see.

How to Become One: After earning your MSN or DNP degree and sitting for your NP certification exam you can apply for state licensure and DEA registration. Once this is complete you can apply for dermatology nurse practitioner jobs. After accruing 3000 hours of dermatology NP practice, you can apply for certification, but this is not always required to work in dermatology.

Salary & Outlook: Dermatology pays well with nurse practitioners earning $49.60 per hour or $103,160 per year. The skin is the largest organ with numerous conditions that can afflict patients. Dermatology will continue to be a needed NP specialty in the future.

Per Hour$49.60
Per Year $103,160


19. Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do: Aesthetic nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses who focus on cosmetic issues. You will work alongside physicians to do things like administer botox injections, assist with plastic surgery, provide laser therapy, and more.

How to Become One: After completing an accredited MSN or DNP program, you must pass your certification exam, become licensed in your state, and register with DEA. Then you can gain experience in dermatology, plastic surgery, or another setting that can focus on aesthetics. You can also complete special pieces of training like chemical peeling to help boost your career as an aesthetic nurse practitioner, but not all nurse practitioner specialties have additional certifications that are required.

Salary & Outlook: Salary will depend on what setting you work in with surgical environments likely paying more. Either way, you will live happily off of $49.19 per hour or $102.310 annually on average.

Per Hour$49.19
Per Year $102,310


20. Emergency Room Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do: Emergency room nurse practitioners are quick thinkers and work well under pressure as they respond to emergent situations including but not limited to trauma, acute illness, sexual assault, chronic disease exacerbation, and more.

How to Become One: Emergency room nurse practitioners care for people of all ages but typically you will need to earn your NP degree through an FNP, acute care AGNP, or acute care PNP MSN or DNP program. As with all nurse practitioner specialties, you must pass the corresponding certification exam, become licensed in the state you wish to practice in, and get registered with DEA. In some cases, you can apply to work in emergency departments without additional certification, however, if you want proof of your expertise or if required by your job you can apply for emergency nurse practitioner certification through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

Salary & Outlook: With the coronavirus pandemic in full swing there is a high demand for emergency room personnel including nurse practitioners. In this NP specialty, you will earn $49.17 per hour or $102,280 annually.

Per Hour$49.17
Per Year $102,280


21. Holistic Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do: Holistic nurse practitioners combine the best of both worlds by using western medicine and other treatment modalities such as acupuncture, nutrition, and massage to provide the best possible care for the entire patient. Like all nurse practitioner specialties, you will still be able and expected to assess, diagnose, and treat your patients through prescribing medication.

How to Become One: Once you earn your MSN or DNP and become certified as a nurse practitioner in your chosen population foci, you can apply for state licensure and your DEA registration. You can then pursue training in other treatment modalities and incorporate them into your patient care, or you can get certified as a holistic nurse practitioner.

Salary & Outlook: As people become more autonomous in caring for their health and more aware of other treatment modalities available to them, they may look to nurse practitioner specialties with holistic training (such as you) for guidance and/or treatment. Thus, you can expect the demand for holistic nurse practitioners to increase. Holistic nurse practitioners earn around $102,190 annually or $49.13 per hour.

Per Hour$49.13
Per Year $102,190


22. Hospice Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do: Hospice nurse practitioners provide end of life care to patients with a focus on providing physical and psychosocial comfort. Hospice nurse practitioners work closely with the rest of the medical team, the patient, and their family. Hospice nurse practitioners can work in hospices or patient’s homes.

How to Become One: After becoming a licensed NP through completing an MSN or DNP program, passing your certification exam getting licensed in your state, and registering with the DEA you can work as a nurse practitioner in hospice settings. Once you have accrued 500 clinical hours in hospice in the past 12 months or 1000 in the past 24, you can apply for certification.

Salary & Outlook: While not the highest-paid, all nurse practitioner specialties including hospice NPs make a competitive salary. Depending on your experience and work setting you will make $48.66 per hour or $101,210 annually. With the older adult population aging, you can anticipate and high demand for hospice nurse practitioners.

Per Hour$48.66
Per Year $101,210


23. Forensic Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do: Forensic nurse practitioners bridge nursing with the legal system by providing care for and collecting forensic evidence from patients who have experienced forms of violence including sexual assault. They often work in emergency rooms but can also participate in death investigations. Forensic nurse practitioners can work with children and adults as well as in mental health depending on their population foci.

How to Become One: Completing an accredited NP MSN or DNP program in your chosen population foci is necessary to becoming a forensic nurse practitioner. After you pass your NP certification exam, become licensed in your state, and get your DEA registration. You can then complete sexual assault nurse examiner training or gain experience working in this realm in the ER to be a forensic nurse practitioner.

Salary & Outlook: Pay in this field is a bit lower than other nurse practitioner specialties but still good. You will be able to live comfortably making $46.23 per hour or $96,150 per year. Nurse practitioner specialties focused on trauma-informed care are increasingly important for providing care for people who have been victims of violent crimes increases. As awareness of this necessity increases, you can expect the demand for forensic nurse practitioners to increase as well.

Per Hour$46.23
Per Year $96,150


24. Home Health Nurse Practitioner


What Do They Do: Home health nurse practitioners do just that…care for patients in their homes! You will not only diagnose and treat patients but will be a crucial part of empowering them through education to care for their health at home. You will also work closely with other members of the patient’s healthcare team to help optimize patient care and coordinate other services.

How to Become One: To become a home health nurse practitioner you need your MSN or DNP from an accredited NP program. Once you graduate and pass your certification exam you can apply for state licensure. Then, you can apply for jobs with home health agencies or the Visiting Nurses Association. Don’t forget your DEA registration! While there is no specific home health nurse practitioner certification, it may benefit you to try to get clinical placements during your NP training in home health.

Salary & Outlook: Though the salary is lower at $43.99 per hour and $91,490 per year than other NP specialties, you may also be reimbursed for travel expenses. As hospitals try to decrease admissions home health is becoming increasingly important. This will play a role in increasing job security for home health nurse practitioners.

Per Hour$43.99
Per Year $91,490


What are the Reasons Behind Some Nurse Practitioner Specialties Paying Higher Salaries Compared to Others?


Salary is influenced by numerous factors. One can be the risk and specific skills associated with the job. For example, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners are often paid well, and this can be due to them prescribing some intense medications that can interact with others if the NP does not have a solid understanding of psychopharmacology. Other nurse practitioner specialties are more likely to be located in specialty clinics or hospital settings (like cardiology) and this may contribute to increased pay. Additionally, salary will vary depending on years of experience, clinical setting (primary care vs specialty clinic, etc.), location (rural vs urban), and whether you work for a private or public healthcare facility.


What Factors Should You Consider While Choosing a Nurse Practitioner Specialty?


Aside from the obvious like “what brings you joy?” there are a few things to consider while choosing a nurse practitioner specialty. One is what additional certification after becoming an NP you will need (if any) and what the requirements are for that certification. As you can see with our above list of different nurse practitioner specialties, some certifications already require that you have clinical NP experience in that field. Additionally, you should evaluate how certain you are that you want to work in that specialty. If you are still deciding or considering switching specialties a bit as you advance your career, it may be beneficial to start broad. For example, you can work as an FNP in a variety of settings to gain valuable experience while figuring out more clearly where you want to take your career. Finally, you should do a cost-benefit analysis: how much will you be earning, and how expensive is it going to be for you to specialize in a particular area.


Conclusion


This list of nurse practitioner specialties and salaries is a general guide to help you make the best decision for you. Keep in mind that salary and requirements for nurse practitioner specialties vary. There is not often just one path to becoming a certain type of nurse practitioner. Regardless of the specialty you choose, being a nurse practitioner is a rewarding career and the industry is booming, so the job outlook is good!


FAQS ANSWERED BY OUR EXPERT


What is the Highest-Paid Nurse Practitioner Specialty?

According to our investigation, cardiology nurse practitioners are the highest-paid. We surmise that this is due to a variety of factors. First off cardiology nurse practitioners can work in some higher risk and clinically acute settings such as cardiac catheterization labs or intensive care units. These work environments can be physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding. Cardiology nurse practitioners have specific skills to manage their patients and cope with these environments, and it is likely that employers seek to compensate them financially for these challenges.

What are the 5 Most in Demand Nurse Practitioner Specialties?

Following are the 5 nurse practitioner specialties that are in most demand:

- Family Nurse Practitioner: As previously mentioned, FNPs are versatile and they are highly sought after by employers since they can fulfill a variety of job functions.
- Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner: As the US is experiencing a shortage in mental health providers PMHNPs are being recruited to fill the demand.
- Pain Management Nurse Practitioner: With the country in the middle of an opioid crisis and diseases like cancer posing a high burden of disease, qualified pain management health professionals are needed to provide safe care to these patients.
- Oncology Nurse Practitioner: Despite all the money funneled into cancer research it still represents 22 percent of mortality caused by non-communicable diseases. Compassionate experts are needed to meet this healthcare demand.
- Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner: With the aging older adult population the US needs nurse practitioner specialties that are equipped to care for this population who endure a variety of health conditions.

What Nurse Practitioner Specialties Have the Highest Job Satisfaction?

While there is not a lot of data on the NP specialties with the highest job satisfaction, there are certain characteristics in general that have been identified as contributors to high job satisfaction. These include but are not limited to salary, work-life balance, the opportunity for growth, and the feeling of doing good. With this in mind, the best nurse practitioner specialties for job satisfaction are:

- Family Nurse Practitioner: Good pay combined with immense opportunity for growth and job flexibility make FNPs a highly satisfied NP specialty.
- Pediatric Nurse Practitioner: Being well paid and working with kids while having the potential for a 9 to 5 schedule results in high job satisfaction.
- Hospice Nurse Practitioner: While people on the outside may think of this as sad work, people working in hospice care find helping these patients and their families with this life transition incredibly rewarding.
- Emergency Room Nurse Practitioner: The excitement and ever-changing environment and high pay with varying schedules mean that emergency room nurse practitioners can have high job satisfaction.

What are the Most Stressful Nurse Practitioner Specialties?

This is hard to answer since as with job satisfaction it is so dependent on individual perceptions. All nurse practitioner specialties are stressful to some extent. What stresses one person out may be exciting for another. Emergency room nurse practitioner roles are a prime example. The need to think on your feet and a fast-paced environment can be incredibly stressful to some people and yet simultaneously rewarding to others. Acute care nurse practitioner specialties can also be high stress for this same reason. That being said the most stressful specialties will often depend on your work environment (including colleagues) and pay and not only the area you have specialized in.

What are the Least Stressful Nurse Practitioner Specialties?

Like the question before this, that depends on many factors. Nurse practitioner specialties like aesthetic or dermatology nurse practitioners may have less acute scenarios than others and thus may not get your adrenaline pumping in the same way.

In Which Specialty Do Most of the Nurse Practitioners Work?

Most nurse practitioners are FNPs for many of the reasons highlighted here including pay, job flexibility, and being able to care for male and female patients of all ages. Since FNP is a population focus that you can choose during nurse practitioner school, remember that you can work in many other specialties within this population focus.

Does the Scope of Practice for a Nurse Practitioner Differ based on the Specialty?

In some cases, yes. The population focus that you choose during your MSN or DNP degree will dictate the age range of patients you can provide care to. For example, Pediatric Nurse Practitioners cannot provide care to patients over the age of 21. However, the majority of the scope of practice regulations depends on the state. Depending on the state, nurse practitioners may have full practice, reduced practice, or restricted practice. While different NP specialties have small variations in scope of practice all NPs are licensed to assess, diagnose, and treat the patients they care for.


Lauren Jacobson MS, RN, WHNP-BC
Lauren Jacobson is a registered nurse and women’s health nurse practitioner who is passionate about global health and gender-based violence prevention. She is Editor and an Advisory Board Member for the Global Nursing Caucus and volunteers with Physicians for Human Rights as a medical evaluator for asylum seekers.