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Nursing is a diverse and dynamic field that constantly evolves to include new treatments and practices. So, if you choose to enter the nursing field, you will find several opportunities to excel in your career.

Of course, education plays a significant role in shaping a nurse’s career. Each degree represents one of the various growth points in the career of nurse practitioners. Therefore, the more advanced learning degrees and certificates a nurse has, the more chances for accelerating their career growth.

How does specialization impact the career of a nurse?

Most people think that a nurse’s job is limited to looking after the patients, administering medicine, taking their vitals, and providing other bedside care. While there is nothing wrong with this perception, nurses can discover various opportunities to grow with several other responsibilities.

Indeed, the role of a registered nurse primarily constitutes one or all of those mentioned above. However, things are different for a specialized nurse practitioner. Along with these duties, a specialized nurse practitioner can enter into expert roles in a particular field with the proper education and skills. Specializing in a specific domain can be an excellent way for nurses to move forward in their careers.

For instance, acquiring a Master’s degree opens the doors to more opportunities, and you can transform your stagnant nursing career into a growing one. Moreover, you can opt for online studies if you have a hectic work schedule. For example, you could opt for CCNE accredited online MSN programs to climb up the success ladder as a nurse practitioner. Or, you could take an online medical course which will equip you with a certification in BLS that you’ll be able to add to your CV and stand out in the job market.

Here is a glimpse of the most famous nursing specializations you can choose from with an advanced learning degree.

Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurse

A neonatal nurse takes care of babies who are extremely ill or born immaturely. These babies often suffer from underdevelopment, congenital disabilities, cardiac malformations, etc. Hence, they need intensive care and supervision. This specialization is lucrative, but it can be emotionally tiring to observe babies dealing with severe issues. You will meet families who are depressed due to their baby’s condition and treat babies fighting for their lives since the moment of their birth. Therefore, this specialization is for you only if you have the emotional stamina to be composed in such conditions.

The minimum requirement for a NICU is to have an ADN or a BSN with an NCLEX-RN exam, after which you can work as an RN in the neonatal setting. However, to become a neonatal nurse practitioner, you need an MSN.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP)

If you are interested in working with mental health concerns and psychological issues, you can work as a psychiatric nurse practitioner. A PNP helps people with psychiatric disorders, ADHD and mood disorders. As a PNP, you will constantly work with patients suffering from mental health disorders, record their condition before and during the treatment, and modify your treatment accordingly. You will often work with psychiatrists to improve the care given to the patients. You should possess excellent communication skills and critical thinking ability to work with such patients as they cannot communicate their state of affairs. A psychiatric nurse can earn an average income of $117,030 per year, with a max salary going as high as $146,290.

Health Educator

You might know health educators with the name of community health workers. They work in communities, educate people about healthcare facilities in the area, and share best practices in maintaining one’s health. They often work with people who have less knowledge about maintaining their health and wellness, disease control, and prevention methods. People in these communities are often less educated, making the job of a health educator quite challenging.

Health educators also collect relevant health data, hold meetings to discuss health issues, and judge the effectiveness of healthcare programs in a community. Some critical skills every health educator must have are; problem-solving, exceptional written and verbal communication and negotiation abilities to interact with stakeholders. A nurse needs a master’s degree with relevant certification to work in this field. The median salary of a health educator in 2020 is $48,140 per year. Moreover, the career outlook of this specialization also demonstrates an above-average growth of 17% for the year 2020-2030.

Intensive/Critical Care Nurse

If you have an extraordinary ability to keep calm even under pressure, earning a specialization in critical care might be the right choice for you. An intensive/critical care nurse helps patients deal with complex medical conditions where their condition changes at any moment during the treatment. Thus, a critical care nurse needs to conduct periodic assessments and implement intensive interventions to control their patient’s health. Therefore, to be a critical care nurse, you should think fast and implement the necessary changes in the medication to bring your patients back to normal. Often such situations don’t give much time to think, so you have to think critically and be prepared for what comes your way. As a critical care nurse, you can also work in the emergency room. Therefore, you must possess resilience, physical endurance, critical thinking and excellent communication skills. An intensive care nurse can earn a median salary of $72,541 per year.

Family nurse practitioner

Family nurse practitioners work in the primary health department to help patients of all ages. They perform patient diagnoses, prescribe proper treatment, perform physical examinations and prescribe medicines. In 2020, the median salary of a family nurse was $117,670 per year, with a job outlook of 45%! So, nurses interested in offering comprehensive and in-depth patient care to people of all ages may find this a suitable specialization option for them.


The nursing profession offers multiple opportunities for growth to those who embrace this career. Education plays a vital role in creating these opportunities. Opting for an in-demand specialization is one of the easiest ways to take the next step on your career ladder. Moreover, with the introduction of online courses, getting a degree while working has become easier.

The pandemic was an eye-opener, and since then the demand for nurse practitioners has increased significantly. With adequate qualifications and skills, registered nurses can now move forward in their careers.