How Do You Choose a Nursing Specialty?

How Do You Choose a Nursing Specialty?

Selecting a niche to specialize in is an important decision in a nurse’s career. Furthermore, not all nurses have a clear inclination to which path they’d like to pursue. The lucky ones often enter nursing school with a course in mind. Still, many of us (myself included) go into nursing with a general passion for being in the profession without really realizing how varied the opportunities for specialization are.

Training for a specialty involves additional hours of study, programs, and certifications (including other financial investments). With that in mind, the pressure to make the right choice can be daunting. Focus less on making the right choice and instead search for a good choice. You may surprise yourself with how that slight shift in perspective eases the burden, allowing you to look at the opportunities with curiosity and thoughtfulness. Nevertheless, if your list of good choices remains longer than one, here are a few questions to ask yourself to whittle down the list.

Are You an Introvert or Extrovert?

While all nursing specialties require collaboration and communication with others, there is a spectrum. Communication, collaboration, conflict resolution, and public speaking skills are all qualities routinely listed as needed or desired on nursing job postings. However, the truth remains that not all nurses feel strong in those areas. Most of those skills can be strengthened with time, training, and experience, and yet there are nursing specialties that require less utilization of those skills than others.

If you’re an introvert, specialties that require less socialization and team collaboration may be preferred. While no specialty is true without cooperation or communication, these fall to the side of the spectrum less and may be less emotionally draining for introverts. Here are a few ideas:


Forensic Nursing

Home Health

Nurse Researcher

Telemetry Nursing

Nursing Quality Improvement

Nursing Writer

Extroverts whose personality allows them confidence in public speaking and conflict resolution may be well-suited at the other side of the spectrum in these specialties:

Nurse Educator

Nurse Advocacy

Nurse Legislator

Nurse Attorney

Health Policy Nursing

Public Health Nurse

Do You Thrive in High-Pressure Environments?

Consider how well you function in intense situations. Are you solid under pressure? Do you find satisfaction in participating in high-pressure collaborations and high-stakes environments? Nurses whose specialties will place you routinely in these types of environments include:

Surgical Nursing

Plastic Surgery Nursing

Perianesthesia Nursing

Perioperative Nursing

Nurse Anesthetist

Cardiac Cath Lab Nursing

Neuroscience Nursing

Do You Want a Fast Paced Setting?

Perhaps you’re a nurse who thrives by jumping from one problem to the next. If you like taking action while conducting thorough assessments all under the pressure of the clock, one of these specialties may be a fit for you:

Critical Care Nursing

Emergency Nursing

Crisis Response

Trauma Nursing

Triage Nursing

Do You Want to Lead?

Nursing is not only an occupation that involves caring for the sick or injured. Nurses with those skills are also needed in leadership roles across the country. When nurses in leadership roles are educating, writing policy, and advocating, they still need nurses in leadership positions to implement those practices.

If you have the drive to be a leader, background, and experience in nursing, you don’t have to choose between the two. Here’s a list of nursing specialties that combine those talents:

Business in Nursing

Clinical Nurse Leader

Ethics in Nursing

Nursing Entrepreneur

Nursing Executive

Nursing CEO

Nursing Manager

Nursing Administration

Most Unusual Nursing Specialties

There is also a rise of nurses in surprising places in other industries. Some of these specialties have a smaller pool of opportunities, more of a niche than, say, an ER specialized nurse, and yet many of these attract nurses with particular passions. Because several of these specialties are still small, we believe many have room for growth. Perhaps you can foster some of that growth yourself! Here’s a list of some less mainstream specialties (yet no less important!) than many of the others previously listed:

Camp Nursing

Professional Sports Team Nurse

Medical Script Nurse

Theme Park Nurse

Cruise Nurse

Flight Nurse

Parish Nurse

Holistic Nurse

Health Coach Nurse

Cannabis Nurse

Highest Paid Nursing Specialties

If a priority of yours in choosing a specialty is income, then you’ll want to be prepared for additional financial investment for training and education. Nevertheless, the average salaries for these two nursing specialties are impressive:

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are the highest earners under the umbrella of nursing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2021, CRNAs earned a median income of $195,610, and the job opportunities are projected to grow 45% through 2030. CRNAs are not required to have a Ph.D. They need a master’s degree, but that is set to change in 2025.

A master’s degree is a requirement to become a nurse practitioner. Nurse Practitioners follow the CRNAs on the list of highest paid nurses, earning a median income of $120,680 according to the BLS. Moreover, you can specialize in geriatrics, neonatal, psychiatric, family, adult-gerontology, or pediatric.

What Specialty Will Make Me the Happiest Nurse?

In 2018, noting the year was pre-pandemic, Medscape released a Nurse Career Satisfaction Report that polled over 10,000 nurses. According to that report, Nurse Midwives, Clinical Nurse Specialists, and CRNAs reported the highest satisfaction levels with their careers (98%). Alternatively, in February of this year, released its survey results of 1,500 nurses and found that ‘nurse educators, home health nurses, nurse managers, OR-perioperative nurses, and pediatric nurses reported the highest levels of job satisfaction.

Take Your Specialty on the Road with Elite Specialty Staffing

Happiness in nursing is not found in any one specialty. Mainly because each of us as humans is different, you could choose the specialty with the highest satisfaction rate, yet if it is not the right fit for you, you could still be unhappy. Take to heart the questions we’ve reviewed and apply them to yourself honestly. Whatever specialty you decide, you can take it on the road with you! Travel nursing is a niche with opportunities for all types of nurses. If you love your specialty but need a change of environment, call Elite Specialty Staffing and talk to a recruiter today.