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13 Different Types of Nurses
and What They Do

Pursuing a specialized nursing career can help you take advantage of fast-growing employment opportunities and unlock your potential for career advancement. It’s important to realize there are many different types of nursing career paths, from general practice to niche specialties like oncology.

Here's a list of all the types of nurses in the highest demand: descriptions of who they are, what they do, and what you need for education to become one - listed roughly in order of qualifications needed.

Group of Registered Nurses in Meeting

1. Licensed practical nurse (LPN)

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) work closely with registered nurses (RNs) and physicians to provide patients with basic nursing care. Many new nurses start out as an LPN to gain nursing experience before advancing their career with an associate (ASN) or bachelor’s degree (BSN).

Due to an aging population, there is a growing need for LPNs and their duties in long-term care, such as rehabilitation centers, residential treatment centers and hospice. Employment for LPNs is expected to increase by as much as 5% from 2022-2032, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

2. Registered nurse (RN)

Registered nurses (RNs) play a central role in helping healthcare organizations provide quality care to a diverse and growing patient population. In general, RN positions are expected to grow by as much as 6% from 2022-2032, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

BSN-prepared nurses are the most sought-after RNs in the job market and can advance to leadership and management roles more quickly than the ASN nurse.

EducationASN (required) or BSN (recommended)
CertificationsMust pass the NCLEX-RN exam
More readingHow to Become an RNHow Long It Takes to Become an RNHow Much an RN Makes; Choosing ADN vs. BSN: What You Need to Know; How to Go from CNA to RN

Classes Start July 8th

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3. Travel nurse

Travel nurses are registered nurses who help hospitals and healthcare organizations fill workforce gaps. For example, travel nurses might fill in for nurses who are on maternity or sick leave, or they could be called to another country to help deal with an emergency situation like a national disaster.

If you want to help others and see the world at the same time, then a career as a travel nurse could be right for you.

EducationASN (required) or BSN (recommended)
More readingHow to Become a Travel Nurse

4. Med-surgical nurse

A med-surg nurse works on the medical/surgical floor of a hospital. Med-surg nurses must have strong time management and organizational skills, as they often care for multiple patients at a time.

They also need to be skilled communicators in order to work effectively with multiple healthcare team members, such as doctors and surgical staff.

If you like a fast-paced work environment where no two days are the same, then a career as a med-surg nurse might be a good fit for you.

EducationASN (required) or BSN (recommended)
More readingHow to Become a Surgical Nurse

5. Emergency room nurse

Emergency room nurses nurses provide urgent care to patients in hospitals suffering from sometimes life-threatening injuries or illnesses. ER nurses often work alongside emergency medical staff and first responders, so they must have strong communication, critical thinking and collaboration skills to coordinate care and share information across these teams.

As an ER nurse, you can work in a variety of settings, from Level 1 trauma centers to rural hospitals or clinics, and across a range of nursing specialties, from trauma to pediatrics. ER nurses are registered nurses and must obtain at least an ASN.

Many ER nurses have a BSN and can go on to obtain additional certifications for specialized care, such as advanced cardiac, pediatric, and newborn life support.

EducationASN (required) or BSN (recommended)
CertificationsRN; some hospitals might also require Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC) certification
More readingHow to Become an ER NurseWorking as an Emergency Room (ER) Nurse
Acute Care Medical Team

6. Oncology nurse

Oncology nurses are involved in many aspects of cancer diagnoses and treatment, from early detection to symptom management. They most often work in hospitals, but they can also be employed by home care organizations, specialty medical centers and ambulatory centers.

While cancer affects individuals of all ages, 69 percent of new cases are diagnosed in individuals between the ages of 55 and 84, according to the National Cancer Institute. As the baby boomer generation ages and the pool of older cancer patients increases, oncology nurses will become an even more important part of the healthcare workforce.

EducationASN (required) or BSN (recommended)
CertificationsRN and Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN®)
More readingHow to Become an Oncology Nurse; A Day in the Life of an Oncology Nurse

7. Nurse informatics specialist

Nursing informatics is a growing field that integrates nursing science with information technology to improve systems and processes for hospitals and large medical facilities. A nursing informatics specialist serves as a vital “technology liaison” for the hospital staff, while still performing typical nursing duties.

For example, their duties include analyzing data to identify and reduce risk of medical errors, or evaluating and implementing new workflow processes to improve patient care. As a nurse informatics specialist, you are a critical team member of a hospital’s nursing and IT staff.

EducationBSN (required) or Master of Science in Nursing (MSN - recommended for advanced roles)
CertificationsRN; some nurse informatics specialists also pursue advanced degrees in information technology or computer science.
More readingHow Much You Can Make in Health Information Management; Health Information Management Jobs

ADN nurses: take the next step

Advancing your education is key to discovering the career path of your choosing.

You can go from RN to BSN online in as little as 1 year and potentially open many doors to future career possibilities, including potential new specialty pathways of your choosing.

Learn more about our RN to BSN program:

Herzing University Graduate Holding Diploma and Smiling

8. Nurse manager

Nurse managers are experienced nurse leaders who oversee a team of nurses and other healthcare staff. They help ensure positive patient outcomes and make it possible for an organization to achieve a higher standard of care.

Effective nurse managers must have a combination of strong leadership, critical thinking and communication skills to effectively manage teams and coordinate patient care. If you want to play a role in improving the standard of patient care, then a nurse manager might be the right position for you.

9. Nurse educator

As more students seek entry to nursing degree programs, demand for skilled nurse educators is on the rise. In an academic setting, nurse educators design and implement continuing education programs for nursing students and practicing nurses.

In a hospital or other clinical setting, nurse educators help train nursing staff and other healthcare professionals. As experienced nursing professionals, nurse educators can identify opportunities to improve processes and mitigate risks to the patient, nurse and hospital.

Nurse Educator Teaching Nursing Student

10. Public health nurse

Becoming a public health nurse can be a great way to transition away from a bedside role but continue making an impact in nursing. Public health nurses assess, evaluate, and implement interventions to improve healthcare systems and policies.

Public health nursing encompasses a wide variety of potential roles and responsibilities. You may get started in the field by pursuing a job as an occupational nurse, maternal and child health nurse, or school nurse. Advance your education to the master’s or doctorate level and you can potentially qualify for leadership, management, or directorial positions.

EducationUndergraduate nursing degree for many types of entry-level positions; graduate-level public health nursing program for leadership positions (MSN, DNP)
More readingHow to Become a Public Health Nurse; What Does a Public Health Nurse Do?; Types of Public Health Nurses

11. Nurse anesthetist

A nurse anesthetist is a special type of advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who is certified and trained in administering anesthesia to patients. They can provide care in a variety of settings, including hospitals, physician’s offices, rural and medically underserved areas and the military. They can also work in non-clinical settings as a teacher, researcher, or administrator.

Due to fast-growing employment and ample career advancement opportunities, U.S. News ranked Nurse Anesthetist #10 on its list of Best Healthcare Jobs for 2023.

EducationMSN, DNP
CertificationsMust pass the National Certification Exam (CNE) administered by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA)
More readingHow to Become a Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA); Average Salary for a Nurse Anesthetist

12. Nurse midwife

Nurse midwives are APRNs who provide prenatal, family planning and obstetric care. Often, they serve as primary caregivers for women and their newborns. They can also be involved in general wellness care for new mothers and babies, providing education on nutrition and disease prevention.

Employment for nurse midwives is expected to grow by 6% from 2022-2032, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average salary for a nurse midwife is $131,570 per year ($63.26 per hour).*

CertificationsCertified Nurse-Midwife (CNM)

13. Nurse practitioner

Nurse Practitioners (NPs) provide advanced care that includes health promotion, health prevention, wellness and disease management, as well as diagnosis and treating acute, chronic, and episodic illness. Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) are a special type of NP that works with patients of all ages.

In some rural or medically underserved areas, NPs are increasingly becoming the front line for patient care. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for a nurse practitioner is $128,490 - and demand for NPs is expected to grow by 45% from 2022-2032.*

How many types of different nurses are there? Are there more?

The ebb and flow of the market dictates what kinds of nurses are most hotly recruited, and these are the 12 types of nursing roles you might pursue if you’re after the biggest opportunities on the job market.

But there are certainly more, with unique expectations for educational requirements and everyday duties and differing pay. Their uniforms may look the same, but their job descriptions are anything but uniform. Different kinds of nurses have all sorts of unique specialties and capabilities based on training and certification, whether it's pediatric nurses, cosmetic nursesneonatal/NICU nurses, flight nurses, home health nurses, cardiac nurses, advanced practice nurses or nurses who specialize in radiology, telemetry, dialysis, radiology or other areas. Take our personality quiz to find out what kind of nursing specialty is perfect for you.

Different Types of Nurses Walking Through Hospital Corridor

Job market insights and information is developed and provided by Lightcast. Herzing University makes no representations or guarantees that graduation from its programs will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth. For information regarding student outcomes, please visit our Consumer Disclosures page. For support with career resources, please contact us by phone at (866) 208-3344 or email at

What are the levels of nursing education?

Depending on your career goals, you may need to earn your way through a few levels of nursing education. Read more about the different types of nursing degrees and how Herzing University can help you carve a unique path in your nursing career.

No matter what type of nursing you want to pursue, the most important factors in your success are 1) getting the right education and degree 2) obtaining the required certifications 3) developing the soft-skills to become a must-hire to prospective employers. Herzing University’s nursing degree programs are your launching pad to a new career in nursing.

Learn More About Our Nursing Programs


* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics 2023 / Occupational Outlook Handbook 2022. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

Classes Start July 8th

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Online & on-campus options

Herzing University nursing programs are available online and at 11 ground campus locations, each offering extensive student resources and support as you pursue your nursing degree. Program availability varies by campus location and state eligibility.

Herzing University - Akron
nursing programs

1600 South Arlington St, 100
Akron, OH 44306

(330) 594-3034

Herzing University - Atlanta
nursing programs

50 Hurt Plaza SE Suite 400
Atlanta, GA 30303

(404) 586-4265

Herzing University - Birmingham
nursing programs

280 West Valley Avenue
Birmingham, AL 35209

(205) 791-5860

Herzing University - Brookfield
nursing programs

15895 W. Bluemound Road
Brookfield, WI 53005

(262) 457-7624

Herzing University - Madison
nursing programs

5218 East Terrace Drive
Madison, WI 53718

(608) 807-1909

Herzing University - Nashville
nursing programs

100 Centerview Dr., Suite 100
Nashville, TN 37214

(615) 206-2858

Herzing University - New Orleans
nursing programs

3900 North Causeway Blvd Suite 800
Metairie, LA 70002

(504) 613-4295

Herzing University - Tampa
nursing programs

3632 Queen Palm Drive
Tampa, FL 33619

(813) 285-5281

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By selecting this button you agree to receive updates and alerts from Herzing University. Text HELP to 85109 for help, Text STOP to 85109 to end. Msg & Data Rates May Apply. By opting in, I authorize Herzing University to deliver SMS messages and I understand that I am not required to opt in as a condition of enrollment. By leaving this box unchecked you will not be opted in for SMS messages. Click to read Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.