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How to Enter a Nursing Specialty

How to Enter a Nursing Specialty

Most nurses have a care specialty. But what exactly does it take to enter a specialty? This guide provides an overview of the basic credentials a nurse should have and what nurses in four different care specialties do.

Basic Requirements

Before thinking about a specialty, a nurse must satisfy basic requirements. These include:

  • Obtain nursing education through an institution recognized by the state nursing board.
  • Graduate with a 2-year, 3-year or 4-year nursing degree.
  • Apply for and receive a registered nursing (RN) license from the state.

Some nurses choose to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) because it is often easier to start working as a nurse. But many nursing specialty positions will require an RN license at minimum.

Types of Specialties

Critical Care Nurse

Critical care nurses  take care of patients in critical care settings like the ICU. They can work with adults, children, and babies. Work settings include:

  • The ICU
  • Cardiac Care
  • Telemetry
  • Neonatal ICU
  • Pediatric ICU

Prospective critical care nurses should have a BSN, pass the NCLEX-RN exam, and take the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) certification. Getting a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is encouraged.

Average Salary: $68,468

Psychiatric Nurse

Psychiatric nurses help care for patients with mental illnesses or those who have Alzheimer's or dementia. Entering this specialty requires a two-year degree at a minimum. Taking the NCLEX-RN exam is also a requirement. Some nurses choose to take a certification in psychiatric nursing or to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner.

Average Salary: $105,658

Clinical Nurse Specialist

A clinical nurse specialist (CNS)  has different focus areas like pediatrics, adults, gerontology, or mental health. Similar to academics, a CNS usually focuses on research, teaching, and advocacy, but they do maintain strong care skills. Future CNS’ must obtain a BSN degree, pass the NCLEX-RN exam, and earn a graduate degree or doctoral degree in nursing.

Average Salary: $100,000

Dialysis Nurse

Dialysis nurses  work in nephrology and care for patients with problems related to their kidneys. Two or four-year degrees are required along with an active RN license. Dialysis must pass the NCLEX-RN test.

Obtaining a certified nephrology nurse (CNN) or certified dialysis nurse (CDN) may help prospective nurses advance in the specialty.

Average Salary: $68,100

Specialty nurses or those looking into specializing in a specific area should visit NexNURSE to learn more about what employers are looking for in their nurses. It’s never been easier to find employers nationwide looking to fill their next nursing position. Create a profile today!