Healthcare continues to be one of the fastest-growing industries in the US.1 But given the recent uptick in health trends like chronic illness, mental illness, and a growing population of elders, certain nursing specialties are expected to grow even faster—in many cases, as soon as 2023.
If you’re a travel nurse, you know that one of the best parts of your job is exploring countless new states, cities, and towns across the country. And if it’s time to explore more of what your traveling nurse career has to offer, these seven most in demand travel nurse specialties can promise prosperity as well as professional fulfillment.
#1 Nurse Practitioner
Today, some 2 in 5 primary care providers are over 65 years old, and with fewer practicing physicians, the demand for nurse practitioners is skyrocketing.2 To bridge the provider gap, more than half of US states are granting nurse practitioners (APRNs) greater autonomy to test, diagnose, and treat patients in need.2
Overall, demand for nurse practitioners is expected to see up to a 31% increase by 2026, regardless of their specialty.3 Average compensation for nurse practitioners is highest in the following states:4
- New Jersey
#2 Mental Health or Psychiatric Nurse
With as many as 1 in 5 American adults struggling with mental illness, demand for psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs) continues to climb.5 This travel nursing specialty is expected to grow by 31% in the coming years, requiring:
- Master’s Degree in Nursing
- Registered Nurse License
While there’s no specialty-specific certification required, nurses considering it should be committed to counseling and working closely with patients.
Mental Health Nurses can find employment with psychiatric centers, rehabilitation facilities, and hospitals, with a median travel nurse salary of around $71,000. The states that offer the most competitive compensation include:6
#3 Geriatric Nurse
A 26% increase is expected in Geriatric Nursing, largely due to a rapidly aging population.3 Between 2018 and 2060, the population of elders in the US is expected to double to 95 million—nearly a quarter of Americans in total.7
Geriatric nursing is one of the most in demand travel nursing specialties today, and because you’ll find elders all over, it’s particularly conducive to an on-the-road lifestyle. Treating older patients can be a rewarding career path in its own right, and you’ll find the highest demand for this specialist in states like:8
- New York
#4 Orthopedic Nurse
Orthopedic nurses focus on caring for patients who require joint replacements, orthopedic surgery, or are in recovery from a musculoskeletal illness or injury. Demand for nurses skilled in orthopedics is already high, but it’s projected to boost by 26% in the coming years.3 This may be due to many nurses heading into retirement overall.9
Orthopedic nurses earn a median of $76,282 per year, with the following states offering the highest salaries:10
- Washington – $110,482
- Maryland – $107,740
- Virginia – $105,413
- New York – $105,166
- Nebraska – $102,917
#5 Nurse Administrator
If you’re looking to plot a nursing career path that includes leadership and administrative work, demand for Nurse Administrators is expected to increase by 20% in the coming years. With the massive growth in healthcare employment (which outpaces every other industry), hospitals, outpatient facilities, and other care centers need more professionals eager to play an organizing role.11
Nursing administrators are expected to have:
- Bachelor of Science
- Registered Nurse License
- Certification in their chosen specialty (if applicable)
While the median salary is $96,540, Nurse Administrators in the following areas tend to earn even more:3
- New York
- Washington, D.C.
#6 Oncology Nurse
The decline in cancer diagnoses and deaths in the US is something everyone can celebrate. However, recent data from the CDC indicates that the number of new cancer cases is on the rise, likely due to our aging population.12
Because of this, oncology is gaining momentum as a nursing specialty, with 19% expected growth on the horizon.3 In addition to a Bachelor of Science and RN, oncology nurses need at least 1000 hours of training under their belts.
The best places to find employment as an oncology nurse are at hospitals and cancer care facilities, where practitioners can earn $75,610 on average.13
#7 Critical Care Nurse
Staying calm in dangerous situations isn’t easy, but because emergencies happen all the time—and everywhere—travel nurses who can administer care under pressure are among the most in-demand nationwide.14
Critical care travel nursing jobs are projected to scale 19% in the coming years, with employment available in both hospitals and private practices.3 Some extra training is required for travel nurses in this field, as they must carry a certificate in Advanced Cardiac Life Support, including cna travel jobs.
Critical Care nurses earn a median of $71,694, but will make the most on average in the following states:15
- Washington, D.C.
Host Healthcare: Launch Your Nursing Career’s Next Chapter
Mapping your career is a journey in itself, but in 2023 and beyond, there’s plenty to look forward to. If you’re wondering which travel nursing specialties are in demand today, Host Healthcare wants to help you find the most prosperous next stepping stone on your path.
We work with ambitious travelers to ungate access to high-paying nursing roles in tens of thousands of positions around the US. Whether your sights are set on the other side of the country or you need to keep insurance covered between posts, our on-call team is available to get you set up and excited about your upcoming travel nursing assignment, in your next location.
Discover how we can help you start your next adventure by applying to Host Healthcare today.
Wendy Williams, BSN, RN, CCM
Nursing Specialty: Home Health/Long-Term Care, Pediatric Emergency, Case Management, Medically fragile special needs children and adults.
I started my career as a pediatric emergency room nurse and floated to the pediatric floor, PICU, burn unit, and NICU. I then transitioned and spent most of my career in home health and long-term care as a Nursing Director and Case Manager for medically fragile, special needs children and adults. I am a Certified Developmental Disabilities Nurse (CDDN) and Certified Case Manager (CCM).
- Stahl, Ashley. “5 Industries Experiencing Double-Digit Growth over the next Decade.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 14 Apr. 2022, https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleystahl/2022/04/08/5-industries-experiencing-double-digit-growth-over-the-next-decade/?sh=3612e65513ec
- “9 Future Job Trends for Nurse Practitioners.” NurseJournal, 20 June 2022, https://nursejournal.org/articles/future-job-trends-for-nurse-practitioners/
- University, Gwynedd Mercy. “Types of Nursing Specialties: 20 Fast-Growing Nursing Fields.” Gwynedd Mercy University, https://www.gmercyu.edu/academics/learn/types-of-nurses
- Gooch, Kelly. “10 Highest-Paying States for Nurse Practitioners.” Becker’s Hospital Review, https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/compensation-issues/10-highest-paying-states-for-nurse-practitioners.html
- “Mental Illness.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness
- “How Much Do Mental Health Nurses Make?” NurseJournal, 11 May 2022, https://nursejournal.org/careers/mental-health-nurse/salary/
- “Fact Sheet: Aging in the United States.” PRB, https://www.prb.org/resources/fact-sheet-aging-in-the-united-states/
- Admin. “10 States with Biggest Nursing Shortages.” GN, 13 May 2020, https://geriatricnursing.org/10-states-with-biggest-nursing-shortages/
- September 1, 2021. “The Nursing Shortage in America: Current Statistics .” Marymount University Online, 14 Sept. 2022, https://online.marymount.edu/blog/nursing-shortage-statistics
- What Is the Average RN Salary by State in 2022? – Ziprecruiter. https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/What-Is-the-Average-RN-Salary-by-State
- “Healthcare Occupations : Occupational Outlook Handbook.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8 Sept. 2022, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home.htm
- “USCS Data Visualizations – CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://gis.cdc.gov/Cancer/USCS/#/Trends/
- “How to Become an Oncology Nurse.” NurseJournal, 13 July 2022, https://nursejournal.org/careers/oncology-nurse/how-to-become/
- Clement, Andrea. “Nursing Jobs in Greatest Demand by Specialty.” Ajc, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 25 Jan. 2021, https://www.ajc.com/pulse/nursing-jobs-in-greatest-demand-by-specialty/OEBRPZQXGRHX3CPSSQKY3FVI3Q/
- “How Much Does a Critical Care Nurse Make?” NurseJournal, 8 June 2022, https://nursejournal.org/careers/critical-care-nurse/salary/