Geriatric Nurse Jobs: 5 Specialties to Consider

Geriatric nurses care for elderly patients. But what specialties do geriatric nurses pursue? Learn about geriatric nurse jobs.

portrait of Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
by Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.

Published August 23, 2022

Edited by Taylor Gadsden
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Geriatric Nurse Jobs: 5 Specialties to Consider
Image Credit: Jose Luis Pelaez / Stone / Getty Images


The aging population means more opportunities for geriatric nurses in the future. These nurses care for elderly patients in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and home settings.

Nursing careers offer above-average salaries and strong demand. And new healthcare professionals can take on entry-level geriatric nursing assistant roles with a 4-12 week certificate program. Other geriatric nurse specialties require a nursing degree. Our guide introduces in-demand specialties for geriatric nursing.

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How to Become a Geriatric Nurse

Geriatric nurses take several steps to enter the profession. While nursing assistant positions require a short-term certificate, most geriatric nurse jobs require a nursing degree.

Learn more about how to become a geriatric nurse by reading our guide. Geriatric nurses seeking career advancement can become geriatric nurse practitioners by earning a master's degree in nursing.

5 Types of Geriatric Nursing Specialities

Geriatric Nursing Assistant

  • Average Salary: $12.36 per hour
  • Job Outlook: 8%
  • Licenses/Certifications: Nursing assistant certificate

A geriatric nursing assistant provides basic care for elderly patients. They assist patients with daily tasks such as dressing, eating, and bathing. Geriatric nursing assistants also check vital signs, keep records, and communicate with other healthcare professionals about patients.

These nurses work in a variety of settings, including long-term care facilities, hospitals, and home care. Depending on the patient's needs, they may also reposition patients and help them transfer from a bed to a wheelchair. Geriatric nursing assistants typically complete a nursing assistant program and become certified nursing assistants.

Geriatric Staff Nurse

  • Average Annual Salary (July 2022): $70,990
  • Job Outlook, 2020-30: 9%
  • Licenses/Certifications: Registered nursing license

Geriatric staff nurses assess patients and manage care providers in hospitals or long-term care facilities. The position requires both strong clinical skills along with administrative strengths. On the patient care side, staff nurses assess elderly patients, administer care, and keep records. On the administrative side, they assign tasks, create schedules, and manage teams.

A career as a geriatric staff nurse typically requires a bachelor's degree in nursing. In some roles, employers may look for staff nurses with graduate training. These nurses also hold a registered nursing license and bring experience in geriatric nursing.

Geriatric Nurse Practitioner

  • Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $120,680
  • Job Outlook, 2020-30: 45%
  • Licenses/Certifications: Nurse practitioner license

Geriatric nurse practitioners, also called adult gerontological nurse practitioners, specialize in aging patients. Nurse practitioners provide specialized care that can include diagnosing and treating medical conditions. Nurse practitioners can also prescribe medications.

These specialized nurse practitioners train in common age-related conditions, including chronic illnesses. Geriatric nurse practitioners may work in long-term care facilities, hospitals, or doctor's offices. These roles require a graduate degree in nursing and clinical training. Nurse practitioners also apply for an advanced practice RN license from their state.

Home Health Nurse

  • Average Annual Salary (May 2021): $66,480
  • Job Outlook, 2020-30: 9%
  • Licenses/Certifications: Registered nursing license

Home health nurses provide care for patients within their home or an assisted living facility. These nurses monitor vital signs, administer medication, and care for wounds. They also communicate with patients about their symptoms and care.

Gerontology represents one of the most common home health nurse specializations. In this specialty, home health nurses care for aging patients who may require assistance with daily living, such as with medication management and post-surgical care. They may coordinate with a care team to decide whether patients require additional support or different treatments. Home health nurses may work with several patients at a time.

Hospice Nurse

  • Average Annual Salary: $72,270
  • Job Outlook, 2020-30: 9%
  • Licenses/Certifications: Registered nursing license

Hospice nurses, also known as palliative care nurses, care for patients during the final stage of their lives. They work in hospice care, home care, and other healthcare settings, where hospice nurses conduct regular assessments on patients and track their symptoms. These nurses also administer medications and help patients manage pain.

Careers in hospice care require compassion, strong communication skills, and emotional resilience. Hospice nurses interact with patients and their families during difficult situations, and they provide key emotional support. In some settings, hospice nurses also provide spiritual support.

Geriatric Nurse Salary

Your geriatric nurse salary will depend on the role and setting. Geriatric nursing assistants earn lower salaries than geriatric registered nurses. Geriatric nurse practitioners report the highest salaries. Increased education can translate into greater earning potential.

In general, geriatric nurses report an early-career salary of $27.50 per hour, which increases to over $30 per hour for experienced geriatric nurses, according to July 2022 data from Payscale.

How to Find a Geriatric Nursing Job

How can healthcare professionals find geriatric nurse jobs? Geriatric nurses work in several settings, including hospitals, home care, outpatient clinics, and doctor's offices. Understanding the job market for geriatric nurses helps professionals launch their careers.

Nurses can take several steps while in school to improve their job search. During a nursing program, invest in professional development. Expand your professional network by attending virtual career fairs, meeting with geriatric nurses, and connecting with healthcare professionals during clinical rotations.

Nursing students also benefit from online career services and job support through their programs. Researching job search sites and connecting with recruiters can help recent graduates land their first geriatric nursing job. Mock interviews and resume reviews can increase your chances during a job interview.

Geriatric Nurse Professional Organizations

Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association

GAPNA represents advanced practice nurses in the geriatric specialty. The association serves providers in primary care, acute care, home care, and other specializations. Members benefit from education, leadership, and research support.

American Geriatrics Society

Dating back to 1942, AGS represents healthcare professionals in the geriatrics field. The organization counts nurse practitioners and nurses among its members. The society offers professional education, patient care, and research resources.

Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association

The association educates hospice nurses and shape research. Nurses can also pursue certification through the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center, which offers five hospice and palliative certifications.

Frequently Asked Questions About Geriatric Nursing Jobs

What is the highest paid geriatric nurse speciality?

The highest-paid geriatric nurse specialty is geriatric nurse practitioner. Also known as adult-gerontology nurse practitioners, these professionals report a median salary of over $120,000, according to May 2021 BLS data. Nurse practitioners provide primary and specialty care for patients, including diagnosing conditions and prescribing medication.

Nurse practitioners who specialize in geriatrics treat patients with age-related conditions, including chronic conditions. These career paths require a master's degree and clinical training at the graduate level. Nurse practitioners also pass specialty exams to earn their advanced practice RN license.

What geriatric nursing speciality is the most popular?

Within the geriatric care field, the most common practitioners include geriatric nurses and geriatric nursing assistants. These professionals care for patients in a variety of medical settings, including long-term care facilities, hospitals, and home care. Nurses can pursue specialized training in geriatrics during their undergraduate nursing degree.

Nursing students also complete clinical rotations as part of their training, which provides experience in geriatrics. After completing a nursing degree and earning an RN license, nurses can take jobs in the geriatric field. Other popular specialties include hospice nurse and home care nurse.

Can I become a geriatric nurse with an online degree?

Yes, you can become a geriatric nurse with an online degree. Many accredited nursing schools offer online programs for registered nurses. For example, current RNs can enroll in an RN-to-BSN program to complete their bachelor's degree online.

During an online nursing program, learners complete coursework and simulations in a virtual format. These programs incorporate hands-on training through clinical practicums arranged in the student's local area. Online geriatric nurse schools meet the requirement for an RN license and geriatric nurse jobs when offered by an accredited program.

How much money can I make as a geriatric nurse?

Geriatric nurses report a total compensation of $45,000-$72,000 per year, according to July 2022 data from Payscale. However, salaries vary widely depending on location, specialization, experience, and industry. The BLS reports that registered nurses working in government or hospital settings earn salaries above the median for the job, while those in nursing and residential care facilities make below the median salary.

Nursing salaries also vary by location, with higher cost of living states typically paying nurses more, while lower cost of living states offer lower salaries. The best-paid specialty in geriatric nursing is geriatric nurse practitioner, which reports a median salary of over $120,000.

What is the fastest way to become a geriatric nurse?

Prospective geriatric nurses can enter the profession by completing a nursing assistant program. These short-term certificate programs typically take 4-12 weeks. These programs train students in basic care and nursing procedures. Nurses then complete their certified nursing assistant requirements and pursue roles like geriatric nursing assistant.

However, these assisting positions typically offer a lower salary than geriatric nurse jobs. Those seeking more advanced roles need an undergraduate nursing degree –– typically a bachelor's in nursing –– to receive their registered nursing license. Nurses generally spend four years earning a BSN degree.

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