He was known especially for large Queen Anne style wooden residences, mostly in Providence. After leaving school, in about 1862, he entered the office of Providence architect Clifton A. Hall, where he remained until 1871, when he opened his own office. After practicing for some time, he embarked on an extended tour of Europe which lasted until his return to Rhode Island in 1881.
He then practiced until his death, though no works of his are known after 1897.
The Brown money enabled Nickerson to travel abroad many times. At least one of Nickerson"s works has been listed independently on the National Register of Historic Places, and many others are contributing properties to listed historic districts.