Nursing careers offer lucrative salaries well above the U.S. median annual wage. Discover the highest-paying nursing jobs and the required education and training. Pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing, which typically takes around six years, is a wise investment due to the high salaries and positive job growth. Find out more about these rewarding opportunities and start your path to success in the nursing industry.

highest paying nursing jobs
highest paying nursing jobs

High-Paying Careers for Nurses

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are highly compensated healthcare professionals with the authority to diagnose and treat patients, similar to physicians. To become a nurse practitioner, one must complete either a master of science in nursing (MSN) or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program, followed by a licensing examination. Moreover, nurse practitioners generally have more extensive continuing education (CE) requirements compared to registered nurses (RNs).

Below is a compilation of some of the highest-paying jobs in the field of registered nursing (RN).

Top 10 Highest-Paying Nursing Jobs
RankPositionMedian Annual Salary
1Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist$189,190
2Neonatal Nurse Practitioner$122,500
3Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner$120,000
4Geriatric Nurse Practitioner$118,000
5Certified Nurse Midwife$115,540
6Pediatric Nurse Practitioner$115,000
7Family Nurse Practitioner$114,000
8Nurse Practitioner$111,680
9Nurse Administrator$104,280
10Clinical Nurse Specialist$91,720

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1. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

Nurse anesthetists play a crucial role in administering anesthesia and pain management to ensure patients’ vital signs remain stable. Aspiring CRNAs are currently required to obtain a master’s degree in nursing anesthesia, with a future shift towards a doctoral degree. These professionals must possess exceptional organizational skills, extensive knowledge, and unwavering attention to detail.

Median Annual Salary: $189,190

2. Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)

Neonatal nurse practitioners specialize in providing care to newborns, including those with critical health conditions. To qualify, they must possess at least an MSN, successfully complete a certification program, and pass a specialized certification examination. These professionals thrive in high-pressure environments, where their ability to make prompt and sound decisions is crucial.

Median Annual Salary: $122,500

3. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNPs) specialize in providing care to individuals with mental health conditions. To qualify for this role, they must possess a master’s or doctoral degree and successfully complete a certification course and examination. Additionally, Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (PNPs) must establish a strong rapport with patients and their families, fostering trust and facilitating effective communication.

Median Annual Salary: $120,000

4. Geriatric Nurse Practitioner

Geriatric nurse practitioners (NPs) play a vital role in supporting the physical and mental well-being of elderly patients throughout their aging journey. To become a geriatric NP, one must successfully complete a master’s or doctorate program from an accredited institution and pass a rigorous certification examination. Beyond their academic qualifications, these NPs excel in empathetic communication, particularly when caring for patients with cognitive impairments.

Median Annual Salary: $118,000

5. Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)

Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) specialize in providing comprehensive healthcare for women, encompassing preventive care, screenings, and expert guidance on various aspects such as pregnancy, menopause, and postpartum health. Additionally, they diligently monitor and treat newborns. To obtain licensure, nurse midwives must successfully complete a master’s degree program and pass the rigorous examination administered by the American Midwifery Certification Board.

Median Annual Salary: $115,540

6. Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP)

Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (PNPs) are dedicated to diagnosing and treating children, offering healthcare support and education to families. To become a PNP, one must possess at least an MSN and undergo a specialized certification program. Effective communication with pediatric patients and their families is crucial, requiring a balance of empathy and professionalism.

Median Annual Salary: $115,000

7. Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

Nurse Practitioners (NPs) provide care to patients spanning all age groups. While some NPs serve as generalists, others have specialized expertise in fields like pain management and orthopedics. For FNPs, obtaining an MSN or higher degree from an accredited program, along with passing the relevant certification exam, is crucial. Generalists, in particular, are dedicated to ongoing education as they cater to diverse conditions and requirements.

Median Annual Salary: 4,000

8. Nurse Practitioner

These highly skilled practitioners work independently or under the supervision of a physician to diagnose ailments, deliver treatments, and prescribe medications. In some areas, they may even function as primary healthcare providers. Nurse practitioners are required to attain a master’s degree or doctorate, with many opting to specialize in areas such as acute care, pediatrics, family practice, or geriatrics.

Median Annual Salary: 1,680

9. Nurse Administrator

Nurse administrators are expected to possess a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in nursing or healthcare administration. Although certification or licensure is not a legal prerequisite for this position, employers may prioritize candidates with specific credentials or a nursing license. Competence in managing paperwork and meeting legal obligations is crucial for nurse administrators.

Median Annual Salary: $104,280

10. Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)

Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) play a crucial role in assessing, diagnosing, and treating illnesses, all while striving to enhance healthcare systems and processes. They specialize in areas such as pediatrics, mental health, women’s health, family nursing, or adult-gerontology. To obtain a state license, CNS professionals are required to complete a master’s degree in nursing and successfully pass a national certification exam.

Median Annual Salary: $91,720

Ways to Boost Your Nursing Salary

While the nursing profession offers lucrative opportunities for those with advanced education and experience, there are various avenues for all nurses to increase their earnings. This can be achieved through taking on additional shifts, assuming administrative or leadership roles, and obtaining specialty certifications.

It is important to note that although registered nurses (RNs) generally earn salaries above the national average, the highest-paying nursing positions are often held by nurse practitioners (NPs).

NPs undergo extensive education and carry substantial responsibilities, but the rewards of professional autonomy, a strong job market, and attractive salaries make the challenges worthwhile for many. If clinical nursing is not your preferred path, pursuing a master’s degree in healthcare management can open doors to a similarly fulfilling career in nursing administration.

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