The nursing field is one of the broadest, with numerous degrees, licenses, certifications, and specialties to work toward. Nurses can treat patients ranging from infancy through old age who may be afflicted with hundreds of different health conditions. More experienced nurses can even take on administrative or educational roles.
With such diversity in the nursing landscape, how are nurses to know which roles may earn them the most? Below are some of the highest-paying nursing jobs in the United States, and the average salaries they can command.
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Top 5 nursing jobs by salary
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist: $181,040
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) earn a nationwide average of $181,040 per year according to the BLS; this makes CRNAs the highest-paying type nursing job by a significant margin. These Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) are responsible for administering anesthesia to patients in surgical settings, which requires extreme attention to detail and skill in order to avoid complications like allergic reactions or overdose.
Becoming a Nurse Anesthetist requires a minimum of a Registered Nurse license in the state of practice, a Master’s degree in nursing (MSN) anesthesia, and must gain national certification from the NBCRNA. There are roughly 43,000 CRNAs currently employed in the United States.
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Nursing Administrator: $115,160
Nurses in administrative roles earn an average annual salary of $115,160 according to the BLS. These professionals are charged with directing various aspects of medical services and handling certain administrative roles involved with healthcare such as staffing coordination. An advanced degree is typically required in nursing and sometimes business administration.
Nurse Practitioner: $111,840
Nurse Practitioners (NPs) earn a nationwide average salary of $111,840 according to the BLS. NPs can operate in a diverse range of settings and specialties. They tend to have more responsibility and autonomy than Registered Nurses, and may choose to work primarily with certain types of patients such as children or older adults.
Nurse Practitioner earnings are justified in part due to the higher level of education and licensing required. Nurses must complete a Master’s degree in nursing (MSN), and earn a Nurse Practitioner license in their state of practice. They sometimes have distinct continuing education requirements as well. There are roughly 200,000 NPs currently employed in the United States.
Certified Nurse-Midwife: $108,810
Certified Nurse-Midwives earn an average of $108,810 per year, according to the BLS. CNMs specialize in women’s reproductive health and childbirth. They typically work in hospitals or specialized clinics performing services like prenatal care as well as labor and delivery.
Nurse-Midwife salaries are among the highest because, like many other advanced nursing roles, RNs wishing to become a Certified Nurse-Midwife must earn a minimum of a Master’s degree in nursing (MSN). They’re also required to obtain national certification from the American Midwifery Certification Board. There are approximately 7,000 CNMs employed in the United States as of 2019.
Nursing Instructor/Teacher: $83,160
Nurse Instructors or Educators earn an average salary of $83,160, according to the BLS – higher than the average Registered Nurse, but lower than some highly-specialized nursing roles like Nurse Anesthetists. These professionals often teach aspiring nurses in university classrooms or clinics.
Aside from experience in the field, nurses wishing to become a Nurse Educator must also earn at least a Master’s degree in nursing (MSN). They could also be required to hold certification in a particular specialty depending on the scope of their role as a teacher. There are currently around 60,000 Nurse Instructors/Teachers employed in the United States.
More nursing jobs by salary
Aside from degree and type of license, your specialty as a nurse can play a part in expected earnings. Below are some of the most common nursing specialties and an estimate of their average salaries.
|Nursing Job||Estimated Annual Salary|
|Gerontological Nurse Practitioner||$119,647.00|
|Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner||$117,634.00|
|Pediatric Nurse Practitioner||$107,067.00|
|Family Nurse Practitioner||$105,267.00|
|Cath Lab Registered Nurse||$101,472.00|
|Clinical Nurse Specialist||$100,523.00|
|Labor and Delivery Registered Nurse||$99,043.00|
|Pain Management Nurse||$98,636.00|
|Medical/Surgical Registered Nurse||$95,054.00|
|Critical Care Registered Nurse||$94,981.00|
|PACU Registered Nurse||$92,397.00|
|Informatics Registered Nurse||$90,935.00|
|Oncology Registered Nurse||$89,614.00|
|Telemetry Registered Nurse||$88,005.00|
|Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse||$87,269.00|
|Progressive Care Unit / Stepdown Registered Nurse||$86,924.00|
|CVICU Registered Nurse||$86,647.00|
|Operating Room Registered Nurse||$84,163.00|
|PICU Registered Nurse||$82,929.00|
|Psychiatric Registered Nurse||$77,853.00|
|Home Health Nurse||$77,808.00|
|Emergency Room Registered Nurse||$76,415.00|
|Wound Care Registered Nurse||$76,197.00|
|Cardiac Care Registered Nurse||$70,316.00|
Nursing roles in the table above do not have salary data available on the Bureau of Labor Statistics; instead, we have averaged the reported average salaries for the role across ZipRecruiter.com, Salary.com, Payscale.com, and Indeed.com.
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