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: $189,190
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) earn a nationwide average of $189,190 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 42,000 CRNAs currently employed in the United States.
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Nursing Administrator: $118,800
Nurses in administrative roles earn an average annual salary of $118,800 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: $114,510
Nurse Practitioners (NPs) earn a nationwide average salary of $114,510 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.
Top nurse practitioner jobs on Incredible Health
San Francisco, CA | $120k-$200k/year
Certified Nurse-Midwife: $115,540
Certified Nurse-Midwives earn an average of $115,540 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: $84,060
Nurse Instructors or Educators earn an average salary of $84,060, 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.
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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||Local Estimates|
|Gerontological Nurse Practitioner||$119,647||Get Local Estimates|
|Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner||$117,634||Get Local Estimates|
|Pediatric Nurse Practitioner||$107,067||Get Local Estimates|
|Family Nurse Practitioner||$105,267||Get Local Estimates|
|Cath Lab Registered Nurse||$101,472||Get Local Estimates|
|Clinical Nurse Specialist||$100,523||Get Local Estimates|
|Labor and Delivery Registered Nurse||$99,043||Get Local Estimates|
|Pain Management Nurse||$98,636||Get Local Estimates|
|Medical/Surgical Registered Nurse||$95,054||Get Local Estimates|
|Critical Care Registered Nurse||$94,981||Get Local Estimates|
|PACU Registered Nurse||$92,397||Get Local Estimates|
|Informatics Registered Nurse||$90,935||Get Local Estimates|
|Oncology Registered Nurse||$89,614||Get Local Estimates|
|Telemetry Registered Nurse||$88,005||Get Local Estimates|
|Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse||$87,269||Get Local Estimates|
|Progressive Care Unit / Stepdown Registered Nurse||$86,924||Get Local Estimates|
|CVICU Registered Nurse||$86,647||Get Local Estimates|
|Operating Room Registered Nurse||$84,163||Get Local Estimates|
|PICU Registered Nurse||$82,929||Get Local Estimates|
|Psychiatric Registered Nurse||$77,853||Get Local Estimates|
|Home Health Nurse||$77,808||Get Local Estimates|
|Emergency Room Registered Nurse||$76,415||Get Local Estimates|
|Wound Care Registered Nurse||$76,197||Get Local Estimates|
|Cardiac Care Registered Nurse||$70,316||Get Local Estimates|
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.