Nursing is considered one of the most virtuous jobs in the world. But being a nurse is not easy at all! The demand for high educational qualifications in this area is much more than other job sectors. That is why many of the aspiring nurses might be wondering which nursing job will be the most fruitful. So here we have some general overview and detailed lists of the highest paying nursing jobs.
A general overview of salaries for nurses
Before we delve into the details and specifications of each nursing job category, let us take a peek into the general salary range for nurses. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS, registered nurses earn about $68,450 per year or $32.91 per hour on average. The bottom 10% earn less than $47,120 and the top 10% have an income of more than $102,990.
The nurses in government sectors have the highest median annual wage than other industries at $73,980. The lowest, unfortunately, belongs to the educational services nurse who earns $59,360 annually on average. All these numbers are based on the updated statistics of May 2016.
Employment in the nursing area is expected to grow by 15% within 2026. That is a lot faster than the average growth rate of jobs which stay between 6% and 9%. To be a registered nurse, the typical entry-level educational qualification is the Bachelor’s degree.
List of highest paying nurse jobs
1. CRNA – Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist : $133,000-$160,250
The job of a CRNA demands the nurse to prepare and administer anesthesia to patients. They also need to collaborate effectively with the surgeons, dentists, anesthesiologists and other highly skilled healthcare professionals.
There is a lot of studies to be done if this is your ultimate career goal. To be a CRNA, you need to have at least a master’s degree from an accredited nurse anesthesia educational program. After that, you will need to pass the National Certification Examination.
Nurses at this job earn an annual average of $133,000 to $160,250. Jobs in this position are expected to grow by 25% within 2022 which is a lot faster than average.
2. CNM – Certified Nurse Midwife : $102,390
Registered nurses who are interested in labor, delivery, obstetrics and prenatal care can choose this career. They work at offices, clinics and hospitals based on obstetrics or gynecology. They might also have their own practice.
For gaining proper knowledge, the registered nurses need to go through the American Midwifery Certification Board. There they can earn the Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) or Certified Midwife (CM) designations.
They earn about $102,390 on average every year according to BLS. Their job growth possibility is amazing with 29% by 2022. It is faster than the average growth rate by a huge amount.
3. Nurse Researcher : $95,000
A nurse researcher has to study multiple areas of health, health care and illness to find ways of improvement. They design and implement scientific studies for this purpose.
For this job, you have to spend 8 to 11 years in higher studies. This includes having a Ph.D. or doctoral degree. They need to have experience working in positions like research assistant, clinical research monitor and clinical data coordinator.
Nurse researchers earn about $95,000 per year on average. They can earn a lot more by speaking at conferences, writing books, teaching and consulting. Jobs in this area will grow by 19% within 2022 which is much faster than the average rate.
4. PNP – Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner : $90,376
These are the nurses who are interested to work in the mental health field. They work under a psychiatric physician and get to counsel patients on their mental health disorders.
Like most other highest paying nursing jobs, this one also requires completion of higher studies. You will need to have a master’s degree with a specialty in psychiatric nursing.
Annually PNPs earn $90,376 on average according to Payscale. They are expected to be huge in demand since the scale of mental health is gradually degrading nationwide.
5. FNP – Family Nurse Practitioner : $84,240
Family Nurse Practitioners work in a medical office, hospital, clinic and other similar facilities. They consult patients, assess their condition, prescribe medications and treatment among other responsibilities.
To be an FNP, you have to earn a master’s degree and the FNP-BC designation. It stands for Family Nurse Practitioner – Board Certified.
Per year, an FNP earns about $84,240 on average. The growth in this area is one of the highest being 34% by 2024. Most of the occupations only manage about 6% to 9% growth rate.
6. Informatics Nurse : $83,000
This job is basically a marriage between the nursing sector and the technology area. Informatics nurses help in promoting public health by integrating the information if nursing with that of communication technologies.
You need to earn a degree in Master of Science in Nursing, Information or Computer Science to be in this profession.
An informatics nurse earns about $83,000 a year. According to the AMIA, there will be as many as 70,000 jobs for this specialist area within the next five years.
7. Pediatric Endocrinology Nurse : $81,000
They usually help kids and infants who are suffering from endocrine diseases. They treat their delayed development and other biological disorders working closely with pediatricians.
For this, you must take elective courses in endocrinology and pediatrics in school. You will then need to have a nursing diploma, ASN ( Associate of Science in Nursing) or BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) degree. Then try to pass the National Council Licensure Examination or NCLEX-RN in short.
These nurses earn about $81,000 on average per year. This can go even higher with more experience and certifications.
8. Pain Management Nurse : $90,288
These nurses help to manage the pain of patients after surgery or work with patients who suffer from chronic pain issues. They help to figure out the cause of such pain, to prepare a proper course of treatment and to educate patients about managing the pain.
Compared to the requirements of other highest paying jobs, the educational qualifications needed here are a lot more considerate. You just need the Nurse Practitioner certification for pain management specialists. You also must have enough experience being a registered nurse.
Pain management nurses earn an average amount of $90,288 per year. Jobs in this area are expected to grow by 9% within 2024.
9. General Nurse Practitioner : $97,990
A general nurse practitioner can work in any kind of primary care hospital or have an independent practice herself.
For this job, one will need to have an MSN at the minimum. This can be followed by a Nurse Practitioner licensure id specified by the respective state.
A general nurse practitioner can earn as much as $97,990 per year according to the occupational employment statistics of May 2014. Jobs in this area are expected to increase by a whopping 34% by 2022, excluding the private practices!
10. Gerontological Nurse Practitioner : $90,359
Registered nurses who are interested to help the old ones with their unique health issues can try to be a gerontological nurse practitioner.
For this, you will need to pass the NCLEX exam to be an RN and then be a Certified Gerontological Nurse Practitioners or CGNP.
They earn about $90,359 a year on average as per 2016 reports. There are 40.5 million people in the USA in need of their care and as long as this number grows, these nurses will always be needed.
11. ONC – Orthopaedic Nurse : $77,166
Such nurses help to treat people with musculoskeletal diseases like arthritis, fractures, osteoporosis and more. They assist the doctors in the surgery and help the patients afterward to recover their mobility.
You will need to have a nursing diploma, ASN or BSN for this job. Then you also need to pass NCLEX examination and be a registered nurse. After that, you must pass the Orthopaedic Nurse Certification exam to be an ONC.
An ONC earns $77,166 per year on average. Jobs in this area are expected to grow by 16% within 2024.
12. CNS – Clinical Nurse Specialist : $75,000
These are the nurses who work in a specialized unit or clinic who diagnose and treat many conditions. They can also choose to specialize in a particular illness.
A Clinical Nurse Specialist or CNS must be a registered nurse passing the NCLEX exam and have a Master’s degree in Nursing with specialization in clinical nursing.
The median salary for a CNS can vary depending on the years of experience she has. It can be as low as $75,000 to as high as $85,000 per year.
13. Nursing Administrator : $79,064
This job is the farthest from medical care tasks compared to all other ones listed here. A nursing administrator has to deal with the back-end of those operations including budgeting, staff management and basic human resources functions.
For this one has to earn a Master’s degree in healthcare administration. She also needs to have state licensure.
Nursing administrators earn $79,064 per year on average. Being a part of medical and health services managers, by 2022 the number of jobs for them is expected to grow by 23% according to BLS.
14. Nurse Educator : $73,633
Not all nurses need to be busy with treating and caring for patients. If you have come a long way in the nursing career but now want to switch it to something else related to the medical area, this might be the choice for you. A nurse educator trains other nurses and facilitates the continuing education.
To be a nurse educator, you must have a master’s degree at least and a doctoral degree is preferable. They earn a median salary of about $73,633 per year. The number of jobs in this area is expected to grow by 19% within 2020.
15. Neonatal Nurse : $88,758
If you love holding newborn babies in your arms and can take proper care of them, you might give this a shot!
To be a neonatal nurse, you will need to earn wither NNP (Neonatal Nurse Practitioner) or neonatal CNS (Clinical Nurse Specialist). You should also get an experience of the neonatal unit by being a staff Registered Nurse.
On average, a neonatal nurse earns $29.60 per hour or $88,758 per year. You can earn more if you are in the neonatal intensive care unit or if you have more advanced certifications. Jobs for such nurses will grow by a staggering 31% within 2022 according to BLS.
16. Critical Care Nurse : $76,563
These are a special kind of nurses since they deal with life and death situations on a daily basis working at the intensive care units of hospitals. Which is why they are also called ICU nurses.
The good news is there is no specific educational qualifications or credentials necessary to be an ICU nurse. However, if you want more positive things to happen in your career, you might need to take the CCRN certification exam.
According to the SalaryExpert website, the annual average salary for critical care nurses is $76,563. Their jobs are expected to grow at the rate of 26% by 2020.
17. Health Policy Nurse : $55,000-100,000
If you have ample knowledge about and have a passion for both health and public policy, you may consider being a health policy nurse. These nurses work with legislative offices, health services research firms and a number of other similar organizations to encourage a healthier society.
First, you need to earn the MSN. Then you have to take part in and complete a health policy residency program that lasts for 10 weeks. It can be in government offices, community groups or advocacy organizations.
As of March 2018, health policy nurses can earn $55,000 to $100,000 depending on their location and experience level. This is a very good time to try getting a job in this area since the Affordable Health Care Act or ACA has been under the spotlight for a while.
18. Medical-Surgical Nurse : $77,492
It is one of the largest, if not the most, nursing specialty in the USA. They mainly care for adult patients who are either recovering or suffering from acute diseases and medical issues.
To be a medical-surgical nurse, you must seat for the NCLEX first and then work a minimum of 2 years as a registered nurse. After that, you should pass the Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse exam or CMSRN. You can take this exam through the Medical-Surging Nursing Certification Board (MSNCB) of AMSN.
If you are just a team member, you will be earning the basic RN salary. A bit of advanced certification and extended experience can get you a lot more. The median salary for medical-surgical nurses is $77,492 annually.
Are men and women paid equally?
The general public would expect nursing to be the only sector where females are paid better than males. However, the reality is quite the contrary. In 2011, the average annual salary for male nurses was found to be $61,000 and $51,000 for the female nurses.
According to the 2015 study by the Journal of American Medicine, the male nurses are paid $5100 more per year than women. This has happened throughout all positions, specialties and settings of nursing areas in the USA between 1988 and 2013.
There are 92% female members of the nursing workforce according to a 2015 survey by allnurses.com. An AMA study found that about 40% of the highest paying nursing job – nurse anesthetist are men. The study also revealed that they are paid $17,290 more annually than their female counterparts.
Some have attributed this wage gap due to the fact that – when the women go off to care about their family, the men stay and work the whole time. Thus the total number of hour increases and as a result, the salary sum also increases according to the hourly rate. Some of the male nurses also take time off for earning some more money with higher pay opportunities. Another reason is that the men negotiate for a salary raise much more often than the female nurses.
As a result of all these, 2.5 million nurses are being affected across the country. There should be a standard method that can ensure equal pay for both the parties keeping their family duties in consideration. Otherwise, it will cause major demotivation among the dominating gender.
We should make the nursing job sector free of any inequality and solve the wage gap issue as fast as possible. Apart from this, the nursing area is in full bloom at the moment and you should take advantage of it. If you love helping people going through physical or mental trauma, you can also be a shining name in this area.