Nurse Anesthetist at work

The 8 Highest Paid Nursing Jobs in 2020

Discover the Highest Paid Nursing Specialties in Today’s Healthcare Market

For many people, a career in healthcare can be both personally and financially rewarding. Although financial compensation may not be the most important factor when choosing a nursing career, you should at least be familiar with the highest paid nursing categories when making your decision. Whether you’re a recent graduate or even thinking about attending nursing school, you can explore our list of nursing careers below to help shape your dreams in 2020.

Best Paid Nursing Jobs

Some of the highest paid nursing jobs fall under the Nurse Practitioner (NP) category. Nurse Practitioners are considered an advanced nursing profession that typically requires a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, if not a master’s degree.

8. Nurse Researcher

Laboratory tests

Job Description

Nurse Researchers usually work in hospitals, clinics, or laboratories. This specialized category of nursing performs scientific research. They are highly capable, crafting their own studies, analyzing the results, and sometimes even publishing the results. While not always a guarantee, the data they amass can save lives and help other healthcare professionals.

Education Level

There are several paths you can take to become a Nurse Researcher. As with many nursing specialties, your goals and location will determine your educational requirements. Most Nurse Researchers need to obtain a (BSN) degree to enter this profession. Some will then pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree or even a Ph.D.

Average Salary

According to PayScale, the average salary of a Nurse Researcher is $81,500 per year. The lowest 25% falls around $63,000, while the top 25% reaches $147,000 annually.

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How to Become a Nurse Researcher

7. Clinical Nurse Specialist

Nurse with a stethoscope

Job Description

The path of a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) typically leads to a specialized unit or clinical setting. Their job is to diagnose and treat a number of specific health conditions. By specializing in a particular illness, they can become subject-matter experts for that ailment.

Education Level

This specialty requires RN licensure as well as a master’s degree.

Average Salary

The average salary of a  Clinical Nurse Specialist is about $90,000 per year (PayScale). In the United States, it can range anywhere from $58,000 to $121,000 annually.

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How to Become a Clinical Nurse Specialist

6. Certified Nurse Midwife

Nurse with a pregnant patient

Job Description

While there are many types of nursing jobs and salaries, Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) provide women with specialized care throughout the course of their lives. This may include pregnancy, family planning, or general care. If you love obstetrics or labor and delivery, then this could be the ideal career path for you.

Some CNMs find employment in clinics or hospital settings. Others might work in OB/GYN offices. A number of CNMs even start their own practices. At the heart of it, Certified Nurse Midwives specialize in bringing life into the world.

Education Level

As with many nursing careers, your educational path isn’t always the same. To excel in this field, you will likely need a Master’s Degree in Nursing with a specialization in Midwifery.

If you are interested in Certified Nurse Midwifery, you can learn more about the Certified Nurse-Midwife and other designations through the American Midwifery Certification Board.

Average Salary

The median annual salary of a Certified Nurse Midwife is about $94,000 (PayScale). In the United States, their salary can range anywhere from $77,000 to $117,000 per year. Ultimately, their annual pay is dependent on factors like location, employer, experience, bonuses, etc.

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How to Become a Certified Nurse Midwife

5. General Nurse Practitioner

Nurse with a mask

Job Description

General Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are considered to be one of the top nursing careers. In this role, you could perform duties that are similar to those of a family doctor. NPs have the education and skillset to examine patients independently. They may also prescribe medications, diagnose illnesses, or recommend alternative treatment options. In addition, they can interpret diagnostic lab tests.

While some NPs work in hospitals, clinics, or nursing facilities, others might choose to open their own practice.

Education Level

To become a Nurse Practitioner, you will need to earn an MSN degree as well as your Nurse Practitioner licensure (check your state requirements). For General Nurse Practitioners, an MSN degree is considered the minimum degree requirement.

Average Salary

The average Nurse Practitioner will receive a salary of about $94,000, annually (PayScale). Every year, they can receive anywhere from $76,000 to $119,000.

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How to Become a General Nurse Practitioner

4. Gerontological Nurse Practitioner

Geriatric patient

Job Description

Before choosing the type of nurse you’d like to become, you should also consider the patients you are most likely to treat. A Geriatric Nurse works with the elderly population of their community. As people age, they can become fragile and require specialized care.

Education Level

In order to become a Geriatric Nurse, you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree as well as your RN license. To become a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner, however, you will also need to obtain a master’s degree with a focus on adult gerontology. Some schools offer a Master’s Entry Program in Nursing (MEPN), which allows potential students to enroll even if they do not have a BSN degree.

Average Salary

According to PayScale, Gerontological Nurse Practitioners earn an average salary of $95,000 each year. To put that in perspective, RNs earn a median pay of about $71,730 per year. Specialization can make a significant difference in your salary.

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How to Become a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner

3. Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner

Professionals looking at X-rays

Job Description

We’ve now entered the top three high paying nursing careers! For number three on our nursing job list, Orthopedic Nurse Practitioners rank fairly high for their focus on musculoskeletal issues. They assist physicians before, during, and after orthopedic surgeries. Typically, their patients suffer from fractured bones, arthritis, osteoporosis, or joint injuries.

Education Level

If you would like to pursue an Orthopedic Nursing career, you will need to earn an associate or bachelor’s degree. In addition, you must have an active RN license. To become a certified Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner, however, you must earn your master’s degree and gain a few years of experience working as an RN or an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN).

Average Salary

Orthopedic Nurses can earn about $100,000 per year (PayScale). The lowest 10% fall around $76,000, while the top 10% can reach as high as $134,000 annually.

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How to Become an Orthopedic Nurse

2. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Mental health nurse with patient

Job Description

A Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, or Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, is arguably one of the highest paid nurses in the U.S. Those who are interested in mental health could find this specialization to be an incredibly rewarding one. Psychiatric Nurses work under the direction of a psychiatric physician and advise patients who have mental health disorders.

Depending on your employer, you might help patients who suffer from depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or other mental health issues. As a Psychiatric Nurse, you may also be able to prescribe medications and assess or diagnose patients.

Education Level

To successfully break into this profession, you will most likely need to earn your master’s degree. A specialty in psychiatric nursing would serve you even better. Of course, you will also need to obtain your RN license.

Average Salary

As stated by PayScale, the average salary of a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner is about $104,000 per year. The lowest 10% falls around $83,000, while the top 10% can earn as much as $138,000 annually.

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How to Become a Psychiatric Nurse

1. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

Nurse Anesthetist at work

Job Description

If you’re wondering what nurse practitioner specialty boasts the highest paying jobs, then look no further—the number 1 job in our list of highest paid nurses is Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). CRNAs are skilled professionals who prepare and administer anesthesia to patients alongside other members of the healthcare team.

According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), “CRNAs provide anesthetics to patients in every practice setting, and for every type of surgery or procedure. They are the sole anesthesia providers in nearly all rural hospitals, and the main provider of anesthesia to the men and women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.”

Education Level

As stated by the AANA, CRNAs are master’s and doctorate prepared advanced practice nurses. Due to the high level of responsibility, aspiring CRNAs must seek an advanced degree. They must also earn their degree from an accredited nurse anesthesia educational program and pass the National Certification Exam.

Average Salary

In the U.S., the average CRNA will earn about $149,113 per year. Their salary can range from $99,000 to $196,000 annually.

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How to Become a Nurse Anesthetist

Why You Should Specialize in Nursing

Our goal was to provide you with an overview of the highest paid nursing jobs. We wanted to answer one basic question: What kind of nurses get paid the most? The answer isn’t always a simple one, as their pay can significantly range depending on several factors. However, all of these nursing specialties boast a higher annual salary than your average nurse.

In addition to greater salaries, specializations can typically offer more career and networking opportunities. They can also offer an improved sense of fulfillment. When you pursue your nursing interests, you are likely to become a better nurse, too.

In future blog posts, we’ll delve deeper into each of these nursing specialties. Stay tuned!