When you first decided to become a nurse, you might have thought of nursing as a general job title in a high-paying field. As you go through nursing school, you realize nurses can choose from a range of specialties, from midwifery to teaching. Want to make a direct comparison between your nursing career options at a glance? Below, we’ve given a quick summary of the average nursing salary per year and per hour. We’ve also listed the nursing job duties, educational requirements, and outlook for each nursing specialty.
While the salary of a nurse varies by specialty, region, education level, and experience, the median salary of a nurse is $75,330 per year. That’s just about $35.00 per hour. With this list of the top fifteen well-paying nursing careers, you can find your perfect balance of autonomy, passion for patient care, and a high-paying specialty.
It doesn’t get much more lucrative in nurse specialization than becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). CRNAs are responsible for administering anesthesia and for monitoring patients’ response to it. Due to the risks associated with anesthesia, CRNAs must complete extensive educational requirements in order to earn licensure which also means they are likely to earn a higher paycheck.
As the highest paid nursing job, a CRNA’s main responsibility is to give anesthesia to patients who are going into surgery. This means you’ll need to be able to gauge your patients’ responses to anesthesia pre- and post-operation, which requires quick discernment in emergency situations. To earn a certified registered nurse anesthetist salary, you should meet the following requirements.
Demand for nurse practitioners, including nurse anesthetist positions, are expected to increase +45% from 2019-2029.
RN license, MSN degree or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree
There will always be babies, so you will always find work as a neonatal nurse practitioner. In addition to an exponential population expansion, premature births have also been on the rise. As a neonatal nurse practitioner, this makes up a large portion of your patient care.
Much of your time will be spent in the intensive care unit and the emergency room as you care for high-risk newborns. Your patients will often be suffering from genetic disorders and birth defects, and at times you may assist in delivery. Between administering oxygen and medication and monitoring specialized equipment, you’ll help sick newborns in their first month of life.
Demand for nurse practitioner positions are expected to increase 45% from 2019-2029.
RN license, neonatal nurse practitioner certification
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNPs) can make a life-changing, positive impact.
Through medical treatment, counseling, and emotional support, you will treat patients with a range of psychiatric and mental health disorders and behavioral challenges. You’ll take a holistic approach to healthcare, educating and informing patients and their families about mental health issues. You’ll also help patients avoid isolation, poverty, and other circumstances that can arise as a result of these conditions. PMHNPs can work in either individual, family, or group settings, typically in mental health facilities, correctional centers, or private clinics.
Demand for nurse practitioners, including psychiatric nurse practitioner positions, are expected to increase +45% by 2029.
Education Requirements of a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
RN license, MSN and DNP degrees, board certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center; additional certifications may also be required by your state.
An oncology nurse practitioner is a high-stress position, working with patients in one of the scariest moments of their lives. This role requires extensive experience and knowledge to provide excellent support.
You will be trusted to administer cancer treatment, medication, and education about prevention to patients with every type of cancer. This involves heavy amounts of research and face-to-face interaction for a range of difficult diseases. From initial visits to ongoing treatment, physical assessment will be required for critical and chronic cancer conditions. Diagnosing and prescribing occasionally fall under your responsibilities.
Demand for nurse practitioners, including oncology nurse practitioner positions, are expected to increase 45% from 2019-2029.
MSN degree, oncology nursing certification
Cardiac nurses work side-by-side with cardiac physicians in treating and diagnosing heart disease. Specializing in cardiology provides you job security as acute and chronic heart disease continue to be the leading causes of death.
As a cardiac nurse practitioner, you’ll help interpret lab data in the assessment of heart failure, arrhythmia, coronary artery disease, and all conditions related to blood vessels and the circulatory system. You may work in more personal settings through home care and rehabilitation.
Demand for nurse practitioners, including cardiac nurse practitioner positions, are projected to increase +45% from 2019-2029.
RN license, BSN degree, CVNP-BC or CMC certification
As a pain management nurse, you will have an enormous amount of responsibility. The cause and severity of pain you treat will vary depending on the type of facility, but you will always be in high demand as a pain management nurse.
As a pain management nurse, you’ll be assessing your patient’s level of suffering to determine and adjust the amount of relief. Because you will be administering medication dosages, this job requires a high level of responsibility.
Demand for registered nurses, including pain management nurse positions, are expected to increase +7% by 2029.
No advanced degree required, nurse practitioner certification for pain management preferred.
Gerontological Nurse Practitioners are in high demand due to the size of the baby boomer population and the increase in average lifespan. The number of elderly patients will only increase more and more in the coming years.
An Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AG-ACNP) primarily focuses on treating illness in inpatient or hospital settings, while an Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AG-PCNP) focuses on illness prevention and often work in community clinics or private practice. To earn an adult gerontology nurse practitioner salary, you’ll ensure proper patient nutrition and safety, adjust medication, and prevent rapid health deterioration.
Demand for nurse practitioners, including gerontological nurse practitioner positions, are expected to increase +45% by 2029.
RN license, MSN and DNP degrees, gerontological nurse practitioner (GNP) certification
Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) get to make long-lasting connections with their patients and see them through both good and challenging times. FNPs often work collaboratively with primary care physicians, which means they’re a friendly and familiar face in their communities.
A family nurse practitioner salary is earned with close, continual patient care. In some states, family nurse practitioners can operate their own practices and even prescribe controlled substances, giving them a high level of autonomy. A typical visit with an FNP might include consultation, assessments, and going over prescriptions.
Demand for nurse practitioners, including family nurse practitioner positions, are expected to increase +45% from 2019-2029.
MSN degree, ANCC certification
A certified pediatric nurse provides medical care for children from infancy to their late teens.
To earn a pediatric nurse practitioner salary, you’ll perform physical examinations, measure vitals, and take diagnostic tests. Prevention and health education are also an important aspect of the profession, as pediatric nurses play a significant role in educating parents and caregivers about their children’s health.
Undergraduate programs do not offer a pediatric specialty, but you can get experience by seeking out a pediatric rehabilitation unit, pediatric intensive care unit, or other clinical environment that caters to kids. The specific duties of pediatric nurse jobs depend on the work setting, which could be a pediatric ward, pediatric ICU, surgical center, doctor’s office, school clinic, etc.
Demand for nurse practitioners, including pediatric nurse positions, are expected to increase +45% from 2019-2029.
RN license, BSN degree, Certified Pediatric Nursing (CPN) license
As advanced practice registered nurses (or APRNs), nurse practitioners enjoy a great deal of autonomy, strong job outlook, and high demand. With their specialized education and clinical training, a nurse practitioner you’ll perform many of the same functions as a primary care physician.
As a Nurse practitioner you’ll provide direct patient care, perform examinations, and prescribe medications, while maintaining an emphasis on disease prevention and health management. NPs do not require the direct supervision of a doctor and usually have their own clinics or offices where patients can seek consultations.
Demand for general nurse practitioner positions are expected to increase +45% from 2019-2029.
RN license, BSN, MSN and DNP degrees
According to many employed in the field, Certified Nurse Midwives perform some of the most rewarding work that the nursing profession has to offer. A certified nurse midwife (CNM) cares for their patients through the joys and challenges of pregnancy, labor, and birth.
They deliver babies and work alongside obstetricians throughout the course of pregnancies. A certified nurse midwife is also responsible for responding with the right tactics to aid in the swift rescue of two lives rather than one. After babies are born, you’ll help new mothers with follow-up care and education.
Demand for nurse midwife positions are expected to increase +45% from 2019-2029.
RN license, MSN degree, certification from American Midwifery Certification Board
Critical care nurses, also known as intensive care unit (ICU) nurses, have to act quickly under pressure and possess excellent decision-making skills when situations present a very high risk factor.
Aside from measuring vitals, critical care nurses need to perform procedures, treat wounds, administer IV fluids, and communicate with patients’ families.
Demand for registered nurses, including critical care nurse positions are expected to increase +7% from 2019-2029.
RN license, BSN degree preferred, certified critical care nurse (CCN) preferred
Orthopedic nurses care for patients facing mobility issues due to disease, disorder, or injury. They typically work in orthopedic wards, though you may also practice in outpatient clinics, emergency rooms, or in communities.
You’ll assist in surgeries, provide physical therapy and rehabilitation, and help create prevention and wellness regimens. You also play a vital role in patient advocacy, providing education to improve patient health, prevent disease, and increase understanding about treatments. This also includes ensuring that the healthcare provider is aware of your patient’s needs.
Demand for registered nurses, including orthopedic nurse positions, are expected to increase +7% from 2019-2029.
MSN degree, 2,000+ hours as APRN, ONCB certification
A clinical research nurse, or nurse researcher, needs rigorous training in research methodologies and data collection. Ultimately, your goal as a medical scientist is to improve healthcare services and the lives of patients.
Clinical research nurses typically work in universities, medical laboratories, or medical clinics. Here, you’ll dive deep into illnesses, treatment plans, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare methods. You’ll design and analyze your own studies, then report and publish your findings.
Demand for registered nurses, including clinical research nurse positions, are expected to increase +7% from 2019-2029.
BSN degree minimum; doctoral degree (Ph.D.). preferred; certification from Association of Clinical Research Professionals preferred.
Nurse administrators supervise RNs and nurse practitioners in their primary care of patients. While nurse administrators are licensed, their chief duty is the coordination of tasks, not the execution.
Your day to day involves the development of and adherence to policies and procedures. In nursing staff management, you’ll deal mainly with budgeting and protocol compliance. You’re the point of contact between your nursing staff and HR, as well as other departments.
Nurse administrator positions are expected to increase +32% from 2019-2029.
MSN degree in healthcare administration.
The difference between a nurse and nurse practitioner is that nurses must have an Associates of Science in Nursing (ASN) at minimum, whereas to become a nurse practitioner, you must earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).
Many of the nursing jobs above do not require a master’s degree. But the more education you have, the higher your pay will be. For example, to increase your nursing salary by adding “practitioner” to your title, you’ll need an MSN. Remember that whatever nursing specialty you choose, you always have opportunities for salary advancement by pursuing promotions and leadership roles.
When reviewing each of these high-paying nursing specialties, you might have noticed they require a high level of education. Most high-paying career paths do involve gaining a registered nurse license, Bachelor of Science, a master’s, or even a doctorate degree. Whether you need to advance your education and complete your BSN, MSN, or DNP, or you’re just starting out in the medical field, our nursing education opportunities offer a step closer to these incredible career paths.
If you’re interested in pursuing a nursing specialty, we can help you advance your education with our flexible online Bachelor of Science in Nursing – RN to BSN and Master of Science in Nursing – BSN to MSN programs. Specifically designed for working nurses, these programs are delivered online and asynchronously, enabling you to do your coursework when it’s most convenient for you – so you can balance your education with the rest of your life.