Nursing is a very rewarding profession. Nurses take great satisfaction in their ability to deliver outstanding health care and make a difference in the lives of patients and their families. Of course, monetary compensation also plays a big role in how nurses feel about their current positions and upskilling for future careers.
There are so many opportunities for well-qualified nurses in 2022. The nation’s hospitals and other care environments are still adjusting to a new reality as we continue to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals, in particular, are looking to correct shortages among their nursing departments. And all care settings are preparing to address health care needs that may have taken a backseat during the height of the pandemic. That means there are more opportunities for experienced RNs and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to take up positions that suit their talents, interests and education.
Let’s look at the 15 highest-paying nursing jobs. Keep in mind that these nursing salaries are estimates—given as either ranges or averages reported for the role—and that any individual salary will be based on location, experience and other factors.
Here is a quick key to the abbreviations you will see in this article:
- BSN—Bachelor of Science in Nursing
- DNP—Doctor of Nursing Practice
- MSN—Master of Science in Nursing
- NP—Nurse Practitioner
- PMC—Post-Master’s Certificate
- RN—Registered Nurse
1. Family Nurse Practitioner
How Much Do Family Nurse Practitioners make?
Glassdoor.com has posted an average annual salary for family nurse practitioners (FNPs) at $105,928 but additional bonuses and benefits may take that as high as $126,000, depending on the level of experience and other factors. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners reports a median total salary of $115,000 based on their 2020 annual NP survey.
What Does a Family Nurse Practitioner Do?
An FNP cares for patients across the lifespan, from birth to geriatric years. The majority of FNPs provide primary care services, managing patients through illness and injury, and educating them on how to maintain wellness. FNPs can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private practice offices, community clinics and more.
What Education or Experience Does a Family Nurse Practitioner Need?
An RN who wants to become a family nurse practitioner must complete a BSN or MSN and then pursue either an MSN-FNP, PMC-FNP or DNP.
Job Outlook for Family Nurse Practitioners
Jobs for family nurse practitioners are plentiful. The BLS cites a 52% job growth rate for nurse practitioners through 2030, and with family nurse practitioners making up the largest specialty role among NPs, jobs will remain plentiful.
2. Informatics Nurse
How Much Do Informatics Nurses make?
According to PayScale.com, the median annual salary for informatics nurses is $79,789 while ZipRecruiter.com cites the national average salary as $102,230. The 2020 Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society showed that 49% of informatics nurses earned salaries above $100,000.
What Does an Informatics Nurse Do?
Informatics nurses play a pivotal role as more and more healthcare entities rely on data from electronic medical records and other sources for analysis, communication and decision-making to improve health systems, care delivery and patient safety.
What Education or Experience Does an Informatics Nurse Need?
Some nurse informaticists begin work in the field with a BSN and RN, but most now pursue a master’s, either in nursing, nursing informatics or computer science. Others go on to pursue a doctorate. The ANCC offers a certification credential for nurse informaticists upon passing a competency-based exam.
Job Outlook for Informatics Nurse
The job outlook for informatics nurses is good, within the 9% job growth rate predicted for all RNs by the BLS.
3. Nurse Educator
How Much Do Nurse Educators make?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a mean annual wage for secondary nursing instructors as $82,040. The BLS also reports slightly different figures based on the institution, with annual mean salaries for nurse educators at colleges and professional schools at $83,340 and at hospitals, $95,720.
What Does a Nurse Educator Do?
A nurse educator instructs nursing students in clinical patient care. This can be at the collegiate level, an aspect of staff education at a hospital, or through an organization offering continuing education. Some nurse educators are also involved in research.
What Education or Experience Does a Nurse Educator Need?
Nurse educators must have at least an MSN, but many also pursue a doctoral degree as well. If the educator has a clinical specialty, they may also be required to seek and maintain certification in that field, especially if that is a curriculum focus they teach.
Job Outlook for Nurse Educators
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, there is a significant shortage of nursing faculty, so there will be plenty of employment opportunities nationwide for nurse educators. The greatest need is for instructors at the doctoral level.
4. Critical Care Nurse
How Much Do Critical Care Nurses make?
A critical care nurse may earn an average base salary of $89,472 according to Glassdoor.com, with bonuses and other additional pay bringing the total to $113,472.
What Does a Critical Care Nurse Do?
Critical care nurses (CCNs) are assigned to hospital departments where patients are in the most serious conditions, including intensive care or critical care units, trauma or transport/flight units, cardiac care or surgical units. Care includes monitoring and managing patients, many of whom may be on life-support equipment. CCNs must also be able to communicate clearly with other nursing and medical staff, as well as with patient’s families in a high-stress environment.
What Education or Experience Does a Critical Care Nurse Need?
While it is possible to become a CCN with an associate degree in nursing (ADN) most employers prefer candidates with a BSN. After passing the NCLEX-RN exam and becoming licensed, most RNs have to work a minimum of two years in critical care before becoming eligible for certification by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN).
Job Outlook for Critical Care Nurses
There will continue to be many job opportunities for critical care nurses, with as many as 332,190 jobs opening by 2029 according to Recruiter.com.
5. Clinical Research Nurse
How Much Do Clinical Research Nurses make?
There is a wide range of salaries for nurses engaged in research; some of this is attributable to the differences in titles and educational requirements. However, in broad strokes, annual salaries for nurse researcher positions range from $62,250 to $138,838 (Indeed.com), with a national average of $99,940 (Glassdoor.com).
What Does a Clinical Research Nurse Do?
Clinical research nurses are frequently part of medical research teams that are investigating new therapies through clinical trials. The nurse may be tasked with subject recruitment, protocol adherence, informed consent and monitoring subject health status, reporting any changes to the team.
What Education or Experience Does a Clinical Research Nurse Need?
A clinical research nurse will generally be required to have either an MSN or doctoral degree, as well as an active RN license.
Job Outlook for Clinical Research Nurses
While the BLS job category of “medical scientist” is primarily focused on doctoral-level professionals, the 17% job growth rate they project for the category can be broadly applied to clinical nurse specialists as well.
6. Nurse Administrator
How Much Do Nurse Administrators make?
What Does a Nurse Administrator Do?
Nurse administrators are charged with making sure operations run smoothly in the setting in which they work, whether that is a hospital, ambulatory surgical center, long-term care facility or other care environment. The nurse administrator may function as an operations manager for clinical staff, while also being in charge of patient/staff data analysis in order to maintain efficiency, financial stability and performance standards.
What Education or Experience Does a Nurse Administrator Need?
An RN with a BSN or MSN is eligible for this type of position, particularly one with nursing and business experience.
Job Outlook for Nurse Administrators
The job outlook for nurse administrators is very strong with the BLS projecting 32% growth through 2030.
7. Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
How Much Do Pediatric Nurse Practitioners make?
What Does a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Do?
A pediatric nurse practitioner is one of the many types of nurse practitioner, which are differentiated by the population they care for or the disease state they treat. PNPs care for patients from birth to late adolescence. The PNP may have a focus and certification in primary care or acute care, and may work in a hospital, outpatient clinic, school or university, or in an independent practice.
What Education or Experience Does a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Need?
An MSN or DNP degree, or post-master’s certification with a program focus on pediatrics is required for this role, as well as board certification through the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. A PNP may also seek further education and specialization in fields like cardiology, surgery or emergency medicine.
Job Outlook for Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
Along with other nurse practitioner roles, the PNP role has a positive job outlook.
8. Clinical Nurse Specialist
How Much Do Clinical Nurse Specialists make?
Because there are several specialty areas for clinical nurse specialists (CNSs), there is a wide range of salary offerings. Indeed.com has postings ranging from $101,026 to $173,392. This aligns with postings on ZipRecruiter.com that cite $101,000 to $152,000.
What Does a Clinical Nurse Specialist Do?
The CNS role is multifaceted, with the potential for a combination of clinical and administrative roles in a variety of care settings. On the clinical side, they examine patients, diagnose illnesses, order tests and promote wellness. On the policy and administrative side, CNSs develop and revise policies, manage staff, design evaluation tools and extract data from patient records to improve care delivery systems.
What Education or Experience Does a Clinical Nurse Specialist Need?
A CNS is an APRN educated at the master’s or doctoral level. Graduate and post-graduate programs usually offer focus tracks, such as pediatrics, community health or acute care, but additional coursework may be required for certification in a specialty area from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) depending on the state requirements and specialty area.
Job Outlook for Clinical Nurse Specialists
The clinical nurse specialist role, like those of other APRNs, is a high-growth job category (45%).
9. Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
How Much Do Neonatal Nurse Practitioners make?
What Does a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Do?
Neonatal nurse practitioners care for high-risk newborns and their families, diagnosing and managing acute and chronic illnesses, which may be the result of birth defects or genetic disorders.
What Education or Experience Does a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Need?
RNs with an MSN, post-master’s certificate or DNP with a focus on neonatal care can be certified by the National Certification Corporation and apply for state licensure as a neonatal nurse practitioner.
Job Outlook for Neonatal Nurse Practitioners
Because of improvements in technology and the increasing number of premature births, neonatal nurse practitioners will continue to be in high demand.
How Much Do Nurse-Midwives make?
BLS data for nurse-midwives shows a median annual salary of $112,830.
What Does a Nurse-Midwife Do?
A Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) is an APRN who specializes in the care of pregnant people, monitoring them prenatally, through labor and delivery, and with post-delivery care. Many CNMs are affiliated with hospitals, clinics or OB/GYN offices, or have established independent practices depending on the practice rules in their state.
What Education or Experience Does a Nurse-Midwife Need?
To be certified as a nurse-midwife, an RN must complete an MSN or DNP, pass a certification exam given by the American Midwifery Certification Board and apply for a license to practice in the state where they want to operate.
Job Outlook for Nurse-Midwives
The outlook for this role is positive with 11% job growth expected through 2030.
11. Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
How Much Do Gerontological Nurse Practitioners make?
The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) lists an average annual salary for adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioners (AGPCNP) as $112,000. For adult-gerontology nurse practitioners focused on acute care—AGACNPs—they cite an average of $113,000.
What Does a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Do?
Adult-gerontology nurse practitioners care for young adults, older adults and people in their geriatric years. Depending on the area of focus—primary care or acute care—an AGNP is responsible for care assessment, management, treatment and wellness education. AGNPs work in a variety of settings, including private practice, outpatient clinics, long-term care facilities and more. Acute care AGNPs may work in hospital ICUs, critical care, cardiology departments or as hospitalists.
What Education or Experience Does a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Need?
To become an AGNP, an RN with a BSN must complete a master’s or doctoral program with an adult-gerontology focus, along with a selection of primary or acute care. AGACNPs and AGPCNPs are certified by the ANCC.
Job Outlook for Gerontological Nurse Practitioners
As the percentage of the older adult and senior adult population continues to increase, the need for AGNPs will continue to increase as well. Like other nurse practitioners, AGNPs can expect 52% job growth through 2030.
12. Nurse Practitioner
How Much Do Nurse Practitioners Make?
The BLS groups all nurse practitioners together for purposes of calculating salary figures, giving NPs a median annual salary of $120,680.
What Does a Nurse Practitioner Do?
Although many nurse practitioners have a specialized focus for their practice, the role of general NP exists as well. General NPs tend to provide primary care services, focusing on patient care and medication and health management. Depending on the rules around practice authority in their state, a general NP may have their own independent clinic or work in a multidisciplinary office.
What Education or Experience Does a Nurse Practitioner Need?
As an APRN, the general nurse practitioner needs to have completed at least a master’s-level program of study and passed the certification exam recognized by the state in which they wish to practice.
Job Outlook for Nurse Practitioners
General NPs are in one of the highest-ranking professions for job growth, with a BLS estimate of 52% through 2030. The BLS projects that an additional 114,900 NPs will be added to the workforce by that year.
13. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
How Much Do Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners make?
Payscale.com lists a typical annual average salary of $113,095, while Indeed.com quotes a range of $106,000 to $260,000. Psychiatric nurse practitioners will find opportunities at hospitals (for inpatient or outpatient assignments), behavioral health clinics, as well as state agencies and the Dept. of Veteran Affairs (VA), which has posted a salary range of $100,000 to $200,000 annually or $90 to $110 per hour according to ZipRecruiter.com
What Does a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Do?
Conduct therapy sessions, perform intake evaluations, medical management, etc.; an employer may also want an NP who is a CADC—Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor. Work with multidisciplinary teams, often consisting of a psychiatrist, doctors of psychology, and licensed clinical social workers.
What Education or Experience Does a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Need?
An RN who completes an MSN, post-master’s certificate or DNP with a focus on psychiatry/mental health will have completed an accredited program centered on nursing science, pharmacology, patient assessment and behavioral science, including 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours. The PMHNP must then pass the board certification exam given by the American Nursing Credentialing Center (ANCC) and be licensed to practice in their state.
Job Outlook for a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
The job outlook for PMHNPs should remain stable or growing as more entities embrace the need for greater mental health services, particularly around drug use disorder and climbing rates of youth depression, anxiety and suicide.
14. Oncology Nurse Practitioner
How Much Do Oncology Nurse Practitioners make?
What Does an Oncology Nurse Practitioner Do?
An oncology nurse practitioner is an APRN who specializes in caring for cancer patients, providing independent clinical assessment and patient care management. They examine and assess patients, develop plans of care and consult with physicians and other providers. They initiate orders, and educate and counsel patients regarding health promotion, disease prevention and managing illness. Specific services vary according to the treatment methodology, including surgical, medical and radiation oncology, as well as palliative medicine. Patient groups can range across the lifespan, from pediatric to gerontological.
What Education or Experience Does an Oncology Nurse Practitioner Need?
RNs interested in becoming an oncology nurse practitioner must have a BSN (and preferably 2–3 years of oncology nursing experience) and then complete an accredited MSN, post-master’s certificate or DNP program with a focus on oncology. After passing the certification exam given by the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation, the nurse practitioner can apply for state licensure.
Job Outlook for Oncology Nurse Practitioners
The number of new cancer cases in the U.S. has remained around 1.8 million cases per year in both 2020 and 2021. Oncology nurse practitioners are needed to keep the falling mortality rate continuing in a downward trend.
15. Nurse Anesthetist
How Much Do Nurse Anesthetists make?
The BLS cites a median annual salary for Nurse Anesthetists at $195,610.
What Does a Nurse Anesthetist Do?
A nurse anesthetist is responsible for perioperative, intraoperative and postoperative anesthesia care. Using established guidelines, anesthesia care must be age-appropriate and tailored to account for any comorbidities. The primary requirement is patient safety throughout the procedure and afterward. The nurse anesthetist is also responsible for documentation and may be asked to supervise student nurse anesthetists. The nurse anesthetist must also be able to collaborate with other care providers.
What Education, Experience or Certification Does a Nurse Anesthetist Need?
To become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), you must be a graduate of an accredited master’s program, then pass the certification exam given by the national certifying body, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists.
Job Outlook for Nurse Anesthetists
The BLS projects a 13% growth rate for nurse anesthetists through 2030.
Begin Your Journey to a High-Paying Career with an Online Master’s Program
You might have noticed that most of the highest-paying nursing jobs require a Master of Science in Nursing. Moreover, jobs for those in the nurse practitioner role are growing at an outstanding rate, so having a post-master’s FNP certificate will boost your options as well. If you are thinking about advancing your career in a nurse practitioner role, consider an online program from Carson-Newman University.
Carson-Newman’s MSN-FNP and PMC-FNP programs will prepare you for a new nursing role in as little as 24 months, with all online classes (except for clinicals and one on-campus residency). The MSN-FNP program is fully accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and has a dedicated faculty committed to student success.
Connect with our enrollment advisors to see how Carson-Newman can help you succeed.