Being a nurse is emotionally rewarding. You make a real difference in the lives of the hurting and sick people you interact with every single day. The money can also be pretty good if you find the right career path. We’ve already talked about how much an RN makes. To give you some goals, here are some of the highest-paid nurses so you can decide if one of the high paying nursing jobs is right for you.
As a nurse, you can find quite a few jobs that pay pretty well, but which nursing jobs pay the best?
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
- General Nurse Practitioner
- Pain Management Nurse
- Certified Nurse Midwife
- Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Critical Care Nurse
- Neonatal Nurse
Are you a new grad? While you likely won’t land a super high paying gig as your first nursing job even thought technically there really isn’t a best nursing specialty for new grads, you can take some of the highest paid nursing jobs on this list and begin working towards them. Make it through your first year with some of these useful new nurse survival tips and a copy of Becoming Nurse. Then, write them down as goals and begin to enhance the skills these jobs require. We recommend that you actually write them down and post them somewhere you can see them. Setting goals and writing them down can help you attain them much faster.
One thing to consider is the more specialized and focused area in your career, the more earning power you’ll have. The phrase “There are riches in niches” is absolutely true. To maximize your earning potential, you’ll want to become super specialized by going narrow and deep.
For more insight and other nurse job resources, visit Nurse.org.
Highest-Paid Executive Nurses
Healthcare Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
The highest-paid nurses are without a doubt hospital CEOs. With salaries that can cant start at $1million and climb, it’s no surprise that this is one of the top salaries for a nurse. Nurses know how hospitals run and who better to run hospitals than a member of the profession that makes up about 35% of hospital staff.
In 2019, the highest-earning hospital executives pulled in salaries starting at $19 million with the highest-paid executive earning nearly $30 million a year. Even non-profit and charitable hospitals can pay their CEOs and high-level executives millions of dollars.
Chief Nursing Executive (CNE)
The title of CNE is one that might be unfamiliar to nurses that have spetn their career largely in hospitals. Although some healthcare systems employ cheif nursing executives, it’s much more likely that nurses would know of a Cheif Nursing Office (CNO) or a Director of Nursing (DON). A CNE is often in place at companies that need a nurse as a high-ranking official, but may not be in direct bedside care. Healthcare software companies, med-tech and medical device, pharaceutical, and other similar companies are more lielly to have CNE than a CNO on staff.
According to Payscale, the median income for a Chief Nursing Executive is around $236,000 a year, with the top 10% earning well over $300,000 (plus probably some good stock options).
Chief Nursing Officer (CNO)
A hospital CNO is often thought of as the highest rank a nurse can hope to hold. However, as we’ve already discussed, many nurses hold the role of CEO and CNE. However, in many instances, this is the highest-ranking position that feels attainable to nurses. The position has tons of presitgue and is sometimes referred to as the “top of the ivory tower” both in jest and in admiration.
It comes with immense responsibility, decision making, and patience, but it’s usually matched with an annual income well over 6 figures. CNOs at hospitals with over 300 beds can earn well over $200,000 a year.
Highest Paid Administrative Nurses (Non-Clinical)
An Informatics Nurse combines nursing and technology and works as a translator in those areas of healthcare. Nurses in this field focus on the management of information and using technology to communicate health topics. You can expect to earn an average salary of $83,000 with this position. There is an estimated need of around 70,000 people for this position in the next five years. Although not required, a Master’s degree in either Nursing Informatics or computer science can help you compete in this job. A specialty certification can also give you an edge, and as of the writing of this article, there are less than 1,000 certified informatics nurses in the country.
This is the person doing all the behind the scene things the make nursing happen. You will be doing the budgeting, staffing, HR, etc. The average salary for a Nursing Administrator is $79,064. This job is projected to grow by 23% by 2022. You will need a Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration and a state license to do this job.
Highest Paid Clinical Nurses
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) prepare and administer anesthesia to patients while working with surgeons, dentists, anesthesiologists, etc. You can expect to earn around $181,000 a year. The CRNA career field is expected to grow 25% by 2022 which again means there will be plenty of opportunities. A nurse anesthetist is an advanced practice nurse that requires a Master’s degree and a national certification.
General Nurse Practitioner
This job will allow you to either open your own practice or work in the many primary care offices that have multiple doctors and nurses. At the high end, you will earn around $97,000 a year. This job is expected to grow 34% by 2022 which means the opportunity is huge. Being a General Nurse Practitioner requires a Master’s degree and a Nurse Practitioner license which is done by state. Learn more about the average Nurse Practitioner Salary.
Pain Management Nurse
These are the nurses that help people manage pain post surgery or people with chronic pain issues. Educating patients on addiction and dependence on medications is a huge part of a pain management nurse. You can expect an average salary of $90,288 with this type of nursing. This job does not require an advanced degree yet RN experience will be necessary to compete for these positions. Hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, and nursing homes all need these nurses so plenty of opportunities exist. With the current opioid crisis, the role of pain management nurses cannot be overlooked.
Certified Nurse Midwife
Certified Nurse Midwife is perfect for the RN who loves everything to do with helping mom’s have healthy babies. You can expect to earn an average of $102,390 a year with this position. This job is expected to grow by 29% by 2022. This nurse is needed in OB/GYN offices, clinics, and hospitals or you can open your own practice. It requires certification by the American Midwifery Certification Board.
Clinical Nurse Specialist
A Clinical Nurse Specialist is for you if you want to focus on one specific area and be viewed as an expert on the team. The salary range is $75,00 to $85,000 depending on your experience. Job growth is high because many hospitals and other institutions are using these nurses to provide specialized care instead of multiple doctors. You will need a Master’s in nursing and a specialization in clinical nursing.
Critical Care Nurse
This job typically takes place in ICU’s, Emergency Departments, and Critical Care Units. You will be taking care of people whose lives are on the line. It requires a special person to deal with life and death every day. This can be stressful yet highly rewarding. The average salary for Critical Care Nurse is $76,563. The job potential is huge because this is one area that constantly has a shortage of people to fill the positions. No special certification is required above the RN level but a CCRN certification can be extremely helpful. What does ICU stand for?
If you love babies this job is for you. Caring for newborns is the main responsibility of a neonatal nurse. The average salary is $29.60 per hour with a potential for more with specializations such as intensive care. The potential is huge with many opportunities. This job can be achieved at the RN level yet a neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP) or a clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is the best choice for advancement into this position.
You Can be a High-Paid Nurse Too!
No matter where you are in your nursing career, you have a variety of job options. Begin in an entry-level job and immediately start networking. Keep a record of your responsibilities and list of skills. As you obtain further education and certification, you will become eligible for the job of your dreams.
For more on the Highest Paid Nurses check out:
- Hospice Nurse Salary
- How Long Does it Take to Become a Nurse?
- 15 Creative & Fun Ways Nurses Can Earn Money on the Side – Some of the highest-paid nurses actually work “side hustle” jobs instead of full time. My favorite is Nurse Health Coach.
Handbook of Informatics for Nurses & Healthcare Professionals (5th Edition)Nurse Practitioner Certification Examination and Practice PreparationPreterm Labor: Prevention and Nursing Management–Continuing Education for Registered Nurses and Certified Nurse-Midwives