15 Highest Paying Nursing Jobs
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.
Here are the 15 highest paying nursing jobs:
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
- Cardiac Nurse Practitioner
- Orthopedic Nurse
- Oncology Nurse Practitioner
- Nurse Practitioner
- Family Nurse Practitioner
- Critical Care Nurse
- Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
- Pediatric Nurse
- Nurse Midwife
- Pain Management Nurse
- Clinical Research Nurse
- Nurse Administrator
- Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
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.
Duties and Responsibilities of a Nurse Anesthetist
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.
Skills and Abilities of a Nurse Anesthetist:
- work well under pressure to measure and calculate doses
- quick problem-solving to adapt to changing circumstances
- be comfortable with a great deal of responsibility
- have minimum of 7-8.5 years of education and experience, including hands-on practice in acute care
Education Requirements of a Nurse Anesthetist
RN license, MSN degree or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree
Annual Salary of a Nurse Anesthetist
Hourly Rate of a Nurse Anesthetist
Highest Range Nurse Anesthetist Salary
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.
Duties and Responsibilities of a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
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.
Skills and Abilities of a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner:
- patience and active listening to communicate with the patient’s parents
- resolve to deal with the most vulnerable patients
- powerful analytical skills to treat patients who can’t communicate their needs
- gentle, dexterous hands to tend to small patients
- quick thinking to work with undeveloped immune systems
Demand for nurse practitioner positions are expected to increase 45% from 2019-2029.
Education Requirements of a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
RN license, neonatal nurse practitioner certification
Annual Salary of a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
Hourly Rate of a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
Highest Range Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Salary
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNPs) can make a life-changing, positive impact.
Duties and Responsibilities of a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
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.
Skills and Abilities of a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner:
- compassionate in a crisis
- collaborative during ongoing mental treatment
- resilient in the face of emotional patient outcomes
- possesses patience for and knowledge of mental health issues
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
Annual Salary of a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
Hourly Rate of a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
Highest Range Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Salary
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.
Duties and Responsibilities of an Oncology Nurse Practitioner
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.
Skills and Abilities of an Oncology Nurse Practitioner:
- ability to manage many moving parts as you coordinate with the patient’s healthcare providers
- empathy to provide supportive care and bereavement counseling
- resilience to deal with chronic suffering
- detail-oriented to watch for reactions and side effects to determine patient assessment and referral
Demand for nurse practitioners, including oncology nurse practitioner positions, are expected to increase 45% from 2019-2029.
Education Requirements of an Oncology Nurse Practitioner
MSN degree, oncology nursing certification
Annual Salary of an Oncology Nurse Practitioner
Hourly Rate of an Oncology Nurse Practitioner
Highest Range Oncology Nurse Practitioner Salary
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.
Duties and Responsibilities of a Cardiac Nurse Practitioner
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.
Skills and Abilities of a Cardiac Nurse Practitioner:
- strong resolve and confidence in decisions to treat patients with life-threatening conditions
- patience and understanding to educate patients and their families in best health practices
Demand for nurse practitioners, including cardiac nurse practitioner positions, are projected to increase +45% from 2019-2029.
Education Requirements of a Cardiac Nurse Practitioner
RN license, BSN degree, CVNP-BC or CMC certification
Annual Salary of a Cardiac Nurse Practitioner
Hourly Rate of a Cardiac Nurse Practitioner
Highest Range Cardiac Nurse Practitioner Salary
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.
Duties and Responsibilities of 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.
Skills and Abilities of a Pain Management Nurse:
- empathy to treat patients who are in chronic pain as a result of trauma
- strong judgment to evaluate the validity of verbal and non-verbal cues
- analytical skills to determine how your patient responds to the treatment plan you provide
Education Requirements of a Pain Management Nurse
No advanced degree required, nurse practitioner certification for pain management preferred.
Annual Salary of a Pain Management Nurse
Hourly Rate of a Pain Management Nurse
Highest Range Pain Management Nurse Salary
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.
Duties and Responsibilities of a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
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.
Skills and Abilities of a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner:
- good communication skills to treat people in pain and those with chronic conditions
- patience to treat the elderly
- extensive knowledge of geriatric health issues.
Demand for nurse practitioners, including gerontological nurse practitioner positions, are expected to increase +45% by 2029..
Education Requirements of a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
RN license, MSN and DNP degrees, gerontological nurse practitioner (GNP) certification
Annual Salary of a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
Hourly Rate of a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
Highest Range Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Salary
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.
Duties and Responsibilities of a Family Nurse Practitioner
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.
Skills and Abilities of a Family Nurse Practitioner:
- compassion and active listening skills to earn family’s trust
- integrity to counsel and educate patients in their best interests despite long-term relationships
Demand for nurse practitioners, including family nurse practitioner positions, are expected to increase +45% from 2019-2029.
Education Requirements of a Family Nurse Practitioner
MSN degree, ANCC certification
Annual Salary of a Family Nurse Practitioner
Hourly Rate of a Family Nurse Practitioner
Highest Range Family Nurse Practitioner Salary
A certified pediatric nurse provides medical care for children from infancy to their late teens.
Duties and Responsibilities of a Pediatric Nurse
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.
Skills and Abilities of a Pediatric Nurse:
- must love kids!
- well-versed in how to communicate with children and ease their fears
- adept at the art of physical assessment, since young children often cannot verbally communicate their feelings
Demand for nurse practitioners, including pediatric nurse positions, are expected to increase +45% from 2019-2029.
Education Requirements of a Pediatric Nurse
RN license, BSN degree, Certified Pediatric Nursing (CPN) license
Annual Salary of a Pediatric Nurse
Hourly Rate of a Pediatric Nurse
Highest Range Pediatric Nurse Salary
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.
Duties and Responsibilities of a General Nurse Practitioner
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.
Skills and Abilities of a General Nurse Practitioner:
- leadership skills and confidence to operate at a high level of responsibility
- plenty of compassion and interpersonal skills to treat all types of patients, rather than a specialty
Demand for general nurse practitioner positions are expected to increase +45% from 2019-2029.
Education Requirements of a General Nurse Practitioner
RN license, BSN, MSN and DNP degrees
Annual Salary of a General Nurse Practitioner
Hourly Rate of a General Nurse Practitioner
Highest Range Nurse Practitioner Salary
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.
Duties and Responsibilities of a Nurse Midwife
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.
Skills and Abilities of a Nurse Midwife:
- extremely perceptive to notice changes in mother and infant throughout pregnancy and during delivery
- strong communication skills to listen to the mother’s physical, mental, and emotional concerns
- leadership and analytical skills to make decisions in a crisis
Demand for nurse midwife positions are expected to increase +45% from 2019-2029.
Education Requirements of a Nurse Midwife
RN license, MSN degree, certification from American Midwifery Certification Board
Annual Salary of a Nurse Midwife
Hourly Rate of a Nurse Midwife
Highest Range Nurse Midwife Salary
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.
Duties and Responsibilities of a Critical Care Nurse
Aside from measuring vitals, critical care nurses need to perform procedures, treat wounds, administer IV fluids, and communicate with patients’ families.
Skills and Abilities of a Critical Care Nurse:
- Strong, independent leadership for life or death situations
- Nuanced communication skills for a high-stress environment
- Must be able to work well in stressful situations
- Should possess excellent decision-making skills and think clearly when situations present a very high risk factor
- Must be able to stay alert after hours of intensive work
- Be prepared to experience life and death situations on a regular basis
Demand for registered nurses, including critical care nurse positions are expected to increase +7% from 2019-2029.
Education Requirements of a Critical Care Nurse
RN license, BSN degree preferred, certified critical care nurse (CCN) preferred
Annual Salary of a Critical Care Nurse
Hourly Rate of a Critical Care Nurse
Highest Range Critical Care Nurse Salary
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.
Duties and Responsibilities of an Orthopedic Nurse
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.
Skills and Abilities of a Orthopedic Nurse:
- finely-tuned empathy and communication skills to working with chronic pain
- great communication to ensure that the healthcare provider is aware of their patient’s needs
Demand for registered nurses, including orthopedic nurse positions, are expected to increase +7% from 2019-2029.
Education Requirements of an Orthopedic Nurse
MSN degree, 2,000+ hours as APRN, ONCB certification
Annual Salary of an Orthopedic Nurse
Hourly Rate of an Orthopedic Nurse
Highest Range Orthopedic Nurse Salary
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.
Duties and Responsibilities of a Clinical Research Nurse
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.
Skills and Abilities of a Clinical Research Nurse:
- strong writing skills for writing studies, grant proposals, and articles for medical journals
- solid critical thinking skills and strong attention to detail for intensive research
- leadership skills to organize and manage projects
Demand for registered nurses, including clinical research nurse positions, are expected to increase +7% from 2019-2029.
Education Requirements of a Clinical Research Nurse
BSN degree minimum; doctoral degree (Ph.D.). preferred; certification from Association of Clinical Research Professionals preferred.
Annual Salary of a Clinical Research Nurse
Hourly Rate of a Clinical Research Nurse
Highest Range Clinical Research Nurse Salary
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.
Duties and Responsibilities of a Nurse Administrator
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.
Skills and Abilities of a Nurse Administrator:
- attention to detail to manage many individuals and their workloads
- organization to delegate and oversee the completion of tasks
- strong communication and leadership skills to resolve personnel issues
- mediation skills in order to ensure smooth operations at your healthcare facility
Education Requirements of a Nurse Administrator
MSN degree in healthcare administration.
Annual Salary of a Nurse Administrator
Hourly Rate of a Nurse Administrator
Highest Range Nurse Administrator Salary
What’s the difference between a Nurse and a Nurse Practitioner?
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.