Top 10 Highest Paying Nursing Jobs

nursing jobs

Salary might not be a primary contributing factor why you decided to become a nurse, but it IS helpful in choosing the nursing sub-specialization you may want to pursue. Salary greatly differs among different nursing careers. Knowing the approximate salary scale of a sub-specialty will definitely help you make an informed decision.

To get you started, here is a list of the top 10 highest paying jobs and careers for nurses and their average annual salaries.

1Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

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Annual Salary Range: $163,905 to $194,551

A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist or CRNA is responsible for the preparation and administration of anesthesia to patients as ordered by dentists, anesthesiologists, and surgeons. The CRNA ensures that the patient is prepared for the induction of anesthesia and afterward, she will mix and administer the ordered anesthesia prior to the surgical procedure.

CRNA is considered as the highest paying nursing career. They carry a high level of responsibility and are compensated accordingly. Because of this, job competition in this field is tight. When entering a post-graduate program to become a CRNA, try to look for programs that also offer job placement so you can be guided in getting your first job in this field.

2Certified Nurse Midwife


Annual Salary Range: $97,271 to $119,866

Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) work closely with OB-Gyne physicians in providing a wide range of women’s health services. They do gynecological examinations, family planning guide and pre-natal and post-natal care among pregnant women. CNMs can practice in clinics, communities, hospitals and other healthcare settings.

To become a Certified Nurse Midwife, completion of a nurse-midwifery program is usually preferred. Completion of a master’s or doctorate degree may also be required. You can obtain Nurse-Midwife certification through the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM).

3Nurse Practitioner


Annual Salary Range: $97,215 to $113,814

A Nurse Practitioner provides direct patient care independently. The scope of practice varies among different state laws; some states require NPs to practice under the supervision of a physician while other states allow NPs to prescribe medications and do patient examinations. The NP will manage the case of his/her patient even outside the healthcare setting. Most of the time, NPs have their own clinics or offices where patients can seek consultations.

This field is ideal for those who want to practice their profession independently and for those who enjoy building continuing relationships with returning patients. Because the scope of practice of a Nurse Practitioner resembles a doctor’s duties, a graduate program is necessary for this career. Different states require different certification requirements to become a Nurse Practitioner but most of the time, completion of a master’s or a doctoral degree program is required.

4Clinical Nurse Specialist


Annual Salary Range: $92,632 and $112,225

A Clinical Nurse Specialist or CNS has a specific area of subspecialty in practicing within the healthcare settings. You will choose your own medical subspecialty from over 15 areas of specialization like psychiatry, oncology, cardiology, geriatrics and many more. CNSs are considered highly trained in their chosen areas of subspecialty and they can assist in developing new protocols or in improving hospital procedures in their respective specializations.

To become a Clinical Nurse Specialist, a registered nurse must finish a Master’s of Science degree in Nursing. Additional CNS certifications may be required depending on the sub-specialization chosen.

5Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner


Annual Salary Range: $77,916 – $132,496

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners typically work in mental health facilities, correctional centers, and private clinics. They work closely with their patients along with the patients’ families and guardians. Just like Nurse Practitioners, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners may also choose to work privately and independently in their own clinics where they can cater to returning patients within their scope of practice.

To become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, a master’s or a doctoral degree should be obtained. Additional certifications may be required depending on your state. You can also choose further sub-specializations if you wish to work exclusively for specific groups of people like substance abusers, elderly persons, mentally challenged children and many more.

6Orthopedic Nurse


Annual Salary Range: $76,340 – $133,478

Orthopedic Nurses provide direct nursing care to patients with mobility problems due to accidents or disorders. They usually work in orthopedic wards although they can also practice in out-patient clinics, emergency rooms, and communities. They assist orthopedic surgeons in surgeries, provide post-operative care and assist in physical therapy and rehabilitation.

To become an Orthopedic Nurse, you can take a certification exam provided by the Orthopedic Nurses Certification Board. To be eligible to take the exam, a registered nurse should have 2 full years of RN work experience and 1000 hours of experience in an orthopedic nursing practice within the past three years.

7Nurse Researcher

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Annual Salary Range: $72,747 to $89,351

Nurse Researchers typically work in universities, medical laboratories, and other healthcare industries. Having a superb writing skill is a key factor for this career as Nurse Researchers write studies, grant proposals, medical journals, and presentations. This career will enable you to publish your own research studies based on nursing, medical, pharmaceutical or diagnostic products and practices. Rigorous research methodologies and data collection are also important in this field.

To become a Nurse Researcher, obtaining and master’s or a doctoral degree is essential. For a more advanced nursing research, a doctoral degree is often required.

8Geriatric Nurse


Annual Salary Range: $61,505 and $78,517

Geriatric Nurses manage the care of elderly patients in terms of mental health and preventive care. They facilitate intake of maintenance medications, ensure proper nutrition and safety, monitor onset of new diseases and prevent rapid health deterioration. They may work in geriatric wards, hospice care, clinics and other geriatric facilities.

To become a geriatric nurse, you must be a registered nurse so you can be eligible to take certification exams available in your state. If you want to have more opportunities in higher salary range, you can obtain a master’s degree to become a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner or a Geriatric Clinical Nurse Specialist.

9Pediatric Nurse

Annual Salary Range: $60,923 and $74,814

Pediatric Nurses have plenty of employment opportunities. They may work at the pediatric ward, pediatric ICUs, school clinics and many more. An essential skill in becoming a pediatric nurse is to master the art of physical assessment since young children cannot verbally pinpoint or express their feelings when sick. They also work closely with families especially in providing health education when the pediatric patient is being prepared to be taken care at home.

To become a certified Pediatric Nurse, you can take a certification exam with the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. If you want to explore a more intense career in pediatric nursing, you can a obtain master’s degree to become a Pediatric Nurse practitioner or a Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist.

10Pediatric Endocrinology Nurse

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Annual Salary Range: $60,000 – $90,000

Pediatric Endocrinology Nurses provide nursing care to children suffering from various endocrine problems. They educate their patients and their families about proper nutrition, precautions, and physical growth or sexual development issues faced when children are suffering from endocrinal disorder as they grow up. One of the most common endocrinal disorders Pediatric Endocrinology Nurses usually manage is juvenile diabetes.

Currently, there is no official organization that certifies and regulates Pediatric Endocrinology Nurses. However, at least two years of continuous experience working in a pediatric setting is important in pursuing Pediatric Endocrinology Nursing.

See Also: Top 10 Highest Paying Cities for Nurses

Additional Resources:

1. Occupational Employment and Wages by the Bureau of Labor Statistics

2. Nursing Specializations

3. American Association of Nurse Practitioners

4. Orthopaedic Nurses Certification Board