6 Highest Paying Nursing Careers

4 min


If you’re looking for a career in nursing, then you’re probably aware of how well many medical jobs pay. With student loans and debt averaging between $20,000 to over $47,000, finding high-paying careers is often one of the biggest goals for recent nursing grads.

There’s no shame in wanting to find a high-paid career, especially if it leads you to a job that you love and are passionate about. Fortunately, with nursing, there are numerous opportunities to choose from and all of them will play well with some paying slightly better than others.

If you want to go into nursing, but want a career that will pay higher than the average RN salary, here are a few highest paying nursing career options you should consider.

6 Top Paying Nursing Careers

#1. Nurse Anesthetist

Certified registered nurse anesthetists make the highest nursing salary, coming in at over $190,000 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a CRNA, you’ll help prepare patients for and administer anesthesia. CRNAs can find work in a myriad of medical facilities including hospitals, outpatient care centers, physician offices, dental offices, or educational service centers.

The projected growth rate for nurse anesthetists is around 45%, much higher than average, due to much of the current nursing workforce retiring. With an increase in demand for anesthesia and healthcare services, CRNAs will be in high demand for many years to come.

To become a CRNA, you’ll need to earn your doctorate. This is a recent requirement and applies to anyone who graduates after 2025, so be prepared to spend quite a few years studying before you can start your practice.

#2. Cardiac Nurse Practitioner

On average, cardiac nurse practitioners in the United States make over $119,000 annually. If you’re interested in cardiology, this is a great way to get involved in it.

As heart disease is the leading cause of death in Americans today, certified cardiac nurse practitioners are in high demand. As a cardiac NP, you’ll help assess, diagnose, and treat patients with heart disease. You may also be the one to educate the patient and their family on their diagnosis as well as how to properly care for themselves.

To become a cardiac NP, you’ll need to complete at least a master’s degree in nursing as with all other nurse practitioners. You may decide to specialize in cardiology, but this isn’t always required. You will need several years of clinic experience in a cardiac unit before you can begin working as a cardiac NP, though.

#3. Nurse-Midwives

If you’re particularly interested in obstetrics or labor and delivery, becoming a nurse midwife is both a thrilling and lucrative career option. Nurse-midwives work mainly in hospitals, OB/GYN offices, or clinics, but you may be allowed to start your practice depending on your state’s regulations.

The average salary for a certified nurse-midwife is $114,000 annually as per the BLS, but you can earn over $166,000. Your chosen workplace will affect your pay, but you should expect to make quite a bit of money here.

With an 11% projected growth rate between 2020 and 2030, the job outlook for nurse midwives is pretty good. You also won’t need to spend nearly as long in school. To become a nurse-midwife, you’ll need to complete your nursing program followed by a certification course that is offered through the American Midwifery Certification Board.

#4. Nurse Manager

If you’re interested in working in a management or administration position, becoming a nurse manager may be a great choice for you. These high-ranking nurses make an average of $118,000 annually, though you may earn more depending on where you live.

Nurse managers are in charge of administrative tasks such as scheduling, supervising, and budgeting. As a nurse manager, you are the one in charge of leading fellow nurses and resolving workplace conflicts as well as any patient-nurse conflicts that may arise. Being a nurse manager is not unlike being a manager in any other industry.

While you won’t need any special training to become a nurse manager, it can be helpful. You’ll need to first be a Registered Nurse and have some years of experience and a BSN. A master’s degree, although not required, can help increase your chances of landing a management job and set you apart from the competition.

#5. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

As a nurse practitioner who specializes in psychiatry, you can earn an average salary of $113,000 according to PayScale. For anyone interested in mental health, this is both a rewarding and well-paid career.

You’ll need to obtain your MSN before you can begin your practice, but those who are interested in becoming a psychiatric NP go on to complete further more specialized education.

Psychiatric NPs work with physicians and provide counsel to patients regarding mental health issues or mental disabilities. You may work with patients who suffer from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or any other mental disease or disorder.

With mental health issues rising rapidly amongst young people, psychiatric nurses are in high demand. As society turns to accepting mental health help rather than scorning it, this demand is only expected to rise as more individuals seek out psychiatric help.

#6. Pain Management Nurse

Many people suffer from chronic pain and spend their whole lives working to alleviate or ease their pain. While pain management nurses were only recently recognized as a specialty, the work they do to help those who suffer from chronic pain is extremely important and appreciated by their patients.

The salary for pain management nurses is around $109,000 annually as per Indeed. As with every other specialty, where you choose to work and your experience in the field will affect your salary and you may make more. The highest paying states are located along either coast with New York, Washington state, and Oregon coming in at the top.

To become a pain management nurse, you’ll need to earn your BSN and become a licensed Registered Nurse. After this, you’re free to begin specializing in pain management.

Take Advantage of the High Salaries in Nursing

There are dozens of specialties to choose from in nursing but as you can see, some of them will pay higher than others. If you’re willing to put in extra time and work on earning a higher degree, then you’ll have more opportunities available to earn a higher salary as well as higher base pay.

Even if you’re already working or have been for a few years, there’s no time like the present to redirect your career and switch to a specialty that you’ll not only enjoy, but benefit more from!

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