If you are an aspiring nurse, it’s likely that you will already be aware of the necessary skills and nursing credentials needed to succeed. With registered nurses being in more demand than ever, job projections are extremely strong; however, to really thrive in the nursing world, many registered nurses choose to earn additional certifications, obtain advanced degrees, or specialize in a particular field of nursing which can provide a higher salary, job security, and management positions.
If you aren’t sure which career direction to take, having an idea of the best paying nursing careers can help make your final decision easier. To give you more of an insight, here are the top 13 paying careers in the nursing sector.
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
Known as one of the most highly skilled professions in the nursing sector, a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist is responsible for:
- Preparing and administering anesthesia to patients
- Performing spinal, epidural, and nerve blocks
- Providing care before, during, and after anesthesia
- Examining patients’ medical records for allergies or illnesses
- Monitoring vital signs during medical procedures
If you are interested in becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, the average salary currently stands at roughly $175,000 per year, making it the best paying nursing specialty.
General Nurse Practitioner
As a general nurse practitioner, you have the choice to either operate in an independent practice, or work in a variety of primary care environments. The main roles of an NP include:
- Prescribing medication
- Examining patients
- Diagnosing illnesses
- Providing relevant treatment
At present, nurse practitioners can earn up to $108,000 per year. To qualify for this role, you will need to obtain an MSN (Master of Science in Nursing), following by a National Practitioner licensure which will be specified by the state you live in.
Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
As we get older, our health issues become more unique and complex, and require specialized care. If you are a registered nurse who prefers to work with senior patients, becoming a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner may be the perfect fit for you. The median annual salary for this role currently stands at roughly $89,500 for practitioners who have at least one year of experience.
Pain Management Nurse
The main duty of a Pain Management Nurse is to help manage and control patient pain after surgery, as well as work with individuals who experience chronic pain issues. Pain Management Nurses work as part of a healthcare team to help find the root cause of a patient’s pain. Once established, they can provide a proper course of treatment, as well as educate patients about pain management, and strategies to take to avoid dependence, or addiction, to prescribed medication. The average salary for a pain management nurse stands at $60,000 per year.
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
If you are a nurse who is interested in mental health, you may want to consider working as a psychiatric nurse practitioner. Not only will you have the opportunity to work alongside psychiatric medical physicians, your main role will be to counsel patients regarding their mental health disorder. Other duties that you will be expected to carry out include:
- Provide home-based or outpatient care to address sudden changes in a patient’s chronic condition or mental status
- Perform a variety of patient assessments such as physicals, mental health tests, and diagnostic exams
- Serve as a consultant for community groups, healthcare agencies, and corporations
- Collaborate with doctors and make appropriate referrals for patients
As it stands, a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner can expect to earn roughly $108,000 per year. In order to succeed in this position, you will need to obtain a Master of Science in Nursing, followed by a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner licensure.
Certified Nurse Midwife
For registered nurses who love labor, obstetrics, delivery, and prenatal care, working as a Certified Nurse Midwife could be the perfect career path for you. Certified Nurse Midwives tend to predominately work in OB/GYN offices, hospital settings, or clinics. Many CNMs choose to open their own practices too. Some of the main duties of a Certified Nurse Midwife include:
- Providing health care and wellness care to women
- Perform gynecological checkups
- Providing prenatal care
- Helping mothers birth their babies naturally and safely
A Certified Nurse Midwife can expect to earn roughly $104,000 per year, with the job outlook for midwives looking very promising.
Family Nurse Practitioner
The role of a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) tends to be the closest to functioning like a primary care physician. Primarily providing primary or specialty care for patients of all ages, some of the main duties of an FNP include:
- Conducting health examinations
- Providing health education
- Diagnosing illnesses
- Prescribing medication to patients
As of December 2019, Family Nurse Practitioners can expect to earn roughly $98,000 per year. In order to perform as an FNP, you will need to earn an FNP post master’s certificate.
Known as one of the most in-demand nursing careers, an Informatic Nurse is responsible for:
- Tracking the success of quality initiatives
- Analyzing clinical statistics
- Writing policies
- Optimizing system performance
The average salary of an Informatics Nurse stands at $80,000 per year. Also, when you take into account that the AMIA estimates that more than 70,000 nursing informatics analysts/specialists may be needed in the next five years, you can be confident that you will have job security in this position.
Clinical Nurse Specialist
If you are a nurse who would like to work in a specialized clinic or unit, you may want to go down the path of becoming a Clinical Nurse Specialist. Not only will you be responsible for diagnosing and treating a variety of conditions, you will be seen as an expert within your healthcare team. Clinical Nurse Specialists work in a number of clinical practice areas, and specialize in one or more of the following:
- Type of care (rehabilitation, psychiatric, etc.)
- Type of problem (pain management, wound care, etc.)
- Setting (emergency, critical care, etc.)
- Population (women’s health, pediatrics, geriatrics, etc.)
The median salary for a Clinical Nurse Specialist currently stands at $108,000 per year; however, this will depend on the years of experience you have in the field. To qualify as a CNS, you must earn a Master of Science in Nursing, combined with a specialization in clinical nursing.
Known for dealing with the backstage operations of nursing, a Nursing Administrator is responsible for staff management, HR functions, and budgeting to name a few. Some of the main roles of a Nursing Administrator include:
- Overseeing administration and staff meetings
- Preparing and presenting reports and data
- Attending board and committee meetings
- Collaborating with academic and medical partnerships within the community
If you are interested in becoming a Nursing Administrator, you can expect to earn up to $100,000 per year. To succeed in this position, you will need to obtain a master’s degree in healthcare administration, as well as state licensing. There are some Nursing Administrators who possess a Masters in Business Administration too.
Throughout your nursing career, you may wish to transition from patient care into nurse education. If you like the sound of working alongside nurses to train them, becoming a Nurse Educator could be the perfect fit for you. General tasks of a Nurse Educator include:
- Planning and teaching curriculum for graduate-level courses
- Assigning homework
- Lecturing on a number of topics such as pharmacology and community health care
- Overseeing student’s clinical and lab work
- Serving as a mentor on career and academic issues
The average salary of a Nurse Educator is $81,000 per year, with a master’s degree in healthcare administration being required. A Nurse Educator must also have excellent communication skills, listening skills, and understand the importance of time management to ensure their students succeed.
If you love working with babies and caring for newborns, working as a Neonatal Nurse may be the perfect role for you. This specialty not only commands a strong salary, but gives you a strong job outlook too. There are various skills that you must have to succeed as a Neonatal Nurse, such as:
- Excellent interpersonal skills
- Ability to work in highly technical work environments
- A natural interest in newborn infants
- Kindhearted understanding for the parents and guardians of the child
The average hourly wage of a Neonatal Nurse stands at $28.47 to $34.15 per hour, however, this will depend on how many years of experience you have.
Critical Care Nurse
A critical Care Nurse must possess a specialized set of skills, especially as they’re literally dealing with life and death situations on a day to day basis. Critical Care Nurses tend to work in the ICUs in hospitals, however, they can also be found in:
- Step-down units
- Cardiac care units
- Telemetry units
- Recovery rooms
If you are interested in becoming a Critical Care Nurse, the average hourly rate for an ICU nurse stands at roughly $33.18 to $35.80.
Regardless of the nursing career you’re interested in, it’s crucial that you have the right credentials, experience, and skillset behind you which can help you flourish in the role. Make sure that you look into the job specification of each role listed to help you find out more about what the position entails.1