15 Highest Paying Nursing Jobs in 2024
Are you interested in becoming a registered nurse (RN)? Or, are you already a nurse but want to enhance your salary potential? If so, you're likely wondering how you can earn the highest nurse salary - And you're in the right place. We've compiled the highest-paying nursing jobs of 2024 in this comprehensive list to help you make money moves in your nursing career.
Not only will we discuss which nursing careers pay the most, but we'll also detail each job's education requirements, career outlook, and where you can work in these roles. Read on to learn more about how to make the most money as a nurse in 2024.
Highest-Paid Nursing Jobs:
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist - $203,090
- Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse - $136,592
- Pain Management Nurse - $124,006
- General Nurse Practitioner - $121,610
- Certified Nurse Midwife - $120,880
- Health Policy Nurse - $120,333
- Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner - $117,870
- Registered Nurse First Assistant - $106,176
- Nursing Administrator - $104,830
- Family Nurse Practitioner - $102,107
- Gerontological Nurse Practitioner - $96,198
- Intensive Care Unit Nurse - $92,568
- Clinical Nurse Specialist - $87,359
- Informatics Nurse - $83,780
- Nurse Educator - $78,580
How Much Do Nurses Make?
The median annual RN salary in the United States is $81,220, per U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports. But that figure spans all types of nurses, including the lowest and highest-paying nursing jobs, with some of the highest-paid nurses earning over $200K annually!
Factors Impacting Nursing Salaries
How much you earn as a nurse will also depend on where you work. For example, the average nurse salary in California is much higher than in South Dakota across all specialties. This also applies to the type of facility that you work at, with nurses in certain industries earning more than others.
Additionally, your nursing salary will often increase with more education. On average, nurses with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree will earn much more than those with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
The Highest Paid Nurses in 2024
What is the highest-paid nurse? Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists! Earning $203,090 annually, CRNAs earn significantly more than any other type of nurse or nursing specialty.
What does a nurse anesthetist do? This highly skilled profession involves preparing and administering anesthesia to patients in collaboration with surgeons, anesthesiologists, dentists, podiatrists, and other qualified healthcare professionals, according to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists.
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Salary
The median certified registered nurse anesthetist salary is $203,090 per year, according to 2022 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. CRNAs typically work 40 hours per week, making the hourly wage average approximately $97.64 per hour*.
Career Outlook for CRNAs
The CRNA field will grow by 9% from 2022 to 2032, according to the BLS.
Requirements to Become a Nurse Anesthetist
Be prepared to hit the books in order to achieve a degree from an accredited nurse anesthesia educational program and, upon completion, pass the National Certification Examination.
Currently, you do not need a doctoral degree to practice as a CRNA. However, the Council on Accreditation announced that by 2025, all practicing CRNAs must have a doctorate. As of this year, all master's CRNA programs will transition to doctorate programs to meet this requirement.
Employers include hospitals, clinics, free-standing surgical centers, ambulatory centers, pain management centers, and staffing agencies.
If you love caring for babies, consider becoming a NICU nurse. This specialty commands a strong salary, especially for advanced practice nurses.
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Nurse Salary
The average annual NICU nurse salary is $136,592, according to ZipRecruiter. Those with a BSN, more experience, and advanced certifications have higher earning potential. NICU nurses typically work 36 hours per week, giving them an average hourly rate of $66*.
Career Outlook for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Nurses
Both advances in technology and the frequency of premature births have contributed to a strong job outlook for neonatal nurses.
Requirements to Become a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Nurse
While you can get neonatal unit experience as a staff RN, earning either a neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP) or neonatal clinical nurse specialist (CNS), designation is how the real advancement takes place. However, advancing your education with a graduate degree can help you earn a higher salary. Nurses who wish to earn certification without an advanced practice degree can earn their RNC-NIC.
NICU Nurse Jobs
Employers include hospitals, private practice, birth centers, neonatal intensive care units, well-baby units, newborn nurseries, private consultants, private duty baby nurses, pediatric outpatient clinics, and staffing agencies.
Pain management nurses help manage a patient’s pain post-surgery or work with patients who have chronic pain issues. They work within a healthcare team to help determine the cause of the pain and the proper course of treatment while also educating patients about pain management and avoiding addiction or dependence on prescribed medication.
Pain Management Nurse Salary
The average yearly salary for pain management nurses is $124,006, according to Indeed. Pain management nurses typically work 40 hours per week, making their hourly wage approximately $53*.
Career Outlook for Pain Management Nurses
Because pain management nurses can work in a variety of healthcare settings -- hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, and nursing homes -- the demand for this skill is strong. As the population continues to age, the need for experienced pain management nurses will only continue to rise.
Pain Management Nurse Requirements
While an advanced degree isn’t necessary to become a pain management nurse, sufficient experience as an RN is required to vie for the Nurse Practitioner certification for Pain Management Specialists.
Pain Management Nurse Jobs
Employers include hospitals, drug counseling centers, drug dependency clinics, rehabilitation centers, oncology clinics, sports rehabilitation facilities, long-term care facilities, fitness centers, and staffing agencies.
As a general nurse practitioner, you can choose to open an independent practice or work in a variety of primary care settings. You can also advance your nursing skills and your earning potential along the way. General NPs can later specialize in a field if they wish.
Nurse Practitioner Salary
Career Outlook for Nurse Practitioners
Nurse practitioner jobs (which include general) are expected to grow 45 percent through 2032 (BLS). Add to that the option to work independently, and the outlook for this specialty is robust.
Requirements to Become a Nurse Practitioner
A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is the minimum degree requirement for becoming a nurse practitioner, followed by earning nurse practitioner licensure as specified by your state.
Nurse Practitioner Jobs
Employers include hospitals, clinics, urgent care, outpatient clinics, private practice, and staffing agencies.
For RNs who love obstetrics, labor and delivery, and prenatal care, becoming a certified nurse midwife is the perfect career path. CNMs mostly work in OB/GYN offices, clinics, or hospital settings, but many open their own practices depending on their state of practice.
Certified Nurse Midwife Salary
Career Outlook for Certified Nurse Midwives
From 2022 to 2032, the BLS predicts there will be a need for 500 new CNMs, which represents a 6% growth in the profession.
Requirements to Become a Certified Nurse Midwife
To practice certified nurse midwifery, nurses can go through the American Midwifery Certification Board to earn the Certified Nurse-Midwife and Certified Midwife designations.
Certified Nurse Midwife Jobs
Employers include hospitals, freestanding birthing clinics, private practice clinics, and staffing agencies.
If you are passionate about health and public policy, becoming a health policy nurse will let you take on the tasks of advocacy, research, analysis, policy development, implementation, and evaluation.
Health Policy Nurse Salary
ZipRecruiter states the average national salary for health policy nurses is $120,333 as of September 2023. Nurses who work in this field often work as consultants, which makes the salary potential endless.
Health policy nurses can snag flexible schedules, which means you can work as much or as little as you wish in this role. However, on average, they work 40-hour weeks, which translates to about $58 an hour*.
Career Outlook for Health Policy Nurses
With so much attention on healthcare policy, there is no better time to take this career route.
Requirements to Become a Health Policy Nurse
After earning your MSN, you’ll have to complete a 10-week health policy residency program in government offices, advocacy organizations, or community groups.
Health Policy Nurse Jobs
Employers include hospitals, occupational health, case management offices, infection control, international health organizations, research, private practice, government offices, law practices, and staffing agencies.
For nurses with an interest in mental health, working as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) allows you to work with psychiatric physicians and counsel patients regarding mental health disorders. PMHNPs also work with patients who suffer from a combination of mental health disorders and substance abuse issues.
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Salary
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners earn a median annual salary of $117,870 (Payscale, Sep 2023). Generally, PMHNPs work 40-hour weeks, making their average hourly wage approximately $67*.
Career Outlook for Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners
The need for improved mental healthcare continues to gain national attention, and the demand for adolescent psychiatric services is increasing. Therefore, we expect PMHNPs to be highly sought-after healthcare professionals for years to come. Additionally, as substance abuse continues to rise throughout the country, PMHNPs will need to become well-versed in both mental health and addiction issues.
Requirements to Become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is the minimum degree requirement for becoming a nurse practitioner, followed by earning Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner licensure as specified by your state.
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Jobs
Employers include hospitals, mental health units, inpatient psychiatric hospitals, outpatient clinics, and staffing agencies.
A registered nurse first assistant (RNFA) is a perioperative nurse who functions as a first assistant during surgical operations. The role and responsibilities of an RNFA will vary greatly based on the institution. Large academic teaching hospitals might not employ as many RNFAs due to residents and fellows.
Registered Nurse First Assistant Salary
The average salary for a registered nurse first assistant is $106,176, as of August 2023, according to Salary.com. But the range typically falls between $96,060 and $118,287. The salary range varies based on years of experience and the location of the position. RNFAs typically work 36 hours per week, making their hourly wage approximately $57*.
Career Outlook for Registered Nurse First Assistant
With the overwhelming number of outpatient surgical centers opening across the country, the need for well-trained RNFAs is rapidly growing. Therefore, the career field outlook is positive.
Requirements to Become a Registered Nurse First Assistant
Before becoming an RNFA, you must earn substantial perioperative experience. This advanced training builds upon basic fundamentals, focusing on surgical anatomy, procedures, and techniques.
You must have a CNOR certification, an active and unencumbered RN license, a bachelor's degree, and 2,000 hours of RNFA working experience to become a certified RN first assistant.
Registered Nurse First Assistant Jobs
RNFAs can work in ambulatory surgical centers, hospitals, outpatient same-day surgery centers, private offices, research, staffing agencies, and product development.
A nurse administrator deals with the backstage operations of nursing, from budgeting and staff management to HR functions.
Nurse Administrator Salary
Nursing administrators earn a median salary of $104,830 per year, as of May 2022, according to the BLS. Nurse administrators typically work a minimum of 40 hours per week, making their hourly wage approximately $50*.
Career Outlook for Nurse Administrators
Employment of medical and health services managers (of which nursing administrators are a part) is projected to grow 28% from 2022 to 2032, according to the BLS.
Requirements to Become a Nurse Administrator
Usually, a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration is required, as is state licensing. Some Nursing Administrators will also have a master's in Business Administration.
Nurse Administrator Jobs
Employers include hospitals, private practice, healthcare companies, clinics, and staffing agencies.
Family nurse practitioner (FNP) roles are most similar in function to a primary care physician. FNPs typically perform many of the same functions as an MD -- working in a medical office, hospital, clinic, or nursing facility. Their responsibilities include patient consultations, assessments, prescribing medications and treatment, and more.
Family Nurse Practitioner Salary
Career Outlook for Family Nurse Practitioners
Through 2032, nurse practitioner jobs will grow by XX% (BLS). FNPs are part of this growth and, since they focus on family practice, will always be in demand at various healthcare facilities. Additionally, in more than half the states in the US and in the Veterans Administration (VA) system, FNPs can practice autonomously.
Requirements to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner
You must hold an advanced nursing degree to practice as an FNP and have one of two family nurse practitioner certifications. Read our comprehensive guide to learn more about FNP-C vs FNP-BC differences.
Family Nurse Practitioner Jobs
Employers include hospitals, clinics, freestanding ambulatory centers, urgent care, and staffing agencies.
Older patients have a unique set of health issues requiring specialized care. RNs who prefer working with elderly patients should look no further than the adult-gerontology nurse practitioner career.
Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Salary
Payscale reports the median annual salary for this specialty to be $96,198 as of December 2022. AGNPs typically work 40 hours per week, making their hourly wage approximately $51*.
Career Outlook for Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioners
The aging population, longer life spans, and more access to long-term care options mean there will be a greater need for nurses who specialize in caring for older patients. With the Baby Boomer generation reaching the age where this kind of care is necessary, there has become a sudden surge in the need for AGNPs.
Requirements to Become an Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
To become an AGNP, you must obtain at least a Master of Science in Nursing and earn the Certified Gerontological Nurse Practitioner (CGNP) credential.
Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Jobs
Employers include hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, urgent care, nursing homes, retirement communities, and staffing agencies.
ICU nurses deal with life-and-death cases every shift, which means that being one requires a specialized skill set. They often work in hospital ICUs, but you may also find them in other areas of nursing. Critical care roles are coveted nursing positions because you must excel at nursing, critical thinking, and staying calm under pressure to get them.
ICU Nurse Salary
The average annual salary for ICU Nurses was $92,568 as of September 2023, according to ZipRecruiter. However, the range typically falls between $55,500 and $129,000. New nurses generally start at the lower end of the pay scale before quickly moving up. Critical care nurses typically work 36 hours per week, making their hourly wage approximately $45* on average.
Career Outlook for ICU Nurses
When you hear about nursing shortages, the biggest areas in need include adult critical care units, pediatric and neonatal ICUs, and emergency departments. Therefore, ICU nurses will generally have no problem finding work.
Requirements to Become an ICU Nurse
You must have a registered nursing license in your state to become an ICU nurse. This process includes completing an accredited ADN or BSN nursing program and passing the NCLEX-RN.
Most hospitals will offer specific training for intensive care nurses to ensure they are confident in their abilities. Although you don't need any specialized credentials to begin working in the ICU, the CCRN certification exam will help you advance in the field.
ICU Nurse Jobs
Employers include hospitals, managed care facilities, outpatient surgical centers, administration, research committees, cardiac catheter labs, post-anesthesia care units, emergency departments, cardiac centers, urgent care clinics, short-term stay hospitals, and staffing agencies. Critical care nurses can specialize in adult critical care, pediatric critical care, or geriatric critical care.
Those who wish to work in a specialized unit or clinic should consider the clinical nurse specialist (CNS) path. As a CNS, you won't just get to diagnose and treat various conditions - you'll also get the satisfaction of being an expert within your healthcare team.
Clinical nurse specialists focus on improving the status of nursing as a given healthcare facility. They conduct research and enhance the care provided at their workplaces.
Clinical Nurse Specialist Salary
According to Salary.com, the average salary for clinical nurse specialists in the United States is $87,359. However, the average CNS salary can range between $62,500 and $101,500. Like many other types of nurses, they typically work 40-hour work weeks, making their average hourly wage about $42*.
Career Outlook for Clinical Nurse Specialists
Because clinical nurse specialists offer specialized care at a lower cost than a physician, more and more hospitals and institutions will be seeking to add these professionals to their teams.
Requirements to Become a Clinical Nurse Specialist
A clinical nurse specialist must earn a Master of Science in Nursing with a specialization in clinical nursing.
Clinical Nurse Specialist Jobs
Employers include hospitals, clinics, private practices, and staffing agencies.
Nursing, meet technology. Nursing informatics is one of the most in-demand nursing fields with unlimited growth thanks to the ongoing implementation of electronic medical records.
According to the American Medical Informatics Association, nursing informatics integrates nursing with the management of information and communication technologies to promote public health.
Nursing Informatics Salary
Career Outlook for Informatics Nurses
The AMIA estimates a growing need for nursing informatics and specialists. They predict the field may grow by up to 70,000 new analysts in the next five years.
Requirements to Become an Informatics Nurse
To get into nursing informatics, expect to earn a Master of Science in Nursing or a Master’s in Information or Computer Science.
Informatics Nurse Jobs
Employers include hospitals, healthcare technology companies, medical record companies, clinics, and staffing agencies.
At some point, you may wish to transition from patient care to nurse education. If working directly with other nurses to train them or facilitate continuing education sounds appealing, becoming a nurse educator could be a good fit.
Nurse Educator Salary
Nurse educators can earn a median yearly salary of $78,580, as reported by the BLS in 2022. Nurse educators typically work 40 hours per week, making their hourly wage approximately $38*.
Career Outlook for Nurse Educators
Nurse educators are experiencing shortages that experts predict to continue. As the need for more educators grows stronger, you'll find plentiful opportunities to transition from the hospital floor to the head of a classroom. Currently, there are thousands of open nurse educator positions at undergraduate and graduate levels.
Requirements to Become a Nurse Educator
Nurse educators must hold a master’s degree at minimum, although many earn a doctoral degree as well. Nurse educators can also earn national certification in their field.
Nurse Educator Jobs
Employers include hospitals, private practices, hospital-based nursing programs, universities and colleges, healthcare companies, clinics, and staffing agencies.
BONUS! 5 More High Paying Nursing Careers
In case you didn't find what you were looking for in the list above, here are five more high-paying nursing jobs to consider.
- Surgical Nurse: Surgical nurses are on the front lines of the nursing profession. Because so much is required of them, those who excel and decide to advance are considered to have entered a specialty area. According to Salary.com, the average annual surgical nurse salary is $104,838.
- Legal Nurse Consultant: Legal nurse consultants work with different law professionals and perform a variety of different services for them. They will often assist in medical malpractice cases, toxic torts, insurance fraud cases, personal injury cases, worker's compensation cases, and criminal cases, among others. Payscale reports legal nurse consultant salaries of $88,048 per year, but nurses in this field can charge upwards of $150 per hour.
- Nurse Researcher: Nurse researchers are in charge of designing and implementing research studies, writing grants for federal and private funding, observing patient treatments and procedures, collecting data, and reporting the data to the nursing community and the public. Glassdoor lists an average salary of $72,482 for nurse researchers.
- Strike Travel Nurse: Travel nursing is one of the hottest and most in-demand careers for nurses who want to explore the country, help save lives, and earn premium pay. The average salary for a strike nurse, according to ZipRecruiter, is $75,776. However, strike nurses can earn over $117,000.
- Per Diem Registered Nurse: Per diem nurses are registered nurses who work on an as-needed basis. These nurses are employees of a hospital or healthcare system and are paid a premium for working hard-to-staff shifts such as evenings, nights, and weekends. They may also be compensated for on-call pay and paid at a higher rate if they are called in to work. According to ZipRecruiter, per diem nurses can earn over $37 an hour, with an average annual salary of $77,797.
Highest-Paying States for Nurses
|State||Hourly Pay||Annual Salary|
Highest-Paying Cities for Nurses
|City||Hourly Pay||Annual Salary|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA||$79.21||$164,760|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||$76.94||$160,020|
|Santa Rosa, CA||$72.67||$151,150|
|Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA||$72.00||$149,750|
Highest-Paying Industries for Nurses
|Industry||Hourly Pay||Annual Salary|
|Wholesale Trade Agents and Brokers||$54.08||$112,480|
|Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing||$53.02||$110,270|
|Nonscheduled Air Transportation||$52.48||$109,160|
|Merchant Wholesalers, Nondurable Goods||$51.62||$107,360|
Not interested in nursing? Check out the 10 highest-paying healthcare jobs in 2023!
Highest-Paying Nursing Jobs FAQs
Which nurses make the most money?
- The highest-paid nursing specialty is a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), averaging an annual salary of $203,090. However, travel nurses of any specialty may be able to make close or more than that, depending on the specifics of their contracts.
Can a nurse be a millionaire?
- It is possible for a nurse to become a millionaire, but they would need to take on a high-level leadership position and/or other income streams, such as becoming an entrepreneur.
How can a nurse make $100K?
- An RN can make $100K in an advanced practitioner position, such as becoming a CRNA, NP, or CNM, becoming a nurse manager, travel nurse, or taking on a second income stream.
What nurses are the happiest?
- Advanced practice nurses, including nurse midwives, clinical nurse specialists, and CRNAs, all report the highest levels of job satisfaction.
The salaries listed are highly generalized. Nurses can expect to see major variances based on geography, experience, and a number of other factors.
When calculating hourly wages for nurse salaries, we used the following formula: For a nurse working 40 hours a week, we estimated 52 of those would be working weeks. 40 hours/week multiplied by 52 weeks/year = 2,080 hours per year. The hourly wage is equivalent to an Annual Salary of / 2,080 for a position with a 40-hour workweek. The same formula was applied for careers with a 36-hour workweek.
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