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    8 Highest Paying Jobs For Nurses With An MSN Degree

    Life isn’t a comparison game, but if you’re into comparing numbers when it comes to salary, here are some facts: MSN nurses usually make more money than RNs without Master’s degrees. 

    Overall, you can expect to see a pretty significant increase in salary after earning your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, especially if you go on to pass an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse certifying exam. As compared to Registered Nurses (RNs) with Bachelor degrees, for instance, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) points out there is a more than $42,000 difference in salary between nurses who have their MSN. Here is more information about what you can expect to make if you pursue your MSN, what specialties are available, and the factors that could affect your take-home pay. 

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    How Much Do MSN Nurses Make?  

    While RNs with a Bachelor’s or less earn an average of $71,370 per year, according to the BLS, MSN-prepared nurses who go on to become nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners earn an average of $113,930 as of May 2018. 

    Despite the fact that MSN-educated nurses tend to earn a higher salary, the salary range does vary widely depending on what you choose to specialize in and the scope of practice for the nurse. For example, a nurse anesthetist working in a high-level hospital will most likely earn more than a family NP working in a rural clinic. 

    Which MSN Degree Pays The Most? 

    A Master of Science in Nursing degree is just that—a Master of Science in Nursing degree. That means that no matter what specialty track you pursue, with an MSN, you will receive the same foundation of advanced nursing education that will include community and public health, ethics, research, clinical skills, and leadership. 

    However, despite the fact that all MSN programs will include the same basic foundation of knowledge, the specialty track you choose for your degree will dictate the specifics that you will learn in your program. Choosing an administrative degree will lead to a curriculum centered more on leading a team, while a specialty track will focus more on the clinical skills you will need in your role. 

    Some of the types of MSN degrees available, ranked in order of expected salary, include: 

    1. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). Nurse anesthetists have one of the highest salaries of MSN nurses, with the BLS reporting an average annual salary of $174,790. 
    2. Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). The mean salary for nurse-midwives—who care for pregnant patients and work in reproductive and gynecological health—is listed as $106K by the BLS.
    3. Nurse Practitioner (NP). There are also many different specialties available for NPs—they can choose to specialize in areas such as family practice, pediatrics, mental health, acute care, emergency care, gerontology, dermatology, and much more. The exact specialty you choose will again determine how much money you make, but in general, the highest-paid specialties are in psychiatric health, pediatrics, gerontology, neonatal, and orthopedics. Payscale lists the average salary for an NP as $93k, but that can easily exceed six figures in high-demand specialties.
    4. Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS). Salary.com lists the salary range of a CNS as anywhere from 95K to $115K. As the title of this job indicates, Clinical Nurse Specialists have high levels of expert knowledge in their field, thus commanding a higher earning power as well.
    5. Nurse Administrator. While the BLS does not keep data on nurse administrators specifically, it does list the average salary for medical and health service managers—which would definitely include nurse administrators—at over $99K.
    6. Clinical Nurse Leader. A nurse in this position will most likely advance quickly and be able to earn more. For instance, Payscale found that clinical nurse leaders with 10 years of experience can earn around $88K.
    7. Nurse Educator. A Nurse Educator may work in an academic setting, instructing nursing students pursuing their own degrees, or in a clinical setting, such as a hospital, leading staff on educational updates. The BLS notes that post-secondary nursing educators earn an average of $81K. 
    8. Informatics Nurse. This degree focuses on the intersection of computers and clinical care, so it’s a good fit for nurses who enjoy working with technology. Payscale lists the average salary for an informatics nurse as around $77K, so it’s on the lower end, but it is an emerging and in-demand field, so it is expected to have high growth and earning potential. 

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    Factors That Affect The MSN Salary

    As we previously mentioned, there’s plenty of factors that can impact the actual salary you will earn with an MSN degree. Websites such as the BLS, report the average salary but just like with any average, you have to keep in mind that there are always high and low salaries within that range as well. 

    Some of the factors that can affect what you will actually earn with an MSN degree include:

    • Specialty - the specialty you choose will greatly impact your pay
    • Hours - if you work full or part-time
    • Setting - what setting you choose to work in, i.e., a doctor’s office, hospital, your own practice, surgical center, or an academic institution
    • Shift - Choosing to work days, nights, or swing shifts
    • Geographic location—MSN nurses in rural areas may make less than a highly-populated city, for example. Forbes lists the highest-paying states for NPs as California, Alaska, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Hawaii, Minnesota, Connecticut, Washington, and Wyoming. 

    Is an MSN Degree Worth It? 

    There are a lot of different factors that can influence the exact number you will bring home on your paycheck with an MSN degree, but one thing is for sure: no matter what specialty you choose or area you work in, MSN nurses typically make at least $40k more than registered nurses with a BSN - the national average wage of $52,145. So, if you do choose to pursue more education with an MSN degree, you will be making a smart investment in your financial security—as well as a difference in your patients’ lives. 

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