The Highest Paying Jobs For Nurses With a BSN
The average salary for a Registered Nurse is $71,730, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). And although the BLS does not actually differentiate between salaries for RNs who also have their Bachelor’s and those who have an associate’s or become a nurse through a diploma program, in most cases, there is more earning potential for BSN-prepared nurses.
But just how much can you expect to make if you have a BSN as a nurse? Let’s find out.
BSN Salary: How Much Do BSN Nurses Make?
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s (AACN) most recent 2019 report found that the number of BSN-prepared nurses is at an all-time high of 56% of all RNs. And according to a 2019 survey by Medscape, there was a pretty big difference in pay between RNs who had their Bachelor’s degrees and those who did not.
>> Related: 15 Highest Paying Nursing Careers
RN vs BSN Salary
- RNs with Bachelors: $80K per year
- RNs with Diplomas: $78K per year
- RNs with Associates: $75K per year
Medscape also pointed out that the reason that diploma-prepared RNs are reporting higher salaries than associate-prepared nurses is most likely due to years of experience, as opposed to education and positional wage increases.
In general, if you’re an RN who also holds a BSN, you can expect to make more as a staff nurse. This isn’t always the case, of course, and it varies by facility, but because many hospitals and healthcare facilities are prioritizing hiring BSN-prepared nurses, they may offer higher salaries and/or sign-on bonuses and incentives for new employees.
For example, even as a brand-new, fresh-out-of-college 22-year-old nurse, because I had my BSN, the hospital that hired me for my first job offered me pay that reflected four years of experience. I was able to start my pay higher, simply because I graduated with my BSN under my belt already.
Which BSN Job Makes the Most?
Not all jobs for nurses with a BSN are created equal. Some of the highest paying positions for RNs with their BSNs include:
Pharmaceutical RN - $83,486
Pharmaceutical RN's earn an average salary of $83,486. This might include positions such as pharmaceutical reps, consultants, or nurses working on the development of new medications.
Nurse Informatics - $77,791
Nurse Informaticists earn an average salary of $77,791. In this role, RNs analyze and work with electronic medical records systems.
Nurse Case Managers - $71,772
Nurse case managers earn an average salary of $71,772. In this role, RNs are responsible for coordinating many aspects of patient care, such as coordinating services and supplies they may need upon discharge and follow-up appointments.
Nurse Administrators - $65,000 - $100,000
The average salary for nurse administrators varies, but can be anywhere from $65,000 to $100,000 per year. Nurse administrators oversee and supervise specific areas of a hospital. In some cases, you may need to go onto earn your Master’s for this role.
>> Related: Nurse Administrator Career Guide
Factors that Affect BSN Salary
There are many factors that can affect how much you will make as a BSN-prepared nurse, from what state you work in to what specialty area you choose. According to the BLS, RNs of all types earn the most in the following areas:
Top paying industries for RNs
- Pharmaceutical industry: Mean salary of $95,400.
- Federal governmental: Mean salary of $89,430
- Business school, computer, and IT training: $85,920
- Aerospace product and parts management: Mean salary of $84,530. If you’re confused by how this relates to nursing, you’re not alone--only 0.02% of this industry is made up of RNs, so clearly, it’s a highly specialized area.
- Legal services: Mean salary of $82,790
- Outpatient care centers: $79,230
It’s also worth noting that the BLS reports that only 5% of RNs work for the government, and 18% work in ambulatory centers, which may account for those higher-than-average wages. Anytime you’re working in more specialty areas, you have the ability to earn more.
Increase Your BSN Salary Potential With Advanced Certifications
As a BSN/RN, you also have the opportunity to pursue advanced certification in specialty fields that you work in, which can drive up your salary even higher.
For example, if you’re a NICU nurse, you could earn your ACCNS Neonatal certification, or if you’re a critical care nurse, you could become CCRN-certified. Any type of advanced certification, along with your BSN, increases your earning potential.
Highest Paying States for Nurses with a BSN
Lastly, what state you work in will affect your salary. The BLS lists the following states as paying the highest salaries to RNs, although you do have to keep in mind that their numbers include Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, like Nurse Practitioners:
- California: Annual salary of $106,950
- Hawaii: Annual salary of $98,080
- D.C.: Annual salary of $92,350
- Massachusetts: Annual salary of $92,140
- Oregon: Annual salary of $91,080
The BLS also does not track salaries of self-employed nurses who hold their BSN, so there may be many other fields you could explore with your BSN as an entrepreneur as well, from consulting to medical writing to supplementing with a side job, like resume writing for other healthcare professionals.
Is a BSN Degree Worth It?
If you’re trying to decide if you should pursue your BSN or stick with an associate’s program, there is no one right answer for everyone--maybe you have a family and need to get your RN as quickly as possible to begin working, or maybe you’re limited on time or funds right now.
What we can say, however, is that getting your BSN, whether you choose a BSN program right from the get-go or work towards it over time, opens up more opportunities for your career, including the ability to earn more money. Considering the fact that, in some cases, getting your RN with an associate’s can take almost the same time as a BSN (depending on waitlists, prerequisites and program length), it may be worth you looking into getting your BSN right away.
If that’s not an option for you, however, advancing your education with a BSN is almost always worth it, and will open more doors for you to pursue your passions as a nurse, better serve your patients, and earn more money with your degree.