Would you like to be making six figures a year being a nurse?

Most nurses go into nursing not for the money but for their passion to help people. Even so, LVNs/LPNs make $47,480 per year while RNs pull in $73,300 annually.

That’s a decent salary by almost any standards.

But in the healthcare industry, there are lots of career paths to follow – and many of those paths make $100,000 a year or more.

The key to these high-paying jobs is education. Nurses are continually learning as medicine and healthcare evolves. And many hospitals offer tuition reimbursement for their working nurses to continue their education.

If you’re willing to put in the time to obtain a master’s degree or specialist certifications, you can not only make more money, but you’ll also make your skills more marketable and provide your patients with a higher quality of care.

So, ready to start on the path of higher training, specialization – and higher pay? We’ve got a list of the highest paying nursing careers currently available.

Here’s a list of the top 10 highest paying nursing careers:

  1. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) $181,040*
  2. Pain Management Nurse $125,511
  3. Neonatal Nurse Practitioner $124,756
  4. Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner $112,700
  5. Physician’s Assistant (PA) $112,260
  6. Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner (CRNP) $109,820
  7. Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) $109,440
  8. Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) $108,810
  9. Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP-BC) $107,656
  10. Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) $106,989

          *sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Salary.com

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

Average yearly salary: $181,040*

A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who administers anesthesia to patients undergoing surgical, obstetric or diagnostic procedures while monitoring their vitals. They also help with pain management and care for patients recovering from anesthesia.

To become a CRNA, you must be a Registered Nurse (RN) with a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). You’ll then need to obtain a master’s degree in nursing anesthesia, complete clinical training and receive certification from the National Boards of Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) .

Pain Management Nurse  Practitioner

Average yearly salary: $125,511

According to the CDC, as many as 20.4% (50.0 million) of U.S. adults suffer from chronic pain.  A pain management nurse is a nurse practitioner who assesses a patient’s pain and administers the appropriate medications. They also teach their patients how to safely and effectively take their medications. Because many pain medications are habit-forming, they may also include alternate pain therapies including acupuncture, massage and biofeedback.

To become a pain management nurse, you’ll need to be an RN with a BSN. Then you’ll need to get certified in pain management through the American Society for Pain Management Nursing. This requires at least two years of experience as an RN, 2,000 hours of experience in pain management and 30 hours of continuing nursing education in pain management.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)

Average Yearly Salary: $124,756

Nearly 1 in 10 babies born in the U.S. are premature. Some babies may stay in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) only a few hours or days while others can stay for weeks or months.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioners are the specialized nurses who care for babies while in the NICU diagnosing, evaluating and managing the healthcare needs of these preemies. They also educate the parents on how to care for their child.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioners have more extensive training than neonatal nurses. They are APRNs with a master’s degree in neonatology or have completed a two-year Advanced Practice Neonatal Nursing (APNN) program.

Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner  (ONP-C)

Average Yearly Salary: $112,700

ONPs (Orthopedic Nurse Practitioners) care for patients with musculoskeletal issues, such as joint problems, broken bones, arthritis, injuries and diseases. ONPs work in nearly every healthcare setting, but often they’ll be working with patients prepping for or recovering from orthopedic surgery. They also work quite often in rehabilitation.

To become an ONP-C, you’ll have to take certification exam. To quality you need at least three years as an RN or APRN, a master’s degree and 2,000 hours of APRN work.

Physician’s Assistant (PA)

Average Yearly Salary: $112,260

Physician Assistants (PAs) are trained as medical generalists, giving them diagnostic and treatment skills in a wide variety of areas. They develop and administer treatment plans, diagnose illness and prescribe medications, serving as the patient’s healthcare provider and advocate.

To become a PA, you’ll need to earn a master’s degree, graduate from a PA program, pass the exam and complete at least 2000 hours of clinical rotations.

Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner (CRNP) 

Average Yearly Salary: $109,820

With projected shortages of physicians by the year 2030 and growing numbers of patients, there is a growing need for Certified Registered Nurse Practitioners (CRNPs).

Nurse Practitioners are licensed clinicians that work autonomously managing patient care and treatment, monitoring health and providing health education. Usually, NPs will follow a specialization for a certain patient population, whether it’s neonatal intensive care or gerontological health. The most common specialization is Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP).

To become a nurse practitioner,  you’ll need a master’s degree or doctorate, be an APRN, complete 1,000 hours of clinical practice and train in a specialization.

Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

Average Yearly Salary: $109,440

A Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) is a specialization to practice family medicine. They are qualified to treat children and adults in a family practice setting. While FNPs can work under a physician’s supervision, many states allow them to work independently. Because patients in a family practice setting are diverse, so are the skills and training of FNPs, often providing the same care services as doctors.

To become an FNP, you’ll need to be an RN and complete a master’s degree with a focus on family medicine.

Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)

Average Yearly Salary: $108,810

Certified Nurse Midwifes (CNMs) are registered nurses (RNs) who have completed an accredited midwifery program. In addition to offering a more natural, holistic approach to pregnancy and birth, CNMs focus on all aspects of women’s health from adolescence through menopause.

To become a CNM, you must first be an RN and then complete an accredited midwifery program.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP-BC)

Average Yearly Salary: $107,656

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNP-BC) provide a wide range of mental health services to individuals, families and communities. They diagnose disorders, provide therapy, give treatments, prescribe medications and assess patients.

To become a PMHNP-BC, you’ll need to be an APRN and obtain a master’s degree or doctorate.

Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)

Average Yearly Salary: $106,989

Clinical nurse specialists (CNS) are APRNs that have specialized in a certain area of healthcare. What a CNS does is very similar to CRNPs with the difference being that they have less autonomy, working more closely with healthcare staff to support and educate.

To become a CNS, you’ll need to work in a specialization as an RN then get a master’s degree on the CNS track, earn national certification and get licensed.


Whatever your reasons for pursing a higher nursing career, whether it be higher pay or more marketable skills, the end result is that you will be giving a higher quality of care to your patients.

And a higher quality of care equals better treatment outcomes – a very noble cause to work toward.


Have some nursing career advice to share? Join us at The Buzz, our online community, and connect with fellow nurses who are just as passionate as you.

You can also check out  NurseHivePrep.com for vital nursing news, education, resources and more.

Share This