Highest Paying Nursing Jobs


We know, you want to get to the money.  Everybody does; however, you should realize that the highest paying nursing jobs may not necessarily be the jobs you are best acclimated to, or most suitable for. That said, we can tell you that there are two kinds of “highest-paying” jobs in nursing: management (where you’re in charge of patients and other nurses) and non-management (where patients are your sole concern).

Highest Paying Non-Management Clinical Nursing Jobs

Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS):  this position needs an advanced RN (registered nurse) who specializes in the research paradigm.  She should be able to read, understand, select and utilize medical information from all sources and extrapolate nursing theory and practices from it.  In addition she may act as patient and facility advocate, liaison, educator and occasional manager (it is difficult to get away from this model, even in non-management, so be aware it is a frequent requirement to be a “manager in training”).   The CNS is trained in a particular specialty, such as AIDS/HIV patients or cancer patients (which would require a CNS of oncology).  Within her particular department and specialty is where she does her research and advocacy. Her annual salary averages $70,000-80,000 (this is variable based on the specialty).

Nurse Practitioner (NP):   This individual is classed as a mid-level provider; like the PA (Physician’s Assistant) she performs tasks that a doctor will sometimes do, but under his limited supervision.   Some states require an NP to perform all tasks directly under a doctor’s orders; others allow the NP to practice independent of the doctor’s control.   They usually provide all primary medical care (and can write prescriptions).   Their average yearly salary is $92,000 and higher, depending on her state and the setting of her medical facility (urban, for example, makes about $10,000 a year more than rural).

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA):  This is a natural step up for an NP or RN; it allows for continuity of care and a relatively stable salary despite state, setting or specialization.   It is also, for all practical purposes, the highest paid non-managerial nursing job available (average annual salary of $100,000).  The CRNA delivers anesthesia to patients during their surgical procedures, one of the most delicate and highly prized skills in the operating field.   You must have top technical skills for this job; the bonus is that, for those who are not keen on patient interaction, there is very little of that during the procedure.

Now, it’s time to consider the salaries and duties of the highest payingnursing jobs of those medical professionals who are comfortable being “the boss.”

Highest Paying Managerial Nursing Jobs

Head Nurse (HN):  As the title implies, this position is a leader over a cadre of nurses, and is responsible for their work, their results and the planning of their shifts and duties.  The head nurse also deals with patients on a limited basis, but is far more concerned with the managerial paradigm of her particular facility and nursing group, including inventories, performance reports, patient records and the parceling out of duties to a nursing staff she directly supervises.   She must be an RN with at least five years of direct and clinical experience, and may specialize in a particular department such as ICU, Obstetrics or ER.  Her median salary is $85,000 and above.

Nursing Director (ND or D of N):  The successful ND/D of N is able to create and implement budgets, design and device master work schedules for all the departments at a facility, set administrative policy for the hospital or clinic, and generally demonstrate excellent abilities in project management, leadership and interpersonal relationships with staff and patients, as well as overseeing and supervising nursing staffs.   The job requires an RN and advanced degrees (at least a MSN), and pays $120,000 and up.

Head of Nursing:  We have come to the top of the salary ladder.  The H of N must have an area of specialty Master’s Degree (or MBA) and at least ten to fifteen years direct medical experience.  She plans, oversees and implements policy on a facility-wide scale and operates as the senior executive management position in any medical organization.  Her salary is $178,000 and higher.

So, out of the Highest Paying Nursing Jobs—did you see yours?  

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