The Highest Paying Nurse Specialties

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A nurse practitioner at work.

Whether nursing is your calling or just your career, you likely have financial obligations and a desire to live comfortably. Furthering your education by pursuing an online MSN degree may equip you to thrive as a professional in one of the highest paying nursing specialties.

According to a article, which gathered much of its data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest-paying nurse specialties are:

  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
  • General Nurse Practitioner
  • Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
  • Pain Management Nurse
  • Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Certified Nurse Midwife

Let us examine these one at a time to learn more about these careers, what they pay, and how those involved in them can maximize their earning potential:

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

CRNAs, who work alongside surgeons and other doctors to provide anesthesia for patients, make an average of $164,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, in some states, the mean wage for this occupation is significantly higher. In Montana, which offers the highest pay for CRNAs, the pay hovers around $242,000. Wyoming and California are the two other states in which CRNAs frequently make more than $200,000 per year.

A Business Insider article about why nurse anesthetists make so much money quoted one person in this profession who said, “You need to be highly motivated, highly educated, and extremely detail-oriented — and on top of that you need to be extremely personable.”

General Nurse Practitioner

Statistics from the BLS state that general nurse practitioners, who strive to help patients achieve overall wellness, make an average of over $104,000 per year. As is the case with other nursing specialties, however, the pay can vary widely from state to state. The highest paying state is California, where the annual mean wage is over $124,000.

Many factors could influence how much NPs make, including whether the state allows them to practice without physician oversight and the NP’s level of experience.

Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

Nurse Journal listed this career, which focuses on care for elderly patients, as the sixth-highest paying nursing specialty. It generally offers a salary of between $70,000 and $90,000 per year. A separate Nurse Journal article notes that extra skills, such as being multilingual, can increase the pay in this profession to over $100,000.

It is possible that the pay for gerontology nurses may continue to increase as demand for this career rises. An article from Scrubs Mag notes, “By 2050, the population aged 65 and over is projected to be at least 83 million, more than double the number of senior citizens in 2012. This ongoing growth of the population of people over 65 has led to concerns about a gerontology nursing shortage.”

Pain Management Nurse notes that the average wage for pain management nurses, who specialize in therapies that ease chronic pain, is just over $90,000 per year. Part of the reason behind the high rate of pay is that these nurses are often flexible; they can work in a variety of health care settings, including hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and rehabilitation facilities.

A statistic mentioned on says that roughly 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. That is nearly four times the number of people who suffer from diabetes and almost 10 times the number of people who suffer from cancer.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

According to, psychiatric nurse practitioners make roughly the same amount as pain management nurses. However, according to PayScale, the median wage for this profession is nearly $98,000 per year. The highest-paid psychiatric nurse practitioners make over $140,000 per year.

An article from the American Psychiatric Nurse Association states, “At times, the role of a [psychiatric nurse] with a master’s degree may overlap with that of a psychologist, social worker, and psychiatrist.” As is the case with all nursing professions, this may be a challenging career, but it can offer significant personal and monetary rewards.

Certified Nurse Midwife

Certified nurse midwives do more than help deliver babies. They may provide a full range of primary care for women. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people in this profession take in a mean salary of just over $102,000 per year. California, Iowa, and New Jersey are the highest paying states for this profession. Nurse midwives might work in hospitals or private clinics. Some choose to open their own practices.

The job outlook for all types of nursing jobs may be promising, but it is especially so for nurse midwives. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a growth rate of 31 percent is expected in upcoming years. This rate is much higher than the average rate for all occupations. It is even faster than the growth rate for registered nurses, which the BLS projects at 16 percent.

Other Well-Paying Nurse Specialties

There are other nurse specialties that may offer a substantial paycheck. Some of those listed in’s article, along with their average salaries, include:

  • Family Nurse Practitioners, who focus on primary care for families – $84,240 per year
  • Informatics Nurses, who manage health care data and technology – $83,000 per year
  • Clinical Nurse Specialists, who may provide direct care within a number of different specialties – between $75,000 and $85,000 per year
  • Nursing Administrators, who serve as nurse leaders – $79,064 per year

Nurses who focus on caring for children are also paid well. For example, pediatric endocrinology nurses earn an average of $81,000 per year, according to Scrubs Mag.

The pay for any nurse may depend on several factors, not just the nurse’s specific title. Experience, the employer, state regulations, and the nurse’s certifications may all come into play when determining pay.

Choosing the Specialty That Is Right for You

If you are a nurse, you may be thinking about furthering your education in order to augment your paycheck. However, it might be wise if you think about more than the potential increase in pay. For example, while gerontology nurses get paid well, they might face emotional challenges that occur less often in other forms of nursing. Understanding yourself and your interests can be an important first step in deciding which specialty you want to pursue.

Once you’ve decided to earn an advanced nursing degree, choose a school that caters to your needs and provides you with a quality education. Learn more about Maryville University’s Online Master of Science in Nursing degree program. We offer five specialties, including adult gerontology primary care, adult gerontology acute care, psychiatric mental health, pediatric primary care, and family nurse practitioner.


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