Nursing, for all of its difficulties – unruly patients, “code brown” diaper cleanups, unending shifts, testy doctors, and high-stress situations – pays well. And while that’s not the reason that most of us got into the business – we’re caretakers, first and foremost – it’s definitely part of the reason that most of us love our jobs.
According to the United States Bureau Of Labor Statistics, the median wage for a registered nurse was $67,490 in May, 2015 – and projections for future growth in the nursing industry as a whole are strong, given the increasingly-aged baby boomers that now populate clinics, hospitals, and physician practices.
However, not all nursing jobs are built alike – there are quite a few specializations that can drastically boost your earning potential. So if you’re an RN and are looking for a path to a brighter, more well-paid future, we have just the article for you.
We’ve put together a list of 7 of the highest-paying nurse specialties, to help you gain some insight into the job market for nurses and potential fields that you may want to specialize in.
- Nursing Administrator
Nursing administration is a natural next step for many nurses who have their RN, and enjoy the day-to-day administration, staffing, and HR tasks that many supervisors undertake.
The average salary of a Nursing Administrator is around $79K, according to PayScale, providing quite a bit more than the salary of the average RN.
To specialize as a nursing administrator, a master’s degree is usually required in health care administration, as well as licensing by the state medical board.
- Clinical Nursing Specialist
Clinical Nursing Specialists focus on working within a specialized unit or clinic and are able to diagnose and treat various conditions on their own within their chosen expertise, making them experts in health care teams.
The average salary of a clinical nursing specialist (CNS) is around $81K, according to Payscale, edging out nursing administration slightly.
A clinical nurse specialist will require a master’s of science in nursing, as well as a specialization in clinical nursing.
While it’s not easy to specialize in CNS, many physicians are very eager to add these specialists into their teams, to ease the cost of specialized care, so the outlook for this particular field is very bright indeed.
- Informatics Nurse
Informatics nurses are a new breed of nurse, blending integration of nursing knowledge and information with management of IT and communication technology to promote public health.
The American Medical Informatics Association estimates the average salary of $83K for informatics nurses, and the outlook for these nurses is very bright, with an estimated 70,000 specialists required in the next five years.
To specialize in informatics, a master’s of science in nursing or a master’s of science in computer science – or both – may be required, depending on the position.
- Family Nurse Practitioner
Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) have many of the same responsibilities and duties as physicians – such as patient assessments and consultations, and the prescription of medicines and treatment – so it’s no surprise that they make quite a bit of cash.
The average salary of a FNP is $84K per year, according to Payscale, making this, quite a lucrative specialization. Naturally, the requirements for such a specialization are strict – FNPs must be certified by the Family Nurse Practitioner-Board, and usually must have at least a master’s degree in nursing.
- Certified Nurse Midwife
Certified Nurse Midwife specialties are a natural path for labor and delivery RNs who love prenatal care, and they mostly work at OB GYN offices, hospitals, and clinics – though they can also open their own practices.
A CNM can earn nearly $90K per year on average, according the the BLS, and as the US population continues to grow, outlook is good for the future of the profession.
To become a CNM, nurses must go through the American Midwifery Certification Board, and earn their CM and CNM designations. In most states, a master’s degree is required to take these tests and earn a CNM.
- General Nurse Practitioner
General Nurse Practitioners sit somewhere in between RNs and MDs, providing much of the same services as both, with advanced skills that allow them to offer high quality of care. Nurse practitioners can also open independent practices, boosting their earning potential.
The average earnings of nurse practitioners in May, 2014 were around $98,000 a year, and nurse practitioner demand is slated to increase by more than 34% through 2022.
A nurse practitioner will need a minimum of an MSN (master’s of science in nursing), and will then need to pass the nurse practitioner licensure exams as set forth by the state of their operation.
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
As the most specialized position on our list, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists are, by far, the most highly-paid specialist nurses out there today. This profession involves prepping and anesthetizing patients, collaborating with surgeons and anesthesiologists to determine correct anesthetic measures, and other advanced, highly technical responsibilities.
Corresponding with the difficulty of the job is the salary of CRNAs – an average of $133K, according to Payscale. That’s more than twice the salary of an RN, and more than enough to live very comfortably indeed.
However, it’s not easy by any means to become a CRNA. You will need at least a master’s degree in an accredited educational program with a nurse anesthetist specialization, and to pass the National Certification Examination for Nurse Anesthetists.
Understand These Specialties – And Grow Your Career
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being an RN – and the path towards RN-NCLEX certification is a tough one indeed. But, several years out of nursing school, you may see yourself looking for something different – and for a higher pay rate.
If that’s the case, these 7 nurse specialties are great places to start. Though each one requires advanced education and certification, the increased responsibilities and pay grade of a great nursing specialization can provide you with a clear path forward as you continue to grow your career.
So take a look at these specialties – and if one pique’s your interest, start thinking about the ways in which you can fulfill its requirements, and continue to further your nursing career.
This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.