10 Great-Paying Nursing Jobs


nurseNot all nurses stick to 12-hour shifts in hospitals. Once they're in the field, many nurses take additional training to become what's known as an advance practice nurse, taking on new challenges in settings from cruise ships to jails. After about five years, most nurses either leave the field or move up, says Michele Kunz, director of nursing education at Mercy Medical Center in Long Island, NY.

Where median annual pay for experienced registered nurses is $56,100, according to online salary database PayScale.com, earning additional credentials often leads to higher salaries. And, in addition to a bigger paycheck, some of these specialties offer the added benefit of work outside the hospital, such as in schools and emergency helicopters. For all nurses, a bachelor's of science degree lays the groundwork for moving up, and a master's degree in their specialty usually follows. Overall, demand for nurses is forecast to rise 22 percent by 2018.

Here's a look at some of the best-paid nursing specialties:

1. Nurse anesthetist

Nurses with critical-care experience may go back to school for this lucrative specialty, Kunz says. Nurse anesthetists combine nursing skills with knowledge of how to safely administer anesthetic.

Average Salary: $144,821

2. Nurse practitioner

With the ability to treat patients and prescribe medications, nurse practitioners work in pharmacies, doctors' offices and emergency rooms, says Kunz.

Average Salary: $86,774

3. Clinical nurse specialist

Clinical nurses may care for patients or offer expert consultations in areas such as psychiatric health.

Average Salary: $82,117

4. Nursing informatics analyst

The economic stimulus bill passed last year requires hospitals to have the ability to share patient records online. As a result, Kunz says, "There's tons of opportunity" for nurses who can combine medical knowledge with computer training, working for medical-records software vendors or hospitals' records departments.

Average Salary: $80,596

5. Nurse educator

Nurses need ongoing training throughout their careers, notes Kunz, and must re-certify regularly in some specialties. An emerging workplace for nurse educators is mobile simulation labs that tour to hospitals to provide specialized training with lifelike mannequins.

Average Salary: $71,292

6. Nurse case manager

"A lot of nurses who want to get away from the bedside get into case management," says California-based health care recruiting expert Nadia Gruzd. "Here, they're dealing with the families – someone could be running out of insurance, or they need a plan for who will pick the patient up. They're managing the patient's case." Some case managers also work for insurance companies.

Average Salary: $68,032

7. Certified dialysis nurse

Dialysis nurses love the 9-to-5 schedule they can work at dialysis clinics, says Gruzd, a breeze compared to hospital shifts. Dialysis nurses are also in demand on cruise ships – a far more desirable workplace than a hospital.

Average Salary: $63,500

8. Flight or transport nurse

In rural areas, a helicopter, small plane or lengthy ambulance ride may be required to get patients to a hospital. A nurse needs to accompany the patient to see to their medical needs en route. Gruzd says some hospitals offer higher pay to transport nurses who work night or weekend hours, or who have Advanced Cardiac Life Support certification.

Average Salary: $63,246

9. Certified legal nurse consultant

This niche gets nurses out of the hospital and into lawyers' offices, providing medical expertise for lawsuits.

Average Salary: $62,100

10. Registered nurses

Registered nurses looking for more pay can also forgo the specialized training if they're willing to relocate – at least temporarily – to an area where their specialty is in short supply. Known as travel nursing,it's popular with younger nurses who don't have family they'd have to leave behind, Kunz says.

Average Salary: Pay varies depending on the distance traveled and conditions where the nurses will work.

"You can go to Hawaii for a couple months and be a nurse," says Kunz, "plus get a great salary and room and board."

Next: The Highest-Paid Medical Jobs >>

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Business reporter Carol Tice (www.caroltice.com) contributes to several national and regional business publications.

Source: All salary data is from PayScale.com. The salaries listed are median, annual salaries for full-time workers with 5-8 years of experience and include any bonuses, commissions or profit sharing.

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As an RN for 22+ years, I can honestly say that I still LOVE what I do. Almost done with my BSN (finally!) and then going on to either my CRNA or ARNP. Those who get into Nursing for the money won't last; money isn't everything. God Bless ALL of you: the CNA's that make my job easier, and the CNA's, LVN's/LPN's, RN's, CRNA's, NP's, PA's, DO's and MD's who do what you (we) do - it's truly a calling!

November 06 2015 at 2:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rose Marie

What a joke. Did you interview any dialysis workers I.e. nurses, techs, when you complied this. It is not a breeze, we Don't work 9/5! Clinics open at 5 am until 10pm and if you are doing nocturnal dialysis you open at night. We walk six miles a.day just on the floor, we work in high stress environments. Visit a dialysis facility during turnover then decide. Dialysis is not for the faint of heart or those who don't want to run their entire shift. God forbid you have a water issue and have 25 patients coding and crashing at the same time.

March 26 2014 at 6:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tara Rahman

Should lawyers make a higher salary than nurses? Sure, their job is to defend you from going to jail/paying a fine, but is that really....http://ogibogi.com/node/12005 for details.

June 08 2013 at 1:43 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Tara Rahman

Should lawyers make a higher salary than nurses? Sure, their job is to defend you from going to jail/paying a fine, but is that really......http://ogibogi.com/node/12005 for details.

June 08 2013 at 1:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nursing Career

Nursing Job search in the career sector.
Nursing Career

December 27 2010 at 2:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jane Smith

One of the nurses commenting on this blog had an affair with my considerably older physician husband. She borrowed money, or maybe it wasn't supposed to be a loan all, whichever it was she obviously wasn't making enough money as a nurse.

July 11 2010 at 10:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I will soon be entering the nursing field and from my current point of view this is why: Nurses have job security and benefits. Nurses make a reasonable wage. Yes they work hard - but that makes for a better person. Nurses care for others and sometimes feel the rewards of that and at other times, don't. Ultimately, nursing beats a lot of other jobs out there. It's not horribly expensive to get a nursing degree, they are in high demand, and reasonably respected.
Bright side people. It could be so much worse... especially in our economy.

June 29 2010 at 4:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Angela Colbert

Hi my name is angela i have to children iam 19 i just got my ged and i am on w2 i am in deprate need of help with paying for cna training if anyone knows how i can get fre cna classes pleaseeeeeeeeeee email me ar angelacolbert123@yahoo.com

June 15 2010 at 10:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have been a nurse for 14 years got burned out working at the hospitals. The last time i worked at the hospital in med/surg floor,I was given 15 patients even though i protested, i was supposed to end my shift at 8am when my relief came i was able to do my notes, I finished at 12pm. Now i do marketing for a home health company for the last 2 years and work 9/10am-4pm M-F weekends/holidays off and make triple what i was making as a nurse in a hospital..also no stress...

May 28 2010 at 1:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jesse's comment

Does your company have any openings?

July 27 2011 at 8:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Lesson from an old nurse...
I have been an LPN for 31 years. I have tried to go back to school 5 times to get my RN. I have an Autistic son who has been sick and disabled for 29 years and I was in 2 car truck accidents, ( I was in the car) and caring for parents by my self for 8 years... time has not been on my side. When I had the time I had to spend money on caring for loved ones. When I had the money I was injured. I have gone to work with braces on my legs and walkers. I have never missed a scheduled day of work in my life and I usually work 6-7 days per week. I would still love to get my RN, it opens so many more doors/respect if you love health care RN's & LPN's often do the same work ( In Illinois) and I was able to make 121,000 per year doing high tech. I made the mistake and moved to Arizona to work for the same company I worked for in Illinois on the promise of the same wages. My resume is extensive, yet I have been treated like an idiot. I am told I am over qualified. They want new grads. I was a new grad once and I was paid well, not any more. All nurses need to check their social security and do some financial planning. You can work all your life...hard work, being responsible for people's lives and if you need SSDI or retire you will be in for a shock if you have not made over 80,000 for years. If you are single, or widowed as I am you need to make good wages to have a comfortable life and pay your own medical bills or those of loved ones. Get as much education as possible! The opportunities are endless in nursing! I work at an Adult Foster Vent home. My boss is an RN and I am the only other nurse and the rest of the staff took a week long class on seniors, all of our pts are not seniors. Hope to leave AZ ASAP! Pretty state, crazy healthcare system! I was also told my credits were too old and I had to start over when I applied to colleges out here. Do what is best for your future when you are young and have your health. I am in constant pain and still trying to work and find a way to go back to school at 52. Good luck everyone and God Bless!

May 28 2010 at 1:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Donna's comment

I am a LPN 14 years i got burned out working at hospitals/home health. I do home health marketing which is very easy i only work from 9am til 4pm M-F weekends/holidays off and make double of what my wife makes as a RN. My job is to find patients for the home health company.

May 28 2010 at 1:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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