14 Highest Paying Nursing Jobs in 2023

May 17, 2023


Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Chief Resident in Anesthesiology, Weill Cornell Medicine, & Admissions Officer, Columbia University

Reviewed: 03/03/23

Nursing offers amazing job opportunities with varying requirements for education, certification, and skill-levels. Wondering which jobs come with the best paychecks? Keep reading to learn more about the highest paying nursing jobs in the US.

Nursing is a noble and rewarding career that requires hard work and dedication. For those who strive for career advancement, certain specialties offer a promising path. By gaining additional expertise, nurses can move into higher paying jobs to take their careers to the next level. 

Read on to find the answer to the question, “what are the highest paying nursing jobs?”

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Highest Paying Nursing Jobs

Here are the 14 highest paying nursing jobs. Keep in mind that the highest ranking jobs on this list often involve more demanding and challenging work. But don’t let that discourage you! If you’re up to the challenge, these careers can be incredibly rewarding.

1. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

Why are Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) the top-paying nursing job? 

As a CRNA, you'll be part of a dynamic healthcare team that includes anesthesiologists. Together, you'll prepare and administer anesthesia to make sure surgeries go smoothly. It’s a demanding but rewarding role that requires a high level of skill and expertise.

CRNAs make a median annual salary of $195,610. The position requires you to obtain a master’s degree in Nurse Anesthesia and complete the NBCRNA exam to meet the necessary medical standards to begin practicing. The career outlook for CRNA is extremely bright, with a projected 45% over the decade. 

2. General Nurse Practitioner

General Nurse Practitioners operate as entrepreneurs in the nursing industry since practitioners often start or own their practice. They typically go into forms of primary care, such as family practices, pediatrics, and urgent care private businesses. However, nurse practitioners also find work at a hospital or private practice not owned by them.

General Nurse Practitioners earn a median annual income of $120,680. You’ll need a Master of Science in Nursing and a state-specific practitioner’s license to start this career path. The job outlook for NPs is extremely bright, projected to grow 45% over the decade. 

3. ICU Nurse

Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Nurses work in a high-pressure environment, providing care for critically ill patients who are often in life-or-death situations. Given the intensity of the job, ICU nurses are among the highest paying nursing jobs for their skills and the high demand for their services. 

As the name suggests, these nurses work for hospitals in the ICU and other departments as needed. On average, ICU Nurses make $120,243 annually. New nurses start on the lower end of the pay scale but earn more with experience. 

ICU Nurses don’t need any education requirements to advance into the position but should strongly consider being CCRN certified. ICU Nurses are in constant demand, which reflects positively on their job outlook.

4. Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse

Similar to an ICU Nurse, Neonatal Intensive Care (NIC) Nurses are stationed in intensive care units, but care specifically for newborns and babies. NIC Nurses work in various locations, from general hospitals and birth centers to different types of private practices. 

NIC Nurses make $118,586 on average annually. To become a full NIC Nurse, you must earn a neonatal nurse designation as a Registered Nurse (RN). The career has a strong outlook due to technological progress increasing the job’s significance. 

5. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

If you’re more interested in the mental health side of healthcare, becoming a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) could be the right choice. PNPs work to treat mental health disorders and related addictions. You’ll find them in facilities like hospitals wings, clinics, and agencies dedicated to psychiatry and treatment. 

As one of the highest paying nursing jobs, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners average about $113,114 annually. PNPs must attend an accredited program for a Master’s in the Science of Nursing and earn a state license. With the rise of mental health awareness in America, the demand for PNPs has grown, giving them a bright career outlook. 

6. Certified Nurse Midwife

Becoming a Certified Nurse Midwife is the fastest track for a nurse to jump into obstetrics. As a certified Midwife, you’ll work with OB/GYNs in clinics or hospitals, serving women from pregnancy to delivery. 

Certified Nurse Midwives make an average annual salary of $112,830. To become certified, you must go through the American Midwifery Certification Board to earn the designation. Certified Nurse Midwives have a promising career outlook, expecting 45% growth over the decade. 

7. Clinical Nurse Specialist

Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) are nurses that have earned a master’s degree to work exclusively within a specific clinic or hospital department. As healthcare experts, CNSs can diagnose and collaborate with patients on their treatment plans as healthcare experts. They often conduct research and offer advice on the operation and management of their hospital.

Clinical Nurse Specialists make an average annual salary of $112,267. They need a Master of Science in Nursing and must specialize in their field through the program. Like the rest of the healthcare industry, Clinical Nurse Specialists have a bright career outlook.  

8. Pain Management Nurse

As a specialization, Pain Management Nurses work with post-operation and chronic pain through illness. Guiding patients through their pain is the primary role of PMN. They often work with a team of nurses on their patient's treatment or recovery. Expect to work a lot with seniors as a Pain Management Nurse. 

Pain Management Nurses earn an average annual salary of $110,420. RN must gain experience and work towards certification to become Pain Management Specialists. However, they do not need a master’s degree. These nurses are a part of a favorable job market, as there will always be a need for pain management in healthcare. 

9. Registered Nurse First Assist

Registered Nurse First Assists, or RNFAs, take point as the head nurse behind the doctor during surgery. Their skill set calls for a substantial perioperative understanding.  The need for RNFAs can be situational, depending on the structure of the hospital and the number of doctors. 

RNFAs make an average annual salary of $101,890. Register Nurses must undergo advanced perioperative training and average 2,000 hours before certification to become an RNFA. The demand for RNFAs is growing, giving this nursing job a positive outlook.

10. Nursing Administrator

Nurse Administrators are the presiding manager over the nursing staff at their healthcare facility. They work throughout the healthcare industry and handle all their employees' financial planning and human resource duties.

Nursing Administrators make an average annual salary of $101,890. The requirements include a Master’s in Nursing Administration and state licensure. The Nurse Administration career has a projected growth of over 32% by the end of the decade. 

11. Family Nurse Practitioner

Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) are licensed healthcare professionals who provide various services, including diagnosing and treating illnesses, ordering diagnostic tests, and prescribing medications.  They collaborate with physicians to provide patient care. 

Family Nurse Practitioners earn an average annual salary of $98,041. To become an FNP, nurses must earn the board-certified designation. The career outlook expects to grow 45% by 2029, showing a promising outlook.

12. Gerontological Nurse Practitioner

Gerontological Nurse Practitioners specialize in providing care to the care of the elderly and addressing age-related health problems. They find employment at most major medical facilities, often at nursing homes and retirement communities. 

The average annual salary of a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner is $90,391. To become a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner, you'll need a Master’s in Nursing and appropriate certification. Modern medicine has enabled people to live longer, increasing the population of older patients and giving the GNP a positive career outlook. 

13. Nurse Educator

The least stressful job on this list is the Nurse Educator. This job involves teaching students and training other nurses on the most current research, techniques, and medical advances.

Nurse Educators make an average of $82,040 per year. Educators require at least a master’s degree, but they’ll often hold a doctorate as a college professor. Currently, there is a shortage of nurse educators, so if you’re thinking of stepping back from patient care to education, it’s a great time to do so.

14. Informatics Nurse

If you have computer science skills, becoming an Informatics Nurse is the perfect way to join the healthcare industry. Informatics Nurses meet the modern tech needs of hospitals by managing medical record databases and information. 

The average salary of Informatics Nurses is $79,531 per year. They can work in various healthcare settings, most notably in medical record companies. Informatics nurses are in high demand, and the field continues to grow as healthcare adopts new technological solutions for record keeping.

Highest Paying States for Nurses

Healthcare will always need nurses. Recruitment remains competitive, and nurses will typically relocate for job offers. The highest paid nurses earn more depending on the need for in-demand positions, which varies by state. 

Below you’ll find the top-ranked states with the highest median annual income for nurses. Note that annual income reflects the average salary of an RN in that state.

Source: Nurse.org, Onet Online Career Outlooks

The data here reflects two trends. Nurses see more demand in high-population cities in states like New York, Nevada, and California. The other trend explains the need for more nurses in isolated states with high populations of living seniors, like Hawaii and Oregon. The listed states offer more pay to nurses to ensure recruitment.

California sits at the top of the ranking for several reasons. The dense urban area in the state's Southern portion creates a high demand for nurses. More people means more demand for healthcare services, making California the state with the highest paid registered nursing jobs in the US.

Highest Paying Cities for Nurses

Below, you’ll find the list of highest paying cities for nurses to work in the United States.

Source: Nurse.org

Judging by this list, it’s easy to see why California has the most demand for nurses in the United States. Southern California’s high population density and large cities affected by the Covid-19 pandemic have led to a shortage of nurses in the state. If you’re looking for one of the highest paying nursing jobs, you should consider openings in California!

Highest Paying Industries for Nurses

There’s a high demand for nurses in industries outside of healthcare. Depending on your educational background, you may be able to expand your career options by changing industries

Below you’ll find the average pay income for nursing in different industries. Note that the average income looks at national numbers.

Source: Nurse.org, Bureau of Labor Statistics Registered Nurses

Each industry offers jobs for nurses that are non-typical roles. Listed below are some examples.

Non-scheduled Air Transportation

The non-scheduled air transportation industry offers a unique career as a Flight Nurse. Patients in critical conditions occasionally need transportation by air to ensure they receive timely treatment. Flight nurses oversee the patient during that air time while managing the challenges of providing healthcare mid flight.  

Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing

Not interred in healthcare? Try a Nursing Career in Pharmaceutics. Nurses work as researchers, educators, consultants, and salespeople in this industry. Rather than providing for patients, you’ll ensure that the drugs used to treat them are safe for consumption and ready for market use.

Federal Executive Branch

The US Executive Branch offers various nursing opportunities through federal agencies, the military, and healthcare facilities run by the Veterans Health Association and the Department of Human and Services Health. These job opportunities can be found on USAJOBS.

Nurses can also become a part of the military. After becoming an RN, you can contact a recruiter and start the application process. As a military nurse, you'll have the chance to provide care to troops while serving at military bases across the globe.

Office Administration Services

Nurse Administrators may pursue job opportunities outside of healthcare. They can work in clerical roles at medical billing facilities, insurance companies, specialist clinics, and nursing homes. In these positions, they use their medical knowledge to understand patient needs and requirements while performing various administrative tasks.

FAQs: Highest Paid Nurses

Below, you’ll find common questions about the industry’s highest paying nursing jobs. 

1. Which Nurses Make the Most Money?

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists make the most money, earning an average of over $190,000 yearly. Their role requires highly educated experts to meet the demands of proper surgical anesthetic management.  

2. How Much Do the Highest Paid Nurses Make?

The salary for the highest paid nurses can range from over $100,000 to close to $200,000 annually. Factors such as location, experience, specialty, and education can impact earnings.

3. What Is the Easiest Nursing Job That Pays Well?

It is difficult to definitively determine the easiest nursing jobs that pays well, as it can vary based on several factors such as location, employer, level of experience, and education. However, some nursing positions that may offer a good balance between ease of work and compensation include nurse educators and administrators. 

These roles typically involve less direct patient care and more work with students and other healthcare professionals, but still require a strong foundation in nursing knowledge and skills.

4. What Nursing Positions Have the Highest Job Satisfaction Rate?

The best jobs for nurses that report high job satisfaction include nurse educators, home health nurses, midwives, OR-perioperative, and pediatric nurses. However, keep in mind that job satisfaction is subjective and can be influenced by factors such as work-life balance, job security, salary and opportunities for advancement.

5. What Are the Most Difficult or Skill Intensive Nursing Jobs?

The most difficult and skill-intense jobs in nursing are the ones with a unique specialization and or high-stress work environments. These include Certified RN Anesthetists, ICU, Operating Room, and Psychiatric Nurses.

6. How Do I Find a Nursing Job?

Even though most nursing graduates are hired within the first 6 months of graduation, finding a nursing job can still be challenging. You can start by utilizing large job boards with numerous nursing job openings to increase your chances.

Final Thoughts

Starting as an RN is a solid foundation for a career in healthcare. If you're interested in exploring some of the highest paying nursing jobs, many of these roles require specialized certifications and designations. 

Some of these positions may be demanding, with high stress environments, but also offer distinction and compensation that can be attractive to many nurses. It's important to consider the unique requirements and challenges of each role, and determine which career path is best for you. 

Best of luck in your nursing journey!

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