5 Top Paying Nursing Jobs

Nurses who earn degrees through RN programs enjoy attractive salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, outpatient services is the industry with the highest average salary for nurses. However, there are several specific nursing jobs with higher salaries. These are the top five best-paying nursing positions.

1. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

Nurse anesthetists prepare anesthesia and administer it to patients. Since a dosage miscalculation can be fatal, their job requires careful attention to detail, accuracy and alertness at all times. They work with anesthesiologists, surgeons, podiatrists, dentists and other medical professionals. Their average annual salary is upward of $133,000, which makes this the best-paying nursing job in the country. Job growth is projected at about 25 percent between 2012 and 2022 for nurse anesthetists. Nurses who want this high-paying position should plan to earn at least a master’s degree and pass the NCE as well.

2. General Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners often work in physicians’ offices. They see patients for routine care as a doctor would, and they perform many of the same treatment procedures as they would with an RN license in another job. However, some nurse practitioners may pick a specialty focus area and open their own independent practice. GNPs can earn more than $97,000 annually. The demand for GNPs is expected to grow by almost 35 percent between 2012 and 2022. Nurses who want to become GNPs must earn at least a master’s degree and must earn their nurse practitioner license from their state of residence.

3. Nurse Researcher

These nurses usually work with universities, hospitals or private laboratories. They conduct studies, collect data and record their observations. Some of their research may be used to simplify treatment plans, develop new treatment plans and save the lives of patients. These nursing specialists earn an average annual salary of $95,000. However, some specific jobs may pay significantly less. To become a nurse researcher, a doctoral degree is necessary for most positions. The expected growth rate for this specialty is just under 20 percent for the time period between 2012 and 2022.

4. Gerontological Nurse Practitioner

Aging adults have unique health needs as their bodies change. For this reason, they need the specialized care of someone who is trained to understand and recognize these unique changes. Gerontological nurse practitioners examine and treat many non-surgical ailments in the elderly. They also educate their patients on their changing nutrition and exercise needs. The average annual salary for these nurse practitioners is about $95,000. Since the elderly population is always growing, the expected demand for this field stays commensurate with the population. These nurses must earn at least a master’s degree and gain their gerontological nurse practitioner certification.

5. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Nurses who are interested in mental health are good candidates for this position. They work under psychiatrists to counsel patients in a clinical setting. These nurses report their observations to the psychiatrist to help form the best treatment plan for each patient. Psychiatric nurse practitioners earn an average annual salary of about $90,000 per year. The projected growth rate for this field is more than 20 percent between 2012 and 2022. Nurses who want to become psychiatric practitioners should earn at least a master’s degree with an emphasis in psychiatric care.

There are plenty of other nursing careers with great salaries. The median annual wage for RNs in 2014 was more than $66,000 per year in the BLS Occupational Handbook. The first step to success is finding a nursing degree program.

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