The highest paid nurses are dedicated caregivers with specialized knowledge and a commitment to patients. Those who sit at the top of the salary ladder meet crucial needs within the medical field, lead others, and influence care on a structural level.
In this article, we’ve listed the most lucrative types of nursing jobs, their responsibilities, and reasons why these positions are appealing to nursing professionals.
Highest Paying Jobs for Nurses
1. General Nurse Practitioner
In many ways, nurse practitioners function like licensed physicians. They perform many of the same duties, such as assessing, diagnosing, and treating patients. General nurse practitioners work as part of a team in a variety of clinical settings like hospitals, clinics, and private medical practices. Their responsibilities vary depending on where they work, but can include:
- Examining patients and determining diagnoses
- Developing treatment plans that consider multiple contributing factors
- Providing whole-patient wellness plans that may include nutrition, physical activity, and changes in daily habits
- Referring patients to specialists as necessary
- Prescribing medication and determining the appropriate dosage
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Like doctors, nurse practitioners can specialize in an area of care, which is usually through a specific master’s program and subsequent licensing. Beyond salary, many people are drawn to the role of nurse practitioner because the role allows for long-term relationships with patients. In medical practices, the physician often spends brief periods focused primarily on diagnosis, whereas a nurse practitioner remains involved through wellness visits and follow-ups, making sure that the patients’ needs are met.
2. Certified Nurse Midwife
Certified nurse midwives work as part of an obstetrics and gynecology team. Responsibilities of nurse midwives include:
- Assessing the fertility of patients
- Connecting patients with family planning services
- Providing prenatal care to expectant mothers
- Evaluating development of the fetus
- Assisting in the delivery
- Caring for newborns in the first month of life
Because of the extensive and varied care that occurs in this type of healthcare, midwives are typically required to have a master’s degree.
Many nurses choose to become certified midwives because of the capacity to develop relationships with patients and promote a meaningful level of health. Caring for mothers and their newborns offers midwives the opportunity to promote patient self determination and active involvement in care, an experience that many find professionally rewarding.
3. Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
Advanced practice psychiatric nurse practitioners work in outpatient clinics, hospitals, residential care facilities, and even patients’ homes. Sometimes, they may also work with inmates in correctional facilities. Entering this role requires extensive education and at least a master’s degree. Responsibilities include:
- Evaluating the mental health needs of patients and diagnosing mental health disorders
- Prescribing medications as needed
- Facilitating or coordinating group or individual therapy sessions
- Helping patients work through challenges associated with mental illness
- Managing patients’ long-term care
These nurse practitioners may work with a variety of patients, such as children, adults, and the elderly. Though the salary is substantial, nurses may be drawn to this role because of the ability to make a direct impact on mental health. Psychiatric nurse practitioners help people recover from or successfully manage their mental health issues, allowing them to improve the quality of their lives.
4. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
Certified registered nurse anesthetists are currently the highest paying nursing specialty available. CRNAs may work anywhere patients need anesthesia, such as hospitals, surgical clinics, private practices, and specialist offices. Responsibilities for CRNAs include:
- Evaluating patients and reviewing their medical histories to determine anesthetic needs
- Collaborating with a care team
- Administering anesthesia to patients
- Monitoring patients before, during, and after a procedure
- Communicating the anesthesia process to patients and family members
To accomplish these sensitive and critical tasks, a CRNA must have a high level of technical expertise that is usually acquired through earning a master’s degree. Salary may be the biggest motivating factor for nurses to choose this role, but the option to contribute to research may be another draw. CRNAs can, and often do, participate in and lead funded research to advance their field. Many CRNAs have presented their research projects at national and international meetings. This type of research often leads to publication opportunities in books and peer-reviewed journals.
|Job Title||Average Salary||Job Outlook|
|General Nurse Practitioner||$92,674||36% (all nurse practitioners)|
|Certified Nurse Midwife||$92,092||21%|
|Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner||$101,564||36% (all nurse practitioners)|
|Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist||$143,970||16%|
The highest paying nursing careers have plenty to offer professionals other than salary. If you’re interested in nursing or considering the next steps in your professional journey, take time to look at the best nursing jobs and whether they might be right for you.