The field of nursing is much wider and more varied than one might initially think. Nurses make up the most populous workforce in the healthcare industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and as a result there exist a plethora of specialties and job titles to choose from, each with their own unique perks, pros, and benefits.

We’re guessing that money isn’t the only reason you got into nursing. But if a hefty salary, job stability, and advancement opportunities are at the top of your must-haves list, it will help you to know which careers in the field of nursing will give you the best bang for your buck (or vice versa). Below, we’ve listed the most lucrative nursing job titles, and what it takes to earn them.

[Read More: How to Hire a Nurse]

Highest Paid Nursing Specialties

  1. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) – This highly specialized position in the healthcare industry is also the highest paying job available to nurses. As the description suggests, CRNAs are responsible for administering anesthesia within their scope of practice, and in cooperation with surgeons, dentists, anesthesiologists, and other relevant medical leads. This position requires a high degree of emotional intelligence, cognitive and technical ability, and training.

    Educational requirements: All CRNA positions necessitate that applicants hold a Bachelors (BS) in Nursing, and a Masters (MSN) or Doctorate (DNP) degree.
    Earning potential: Depending on location, a CRNA can expect to earn an average salary of $130,000 a year.
  2. Nurse Practitioner (NP) – NPs are qualified advanced-practice nurses who are able to diagnose illness and injury, and recommend and administer treatment of patients, often in collaboration with primary care physicians and other specialist MDs. Nurse practitioners may choose to specialize in more specific fields, including:
    – General
    – Psychiatric
    – Geriatric and
    – Family
    NPs may work in hospital or clinical settings, or even maintain a private practice.

    Educational requirements: NPs must hold a BS in Nursing at minimum, and either an MSN or DNP.
    Earning potential: Depending on location and speciality, NP’s can earn between $97,000 – 107,480 a year.
  3. Certified Nurse Midwife – CNMs work alongside obstetricians and gynecologists to provide lifelong reproductive, antepartum, and postpartum care to cases. Nurse midwives guide their patients through pregnancy, deliver newborn infants, address complications, and provide postpartum and neonatal care and counseling. CNM’s not only provide expert medical attention, but also emotional support for new and expectant families.

    Educational requirements: CNMs must hold a BS in Nursing, and be certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board.
    Earning potential: Depending on location, CNM’s can earn between $96,970 – 102,390 a year.
  4. Orthopedic Nurse – This ultra-specialized and in-demand field requires nurses who provide care to those patients with fractured bones, arthritis, osteoporosis, and other musculoskeletal diagnoses. ONs treat patients prior to, during, and after surgeries related to the ambulatory systems of the body. While ONs may not necessarily assist in the OR, having certification as a medical-surgical nurse will certainly boost one’s paycheck.

    Educational requirements: Orthopedic nurses must hold either an Associate’s (AS) or BS in Nursing. To assist in surgery, ONs should be certified by the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board.
    Earning potential: Depending on location and level of experience, orthopedic and surgical nurses can earn between $77,492 – 101,034 a year.
  5. Geriatric Nurse – Elderly patients come with a unique set of medical issues and accessibility requirements. Geriatric nurses are specially trained to address and treat older patients. Geriatric nurses may work with single patients, in nursing homes, or in hospitals or clinics.

    Educational requirements: Geriatric Nurses must hold either an AS or BS in Nursing, and should have relevant experience in treating elderly patients.
    Earning potential: Depending on location, GN’s can earn between $94,000 – 100,000 a year.
    [Read More: Gerontological Nurse Specialist Job Description]
  6. Informatics Nurse and Nurse Researcher – These are technically two different fields, but both work towards the same goal of learning from and improving the field of nursing to promote public health. INs and NRs are scientists who use technology and medical practice to gather and analyze data which will ultimately optimize patient care. This is a fast-growing field of nursing, and it is estimated by the American Medical Informatics Association that 70,000 INs will be needed in the next 5 years.

    Educational requirements: NRs must have a BS in Nursing at minimum. INs must have either an MSN, or a Master’s in Information or Computer Science.
    Earning potential: NRs can earn $81,500 a year, and INs can earn $83,000 a year.
    [Read More:Informatics Nurse Specialist Job Description]

  7. Clinical Nurse Specialist – Similar to an NP, CNSs are experts in their chosen specialty, and are able to diagnose ailments, and recommend treatment. They may provide freelance consulting services to clinics, hospitals, or colleagues. A CNS may even specialize in a particular pathogen or condition.

    Educational requirements: CNSs must have an MSN or DNP, and should specialize in clinical nursing.
    Earning potential: Depending on location and level of experience, a CNS can earn between $75,000 – 87,184 a year.

Final Thoughts: Highest Paid Nurses

It’s always a smart idea to take nurse salaries into account when you’re thinking about which trajectory to assume in your nursing career. More than anything, however, a new nurse should consider which fields are best suited to them, and spark their passion for patient care. As you gain experience, your earnings will inevitably grow.

If you aren’t sure where to start, consider signing up with Medely. Medely is a staffing platform which puts nurses in control of their working life. With Medely, you can decide when and where you work, any day of the week. Join now for free by following this link, and take the reins on your career in nursing.