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8 Highest Paying Careers for Nurses in 2020

Nursing is a stable profession that’s in demand everywhere. In fact, there are many different careers for nurses. However, one thing with nursing is that pay rates can vary wildly. It depends in part on your level of education, but it also depends on your area of expertise. There are nursing jobs that pay as much or even more than medical doctors, and you don’t have to work double shifts every day to see that pay rate.

Here are the 8 of the highest paying careers for nurses in 2020.

Nurse Anesthetists

The doctor shortage has driven demand for nurse practitioners to fill in the gap. However, there are even fewer anesthesiologists, even as an aging population requires more surgeries from knee replacements to colonoscopies. 

This is why the average certified registered nurse anesthetist earns roughly $170,000 dollars a year. They may work in hospitals, surgery centers or a pain management center. Becoming a CRNA requires a master’s degree from an accredited program and passing the NCLEX exam. Employment for CNRAs is expected to grow 16% over the next ten years.

Pain Management Nurses

Pain management nurses identify the cause of a patient’s pain, assist in their care, dispense medication and educate patients about pain management. They may work in a hospice, palliative care or oncology wards in the hospital. This area of expertise doesn’t require an advanced degree. However, you will need an RN certification and certification in pain management. Average pay rates hover around $110,000 a year.

Clinical Nurse Specialist

Clinical nurse specialists are also some of the most well-paid nurses in the business. This is a great option for someone who’d like to be near the action and seen as a specialist in their unit. You will be called to work on specific diseases and injuries and will play a central role on your team. One of your responsibilities will also be to improve the standard of care where you are and do some research work as well.

As a clinical nurse specialist, you can expect to make $106,028 per year. And, since many institutions are trying to replace physicians with clinical nurse specialists who can perform most of the same duties, you can expect to see a growing demand for them. As a CNS, you might be asked to work in private practices, hospitals, clinics, and with staffing agencies. Or, you could decide to work as a travel nurse and get paid a premium for your services.

8 Highest Paying Careers for Nurses in 2020

Orthopedic Nurses

Orthopedic nurses work with patients with broken bones, joint replacements and osteoporosis. They may provide treatment, monitor vital signs or keep track of medication. To be an orthopedic nurse, you must at least have a BSN and a registered nursing license. 

The good news is that there are plenty of online BSN accelerated nursing programs that will allow you to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing as quickly as possible if you’ve already completed a non-nursing degree. Then you’d just need to pass the Orthopedic Nurse Certification exam. You will then be qualified to earn over $100,000 a year.

General Nurse Practitioner

General nurse practitioners or NPs can do almost everything a doctor does. In many states, they have the same prescription-writing authority, too. They often work in family practices. Others specialize in pediatrics, women’s health or adult practices. Average pay for a nurse practitioner is around $110,000 a year. 

To become a nurse practitioner, you must earn a master of science in nursing and then complete the state-specific NP licensing practice. Know that demand for nurse practitioners is expected to grow by a third over the next ten years. Demand for NPs specializing in gerontology is growing even faster.

Nurse Midwives

Nurse midwives earn a little over $100,000 a year. They may work in hospitals, birthing centers or even visit patients at their homes. They’re able to provide an expert level of care to their patients throughout the pregnancy. They may also provide fertility and contraceptive services. 

If you want to become a nurse midwife, you will at least need to have an MSN degree. It is advisable to get an additional nurse midwife certification, however. But, once you do, you can expect to find lots of work, especially in rural areas where nurse midwives are in much need.

Nurse Researcher

Nurse researchers are nurses who work in medical research. They may design studies, generate reports or work with patients in medical studies. This job typically requires a master’s degree or doctorate. Median pay is around $95,000 a year. Demand for nurse researchers is expected to increase by 13% over the next ten years.

Working as a nurse researcher is also a great option for senior nurses who want to pull from their wealth of experience. There are many DNP programs that can be taken online that will give nurses the qualifications needed, and these can be taken on your time. This could allow you to stay in your position while expanding your knowledge base and positioning yourself for a researcher spot later on.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Psychiatric nurse practitioners tend to be well paid, and it’s easy to see why. Their job can be very demanding, and no two days are the same. Psychiatric nurse practitioners also need to have the skills necessary to constrain patients and deal with aggressive ones from time to time. Psychiatric nurse practitioners have to play the role of bodyguard, counselor, and caregiver all at the same time, so it’s only right that they get compensated accordingly.

A psychiatric nurse practitioner can expect to make up to $105,658 per year. We can also expect steady growth thanks in part to greater awareness of mental health issues and the raging opioid epidemic.

The average nurse earns a nice pay rate, but there are many positions that can allow you to earn much more just with the right qualifications. Earning an advanced degree or certification in an in-demand specialty could open the door to pay rates in the hundreds of thousands, so always stay informed and consider the options available.

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