Choosing a course of study is one of the most critical life decisions you’ll have to make. To make the right choice, you need to consider your interests, goals, and skill-sets. Next, you should select the study option that reflects them.
For example, if you’re interested in healthcare and possess problem-solving skills, nursing may be the best profession for you. But that’s not enough. It would be wise to consider other factors like duration of the study, career prospects, and employability.
The best careers should suit your personality and allow you to offer real value. It should also afford you the kind of life you deserve. So, let’s take nursing—it ticks the boxes for value, excellent career prospects, and job scalability.
But does it pay enough to keep you comfortable? What would be your earning capacity if you studied nursing? What branch of nursing pays the highest? We’ll answer those questions as this article runs its course.
How Much Can You Earn With A Nursing Degree?
Earning capacity for nurses is relative and can range very widely. There’s no standard fixed fee on how much money you’d make as a nurse. It will depend on your qualifications, specialty, workplace, and many other factors.
However, a nurse’s salary is great. That’s more so when you compare it to that of other occupations. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) puts the 2019 median annual wage for a Registered Nurse (RN) at $77,460. That’s significantly higher than the average salary of all occupations.
BLS also puts the mean annual earnings for registered nurses at $73,300. That indicates that half the nurses earn less than that amount and another half receive more. The average salary range for all nurses is $52,080 to $111,220.
You have enormous chances of unlocking higher salary levels when you further your education and gain a specialization. For instance, Nurse Anesthetists earn a mean and median annual wage of $181,040 and $174,790. Nurse-midwives have their average yearly salary at $108,810, while Nurse Practitioners make an average of $111,840 every year.
The Highest Paying Nursing Jobs in 2021
There’s only so much you can earn as a registered nurse with a bachelors’/associate’s degree or diploma in Nursing. You can advance your nursing career and earning capacity by obtaining a master’s or doctorate. Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) provide specialty care and make more money than RN’s.
However, even among APRNs, there’s a significant gap in earnings based on the aspect of specialization. Let’s take a look at the top five nursing jobs by salary in 2021:
1. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
CRNAs earn an average of $181,040 every year, making them the highest-paid nurses in America. Nurse Anesthetists administer anesthesia to patients undergoing a surgical procedure. They are usually required to have a Registered Nurse license in the state they are practicing. A Master’s in Nursing Anesthesia, and national certification from NBCRNA is compulsory.
2. Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
Gerontological Nurse Practitioners are multi-disciplined primary healthcare providers for older adults. They help their aged patients to manage the physical and mental-social conditions that develop from aging. Most of them work in nursing homes and patients’ homes or set up private practices.
Gerontological Nurse Practitioners must have a Masters in Nursing with an emphasis on Gerontology nursing. They must be RNs with Nurse Practitioner Certification from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners or the American Nurses Credentialing Center. All of this makes them second on our list of the highest-paid nurses, with an estimated annual salary of $119,647.
3. Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
With an average annual salary estimate of $117,634, Psychiatric-mental Health Nurse Practitioners make our list of top-earning nurses. Also called psychiatric nurse practitioners, they’re APRNs that specialize in helping their patients cope with varying chronic psychiatric disorders.
They access and diagnose mental conditions and substance abuse problems. They also engage in psychotherapy. To become a psychiatric nurse practitioner, you must first become a registered nurse. Next, you must get an MSN in psychiatric-mental health nursing with PMHNP-BC certification.
4. Nursing Administrator
As the name implies, a Nursing Administrator performs administrative roles in healthcare facilities. Their roles typically emphasize staffing coordination. They supervise other nurses’ work to achieve a top-notch, optimal-functioning healthcare delivery system. They also oversee finance, compliance, and human resources in healthcare.
Nursing Administrators are usually APRNs with a nursing (or business) administration specialization and NE-BC or ANCC certification. Their average annual salary is $115,160.
5. Certified Nurse-Midwife
CNMs earn $108,810 yearly, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Also, BLS projects that CNM jobs will grow 12% through 2029. That’s significantly faster than average.
Certified Nurse-Midwives are specialists in women’s reproductive health and parturition. They offer gynecological and pre/postnatal care for their patients. They are registered nurses with MSN specialization in midwifery and certification from the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB).
Factors That Influence Nurses’ Earnings
Not all nurses of the same specialization earn the same. The disparities in their earnings may depend on these conditions:
1. Experience Levels
Many nurses gain promotion based on expertise and years of experience. This translates to higher wages in the long-term.
Like in sales, demand and supply can affect a nurses’ salary. Cities with higher demands for nursing services pay higher than places with high nurse-concentration.
Some States pay nurses higher than their counterparts. For example, on average, registered nurses in California are the highest-paid nurses in the United States. RNs earn the least in South Dakota.
4. Size of Facility:
The United States BLS suggests that a health facility’s size can influence overall staff earnings. Typically, large hospitals tend to pay higher than smaller ones.
5. Work Hours
Many health practitioners receive their wages per work hour. In this arrangement, a nurse’s earnings are directly proportional to the work hours.
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