If you are embarking on a career in nursing, know that the field is wide open with opportunities in many specialties. The good news is, even now there is a great demand (expected to rise by 2020) for nurses and the pay is good, as you will see as you scroll down this list.
But perhaps more important, nursing is a very rewarding career emotionally. Making a difference in people’s lives and bringing them hope and cheer is not something that you can achieve in just about any career. The list below reflects some of the better paying nursing jobs, with the average salaries listed (and gotten from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Salary.com).
25. Certified Hemodialysis Nurse
Hemodialysis nurses are trusted with assisting patients living with kidney failure through hemodialysis treatment. These nurses make sure to start, monitor and perform this type of treatment and continuously keep a close watch on the equipment readings for their patient. These types of nurses work closely with other medical staff to ensure that the patient is safe while undergoing hemodialysis treatment for their kidneys. Career opportunities may be available in hospitals, supervised home settings or outpatient dialysis centers.
The job duties of hemodialysis nurses are specifically suited to kidney dialysis treatment. Kidney dialysis treatment is performed on the patient by removing harmful waste from the bloodstream when the patient’s kidneys cannot perform this function. After the operation has been performed, hemodialysis nurses monitor the balance of fluid for their patient as well as educate and care for them daily.
Hemodialysis nurses also work with several types of medical tools that are used in taking care of patients with kidney problems. Such objects include stethoscopes, thermometers and electric monitoring devices. Working with these medical instruments and applying them to a patient’s kidney dialysis care is what hemodialysis nurses do on a day-to-day basis.
Educational Requirement: Associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing
Average Salary: $63,500
24. Perioperative Nurse
Sometimes called operating room nurses, these individuals are specialized registered nurses who provide patient care before, during and after surgery. They’re also active in medical research, nursing education and the management of clinical facilities.
Their specialized duties include several roles; such as, OR director, registered nurse first assistant (RNFA), circulator, scrub nurse, patient educator, etc.The Association of perioperative Registered Nurses performs a regular salary survey of members and non-members, which provides useful data on their salaries and qualifications.
Educational Requirement: Undergraduate degree; plus perioperative specialty nursing certificate
Annual Salary: $65,950
23. Registered Nurse
This is an exploding career. According to a recent CareerBuilder supply and demand report, there are 174,000 job seekers in demand for nearly 878,000 active job openings. The most in-demand skills for nurses currently include electronic medical records and documentation skills, as well as nurses with OR and ICU experience. Strong demand from top employers and competitive salary make RNs the top nursing and allied health job for 2014.
Registered nurses who earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) will experience an even more favorable job market, as many employers are becoming more selective in choosing nurses with a BSN over an associate’s degree. According to CareerBuilder, 31 percent of registered nurses have an associate’s degree, 67 percent have a bachelor’s degree and over 20 percent have a post-graduate degree.
Educational Requirement: Diploma program (usually 3 years) or a bachelor’s degree.
Salary: The median salary range for nursing jobs is $66,000 a year, depending on a variety of factors.
22. Nurse Case Manager
“A lot of nurses who want to get away from the bedside get into case management,” says California-based health care recruiting expert Nadia Gruzd. “Here, they’re dealing with the families – someone could be running out of insurance, or they need a plan for who will pick the patient up. They’re managing the patient’s case.”
Some case managers also work for insurance companies.
Educational Requirement: Bachelor of science in nursing; or minimally an associate’s degree
21. Disease Management Nurses
Can be found across the US, but CareerBuilder* shows that active candidates are highly concentrated in New York City, Chicago and Miami/Fort Lauderdale. Even though the supply of potential candidates compared to open positions available is comparable, disease management nurses are slightly difficult to fill in certain locations due to the unique skill sets required.
Educational Requirement: At least a master’s degree; but might need a master’s degree at some institutions.
Average Salary: $71,100
20. Neonatal Nurse
Over the past 50 years, advances in medical technology have made it possible for more ill and premature babies to survive and thrive. This has expanded the range of responsibilities for neonatal nurses and the spectrum of care they provide. Neonatal nurses formulate, implement and evaluate care plans for these tiny patients for as long as they require. They administer vaccines, medications and diagnostic tests and operate sophisticated medical equipment such as ventilators, incubators and phototherapy lamps. They also maintain patient records, and support and educate parents about their baby’s unique circumstances and future care requirements. These professionals work as part of a neonatal care team whose membership varies depending upon the needs of the infant.
Educational Requirement: At least an associate’s degree in nursing; but experienced neonatal nurses have bachelor’s, master’s, and in some cases, doctorate degrees.
Average Salary: $74,000
19. Clinical Nurse Specialist
Clinical Nurse Specialists develop uniform standards for quality care and work with staff nurses to ensure that those standards are being met. They are required to possess strong managerial skills and an ability to anticipate potential staff/patient conflicts.
A clinical nurse specialist is a multifaceted role including such exciting responsibilities as clinical expert, educator, consultant, change agent, researcher, and project manager. The way the CNS role is implemented is greatly influenced by the needs of the institution and the strengths of the CNS.
Educational Requirement: Master of Science in nursing
Average Salary: $76,000
18. Nursing in Medical Equipment and Supplies Manufacturing Businesses
These nurses consult, test, and help manufacturers develop medical supplies for nurses all over the country to use.
Educational Requirement: At minimum a licensed practical nurse (LPN)
Salary: $80,290. This industry employs 60 nurses last time the BLS checked–that’s just 0.02 percent of all the employees in this industry. Yet, at $38.60 an hour, on average, those 60 nurses earn $80,290.00 a year.
17. Nursing Informatics Analyst
An up-and-coming career, nursing informatics is only going to become more important as technology advances and becomes an even more integral part of the health care field. Technology certainly isn’t going away which could be good news for the field of health care informatics. Find out what this specialized field has to offer in the way of salary and demand.
The economic stimulus bill passed last year requires hospitals to have the ability to share patient records online. As a result, there are many opportunities for nurses who can combine medical knowledge with computer training, working for medical-records software vendors or hospitals’ records departments.
Educational Requirement: Bachelor’s degree, but to advance work towards getting a master of science in health care informatics.
16. Nurses working in Oil and Gas Extraction Field
According to a small blog for nurses considering working with oil companies this job generally requires shifts of six months on and six months off, with cooking, laundry, and cleaning provided by the company. While a six-month vacation sounds luxurious, these nurses do not get any vacation during the six months of work–12 hours every single day including holidays. Many of these nurses simply enjoy the adventure of living offshore on an oil rig and rescuing workers facing dangerous conditions. Some oil nurses enjoy a great deal of autonomy, with a doctor miles and miles away; others work with teams at an oil-drill site on-land.
Educational Requirement: For the most part, need to be a registered nurse (RN).
Average Salary: At least 60 nurses work nationwide for the fossil fuel industry. This huge industry employs 162,570 people according to the industry’s most recent BLS page, so nurses make up just 0.04 percent of its workforce. These nurses earn an average of $80,700.00 a year.
15. Orthopedic Nurse
An orthopaedic Nurse takes care of people with musculoskeletal diseases and disorders like arthritis, fractures, broken bones, joint replacements, genetic malformations and osteoporosis. When musculoskeletal problems require surgery, orthopaedic Nurses assist doctors with the operation and help them later with recovering their mobility and strength.
Education is also an important aspect of an orthopaedic nurse’s job, as they teach patients and families about musculoskeletal disease prevention, symptoms, and treatments.
Educational Requirement: Nursing Diploma, Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
Average Salary: $81,000
14. Pediatric Endocrinology Nurse
The work of pediatric endocrinology nurses deals with a child’s endocrine glands. This means that they commonly work with children with diabetes. They often work in specialized clinics and also in hospitals and pediatricians’ offices. They work with children of all ages who experience some form of delay in their development or growth and also with children who have diabetes, thyroid problems, hypoglycemia and pituitary problems.
Together with a pediatrician, they develop treatment and care plans for the patients. Diabetes is the most common illness that pediatric endocrinology nurses work with, and their role is therefore strongly focused on education and management of that disease, teaching parents and children about healthy lifestyle choices.
Educational requirement: To become a pediatric endocrinology nurse, you must first be an RN. This is achieved by obtaining your associate of science in nursing (ASN) or your bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). The BSN option is becoming increasingly popular, as hospitals and care settings only look for highly qualified individuals. During your ASN or BSN, you should take elective classes in pediatrics and endocrinology.
Once employed, you should seek experience in diabetes education, pediatric nursing, internal medicine and endocrinology.
Average Salary: $81,000
13. Nursing at Wall Street Firms
Working outside of a hospital environment is sometimes extremely lucrative, especially if you can land a job at one of the huge Wall Street firms. Some employ R.N.s to be on hand in case needed.
This is not unusual for large billion dollar companies with an employee base that to put it mildly is under constant stress.
Educational Requirement: Most firms will require the person to be an R.N.
Average Salary: $81,090
12. Certified Nurse Midwife
Nurse midwives provide primary care to women, including gynecological exams, family planning advice, prenatal care, assistance in labor and delivery, and neonatal care. CNMs work in hospitals, clinics, health departments, homes and private practices.
Midwives will often have to work unpredictable hours (due to the unpredictable nature of childbirth). They should have good communications skills and be willing to commit to a holistic approach to patient care.
Educational Requirement: Most programs require a bachelor’s degree for entry, but some will accept registered nurses (RNs) without a bachelor’s degree, providing a bridge program to a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) prior to the midwifery portion of the program. Some programs leading to the CNM credential require a BSN prior to entry, but many will accept an individual who has a bachelor’s degree but is not an RN, and will provide an accelerated nursing education prior to the midwifery portion of the program. Programs leading to the CM credential require a bachelor’s degree and specific health and science courses prior to entry.
Average Salary: $84,000
11. Personal Care Services
These nurses work for various clients who want help performing every day physical tasks like bathing, dressing, and using the bathroom. Medicar does not cover patients who only require these basic services, but personal care nurses could range from LPNs, who provide a few basic medical services in addition to personal care, to RNs, who provide the full gamut of nursing. A number of these high-earning nurses work for celebrity households through agencies like Celebrities-staffing.com. These agencies grade nurses on presentation in addition to license and ability, so nurses must submit their applications via slightly daunting video interviews. Nurses in this area will deal with entrepreneurs, danger-seekers in some cases. So you need to be a patient person, who can put up with imaginably spoiled clients.
Educational Requirement: LPN or RN level.
Average Salary: $85,940
10. Family Nurse Practitioner
Much like a family practice physician, nurse practitioners in this specialty work with patients throughout their lives. They are often the sole healthcare professional for the patient, conducting exams and prescribing medication.
FNPs work in many settings such as schools, businesses and special clinics to make care as available as possible. FNPs responsibilities may be similar to that of a physician. Becoming an FNP generally requires becoming a registered nurse (RN) and earning a graduate degree. FNPs typically need nurse practitioner certification as well, which is required.
Educational Requirement: Varies by state, but many states require at least a Master of Science in Nursing, while Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs are also an option. FNPs are also required to have previously completed registered nursing programs and earned licensure as RNs. You’ll need to complete continuing education in order to retain licensing and certification.
Median Salary: $88,000
9. Pain Management Nurse
This Advanced Practice nurse cares for patients experiencing acute or chronic pain. After Pain Management Nurses assess the source of pain, they work with other nurses and doctors to coordinate treatment and care. Pain Management Nurses are also teachers, showing patients how to help manage their own pain, their medications and alternative ways to relieve their pain.
They also are responsible for educating patients and future pain management.
Educational Requirement: Nursing Diploma, Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
Average Salary: $93,000
8. Cardiovascular Perfusionist
Responsible for maintaining heart and lung functions during surgery, cardiovascular perfusionists monitor blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and blood gases during surgery. While most perfusionists work in operating rooms, some perfusionists work in Intensive Care Units with patients whose heart/lung functions may be compromised.
Educational Requirement: A perfusion training program is required after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in health studies or another health-related field before gaining perfusionist certification.
Educational requirement: Bachelor’s degree, certificate or master’s degree program.
7. Nurse Researcher
Research nurses apply and direct various clinical research projects. Patients are their research subjects, and nurses should primarily be concerned with the protection and care of patients. The ability to organize and prioritize responsibilities while paying close attention to detail is an asset in this position.
Research nurses can also be expected to:
• Compile clinical data and enter it into a database
• Review and assess data collected
• Collaborate with investigators and statistical consultants
• Screen and recruit subjects for clinical studies
• Assist with surgical procedures as needed
Research nurses should possess knowledge of medical and scientific terminology, strong interpersonal and communication skills, the capacity to analyze and interpret data, and the ability to maintain confidentiality. Nurses also need to be comfortable working with potentially infectious and hazardous materials. They must obtain immunizations and take precautions against the spread of communicable diseases.
Educational Requirement: Bachelor’s degree in registered nursing; a clinical research certificate also might be needed.
6. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
Psychiatric nurse practitioners, or mental health nurse practitioners, are advanced practice nurses who serve as primary care mental health providers. They diagnose and treat patients with mental illnesses and can also serve as educators or counselors for medical patients and their families. They may collaborate with a doctor or psychiatrist, but they generally don’t have to work under supervision.
Registered nurses, including psychiatric nurse practitioners, usually work full-time, though their schedules may vary widely. Nurses can be scheduled for 8- to 12-hour shifts and work evenings, nights, and/or weekends. Psychiatric nurse practitioners work in medical care settings, including hospitals, clinics, and mental health in-patient centers. As nurses, they may be exposed to patients with infectious diseases and, as psychiatric caregivers, they are at risk for injury when treating patients who may become violent or emotionally agitated.
Educational Requirement: Master’s degree or post-graduate certificate
Average Salary: $95,000
5. Head Nurse
Whether it’s in an ICU, CCU, OR, ER or obstetrics department, if there’s more than one nurse, there’s usually a head nurse. While still dealing directly with patients, the head nurse is also responsible for patient records, performance reports, inventory levels and the day-to-day duties important to every nursing department.
Educational Requirement: RN with at least five years of direct experience.
4. Nurse Practitioners
Nurse practitioners, also known as advanced practice registered nurses (APRN), are registered nurses with additional education. This extra schooling allows these professionals to take patient histories, perform physical exams, order labs, analyze lab results, prescribe medicines, authorize treatments and educate patients and families on continued care. Nurse practitioners specialize by “population,” such as women’s health or pediatrics. And they can also work in research or academia.
It sounds a lot like the job description for a physician, right? So what’s the difference? The main contrast is the amount of formal education required. Physicians have more, and their breadth of knowledge and their salaries are usually commensurate with their additional work. However, increasingly – and somewhat controversially – nurse practitioners are providing primary care to patients. Many nurse practitioners first worked as registered nurses where their treatment of patients extended to holistic and wellness care, and an NP brings that background to his or her diagnosis, treatment and management of medical issues.
The BLS predicts that by 2022, the field will grow by 33.7 percent, opening up 37,100 new positions.
Educational Requirement: To become a nurse practitioner, an individual must earn a graduate degree. Many graduate schools require degree candidates to gain a few years of nursing experience before being accepted into their nurse practitioner programs. Others allow for students to gain RN work experience while pursuing their graduate degree. In either case, real-world RN experience is an essential element to a future as a nurse practitioner, and provides an important opportunity to explore the wide range of potential areas of specialized practice.
Salary: In 2013, nurse practitioners made a median salary of $92,670. The highest-paid 10 percent earned $126,250 and the lowest-paid 10 percent earned $66,960.
3. Nursing Director
From budgeting to policy setting to scheduling, the nursing director oversees all aspects of a department’s nursing staff and often serves as a liaison between the staff and hospital administrators.
Like any direct supervisory role, the nursing director — also called the nursing supervisor in some organizations — usually rises through the ranks with people skills, project-management ability and leadership aspirations. The nursing director often serves as the nursing program administrator, setting policies and performance standards and directly supervising nursing staff.
Educational Requirement: RN, with advanced degree in nursing
2.Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
A certified registered nurse anesthetist administers anesthesia to patients. They collaborate with surgeons, anesthesiologists, dentists and podiatrists to safely administer anesthesia medications.
• Assesses patient health and responsivity to anesthesia
• Identifies potential risks of anesthetizing a patient, including allergies and overdose
• Calculates precise dosage and titration of anesthetic medicines
• Manage vital functions throughout sedation
• Carefully and clearly communicates with patients before, during and after administering anesthesia
• Supports trauma stabilization procedures during and after procedures
Educational Requirements: Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or other appropriate baccalaureate degree, a current license as a registered nurse. And at least one year’s experience in an acute care nursing setting.
1. Head of Nursing
Combining strong nursing experience with the overall planning, personnel oversight and policy-making duties of a top executive, one of nursing’s top big-picture positions is also one that brings home the biggest bucks.
While the position leans strongly toward the executive end (most hospitals require a master’s degree in nursing and many are hoping for an MBA as well), hands-on nursing experience is also important for conveying the nursing staff’s needs to top management. The head of nursing — also called chief nursing officer or chief nursing executive — reflects the senior nurse management position in an organization.
Educational Requirement: Master’s degree in area of specialty and at least 15 years of experience
Median Salary: $194,000