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Highest Paying Nursing Jobs in 2021

June 10, 2021

Due to a dire nursing shortage around the world, qualified nursing professionals are in high demand. That should be good news for anyone thinking about becoming a registered nurse. 

The best nurses love people and work hard. Nurses spend a lot of time on their feet so comfortable shoes are a must, but the salary and benefits are well worth the effort. Nurses earn well above the national average, and with specialization, nurses can earn as high as six figures. Nurses also enjoy medical and retirement benefits like 401k matching and sick pay. 

The best part about becoming a nurse is that the jobs are plentiful once you obtain the necessary licensure and certification. Healthcare facilities around the country are hungry to fill nursing roles. You might get offers from hospitals, home health care centers, long-term care facilities, and private medical offices. You may even find yourself working inside patients’ homes, depending on your specialization. Because so many opportunities exist, RNs get to enjoy nearly unlimited job growth potential, and there is no better time to start than right now. 

To help you start on your career in nursing, ProLink Healthcare has compiled a list of the highest paying nursing jobs of 2021. 

Highest Paying Nursing Jobs in 2021

General Nurse Practitioner 

General nurse practitioners work directly with patients to deliver medical services just like doctors. You may find yourself managing patients’ health conditions to prevent future disease. As a general NP, you have the ability to earn an average of $111,840 per year. This position also offers immense job freedom, as you have the ability to choose from a variety of primary care settings, from hospitals and private clinics to educational institutions. Nurse practitioners can further their careers by specializing in a variety of fields such as psychiatry, anesthesia, and pediatrics. To become a nurse practitioner, you need a master of science in nursing (MSN) followed by the necessary licensure in your state. 

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

This role is also referred to as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNP). PNHNPs earn an annual mean wage of $110,030. As a psychiatric nurse practitioner, you would specialize in the mental health needs of adults, children, and families. You would be responsible for helping individuals cope with and manage various psychiatric disorders and illnesses. You would also assist people with substance abuse disorders.

A psychiatric nurse practitioner is considered an advanced practice registered nurse (APRNs). To become a psychiatric nurse practitioner, you must satisfy the education, experience, and state and national certification requirements. The typical requirements for this role include a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) and master of science in nursing (MSN) at the very minimum. Some roles require advanced degrees, such as a master’s in nursing, along with a specialty in psychiatric mental health care.  

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist 

A certified registered nurse anesthetist is responsible for assessing a patient’s safety needs before, during, and after surgery. CRNAs work alongside doctors, surgeons, and anesthesiologists to administer anesthesia to patients as needed. This would involve having certain discussions with patients related to their health history, health conditions, allergies, and medications. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, nurse anesthetist roles are expected to grow by 26% through 2028. To qualify as a CRNA, you need a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) or registered nurse (RN) license and a master of science in nursing (MSN). The annual mean salary for CRNAs is $181,040, making this an in-demand and lucrative healthcare occupation.  

Nursing Administrator 

A nurse administrator is another type of advanced-practice registered nurse (APRN). Nursing administrators generally do not work with patients. They work behind the scenes to help hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities operate efficiently. On average, nursing administrators earn an average annual salary of $118,800. To qualify as an NA, you must be licensed as an RN with a postgraduate nursing degree. Your role would be to manage staff and elements like budgets and financial reports. Individuals who excel in this role have impeccable leadership qualities and excellent managerial skills. 

Nurse Educator

Nurse educators are responsible for turning nursing students into tomorrow’s next wave of talented healthcare professionals. It’s common for nurse educators to work as bedside nurses for several years before moving up to the educator role. Nurses who excel as nurse educators have extensive clinical and bedside experience, and many educators continue to care for patients even after falling into their positions. As a nursing educator, you will find yourself developing lesson plans, teaching courses, overseeing students’ clinical practices, and evaluating educational programs. You’ll also serve as a role model for up-and-coming healthcare professionals. Nurse educators earn an average annual salary of $84,060 after two to five years of higher education.  

Critical Care Nursing

Critical care nurses work with patients who have experienced severe trauma and who have life-limiting illnesses and diseases. Your job as a critical care nurse is to provide immediate treatment to patients of heart attacks, strokes, and serious injuries. You may also assist with patient diagnoses, charting, and caring for patients’ overall well-being. Critical care nursing is a demanding job that requires long hours, but the job does pay well. Nurses in this field earn an average salary between $56,000 and $101,000 annually. You can further specialize as a critical care nurse by focusing on burn units, trauma, pediatrics, and neonatal care. To become a critical care nurse, you must have a minimum of a registered nurse license (RN). To become licensed, you must have an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN). While earning your education, you can get started on your career by seeking out internship opportunities or nursing student extensions that put you to work right away in critical care units. 

Certified Nurse Midwife

As a certified nurse midwife, you will also be designated as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). The need for certified midwives is expected to increase by 26% through 2028 and earns an average annual salary of $108,810. To start working in this high paying nursing position, you need to obtain a nurse midwife certification. As a CNM, you will focus on women’s gynecological health, and administer prenatal and postnatal care. A certified nurse midwife also performs gynecological checkups and delivers babies, which makes the job asfulfilling as it is lucrative.

Pain Management Nurse 

Pain management nurses help patients feel more comfortable when the pain following trauma becomes too much to handle. Pain management nurses diagnose the causes of the pain and administer pain medication. The goal of this specialty of nursing is to relieve acute and chronic pain without putting the patient in danger. Pain management nurses also help to respond to what the Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) has deemed a “Prescription Drug Overdose Epidemic” in the United States. Pain management nurses must be able to identify patients with drug dependencies and treat them with special care, while avoiding the risks of over-dependence. To qualify as a pain management nurse, you need an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing (ADN) and your pain management nurse certification. You’ll also have to take the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC) exam with a focus on pain management. Pain management nurses can expect to earn an average salary of $109,001 per year

Clinical Nurse Specialist 

A clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is also considered an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). As a CNS, your job is to act in a supervisory role within a healthcare team, while providing a high level of patient care. Nursing positions for this role tend to require a master’s degree in nursing at a minimum, along with nursing specialization such as neonatal care or ICU. As a clinical nurse specialist, you can expect to earn an average annual salary of $95,437.

Nurse Researcher 

Nurse researchers are scientists whose work focuses on health, illness, and healthcare. As a nurse researcher, you not only get to earn higher than average pay, but you get to be at the forefront of new medical discoveries that help patients live longer and better lives. Your role as a nurse researcher would be to identify research questions, collect samples, analyze data, report findings, and conduct scientific studies. The biggest need today for nurse researchers is in pharmaceutical and medical research. The average national salary for nurse researchers is $97,191 and requires a doctoral (Ph.D.) degree after earning your registered nursing license

Pediatric Nurse 

As a pediatric nurse, you would spend your days caring for the needs of children between the stages of infancy and adolescence. Since so many issues can develop as children grow, this category of nursing requires specialty knowledge and training. Pediatric nurses are required to handle the sensitivities and limitations of the children in their care. The best pediatric nurses are compassionate with a comforting bedside manner. To qualify as a pediatric nurse (another advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), you would need an associate degree in nursing, a bachelor degree in nursing, or master’s degree, whereby you can expect to earn around $123,399 per year

Orthopedic Nurse

Orthopedic nurses specialize in the care and treatment of patients suffering from problems of the musculoskeletal system. These high paying nurses work directly with patients to treat broken bones, torn muscles, and dislocated joints. Orthopedic nurses regularly deal with fractures, sprains, arthritis, TMJ, muscular dystrophy, and fibromyalgia. The average orthopedic nurse’s salary comes to $100,035 annually. To become an orthopedic nurse, you need an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing along with at least one year post-graduate specializing in orthopedic care. 

Neonatal Nurse

Neonatal nurses specialize in caring for babies immediately following childbirth. You may also find yourself caring for babies with infections, cardiac irregularities, and physical defects. More serious problems may require care for infants who have been sent to the neonatal intensive care unit or NICU. To qualify as a neonatal nurse, you need to be licensed as a registered nurse (RN). You must then become licensed as a nursing practitioner (NP) or clinical nurse specialist (CNS). You may also need to be certified in neonatal resuscitation and earn special certificates if you plan to work in the NICU. These specializations will put you in the category of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), which comes with advanced pay. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, neonatal nurses earn an average annual salary of $111,840

Where Should You Work?

Now that you’re familiar with the highest paying nursing positions, you have a major consideration to make. Which nursing career should you pursue? With nursing, you get to make a difference in people’s lives and get paid handsomely for it. Partner with ProLink Healthcare and start searching for your ideal nursing job today.

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