Looking for a High Nurse Salary? These 5 Jobs Will Get You There

Nurse salary depends on the title you have – as well as the specialized knowledge that you need to properly fulfill that position’s duties.

Supply and demand are also determining factors. You’ll see a high nurse salary in more densely populated areas or places that have fewer nurses in general in the state. You’ll also often find that nursing homes and hospitals pay a bit more on average than other work settings, due to the heavy demand and (generally) longer shifts.

5 Highest Paying Nursing Positions


Based on a 40-hour workweek, these top-paying positions earn the following per year:

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA)


Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) come in as the top earners in the nursing field with an average of $181,040/year ($87.04/hr) – this is for good reason. Their job requires collaboration with a team of other doctors and nurses, and they’re the ones that ensure that a patient remains safely under an anesthetic during operations.

General Nurse Practitioners (NP) 


General Nurse Practitioners (NP) average salaries come in at $111,840/year ($53.77/hr). They are considered to be primary care specialists, and they have lots of flexibility as they move forward in their careers

NPs have the ability to open their own independent practice or the opportunity to specialize in certain areas of practice.

Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)


Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) requirements include working in a specialized unit, conducting research, and actively diagnosing and treating patients. They’re considered to be the expert on their team, and they can often offer specialized care at a lower price than most physicians. Their average nurse salary is right at $106,028/year ($50.98/hr).

Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM)


Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) make an average of $108,810/year ($52.31/hr). They specialize in obstetrics, labor and delivery, and prenatal care. Depending on their state of residence, some CNMs open their own practice.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners (PNP)


Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners (PNP) work directly with patients that struggle with mental health disorders and substance abuse issues by providing counseling and collaborating with psychiatric medical physicians. PNPs make an average of $105,658/year ($50.79/hr).


Additional Nurse Salary Averages


The jobs listed above tend to have very specialized concentrations. However, when we typically think of a nurse, we imagine the “jack of all trades,” so to speak, when it comes to health care. 

Below you’ll find some of the more common positions, as well as their payment range in the lowest and highest-paying states.

Travel Nurse


Travel nurses usually need to have an active RN license (or APRN, Advanced Practice Registered Nurse). While you can be a traveling nurse with an LPN, it is less common and the patients you will be able to care for will be more restricted. However, it is a highly coveted position, and pays in the range of $35-$56/hr. In North Carolina, the average annual salary is $74,285, while in New York, it’s $118,145.

Registered Nurse


Registered nurses are usually what people picture when they talk about nursing. These nurses oversee a variety of patients and help with everything from medication management to surgery preparations. They make somewhere between $27-$48/hr on average.

In South Dakota, an RN could make $58,308/yr, while in Hawaii, the same position could pay $98,080/year on average.

Licensed Practical Nurses


Licensed Practical Nurses provide assistance to registered nurses and doctors, and earn between $18-$30/hr.

In West Virginia, they may make $37,500/year on average, while the same position in Alaska pays $63,850/yr.

Certified Nurse Assistants


Certified Nurse Assistants are often in charge of taking care of the patient’s more personal needs like bathing, getting in and out of wheelchairs, meal preparation, and more. They generally make between $13-$15/hr, with an additional $4,000 or so in overtime. 

The lowest and highest regional salaries in the United States are Louisiana at $22,938 and Alaska at $40,566/year, respectively.