5 highest paying nursing jobs right now

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What is a certified registered nurse anesthetist?

These specialties come with six-figure paychecks for most experienced practitioners.

You’ve invested a lot of time, sweat, tears — and money — into becoming a nurse. A big paycheck likely wasn’t your only goal, but being able to pay off student loans would be nice.

Although in March the medical website Nurse.org posted the top-paying nursing jobs, it has since updated that list.

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The top five highest paying specialties, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, currently are:

Certified registered nurse anesthetist

Just as they were in March, CRNAs top the list, this time by about $75,000.

CRNAs are highly skilled professionals who prepare and administer anesthesia to patients in collaboration with surgeons, anesthesiologists, dentists, podiatrists and other qualified health care professionals, according to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists.

  • Salary: $195,610 average annually. CRNAs typically work 40 hours per week, making the hourly wage average out to about $94.04 an hour.
  • Career outlook: Expected growth is 45% from 2020 to 2030
  • Requirements: a degree from an accredited nurse anesthesia educational program and passing the National Certification Examination. The Council on Accreditation has announced a doctoral degree as a requirement by 2025.
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General nurse practitioner

Moving up two spots since March, GNAs’ annual salary increased about $9,000.

  • Salary: $120,680 mean annual salary, according to the May 2021 BLS report. General nurse practitioners typically work 40 hours a week, making their hourly wage about $58.02.
  • Career outlook: Jobs are expected to grow 45% through 2030, according to the BLS.
  • Requirements: A Master of Science in Nursing is the minimum degree requirement, followed by earning Nurse Practitioner licensure.

Intensive care unit nurse

Being an ICU nurse is literally a life and death job. Although many work in hospitals, jobs for critical care nurses are available in many areas. “Becoming a critical care nurse is seen as one of the most coveted positions in nursing,” Nurse.org wrote, “as these nurses possess a very high level of critical thinking and nursing skills.”

  • Salary: $120,243 mean annual salary, according to ZipRecruiter. Salary usually falls between $76,500 and $145,500, but Nurse.org said ICU nurses can often make more than $200,000 “based on their shift, hospital and location.” With a typical work week of 36 hours, their hourly wage is $57.81 on average.
  • Career outlook: The areas most in need during the nursing shortage are adult critical care units, pediatric and neonatal ICUs, and emergency departments. “That’s why ICU nurses should generally have no problem finding work,” Nurse.org wrote.
  • Requirements: Most hospitals have specific training for their ICUs, but nurses wanting to move in to the field should take the CCRN certification exam.
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Neonatal intensive care unit nurse

NICU nurses care for the smallest and most fragile patients.

  • Salary: $118,586, according to ZipRecruiter. NICU nurses usually work 36 hours, so their hourly wage is $57 on average.
  • Career outlook: According to Nurse.org, “advances in technology and the frequency of premature births have contributed to a strong job outlook for neonatal nurses.”
  • Requirements: You can work in the NICU as a staff RN, but becoming a neonatal nurse practitioner or neonatal clinical nurse specialist “is how the real advancement take place,” Nurse.org wrote.
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Psychiatric nurse practitioner

A psychiatric nurse practitioner works with psychiatric doctors and counsels mental health patients. They also work with patients who suffer from a combination of mental health disorders and substance abuse issues.

  • Salary: $113,114 average annual pay, as of May 2022, according to Payscale. Psychiatric nurse practitioners typically work 40 hours a week, making their hourly wage about $63.75.
  • Career outlook: According to Nurse.org, the increased need for better mental health care, and the increased demand for adolescent and child psychiatric services, will make PNPs highly sought after.
  • Requirements: A Master of Science in Nursing is the minimum degree requirement, followed by earning psychiatric nurse practitioner licensure as specified by your state.

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