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13 Highest Paying Nursing Jobs

List of highest paying nursing jobs

There may be no career that is more rewarding than nursing. Working in the fast-paced environment of a hospital, clinic, or private setting, people with educations in nursing provide the care and support patients need to feel their best. Plus, the highest paying nursing jobs also come with impressive salaries.

But it’s also an extremely challenging career. Different types of nurses deal with the frustrations of a complex medical industry, the challenges of working with patients, and the slow, uncertain recovery of a patients.

To become a success in nursing careers, you need to have the right education and experience. And it all starts with a nursing degree, which can take many forms and include a variety of different classes.

What can you do with a nursing degree? As it turns out, there are many different careers that you can pursue, and many of them provide job stability, substantial incomes, and the chance to work in a fulfilling job.

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Skills You’ll Have After a Nursing Degree

When you go through a nursing degree, whether it’s an associate’s or a master’s program, or even a doctorate-level education, you’ll learn numerous skills that help you become a success. Honestly, we could fill an encyclopedia just listing the skills, but there are some important components to this education.

The skills that apply directly to nursing careers are, of course, the most obvious and likely the most important. Administering medication, for example, is a crucial skill for virtually all varieties of nurses. You have to understand sterile practices, how to handle medical equipment, and how to communicate in an industry that often uses a strange mixture of acronyms, phrases, and idioms.

The specific classes you take during nursing school can be vastly different. However, you can reasonably expect course to cover human anatomy, ethics in medical care, and mathematical skills. Throughout your education, you’ll learn about the human body through course like biology, physiology, and genetics. You may also take courses that focus on a specific type of patient, such as nursing care for older adults or care for children.

You will also learn soft skills that can be applied to nursing or a different type of degree. In a nursing school, you will learn organizational skills that will help you care for multiple patients at once, a principle that can obviously apply to nursing careers or a different type of position.

All of these skills help you become a well-rounded medical professional, and they are the key to launching your success in a nursing career.

Highest Paying Entry Level Nursing Jobs


Respiratory Therapist

Median Salary: $61,330
Education: Associate’s
Training or Experience: None
Expected Growth: 21%

If you want to use a nursing-related education and earn a strong income in the process, the career of a respiratory therapist may be the top choice. These professionals work with people who have trouble breathing, helping them to overcome a wide variety of lung issues. Patients can include anyone from infants to elderly, and they often work with emergency-room patients who have suffered heart attacks or accidents.

Although an education in respiratory therapy is required, respiratory therapists can use a nursing degree to launch their career in the medical field. An associate's degree is all that is required, but many employers will prefer candidates with bachelor’s degrees and possibly nursing or medical backgrounds.

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Registered Nurse

Median Salary: $73,300
Education: Bachelor’s
Training or Experience: None
Expected Growth: 12%

When most people think of a “nurse,” they are really thinking of a registered nurse, often referred to an an RN. These are the trained medical professionals who assess a patient’s condition, record medical histories, administer medicine, and perform many of the various tasks that create a foundation for medical treatment.

This job requires a bachelor's degree, but a nursing salary can be excellent, as the top 10% of RNs earn over $111,000 annually. Thanks to strong job growth and no previous experience or training required, this is one of the highest paying nursing jobs.



Nurse Anesthetists

Median Salary: $174,790
Education: Master’s
Training or Experience: None
Expected Growth: 17%

Want to go from the classroom to a nursing career with a salary over $150,000? Then a nurse anesthetist may be the perfect choice. In this nursing career, the main task is to administer anesthesia. Because there can be a lot of risk involved, anesthetists need to talk with the patient, discuss medial issues, determine the proper amounts, and monitor vital signs throughout a surgical procedure.

Employment is expected to climb significantly in this nursing career, with 17% growth between 2018 and 2028. With only a master's degree, you can jump into a career that delivers a median salary of over $170,000 making it one of the highest paying nursing jobs by far.

10 Highest Paying Nursing Careers

With training, certification, experience, and sometimes further education, nursing majors have a wide variety of career paths open to them. The majority of the careers below can be attained with a nursing education, while some require additional education or licensing. They represent the 10 highest paying nursing jobs and career opportunities.

#1 Anesthesiologist

Median Salary: $261,000

While they serve many of the same functions as a nurse anesthetist, this is a doctorate-level career that helps administer anesthesia and other pain-management drugs. They monitor patient vitals during surgery and review medical records, just like the master’s degree job. The main difference is in education, as one has a nursing background while the other has a physician’s education. This transfers into greater responsibility and oversight by the doctor.

The pay for this career is outstanding, as the median salary for anesthesiologist is over $260,000 annually. Although significant education is required, this career can help you achieve financial and career success.

#2 Surgeon

Median Salary: $252,040

Surgeons are some of the most respected and highly-regarded professionals in healthcare. While the career can take many paths, surgeons specialize in procedures that help people feel better, move better, or simply live better. Surgeons can choose general surgery or specialize is a specific type, such as reconstructive surgery or cardiovascular surgery.

Although you will need extensive education resulting in a doctorate degree, the pay is excellent and the job growth is strong. Obviously a nursing degree won’t get you all the way to a surgeon career, but it will provide a solid introduction to the medical field.

#3 Podiatrist

Median Salary: $126,240

According to the Arthritis Foundation, each human foot has 100 muscles, 30 ligaments, and 26 bones. That makes it one of the most complex limbs on our body, which is why a podiatrist, who specialized in foot care, needs such an advanced education. This doctorate-level career requires training to help people deal with foot injuries, but they may also focus on the ankle and lower leg.

Although the career growth is not as high as other medical careers, this career does earn a median salary of $126,240, and the top 10% can expect a salary over $208,000.

#4 Physician Assistant

Median Salary: $112,260

These are some of the most versatile professionals in the medical industry. physician assistants perform many tasks, including taking medical histories, examining patients, giving treatments, prescribing medicine, and assessing records. They often work in teams, assisting physicians and surgeons in their important work.

Possibly the most impressive aspect of this career is the potential growth. Between 2018 and 2028, this career is expected to grow by 31%, reaching a total of 155,00 jobs. While nothing is guaranteed, it’s likely that this career will remain one of the best options for people with a nursing education.

#5 Nurse Practitioner

Median Salary: $115,000

Serving as both primary and specialty care providers, nurse practitioners provide advanced support for patients. In a given day, people in one of these nursing careers will assess patients, manage health, and describe strategies for improving a patient’s outcome. They usually focus on a specific type of person, such as elderly or children.

Although a master’s degree is required, the career can be launched with a degree in nursing. Working as an RN, then moving into a nurse practitioner, is a great way to start this nursing career. As one of the highest paying nursing jobs, this nursing career is also notable for the career growth, which is expected to be 28%.

#6 Nurse Midwife

Median Salary: $105,030

Specializing in women and pregnancy care, midwives assist in examinations, family planning, and the delivery of babies. They often provide prenatal, postnatal, and wellness care, as well as mental support for expecting and current mothers, making it one of the most important types of nurses.

With a master’s degree and no experience, you can enter this nursing career and expect a salary over $100,000. The top experts in the field earn over $184,000 a year, and the growth is expected to be 18%. This makes is a great option for anyone who seeks one of the highest paying nursing jobs.

#7 Physical Therapist

Median Salary: $89,440

In perhaps one of the most interesting and engaging of all nursing careers, a physical therapist gets to work with many different people, helping them achieve mobility and pain-management goals. After an injury or illness, physical therapists use exercises, stretching, and hands-on techniques to help people rehabilitate their physical abilities. Patients come from all walks of life and all types of demographics, including elderly, youth, athletes, and working adults suffering from pain and discomfort.

To work in this career, you need a doctorate in physical therapy, as well as certification and licensing from the appropriate state board. The pay is excellent, and the job growth is expected to be high, driven largely by the growing baby boomer generation who are staying active later in life.

#8 Occupational Therapist

Median Salary: $84,950

While they serve a similar role as physical therapists, occupational therapist focus on everyday task, helping people to acquire or recover skills needed to live an independent lifestyle. These therapists will show people how to use appropriate equipment, such as braces and wheelchairs, and they will work in training a person to become more capable in their daily lives.

Like many positions in the medical field, this career is expected to rise sharply. The growth for this career is expected to be 18%, driven by an aging population and a recognition for helping people deal with various mobility and independence issues.

#9 Recreational Therapist

Median Salary: $48,220

These professionals literally use recreational activities to improve the mental and physical health of their patients. They attempt to reduce depression, stress, and anxiety through a vast assortment of activities ranging from walks to swimming to competitive sports. The idea is to improve confidence while helping people gain an appreciation for physical activity.

This career has a solid median salary, but if you work your way to the top 10% you can expect a salary over $77,000.

#10 Licensed Vocational Nurse

Median Salary: $47,480

With only a postsecondary non-degree award, you can enter into a nursing career that brings a median salary over $47,000. They provide basic nursing care, which takes many forms. They may change bandages, monitor blood pressure, bathe and dress a patient, or discuss care and concerns.

The top 10% in this career can expect a salary over $63,000. The career growth is strong, but the most attractive aspect of this nursing career is likely the required education. To complete the postsecondary non-degree award, most students will only need a year of schooling. This makes is a fast-track option, and it also provides a solid foundation to other nursing careers as well as being one of the most flexible nursing jobs. This career proves that you don’t need an advanced degree to work in one of the highest paying nursing jobs.

Selling Your Nursing Skills in Other Career Fields

Most of the careers we discussed above have excellent expected growth and strong salaries. RNs, for example, can expect a median salary of $73,000 and growth of 12%. Physical assistants can expect career growth of 31%, while respiratory therapists, which only requires a two-year associate’s degree, can bring a median salary over $61,000.

Clearly, there are reasons to stay in the medical profession. But people still leave for a variety of personal and professional reasons. This might be worrisome to people who feel that nursing is such a narrow, focused, specialized degree field that it may be difficult to transition into other industries. Perhaps something more broad, in the liberal arts or business fields, would be better.

But don’t worry. If you decide that a nursing career is not right for you, you can still use your experience and knowledge to enter another industry. You simply need to know how to sell your skills.

It’s best to start with the soft skills that you learned through your nursing education and experience. For most employers, the most attractive soft skill is likely your organizational skills. In the medical profession, you need to work with many layers of people, including patients, doctors, patients’ family members, and administrators. Navigating the complex web of people can be tough, but it can help you become more skilled in other industries. This organizational experience makes you a good candidate for management and leadership roles in other sectors, not just nursing careers.

Your skills with technology, new techniques, and communication can make you an attractive job candidate for many different employers. Focus on the soft skill and demonstrate how they can apply directly to a potential job and you’ll likely find an employer who wants to put your valuable nursing experience to work for their company.

Continuing Education for Nurses

The medical field, nursing included, is a continually evolving and developing industry. With new practices, fresh discoveries, and innovative technologies emerging practically every day, people in nursing careers have to be ready to learn whenever possible.

Continuing education is critical for a nursing career, and it can range from formal classes to staying up-to-date on the industry with magazines and periodicals. Continuing education can take the form of education towards nursing specialities as well. Perhaps you are working in a hospital, serving the general needs of patients as a registered nurse. If you desired, you could continue your education to include pediatric care or elderly care.

There are also many licenses and certifications that need to be renewed on a continual basis. To renew these licenses and maintain legal status, you need to be educated on the latest practices and review all information related to your profession. There are many high quality resources available to help you maintain your nursing career.

As a nurse or medical professional, you can participate in conferences, live classes, online classes, and professional-development activities. By continually focusing on education, you maintain your status as one of the leading professionals in the healthcare industry!

Begin Your Nursing Degree Today!

Choosing the right online nursing degree is critical to landing one of the highest paying nursing jobs. Use our resources and information to find a career that will fit your future goals, as well as your budget and schedule.

Whether you are a working professional, a busy parent, or a traditional student, you can find the perfect education for all types of nurses in our degree directory!

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