Nurse's Station

A Guide To The 7 Highest Paying Nurse Specialties

  1. Family Nurse Practitioner

Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) have many of the same responsibilities and duties as physicians – such as patient assessments and consultations, and the prescription of medicines and treatment –  so it’s no surprise that they make quite a bit of cash.

The average salary of a FNP is $84K per year, according to Payscale, making this, quite a lucrative specialization. Naturally, the requirements for such a specialization are strict – FNPs must be certified by the Family Nurse Practitioner-Board, and usually must have at least a master’s degree in nursing.

  1. Certified Nurse Midwife

Certified Nurse Midwife specialties are a natural path for labor and delivery RNs who love prenatal care, and they mostly work at OB GYN offices, hospitals, and clinics – though they can also open their own practices.

A CNM can earn nearly $90K per year on average, according the the BLS, and as the US population continues to grow, outlook is good for the future of the profession.

To become a CNM, nurses must go through the American Midwifery Certification Board, and earn their CM and CNM designations. In most states, a master’s degree is required to take these tests and earn a CNM.


  1. General Nurse Practitioner

General Nurse Practitioners sit somewhere in between RNs and MDs, providing much of the same services as both, with advanced skills that allow them to offer high quality of care. Nurse practitioners can also open independent practices, boosting their earning potential.

The average earnings of nurse practitioners in May, 2014 were around $98,000 a year, and nurse practitioner demand is slated to increase by more than 34% through 2022.

A nurse practitioner will need a minimum of an MSN (master’s of science in nursing), and will then need to pass the nurse practitioner licensure exams as set forth by the state of their operation.

  1. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

As the most specialized position on our list, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists are, by far, the most highly-paid specialist nurses out there today. This profession involves prepping and anesthetizing patients, collaborating with surgeons and anesthesiologists to determine correct anesthetic measures, and other advanced, highly technical responsibilities.

Corresponding with the difficulty of the job is the salary of CRNAs – an average of $133K, according to Payscale. That’s more than twice the salary of an RN, and more than enough to live very comfortably indeed.

However, it’s not easy by any means to become a CRNA. You will need at least a master’s degree in an accredited educational program with a nurse anesthetist specialization, and to pass the National Certification Examination for Nurse Anesthetists.

Understand These Specialties – And Grow Your Career

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being an RN – and the path towards RN-NCLEX certification is a tough one indeed. But, several years out of nursing school, you may see yourself looking for something different – and for a higher pay rate.

If that’s the case, these 7 nurse specialties are great places to start. Though each one requires advanced education and certification, the increased responsibilities and pay grade of a great nursing specialization can provide you with a clear path forward as you continue to grow your career.

So take a look at these specialties – and if one pique’s your interest, start thinking about the ways in which you can fulfill its requirements, and continue to further your nursing career.

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