How To Earn A Better Nurse Salary

How To Earn A Better Nurse Salary

Nowadays, advancing your education is crucial if you are looking to advance your nursing career. Often, nurses pursue a graduate degree to attain a higher level of licensure, seek a more specialized scope of practice, and earn a better salary. Following the path of nursing careers from an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and beyond can be intimidating, but changing requirements are pushing nurses to further their education. Hospitals around the country are putting plans into motion requiring nurses from ADN status to enroll in a bachelor program, and BSN's are enrolling in master's and doctorate programs to stay ahead of the curve.


Registered Nurses (RN) are those who complete their undergraduate education and attain the proper license to practice in their state. As an RN, your scope of practice involves the foundations of patient care, but to become an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN)—which will allow you to specialize in a focused area—you must pursue your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). MSN programs allow you to develop your expertise in a specific APN concentration. Concentrations are typically based on the four main areas of advanced practice nursing: nurse practitioners, nurse-midwives, clinical specialists, and certified nurse anesthetists—though different schools of nursing may have different concentrations. The purpose of these specialized courses of study is to help you advance your nursing career. Career advancement is a positive change that ensures more autonomy with your patients, a more influential voice for change, and even a higher salary. So—what kind of salary increase can you expect by becoming an Advanced Practice Nurse?

Registered Nurse Salaries

Registered Nurse salaries depend on a variety of factors such as where you live in the country, the setting in which you work (a doctor’s office, clinic, hospital, etc.), and the hours you work. But one of the crucial determining factors is your level of education. Registered Nurses with a BSN, for example, may earn more money than a registered nurse with an ADN due to the additional education and practice that comes with a four-year program as opposed to a two-year degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses working full time can expect a salary range between $58,000 and $66,000 per year. Also, Registered Nurses generally earn more with each addition certification they attain. If you are a Registered Nurse, consider pursuing certifications relevant to the setting in which you work. Certifications (in areas like critical care, obstetrics, emergency or trauma nursing, etc.) will demonstrate an additional level of practice and expertise, and can help earn you a little extra money!

Advanced Practice Nurse Salaries

If you are an Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs)—meaning you have completed your master’s degree, passed the appropriate examinations, and attained your license—you will make more than a traditional RN. When it comes to your salary, the amount you earn is subject to the same factors as RN salaries (geographic location, hours, etc.). However, APN salaries also depend on the field of practice. The average salary for nurse practitioners, for instance, is $78,000 per year. On average, certified nurse midwives can earn $84,000 annually, and the average Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) salary can be as high as $135,000. Keep in mind that these numbers are averages, and that your actual salary can vary depending on a number of factors. It is evident, however, that Advanced Practice Nurse salaries are generally higher than Registered Nurse salaries, and this is just one of the many incentives for advancing your nursing career through a graduate degree.
This article was written by Stephan Maldonado, the managing editor of Nursing License Map, on behalf of CAREEREALISM-Approved Partner, 2U – an education-technology company that partners with institutions of higher education to deliver their degree programs online.
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