Nurses are well known for their ability to earn some serious money. Unfortunately, high nursing salaries often require having multiple jobs, working per diem, or having a side hustle.
But that’s not always the case – Several nursing positions allow you to earn 6 figures or more. This guide will teach you to make 6 figures as a nurse without overworking yourself. Read on to learn about different nursing jobs, how much you can earn, and tips for bolstering your income.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that registered nurses earn a median annual salary of $81,220 or $39.05 per hour. Despite these statistics, many types of nurses can make 6 figures.
This median figure combines nursing salaries across the spectrum and doesn’t differentiate between different nursing jobs. Certain nurses may make less, while others, like Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs), make over $200,000 annually.
Several nursing jobs pay 6 figure salaries, especially with increased experience and education. The following list details some of the highest-paying nursing jobs.
Remember, the salaries provided in this list may not reflect actual salaries for these roles near you. Your location, work environment, and employer will impact how much you can earn in these positions.
A nurse practitioner (NP) is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who has completed an accredited NP program. NPs may serve as primary or specialty care providers.
According to the BLS, NPs can earn an average annual salary of $121,610 or $58.47 an hour. Specialty NPs working in hospitals or outpatient care centers earn higher wages than primary care providers in medical offices.
A certified nurse-midwife (CNM) is a type of APRN who provides healthcare to women throughout their lives. CNM services include family planning, gynecological checkups, and prenatal care.
CNMs are one of the best 6 figure nursing jobs, earning a median annual salary of $120,880 per BLS reports.
CRNAs are currently the highest-paid nursing job, earning an average annual salary of $203,090, according to the BLS.
CRNAs are APRNs who administer anesthesia and other medications and monitor patients receiving and recovering from anesthesia. CRNAs working in outpatient surgery centers may earn more because they work shorter shifts and can usually pick up other per diem jobs.
4. Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL)
Clinical nurse leaders are masters-prepared nurses who work as administrators but maintain a connection to the bedside. CNLs collaborate with other healthcare team members. They liaise between caregivers, patients, and administrators to improve patient outcomes and care environments.
CNLs in the US earn $84,681 on average, according to ZipRecruiter. However, top earners can make over $138,500 annually.
Clinical nurse specialists are APRNs who mainly function to improve outcomes regarding patients, nurses, and system-wide organizations. CNSs specialize in specific patient populations while educating and supervising other nurses or workers in their healthcare unit.
According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for a CNS is $87,359, with top earners raking in $158,500 per year.
A nursing director is one of the top administrators within a healthcare organization. They collaborate with other administrators to oversee the day-to-day operations of a nursing facility or hospital department.
Becoming a nursing director is one of the top positions for nurses. So, there is little room for professional advancement after achieving this role.
Glassdoor reports an average annual salary of $127,003 for nursing directors in the United States.
A Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) is a top-level, nonclinical, administrative position within a healthcare system. Some healthcare systems may use this and nursing director interchangeably, but there can be a significant difference.
Despite a CNO not working at the bedside, they are responsible for overseeing every aspect of the nursing department. These responsibilities include staff development, implementing standards of care, cultivating relationships within all departments, and collaborating with other healthcare professionals and top administrators.
Payscale reports that CNOs earn an average annual salary of $141,072 or $63.43 per hour.
Nurse administrators supervise and oversee nursing staff and create and administer clinical programs for the entire organization. They combine their clinical and administrative expertise to help a nursing unit run smoothly. Nurse administrator responsibilities include managing the day-to-day operations of a nursing unit, budgeting, and financial management.
The BLS categorizes nurse administrators as Medical and Health Services Managers. They earn an average annual salary of $104,830 per year.
A nurse manager is an administrator who oversees a healthcare facility’s nursing staff. Usually, nurse managers supervise one unit or department directly. They create schedules for employees, give annual performance reviews, and help make policies within the unit.
Nurse managers work in office settings away from clinical units. Some of their responsibilities include attending administrative meetings, serving on hospital committees, and working with new employees.
Nurse managers earn an average annual salary of $94,401, according to Payscale.
Travel nurses earn high salaries by filling temporary positions in areas of high need. Typically, travel nursing contracts do not exceed 13 weeks. They travel the country and explore new places while working toward their maximum earning potential, which can exceed 6 figures.
However, not all travel nursing positions pay equally. For example, while Hawaii may seem like a great place to live and work, the pay there isn’t the highest. Instead, you’ll earn a higher travel nurse salary by taking contracts in less desirable locations.
Travel nurses make around $50 an hour, according to reports from ZipRecruiter. The highest-paid travel nurses earn upwards of $74.76 per hour. They usually earn a lower taxed hourly wage and a higher non-taxed living stipend. If you understand the difference between the two, you can better maximize your salary.
If these 6 figure nursing jobs aren’t a part of your career path, you don’t have to settle for making less money. Below, we’ve listed the top tips for earning over $100K as a nurse:
Moving to another state or even another city can increase your earning potential. Typically, southern states have lower hourly wages than the West Coast and Northeast. Additionally, smaller suburban or rural hospitals often offer lower salaries to their nurses.
Nurses working in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Operating Room (OR), and Labor and delivery (L&D) earn a higher hourly wage than nurses working in an outpatient clinic setting or medical-surgical unit.
Working More Hours
Though getting more hours isn’t possible for everyone, they will increase your annual income. Working over 40 hours a week will result in overtime or time and a half. However, working too many hours in one paycheck will result in more taxes, so you might see less money than you planned.
Per Diem Nursing
Per diem nursing positions offer flexibility and higher hourly wages. Sometimes called PRN nurses, they work “by the day” or “as needed” by their employer rather than working a set schedule. Remember that extra money is not guaranteed because PRN shifts are the first to cancel if they’re not needed.
Travel nurses earn high wages while also traveling the country. To maximize your nursing salary, take the highest-paying assignment regardless of location. Travel nurses make the most money by taking contracts at less desirable locations and hospitals.
Nurses can choose from several possible side jobs to augment their annual incomes. Registered nurse and nurse practitioner side hustles include the following:
- Freelance writing
- Social media influencing
- Becoming a scrubs/brand ambassador
Salary negotiations can be uncomfortable for most nurses, but it’s important to remember your worth. Look up the average nursing salary at your hospital and review nursing salaries from other hospitals in your area. Understanding average wages will help you propose a fair income during negotiations.
Newer nurses may have less room to negotiate, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Remember, if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.
If earning an advanced nursing degree isn’t in your career plans, earn a specialty nursing certification. Upon passing your certification exam, most healthcare systems will reimburse its cost and offer you a salary increase. Specialty certifications also make you more marketable for other positions.
Earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) will increase your salary. An advanced education will also make you more marketable and open countless opportunities. On average, DNP nurses make $117,859 annually or $57 an hour, according to ZipRecruiter.
Tutor Nursing Students
Tutoring isn’t the most common way to earn extra money as a nurse, but it’s an excellent option. Nursing students can always use an extra hand to study, review their clinical care plans, or prepare for the NCLEX. Reach out to local nursing programs and offer your services.
Become a Preceptor
Training new nurses during orientation can increase your salary and help you climb the clinical ladder. You may have to take a preceptor class, which you can learn more about by talking to your nurse educator.
Change your Schedule
Sometimes, just changing your regular work schedule can help give a nice bump to your salary. Weekend and night shifts come with differential pay, which can help push you over that 100K/year.
Nurses can make a lot of money – the potential is out there. It might require a change of scenery, advancing your education, changing your specialty, or climbing the nursing administration ladder. While this may not be for everyone, nurses can still make a substantial yearly salary.