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Do Different Types of Nurses Make Different Salaries?

The direction you take in your nursing career will influence how much you earn.

There’s a lot of money involved in healthcare. In fact, in 2017, Americans spent $3.5 trillion on it.1 Of course, healthcare revenue is widely distributed, paying for everything from surgeons to MRI machines to hospital water bills. If you’re a nurse, you might be wondering how much of the industry’s earnings will come your way. It’s a simple enough question, but the answer depends on what type of nurse you are.

Here’s a look at how much you can make in several of the most common nursing roles.

Registered Nurse

Many nurses get their start as an RN. In general, RNs are responsible for coordinating patient care and executing treatment plans on a day-to-day—or, sometimes, moment-by-moment—basis.

Average Annual Income: $70,0002

How to Become One: While you can qualify for RN licensure with an associate degree in nursing, the Institute of Medicine recommends that the majority of nurses hold at least a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) by 2020.3

Nurse Manager

In charge of overseeing other nurses in a clinic, hospital department, or long- or short-term care facility, nurses who work in nurse management make sure their staff is following proper procedures; providing optimal patient care; and communicating well with physicians, other departments or clinics, patient families, etc. Typically, they focus more on administrative duties than direct patient care.

Average Annual Income: $83,7494

How to Become One: To qualify for the American Nurses Association’s Magnet Recognition Program®, a healthcare facility must only employ nurse leaders who hold at least a BSN degree. If you want to rise higher in management, earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a Nurse Executive specialization can be a great choice.

Nurse Educator

Skilled at designing, implementing, evaluating, and revising educational programs for nurses, nurses in nursing education ensure other nurses are well trained and up to date on the latest standards of care.

Average Annual Income: $73,7815

How to Become One: Nursing education is a specialized skill, typically requiring that you obtain an MSN degree with a Nursing Education specialization.

Public Health Nurse

Nurses who go into public health nursing devote their careers to improving the health and wellness of entire communities. Typically employed by government health agencies or nonprofits, they focus on assessing the health and health needs of communities and populations; identifying high-risk groups; and developing culturally sensitive, acceptable, and realistic population-based nursing interventions.

Average Annual Income: $56,9966

How to Become One: To gain the specialized knowledge needed to take on a leadership role in public health, you should consider earning an MSN degree with a Public Health Nursing specialization.

Nurse Informaticist

Working in the health informatics field, nurse informaticists help ensure that patient data is accurately and expediently communicated to allow for optimal decision-making. This requires both nursing and technological skills.

Average Annual Income: $77,1887

How to Become One: As with other specialized fields within nursing, becoming a successful nurse informaticist typically requires earning a master’s degree in nursing. In particular, you’ll want an MSN degree with a Nursing Informatics specialization.

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners (also known as practitioner nurses) serve an increasingly important role in providing healthcare. Licensed to see patients on their own and prescribe medications, nurse practitioners function similarly to physicians. While different states grant them different levels of autonomy, nurse practitioners are helping to meet rising healthcare demands across the U.S. Average Annual Income: $110,9308

How to Become One: To be licensed as a nurse practitioner, you have to hold at least an MSN degree. Depending on what area of healthcare you want to focus on, you can earn an MSN with a Family Nurse Practitioner specialization, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner specialization, Adult/Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner specialization, or Adult/Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner specialization.

How to Make More in Your Nursing Career

If you want to take your career in nursing to the next level and put yourself in position to earn a higher salary, consider furthering your education. If you are an RN without a bachelor’s degree, you can expand your job opportunities by moving from an RN to BSN. If you already have a BSN degree or other bachelor’s degree, you can improve your opportunities by moving from an RN to MSN. But no matter which path you take, you can make attending nursing school more feasible by choosing online education.

In an online BSN program or an online MSN program, you can attend courses from wherever you are, as long as you have internet access. Plus, at an online nursing school, you can choose when in the day you attend class, making it possible to continue working full time.

Different types of nurses make different salaries. With online learning, you can more readily pursue the nursing path that’s right for you.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) Completion Program and a Master of Science in Nursing degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission