How Much Do Nurse Researchers Make?

Daniel Bal
Updated July 8, 2022
Review the earning potential of nurse researchers, the highest-paying states, and ways to increase pay through education, certification, and specialization.
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Nurse researchers conduct scientific studies to advance the nursing field and healthcare overall. Becoming a nurse researcher requires graduate-level training in research methodologies and data analysis combined with clinical experience.

Keep reading for more on nurse researcher salaries, the highest-paying states, and ways to increase earnings as a nurse researcher.

Average Salary for Nurse Researchers

Payscale data from June 2022 shows the average annual salary for nurse researchers at $72,900. In comparison, registered nurses(RNs) earn a yearly average salary of $68,620. Since nurse researchers need a graduate degree, while RNs can practice with an associate or bachelor’s degree, they can anticipate earning more.

The average salary for nurse researchers varies based on educational background, certifications, and specialty. The type of degree also impacts a nurse researcher’s salary, as professionals can work with a master of science in nursing (MSN), a Ph.D., or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP).

Average Annual Salary
Source:Payscale, June 2022

Average Hourly Wage
Source:Payscale, June 2022

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The Highest-Paying States for Nurse Researachers

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) does not specifically track nurse researcher employment and salary data. However, the average salary figures for nurse researchers from Payscale ($72,900) fall just below BLS reports for median RN salaries at $77,600.

According to the BLS, the highest-paying states for RNs include California ($124,000), Hawaii ($106,530), Oregon ($98,630), the District of Columbia ($98,540), and Alaska ($97,230), and Washington ($97,230). Despite the higher salaries, many of these states also have a high cost of living, which tends to balance earnings compared to other states.

3 Ways to Increase Pay As a Nurse Researcher

There are several ways for nurse researchers to increase their annual salary, including obtaining certification, earning a DNP or a Ph.D., or focusing on an in-demand specialty.

  1. 1

    Become a Certified Clinical Research Nurse

    Research nurses can choose from two main certification options, both offered by the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP). These includeclinical research coordinator (CRC) certification and clinical research associate (CRA) certification.

    Nurse researchers with a CRC certification typically work at clinical research sites under the guidance of a principal investigator. Those with CRA certification facilitate the clinical testing of medical products for safety and effectiveness. Both certifications provide nurse researchers with the opportunity to fulfill roles with higher earning potential.

    To be eligible to take either certification exam, applicants must have 3,000 hours of experience in six content areas: scientific concepts and research design, ethical and participant safety considerations, product development and regulation, clinical trial operations, study and site management, and data management and informatics.

  2. 2

    Advance Your Education with a DNP or a Ph.D.

    Although nurse researchers must have an MSN to work in the field, pursuing a DNP or a PH.D. can provide advanced training employers seek.

    While both DNP- and Ph.D.-holders earn more than their MSN counterparts, DNPs earn significantly more in nursing research than any other degree. According to Payscale, DNPs earn an average yearly salary of $90,000, whilePh.D. graduates earn $93,000 per year.

  3. 3

    Become a Specialized Nurse Researcher

    Nurse researchers can increase their pay if they choose to focus on a specific specialization, such as oncology, pediatrics, or cardiology. By focusing on areas of medicine that necessitate additional research to identify ways to prevent, cure, or manage specific diseases, nurse researchers can earn a higher salary due to the increased demand for these professionals.

Frequently Asked Questions About Nurse Researcher Salaries

question-mark-circleWhat is the entry-level salary for nurse researchers?

According to Payscale, the entry-level salary for nurse researchers is approximately $64,000. As nurses gain more experience, their salary steadily increases: $70,000 (1-4 years), $72,000 (5-9 years), $77,000 (10-19 years), and $78,000 (20+ years).

question-mark-circleWhat skills are important for nurse researchers?

Nurse researchers need to examine and analyze data; comprehend the relevance of the results of a study; and communicate with medical professionals, academic researchers, study participants, and patients.

question-mark-circleHow long does it take to become a nurse researcher?

It can take a minimum of seven years for full-time students to become nurse researchers. This includes four years for earning their bachelor of science in nursing, one year of clinical experience, and two years for completing an MSN. Nurse researchers can also consider earning a DNP or a Ph.D. after their MSN, which takes an additional four years of study.

question-mark-circleDo nurse researchers need to have an RN license?

Yes, nurse researchers must have an RN license to gain employment or enter a graduate program, which is required for this role.

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