Best Paying Clinical Nurse Specialist Jobs & Careers

by NurseJournal Staff
• 2 min read

Clinical Nurse Specialists are a type of professional nurse that has taken extra time to learn additional skills needed to specialize in a specific area of nursing. They will generally hold a master's degree or a doctoral degree and have...

clinical-nurseClinical Nurse Specialists are a type of professional nurse that has taken extra time to learn additional skills needed to specialize in a specific area of nursing. They will generally hold a master’s degree or a doctoral degree and have a specialization that allows them to focus their abilities on a very niche area of study. These areas of study could vary greatly and include:
  • Disease Clinical nurse specialists can often specialize in a certain disease such as oncology, diabetes, or cardiac care
  • Health Issues Clinical nurse specialists could focus on a type of health issues like stress, pain, or wound care
  • Settings They may also specialize in a setting such as an emergency room or surgical theater.
  • Populations Many clinical nurse specialists focus on providing specialized care for a particular medical population such as pediatrics or geriatrics
  • Type of Care Finally, clinical nurse specialists could focus on providing a certain type of care including rehabilitative or psychiatric care
Additionally, multiple areas of specialization may exist as well and allow a CNS to provide specialized care in a particular field of medicine to a particular population. A clinical nurse specialist will be able to provide a very deep level of care to patients including diagnosing and treating disease, consulting nursing staffs, and more. In many cases, a CNS will assume a kind of managerial role as well, overseeing and helping maintain nursing staff and more while also providing medical care to patients. Explore Health Careers says that there are already more than 69,000 clinical nurse specialists in the US, and that number is expected to grow significantly over the coming years. Average salaries range from $50,800 to $100,000 per year, and earning this degree takes between 6 and 10 years depending on the situation. To earn a degree as a Clinical Nurse Specialist, students must already be a registered nurse and hold an appropriate degree. There are numerous areas of study and specialization that a Clinical Nurse Specialist can find employment in, and some may pay more than others and offer additional benefits that others can’t. Here are some of the best paying options out there today.

#1 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Clinical Nurse Specialist

These nursing professionals work within neonatal ICU teams to help enhance the level of care provided to preterm and sick infants or newborns. They will provide hands on care as well as conduct research and help to address issues within the care team in order to enhance the overall level of care that an infant receives. It’s one of the highest paying nursing fields there is, and is regularly listed as one of the most personally satisfying and rewarding as well.
  • Percentage of CNS Workforce: 2.6%
  • Projected Job Growth by 2020: 19%
  • Average Salary: $124,000

#2 Public Health Specialist

The Public Health Specialist focuses less on providing direct medical care and more on helping to develop programs that lead to an overall improvement in the public health field. These professionals may help design new public health programs, create health initiatives, and institute new training guidelines that help lead to a higher overall level of health within a community. Jobs may be on a local, statewide, or even nationwide level and pay can be incredibly high.
  • Percentage of CNS Workforce: 3.5%
  • Projected Job Growth by 2020: 19%
  • Average Salary: $75,00′

#3 CNS Nurse Educator

A CNS nurse educator does just what their title would suggest. They specialize in educating nurses in various roles and helping developing training programs, better health practices, and more. Their overall goal is to maximize the level of health care that anyone receives, and they do so through enhancing the overall level of education that nurses may have. These professionals could work for hospitals, government branches, and even educational institutions. Their positions are often research based as well as practical.
  • Percentage of CNS Workforce: 2%
  • Projected Job Growth by 2020: 19%
  • Average Salary: $89,000

#4 Cardiovascular Clinical Nurse Specialist

Cardiovascular Clinical Nurse Specialists focus their studies on the heart and the cardiovascular system. They may also focus on providing health care to a specific population such as pediatric cardiology or geriatric cardiology. These professionals have very research oriented jobs and often take steps that lead to new ways of preventing, diagnosing, or treating heart related conditions. With heart disease still ranking as one of the biggest health issues in the world, it isn’t much of a surprise that these professionals are in very high demand and will continue to be so for some time to come.
  • Percentage of CNS Workforce: 1.9%
  • Projected Job Growth by 2020: 19%
  • Average Salary: $68,000
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