The Best Paying Jobs With a DNP

NurseJournal Staff
Updated May 11, 2022
    A doctor of nursing practice (DNP) is one of the best options for nurses who want to access the highest positions in their field and earn a higher salary.
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    Earning a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) prepares you for some of the fastest-growing and best-paying nursing positions. DNP jobs provide more professional autonomy than RN jobs and allow you to make an even greater impact on patient lives and nursing practice. Whether you want a career in direct patient care or in nursing leadership, there are many reasons to pursue a DNP.

    A DNP degree typically takes 3-6 years to complete. While this requires a major commitment of time and effort, you can expect worthwhile rewards. Nurses looking to advance to the highest levels of the profession can take advantage of programs, such as the BSN-to-DNP and the RN-to-DNP.

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    1. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

    A certified registered nurse anesthetist assists in administering anesthesia to patients before and during surgical procedures or other medical procedures. They help set up IVs, monitor the patient, and perform other necessary tasks as required.

    This is one of the highest paying jobs in the country, not just in the medical field, and the demand for it grows as the population increases. Only about 52% of DNP programs award a CRNA certification, but it’s still the most common way to rise to the top of the profession.

    Projected Job Growth from 2020-2030: 45%

    Average Salary: $183,580 (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

    2. Chief Nursing Officer

    A chief nursing officer (CNO) leads all nursing functions in a hospital, residential care facility, rehabilitation center, or other healthcare setting. As a CNO, you manage the quality and efficiency of nursing functions, high-level budgeting and staffing, strategic planning, and representing nursing interests within the organization. You must keep current with new evidence-based nursing practices and identify and implement changes that your organization should adopt.

    These responsibilities explain why this is one of the highest paying DNP jobs. This role requires strong collaboration skills, leadership, diplomacy, foresight, continuous learning, and the ability to make difficult decisions.

    Projected Job Growth from 2020-2030: 45% (among all APRNs)

    Average Salary: $135,800 (Source: Payscale as of November 2021)

    3. Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

    Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners provide nursing care for mental health conditions. They can work in hospitals, mental health specialty practices, clinics, and other healthcare areas. Some work in government settings, such as military bases or the correctional system.

    Because psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners are ARPNs, they can diagnose and prescribe treatments for mental health conditions. Depending on the state’s practice authority, they may need to work with a physician.

    This role, like all DNP jobs, demands excellent communication skills and empathy. It also requires the ability to keep current with the rapidly-changing mental health field, evaluate the research, and update your knowledge and practice.

    Projected Job Growth from 2020-2030: 45% (among all NPs)

    Average Salary: $125,000 (Source: 2019 AANP compensation survey)

    4. Certified Nurse Midwife

    A certified nursing midwife (CNM) provides care to pregnant patients from the initial stages of pregnancy up to birth. They deliver babies, provide medical guidance throughout the pregnancy, run tests, and advise parents on prenatal and postnatal care.

    In many cases, CNMs work for larger health organizations. They may also operate their own clinics. CNMs often work closely with OB-GYN physicians to provide the best level of care possible to patients.

    Projected Job Growth from 2020-2030: 45% (among all NPs)

    Average Salary: $117,670 (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

    5. Nurse Administrator

    Nurse administrators lead nursing teams or departments, primarily in hospitals, residential and outpatient care facilities, and other healthcare settings. However, they may also work in other environments, such as military bases, in schools, or within the correctional system.

    Nurse administrators manage daily functions, healthcare quality, and the efficiency of nursing teams. Their duties include hiring and managing personnel, budgeting, strategic planning, and evaluating nursing performance. Some nurse administrators have an MBA and a DNP. As a nurse administrator, you must be versatile, able to lead and inspire, and dedicated to continual learning and improvement for yourself and your organization.

    Projected Job Growth from 2020-2030: 32%

    Average Salary: $104,280 (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

    6. Nurse Researcher

    Nurse researchers work in a variety of settings, including medical research companies, academic medical centers, government agencies, nonprofits, insurers, and medical journal publishers. They conduct original research and review existing research.

    Duties vary based on the work setting. For example, nurse researchers at academic medical centers teach and publish research, while researchers at medical journal publishers primarily review articles submitted for publication and oversee the peer review process. As a nurse researcher, you must be very comfortable with statistics and data analytics, nursing literature search tools, and interpreting research results.

    Projected Job Growth from 2020-2030: 9% (among all RNs)

    Average Salary: $101,210 (Source: Indeed)

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