What Is the Average Salary With a Master’s in Nursing?

NurseJournal Staff
Updated December 7, 2022
Nurses with MSNs earn some of the highest-paying jobs. Check out the differences in salary among other levels of nurse education.
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Earning a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree after gaining experience as a registered nurse (RN) or earning an undergraduate degree expands the number of available job opportunities and higher-level positions. An MSN degree, which typically takes two years to earn, challenges learners with more difficult coursework and more clinical practice hours than a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN).

Higher wages and greater job options offer just some of the reasons to earn an MSN, especially for MSN-holders who train as advanced practice registered nurses. For instance, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that nurse practitioners (NPs) earned a median salary of $120,680 as of May 2021.

A nurse with an MSN in an advanced practice specialty can pursue some of the most sought-after positions in the healthcare industry, such as nurse anesthetist, family nurse practitioner, and psychiatric nurse practitioner.

Frequently Asked Questions About MSN Nursing Programs

How long does it take to earn an MSN?

MSN degree time lines vary depending on each program. Generally, it takes two years for nurses with undergraduate degrees and three years for an individual with an associate degree to complete. Some programs offer aspiring nurses the opportunity to earn BSNs and MSNs at the same time in an accelerated program.

On average, how much do nurses with MSNs make?

Earning an MSN opens up many higher-paying opportunities compared to BSN-holders. The BLS reports that certified nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, and NPs earn a median income of $123,780. These higher-paying jobs come with more responsibilities and skills which an MSN provides.

Which career with an MSN pays the most?

A nurse anesthetist receives a median annual salary of $195,610. Most jobs requiring an MSN, especially for advanced practice roles, pay higher wages than those that only require a BSN or associate degree, due to the higher level of necessary skill and experience.

What factors affect a nurse’s salary with an MSN?

An MSN nurse’s salary depends on several different factors, such as location, specialty, and industry. Working in a more populated area typically provides higher wages for nurses.

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Top-Paying Industries for MSN Nurse Salary

Each industry in the healthcare system provides varying wages for nurses with MSNs. State, local, and private hospitals offer the highest median salary for MSN nurses with an advanced practice specialty. Wages differ by location, with employers in metropolitan areas typically paying the highest salaries.

IndustryMedian Salary
State, Local, and Private Hospitals$128,190
Outpatient Care Centers$128,190
Physicians’ Offices$121,280
Offices of Other Health Practitioners$104,790
State, Local, and Private Educational Services$102,680
Source: BLS

Top-Paying States for MSN Nurse Salary

The following information explores the states that offer the highest-paying average salaries to NPs, certified nurse midwives, and nurse anesthetists. California delivers the highest average MSN salary to NPs and nurse midwives.

California also provides the highest employment levels for nurse midwives. NPs working in California earn an average MSN nurse salary of $151,830, and nurse midwives working in West Virginia make an average salary of $163,190.

Top-Paying States for Nurse Practitioners

StateAverage Salary
New Jersey$137,010
New York$133,940
Source: BLS

Top-Paying States for Nurse Midwives

StateAverage Salary
West Virginia$163,190
New York$126,170
Source: BLS

Top-Paying States for Nurse Anesthetists

StateAverage Salary
AlaskaEqual to or greater than $100.00 per hour or $208,000 per year
New Jersey$263,850
West Virginia$247,650
Source: BLS

Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Nurses With MSNs

Metropolitan areas offer the highest-paying wages to MSN nurses. The higher cost of living and the increased number of patients accounts for their higher pay. California boasts the top-paying areas for NPs.

The location of the top-paying metropolitan area for NPs is near one of the most expensive cities to live in the United States. Meanwhile, Charleston, West Virginia, offers a master’s in nursing midwife salary of $169,460.

Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Nurse Practitioners

Metropolitan AreaAverage Salary
San Jose — Sunnyvale — Santa Clara, CA$197,870
Napa, CA$184,700
Vallejo — Fairfield, CA$180,380
San Francisco — Oakland — Hayward, CA$177,160
Yuba City, CA$159,260
Source: BLS

Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Nurse Midwives

Metropolitan AreaAverage Salary
Charleston, WV$169,460
San Francisco — Oakland — Hayward, CA$162,800
San Jose — Sunnyvale — Santa Clara, CA$157,570
Sacramento — Roseville — Arden-Arcade, CA$150,990
Salt Lake City, UT$133,950
Source: BLS

Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Nurse Anesthetists

Metropolitan AreaAverage Salary
Fairbanks, AKEqual to or greater than $100.00 per hour or $208,000 per year
Green Bay, WIEqual to or greater than $100.00 per hour or $208,000 per year
Madison, WIEqual to or greater than $100.00 per hour or $208,000 per year
Wausau, WIEqual to or greater than $100.00 per hour or $208,000 per year
Springfield, IL$298,890
Source: BLS

Salary and Job Growth for Nurses With MSNs

As demand for healthcare workers continues to rise, healthcare job security grows. The BLS projects that employment for advanced practice MSN jobs will grow by 45% from 2020-2030, which is much faster compared to all other occupations in the United States.

The growing population of senior citizens and an increase in chronic conditions contribute to the rising need for healthcare professionals. Nurses with MSNs makeup a large portion of these current and future jobs to care for the elderly and maintain the health of the American people.

How to Earn an MSN

MSN programs typically require a 3.0 GPA or higher in a BSN program, ample clinical experience, an RN license, and recommendation letters. Some also require an application fee. It takes an average of two years to earn an MSN after receiving a BSN. Accelerated programs often allow enrollees to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees simultaneously.

Decide which type of MSN program is best for you.

Make sure to look over the program’s curriculum and confirm its accreditation to ensure that the MSN program provides the necessary training and degree. Prospective students might also consider online nursing programs versus traditional formats.

Apply to MSN programs.

Admission requirements vary among MSN programs. Some require aspiring nurses to possess clinical experience and above-average GPAs to apply.

Secure funding for MSN programs.

Tuition for even affordable MSN programs can be quite costly. Financial aid for nurses comes in many different forms, such as scholarships, grants, and student loans.

Choose a specialization.

Each program leads to a nursing specialization or field of study, such as oncology, pediatrics, or adult-gerontology. These focus areas provide students with the skills and experience to deliver proper care to targeted populations.

Graduate with an MSN and find a nursing job.

At the end of the program, graduates can start looking and networking for nursing job positions. The outlook for job openings remains positive. The BLS projects a 9% growth rate for nursing jobs from 2020-2030.

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