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

by NurseJournal Staff
• 5 min read

Nurses with MSNs earn some of the highest-paying jobs. Check out the differences in salary among other levels of nurse education.

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

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 $117,670 as of May 2020.

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


How long does it take to earn an MSN?

MSN degree timelines 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 $117,670. 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 $183,580. 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 average salary for MSN nurses with an advanced practice specialty. Wages differ by location, with employers in metropolitan areas typically paying the highest salaries.

Industry Average Salary
State, Local, and Private Hospitals $124,660
Outpatient Care Centers $122,840
Physicians' Offices $114,570
Offices of Other Health Practitioners $111,610
State, Local, and Private Educational Services $111,400
Source: BLS, 2020

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 $145,970, and nurse anesthetists working in Oregon make an average salary of $236,540.

Top-Paying States for Nurse Practitioners

State Average Salary
California $145,970
New Jersey $130,890
Washington $126,480
New York $126,440
Massachusetts $126,050
Source: BLS, 2020

Top-Paying States for Nurse Midwives

State Average Salary
California $159,590
Utah $133,680
Mississippi $127,960
New York $125,780
Minnesota $123,600
Source: BLS, 2020

Top-Paying States for Nurse Anesthetists

State Average Salary
Oregon $236,540
Wisconsin $231,520
Wyoming $231,250
Nevada $223,680
Connecticut $217,360
Source: BLS, 2020

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 and certified nurse midwives.

The locations of the top-paying metropolitan areas for NPs and certified nurse midwives are near two of the most expensive cities to live in the United States. Meanwhile, Duluth, located in between Minnesota and Wisconsin, offers a master's in nursing salary of $271,940 for nurse anesthetists.

Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Nurse Practitioners

Metropolitan Area Average Salary
Vallejo — Fairfield, CA $188,070
San Francisco — Oakland — Hayward, CA $177,800
Salinas, CA $155,310
San Jose — Sunnyvale — Santa Clara, CA $153,240
Napa, CA $152,640
Source: BLS, 2020

Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Nurse Midwives

Metropolitan Area Average Salary
Los Angeles — Long Beach — Anaheim, CA $191,440
Riverside — San Bernardino — Ontario, CA $171,000
San Jose — Sunnyvale — Santa Clara, CA $167,870
San Francisco — Oakland — Hayward, CA $162,110
Sacramento — Roseville — Arden-Arcade, CA $157,100
Source: BLS, 2020

Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Nurse Anesthetists

Metropolitan Area Average Salary
Duluth, MN-WI $271,940
Ann Arbor, MI $262,890
Green Bay, WI $239,140
Vallejo — Fairfield, CA $238,470
Springfield, IL $235,860
Source: BLS, 2020

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 2019-2029, 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 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 most MSN programs can be quite costly. Financial aid comes in many different forms, such as scholarships, grants, and student loans.
Choose a specialization
Each program leads to a 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 job positions. The outlook for job openings remains positive. The BLS projects a 7% growth rate for nursing jobs from 2019-2029.

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