One of the most in-demand jobs in the nation, nurses also earn some of the highest salaries. RNs make a median annual salary of $70,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), with the need for nursing professionals projected to grow 15% by 2026. Many entry points exist for those interested in nursing, including earning an ADN or BSN degree. A master of science in nursing (MSN) can help those seeking to hone their skills and increase earning potential.
An MSN program can allow registered nurses to move their careers forward in significant ways and may even open doors for advanced job opportunities. Not only does an MSN provide opportunities to assume clinical roles beyond those available for BSN holders, but it also qualifies nurses to enter management, administrative positions, or roles in research or education. While RNs report earning lucrative annual salaries, taking the time to earn an MSN in a specialized field can greatly increase that earning power. In fact, MSN graduates average an annual salary of $92,000, according to PayScale.
Generally, earning an MSN takes two years for completion. Many, but not all, schools require nurses to hold a BSN in order to enroll in the program. These programs consist of traditional coursework and clinical training that help create a solid foundation of experience and knowledge.
The following list includes some of the best paying positions for a nurse with a master of science in nursing.
1. Nurse Consultant
Also known as a legal nurse consultant or LNC, nurse consultants provide expert analysis, evaluation, and opinions on cases, claims, and trials within the legal arena. This position requires a specialized understanding of patient records, healthcare regulations and policies, and medical terminology. Law offices, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and hospitals all employ the services of RNs with expertise in legal nursing.
Median Annual Salary: $78,684
2. Research Nurse
Clinical research nurses carry out research and gather findings related to medications, treatments, and possible cures. Trained in both quantitative and qualitative research methods, research nurses often lead clinical trials and medical case studies on diseases, disorders, and treatment plans. Research RNs possess a strong background in research, data analysis, and writing.
Median Annual Salary: $73,395
3. Nurse Educator
Nurse educators are RNs with advanced degrees qualified to teach nursing students at the postsecondary level. They help design, implement, and revise curricula for nursing education programs, playing a pivotal role in the growth and quality of the field. Nurse educators work at colleges and universities, teaching hospitals, laboratories, and clinical settings. Most nurse educators who teach at the university level hold a doctorate.
Median Annual Salary: $73,710
4. Nurse Administrator
Nurse administrators oversee the delivery of patient care within a healthcare setting, such as a hospital, clinic, or medical center. Nurse administrators take charge of entire facilities, whereas nurse managers focus on a specific nursing unit or department. In addition to delivering quality healthcare, nurse administrators help develop policies and procedures, manage staff, and oversee finances and resources.
Median Annual Salary: $85,635
5. Advanced Nurse Practitioner
Advanced nurse practitioners (APRNs) hold an advanced degree in nursing, such as an MSN or DNP, with training in one of four recognized APRN roles: nurse practitioner (NP), certified nurse midwife (CNM), certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), or clinical nurse specialist (CNS). APRNs can also obtain further NP specialization in acute care, family care, adult-gerontology, emergency care, neonatal, pediatrics, women’s health, or psychiatric care.
Median Annual Salary: $93,335