What is the average salary for a nurse with an MSN? There are many factors that affect your salary besides your level of education, including where you live, what industry you work in, and what your specialty is. This article will cover all of those variables and help you determine what you can expect to earn with an MSN degree. But first, here is some information about what it takes to get an MSN.
The decision to pursue a higher level of education shouldn’t be all about the money. Although you will likely earn more with an MSN, you’ll also open up career possibilities that would be difficult to achieve without a master’s degree. Advanced practice registered nurses working in positions such as nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, and nurse practitioner are typically required to have a minimum of a master’s degree level education. If you are interested in one of these positions or any type of administrative or managerial position, you will probably need an MSN.
In order to get into an MSN program, you’ll first need a bachelor’s degree (BSN). You may also need several years of nursing experience. The exact requirements vary from one school to another. Many nurses start out as LPNs, then complete an LPN-to-RN program, a bachelor’s degree program, and later finish out their education with an MSN degree. Taking your nursing education one step at a time will allow you to start working as a nurse while continuing your education. However, if you do this, it will probably take longer to get through your education since it is difficult to work full-time and go to school at the same time.
Although most MSN programs take two years to complete, some schools do offer accelerated tracks. If your bachelor’s degree is in another field besides nursing, you will need to complete a basic nursing curriculum to become a registered nurse before you can enter into an MSN program. This typically adds an extra year to the length of the MSN program.
As an MSN student, you’ll study advanced nursing practice, management and leadership, research, social and physical sciences, nursing informatics, and clinical practice. There are several specializations you can choose from when selecting an MSN program, including nurse practitioner, nursing education, and clinical nurse leader. The specialization you choose should match the career path you wish to pursue.
Now Is the Best Time to Pursue Your MSN Degree
In the video below, you’ll hear the story of a woman who finally went back for her bachelor’s degree after nine years of thinking about it. She is now the manager of the OB department of the hospital where she works. Just think where she could be now if she had started nine years earlier. There’s another reason you should think about doing it now. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, soon you will need a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, instead of an MSN, to begin a career as an advanced practice registered nurse. AACN member institutions voted to move the current level of preparation necessary for advanced nursing practice from the master’s degree to the doctorate level by the year 2015.
YouTube Special Feature
This video discusses the MSN degree program available at Cedarville University. It offers a nice insight into what a typical program might look like.
The Average MSN Salary by Specialty
The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides salary statistics for three nursing specialties that require an MSN degree: nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, and nurse anesthetists. This chart compares the average annual salary for these specialties with the U.S. national average salary and the average salary for a registered nurse. As you can see, the highest-paid MSNs are nurse anesthetists, with an average annual salary of $157,690.
U.S. National Average Salary $22.33/hour $893.08/week $3,870/month $46,440/year
Registered Nurse $33.13/hour $1,325.19/wk $5,742.50/mo $68,910/year
Nurse Midwife $44.34/hour $1,773.65/wk $7,685.83/mo $92,230/year
Nurse Practitioner $45.71/hour $1,828.27/wk $7,922.50/mo $95,070/year
Nurse Anesthetist $75.81/hour $3,032.50/wk $13,140.83 $157,690/year
Jobs for People with an MSN Degree
The career choices for a person with an MSN degree are not limited to the three specialties above. There are many others to choose from. Here is a brief overview of some of the career options available for people with MSN degrees.
Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
Acute care nurse practitioners provide acute care to patients under the supervision of a doctor and, usually, an acute nurse manager. Duties include assessing the patient’s condition and needs, administering treatments, interacting with patients and their family members, recording medical information, and measuring the progress of the treatment.
Adult Nurse Practitioner
Adult nurse practitioners work with patients who are over 21 years of age. They usually work under the supervision of a physician, treating patients with both acute and chronic conditions.
Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner
An advanced registered nurse practitioner is licensed by the state to be able to perform tasks that are normally done by physicians even when the physician is not there. Other duties include coordinating a patient’s treatment and managing staff.
Certified Nurse Midwife
Certified nurse midwives provide exactly the same services as nurse midwives, but because they are certified, their salary tends to be a little bit higher during the early part of their careers. This difference wears off and even reverses toward the top end of the pay scale, though, so it appears that other factors become more important than certification as nurse midwives become more experienced.
Chief Nurse Anesthetist
In addition to performing the duties of a nurse anesthetist, the chief nurse anesthetist is responsible for running the department. This position requires leadership and managerial skills in addition to advanced practice nursing licensure and accreditation by the AANA.
Chief Nursing Officer
The chief nursing officer is responsible for making sure that a hospital’s nursing procedures are being followed and that employees are properly trained. He or she also manages staff levels and creates purchasing plans for supplies and equipment that fall within the constraints of the departmental budget.
Clinical Nurse Manager
A clinical nurse manager manages all of the employees within a nursing department. Job responsibilities include hiring and firing employees, writing and implementing policies and procedures, scheduling, and training employees. This position usually requires at least three years of previous nursing management experience.
Dermatology Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner
Dermatology advanced registered nurse practitioners specialize in dermatology. Duties include counseling patients, providing treatments, and assisting physicians with surgery and other procedures.
Family Nurse Practitioner
A family nurse practitioner is an advanced registered nurse practitioner who has earned a certification in family practice. Family nurse practitioners often work in physicians’ offices, providing preventive care and treating common conditions and illnesses.
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
Neonatal nurse practitioners provide special care for newborns requiring extra care due to major or minor problems. Neonatal nurse practitioners often work night and weekend hours since their tiny patients need constant care.
Most nurse anesthetists work in hospitals or surgery centers. Their responsibilities include preparing patients for anesthesia, determining which anesthetic agents to use, and administering the correct dosage of the anesthetics to the patient. Nurse anesthetists must be licensed as advanced practice registered nurses and accredited by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA).
Nurse midwives oversee all of their patients’ prenatal care, including gynecological examinations. They provide their patients and their patients’ families with education about pregnancy, childbirth and caring for a new baby. They assist their patients during labor and deliver babies. Some work in hospitals exclusively, while others offer low-risk patients the opportunity to give birth at home.
Nurse practitioners usually work under a supervising physician. They must possess a master’s degree in nursing and be certified in their area of specialty. Nurse practitioners manage their patients’ care by performing health assessments and physical examinations, making diagnoses, ordering tests and procedures, and prescribing medications. They also provide patient education and promote healthy lifestyle habits.
Nursing managers oversee both the facilities and staff in their departments. They must have strong supervisory and leadership skills and be able to communicate effectively with subordinates and other co-workers.
Pediatrics Nurse Practitioner
A pediatrics nurse practitioner is a nurse practitioner who works exclusively with children. Most pediatrics nurse practitioners work in the pediatrics ward of a hospital or medical facility. They frequently treat young patients who are chronically ill.
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
A psychiatric nurse practitioner is an advanced registered nurse practitioner with a specialization in psychiatric nursing. Psychiatric nurse practitioners perform mental health assessments, diagnose mental disorders, and prescribe medication and therapy. They usually work under the supervision of a psychiatrist.
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
Women’s health nurse practitioners specialize in the care and treatment of female patients. These practitioners often work in gynecologist’s offices and women’s health clinics. Their responsibilities usually focus on obstetrics, gynecology, labor, and delivery.
MSN Salary by Specialty
Since the government doesn’t give statistics for every career out there, we turned to Payscale.com for a more complete picture. When comparing the data below to the BLS data above, keep in mind that we took the mean (average) salaries from the BLS data. Payscale provides median salaries instead. The median is the point at which half of the people who have that job are paid more and half are paid less. It is not the same as an average.
Job Title 10% 25% 50% (median) 75% 90%
Chief Nurse Anesthetist 120k 140k $166,106 190k 230k
Nurse Anesthetist 87k 110k $131,654 150k 170k
Chief Nursing Officer 78k 92k $111,418 140k 170k
Acute Care Nurse Practitioner 72k 80k $89,263 98k 107k
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner 68k 79k $89,014 100k 110k
Adult Nurse Practitioner 73k 79k $86,642 96k 110k
Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner 66k 76k $85,459 97k 110k
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner 54k 73k $85,032 99k 110k
Dermatology Adv. Reg. Nurse Practitioner 66k 78k $83,436 92k 100k
Certified Nurse Midwife 67k 73k $83,215 95k 100k
Family Nurse Practitioner 65k 73k $83,052 92k 100k
Nurse Practitioner 64k 74k $82,940 93k 100k
Nurse Midwife 58k 69k $81,046 96k 110k
Nursing Manager 58k 69k $80,238 92k 110k
Pediatrics Nurse Practitioner 62k 70k $78,507 87k 96k
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner 61k 70k $77,874 87k 96k
Clinical Nurse Manager 55k 64k $75,612 87k 100k
Salary Range by Location
Salaries for any profession can vary considerably from one city or state to the next. In general, you can expect to make more in areas where the cost of living is higher. However, other factors, such as supply and demand, also play a role. Here is a breakdown of the states, metropolitan areas, and nonmetropolitan areas that offer the highest average annual pay for nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and nurse anesthetists.
States with the Highest MSN Pay
Three states appear more than once in the table below. Those states are California, Oregon, and Massachusetts, all of which are in the top five for both nurse practitioner and nurse midwife.
|Nurse Practitioner||Nurse Midwife||Nurse Anesthetist|
|1||Alaska ($111,800)||California ($120,450)||Nevada ($221,240)|
|2||California ($110,590)||New Hampshire ($112,530)||Wisconsin ($200,350)|
|3||Oregon ($107,560)||North Dakota ($107,220)||Wyoming ($197,310)|
|4||Hawaii ($106,770)||Massachusetts ($106,780)||Maryland ($196,690)|
|5||Massachusetts ($105,010)||Oregon ($105,500)||District of Columbia ($187,200)|
Metropolitan Areas with the Highest MSN Pay
Surprisingly, only one metropolitan area makes the top ten list for more than one of the three MSN careers. Baltimore-Towson, MD is #5 for nurse anesthetist and #8 for nurse midwife.
|Nurse Practitioner||Nurse Midwife||Nurse Anesthetist|
|1||Columbus, IN ($146,920)||Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, CA Metropolitan Division ($129,390)||Las Vegas-Paradise, NV ($238,350)|
|2||Texarkana, TX/AR ($137,880)||Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division ($116,790)||Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, FL Metropolitan Division ($203,540)|
|3||San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($133,930)||Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX Metropolitan Division ($116,790)||Philadelphia, PA Metropolitan Division ($199,720)|
|4||Stockton, CA ($128,290)||Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR/WA ($111,680)||Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC ($196,640)|
|5||Bloomington, IN ($126,470)||Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA NECTA Division ($111,580)||Baltimore-Towson, MD ($192,950)|
|6||San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA Metropolitan Division ($125,720)||Camden, NJ Metropolitan Division (103,340)||Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC/VA/MD/WV Metropolitan Division ($192,840)|
|7||Yuma, AZ ($123,980)||Trenton-Ewing, NJ ($103,210)||Indianapolis-Carmel, IN ($192,430)|
|8||Longview, TX ($122,800)||Baltimore-Towson, MD ($101,860)||Oshkosh-Neenah, WI ($191,500)|
|9||Gadsden, AL ($121,430)||Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA Metropolitan Division ($101,820)||Duluth, MN/WI ($187,170)|
|10||Medford, OR ($118,300)||New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY/NJ Metropolitan Division ($100,480)||Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR/MO ($186,490)|
Non-Metropolitan Areas with the Highest MSN Pay
If you don’t like big city life, it looks like Eastern Utah is your best bet for top MSN pay. Texas and Wisconsin also look good. There is no data for highest-paying nonmetropolitan areas for nurse midwives.
|Nurse Practitioner||Nurse Anesthetist|
|1||Northwestern Texas nonmetropolitan area ($123,150)||West Central Wisconsin nonmetropolitan area ($232,720)|
|2||Eastern New Mexico nonmetropolitan area ($117,360)||Eastern Utah nonmetropolitan area ($214,730)|
|3||Western Central North Carolina nonmetropolitan area ($113,130)||Northwest Minnesota nonmetropolitan area ($214,190)|
|4||Eastern Utah nonmetropolitan area ($111,250)||Eastern Texas nonmetropolitan area ($212,900)|
|5||Coastal Oregon nonmetropolitan area ($109,340)||Eastern Wisconsin nonmetropolitan area ($204,840)|
MSN Employment for the Entire US
As of May 2013, there were a total of 154,260 people working in the U.S. as nurse anesthetists (35,430), nurse midwives (5,460), and nurse practitioners (113,370). The Bureau of Labor Statistics groups clinical nurse specialists with registered nurses, so it’s impossible to get an overall total that includes everyone with an MSN.
Highest Paying Industries for MSNs
Some industries pay more than others for the same job, so it can be helpful to know which type of company is likely to offer a high salary. Here are the top five industries for each of the three careers requiring an MSN that the BLS provides data for.
|Nurse Practitioner||Nurse Midwife||Nurse Anesthetist|
|1||Personal Care Services ($117,300)||Home Health Care Services ($101,420)||Offices of Dentists ($179,570)|
|2||Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals ($109,850)||General Medical and Surgical Hospitals ($97,730)||Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals ($174,850)|
|3||Grantmaking and Giving Services ($107,350)||Employment Services ($95,880)||Outpatient Care Centers ($169,770)|
|4||Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping, and Payroll Services ($104,360)||Outpatient Care Centers ($94,470)||General Medical and Surgical Hospitals ($165,340)|
|5||Employment Services ($104,010)||Offices of Physicians ($93,170)||Offices of Other Health Practitioners ($158,930)|
Career Outlook for MSNs
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people working as nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners is expected to increase 31% from 2012 to 2022. This is much faster than the average job growth rate. Healthcare legislation, increased emphasis on preventative care, and the aging baby-boomer population all contribute to the anticipated growth. However, not all medical professions are expected to be affected equally. The projected growth rate for RNs is just 19%. That is still faster than average, but it is significantly lower than the growth projected for advanced practice nursing fields.