6 Best Paying RN Nursing Jobs and Careers

Registered Nurses are among the most in-demand, highly respected medical professionals in the country. They enjoy one of the highest average salaries, rock-solid job stability, and great employee benefits. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the average pay for registered nurses at around $64,690 per year or about $31.00 per hour – both of which are well above national salary averages. The job is so highly thought of that US News named it the Best Job in the Country for 2012.

Registered nurses have numerous job duties that put them in the forefront of the medical field. They not only provide patient care but also help educate patients and their families about health care, specific situations, and more. And in many cases, they provide a kind of emotional support to patients and family members that other medical professionals won’t provide.

Common tasks handled by an RN include:

  • Administering medications or treatments
  • Recording patient medical histories
  • Recording symptoms
  • Observing patients and assisting in examinations
  • Operating medical equipment
  • Performing tests
  • Explaining how patients need to care for themselves after leaving a medical facility
  • Overseeing CNAs and other lower-level nursing professionals

Additionally, many RNs choose to specialize in particular areas of study in order to provide even deeper levels of care to patients. Specializations enhance pay, employment opportunities, and more.

Training to become an RN requires at least an Associates of Nursing Degree, but in many cases nurses find that they have better opportunities by earning a Bachelor’s degree. An AND will take about 2 to 3 years for completion, while a BSN will take 4 years. Coursework will include studies in nursing, physiology, anatomy, nutrition, and more. Plus, clinical training will be required as well. Specializations could bring further levels of training with them and also come with further clinical training.

The RN degree is often used as a stepping stone to an even more advanced degree, but in many cases it is more than enough for nursing professionals to achieve their goals. There are numerous high-paying RN nursing jobs and careers available, and finding one that matches your interests and goals is important.

Here are some of the best options out there today.

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#1. Dialysis Registered Nurse

A dialysis registered nurse specializes in providing dialysis to patients with kidney issues. They may work in a dialysis center, hospital, or other medical facility. In some cases positions are available at resorts and even on cruise ships that have dialysis centers set up for patrons. Additional responsibilities could include things like monitoring vital signs and ensuring that the patient is following good care guidelines after they leave the dialysis center. This position pays excellent wages and is in high demand.

  • Percentage of RN Workforce: 1.8%
  • Projected Job Growth by 2020: 26%
  • Average Salary: $100,000


#2. Oncology Registered Nurse

An oncology registered nurse is an RN that has specialized in providing care to cancer patients. They may work in an oncology ward of a hospital or in a private physician’s office. Job duties will include helping monitor a patient, administering chemotherapy or other treatments, helping an oncologist provide care to patients, and more. In many instances, oncology RNs will find themselves providing some measure of moral, emotional, and mental support to patients who are fighting cancer.

  • Percentage of RN Workforce: 3.2%
  • Projected Job Growth by 2020: 26%
  • Average Salary: $83,000


#3. Post Anesthetic Care Unit Registered Nurse

A Post Anesthetic Care Unit RN, or PACU RN, is responsible for providing care to patients following medical procedures that required anesthesia. They may work in hospitals, surgical centers, and even in dental offices. They will monitor patient vital signs and ensure that the anesthesia’s residual effects wear off properly. Additionally, they may provide post operation care.

  • Percentage of RN Workforce: 1.6%
  • Projected Job Growth by 2020: 26%
  • Average Salary: $84,000


#4. Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Registered Nurse

These nurses work in neonatal ICU facilities providing round the clock care to sick or premature newborns. Their jobs are incredibly rewarding and bring high pay. They’re also in very high demand, and take part in very specialized medical care processes.

  • Percentage of RN Workforce: 2.3%
  • Projected Job Growth by 2020: 26%
  • Average Salary: $83,000


#5. Travel Registered Nurse

A travel RN doesn’t earn as much as some other RNs, but they enjoy the benefit of travel as a job perk. Travel RNs often work for cruise lines and other similar companies, providing medical care during cruises and travels to other countries.

  • Percentage of RN Workforce: .8%
  • Projected Job Growth by 2020: 26%
  • Average Salary: $66,000



#6. Intensive Care Unit Registered Nurse

ICU RNs work in hospital ICUs to ensure that patients receive the kind of high level care that they need. This can include a wide range of things ranging from medication administration to monitoring vitals to controlling the risk of infection.

  • Percentage of RN Workforce: 4%
  • Projected Job Growth by 2020: 26%
  • Average Salary: $65,000