As a career path that offers stable jobs with decent pay, nursing has few equals. Moreover, the ever-present demand for healthcare makes nursing recession-proof. Some of the highest-paying positions prefer or require a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Plus, a BSN can prepare you to earn a graduate degree in nursing.
What Is the Average Pay for Nurses?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for registered nurses is $73,300 (May 2019). Salaries vary by state — the lowest-paying jobs are in South Dakota and the highest in California. An aging population and an increasing rate of chronic illnesses nationwide means an ongoing demand for nurses.
Do Nurses With a BSN Make More?
Not surprisingly, a Medscape survey showed that annual earnings increase with the level of education. BSN nurses earn about $5,000 more per year than ADNs. In addition, nurses who have achieved additional certifications may earn another $7,000 per year. Some certifications, like Oncology Certified Nurse or OCN, do require a BSN to sit for the exam.
5 Well-Paid Nursing Jobs
- Pharmaceutical RN or Medical Device RN
These nurses work with a pharmaceutical or medical device company. Positions can be in sales, education or research. They often focus on a particular drug, device or disease.
These flexible roles often allow you to manage your own schedule in a telework/field-based position. They tend to be salaried, often with a bonus structure of cash, trips or stock options. Home office supplies, a car or car allowance, and continuing education may be part of the benefits package.
The average yearly salary for a pharmaceutical RN without bonus benefits is $84,348, according to ZipRecruiter, with top earners making more than $139K.
- Legal Nurse Consultant
According to RegisteredNursing.org, a legal nurse consultant is “a nurse who works as an expert on cases involving medical issues.” Work settings include:
- Law offices (personal injury, medical malpractice, product liability)
- Insurance companies (worker’s compensation, disability, billing)
- Government agencies (healthcare claims, state agencies)
- Hospitals (risk management, case management, licensure concerns)
- Private practices
- Independent agencies
Legal nurse consultants value patient rights and are strong patient advocates, often working closely with attorneys to provide clinical expertise. Nurses are often paid hourly, so they may set their own hours, many with a remote position.
- Travel Nurse
Some of the higher-paying jobs in nursing are travel nurse positions. Healthcare facilities may need short-term nurses for a variety of reasons — rural location, disaster relief, nursing strike, vacancies or medical/maternity leave. Nurses seeking adventure can travel around the world for their jobs.
The average salary is $99,000 per year, but this figure often depends on the contract, which can last anywhere from three days (disaster relief) to two years (nursing internationally). On the high end, annual salaries can exceed $146K. The average contract is 13 weeks. Nurses who specialize in intensive care, operating room, oncology or neonatal care may earn even more.
- Flight Transport Nurse
Flight transport nurses deals with patients in critical condition. Transport takes place between medical centers for special treatments and procedures or for emergency medical care. Flight transport nurses work in high-pressure environments with a large degree of autonomy.
Flight nurse salaries are a function of experience and certifications, with the average being $71,000 per year. Those with high-risk labor and delivery or neonatal care experience are often in greater demand.
- Nurse Educator
The term “nurse educator” applies to many different roles with the primary responsibility of educating nursing students, nurses or patients. If you love to teach, mentor or coach, this may be the role for you. Positions can be within a healthcare organization, such as a nursing education department, service line or unit, or as nursing faculty.
According to Indeed, the average salary for a clinical educator is $87,267 per year. If you are teaching a specialty or cover many areas, the pay may be higher. For nursing faculty in academia, the average salary is $68,850 per year, with top earners making more than $99K (ZipRecruiter)
Salary information for the above jobs was sourced in July 2020.
As an RN with a BSN, you have a wide array of career options. Don’t have a BSN yet? An online RN to BSN program allows you the flexibility you need to pursue your dreams and potentially earn more pay, while continuing to build nursing experience.
Learn more about the UL Lafayette online RN to BSN program.