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Best U.S. Nurses Salaries by Specialization

Career News June 30, 2013

Nursing is a profession that is in high demand due to shortages in the field across the United States. While this opens many career opportunities in the profession, it also makes nursing salaries fairly lucrative. As an individual begins his or her education or job search, however, it is best to learn nurse salary limits and benefits before selecting which specialty will fit best.

Determining the best United States nurse salary is dependent on where the education took place, the state where the job is available, an individual’s overall experience, the level of the position, and the advanced practice specialty. The following salary list uses these factors and is listed from lowest to highest by specialization.

Certified Nurse Midwife

•$55,000 – $92,205 per year
•Ideal for L&D nurses
•Top-salary requirements: advanced practice degree & experience as an RN

The certified nurse-midwife (CNM), as an advanced-practice specialty, the nurse salary is comparable with a clinical nurse specialist salary. A nurse-midwife must receive a master’s degree along with extensive, hands-on training in women’s health care with a concentration on labor and delivery, as well as maternity care. This is an advanced practice nurse with additional education around delivering babies and providing prenatal and postpartum care to women.

The certified nurse-midwife specialty can aid in childbirth, provide family planning and birth control advice, offer gynecological services, and prescribe medicinal care in most states. Nurse-midwives have the flexibility in regard to where they choose to work, as well, from hospitals to birthing centers to home settings.

Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)

•$57,000 – $104,000 per year
•Perfect for nurses who like research
•Wide variety of specializations within the field, including medical-surgical and critical care
•Top-salary requirements: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and a current CEU

The clinical nurse specialist is the nursing profession for those who like to concentrate more on research in the medical field. Individuals looking at this specialty need an education in a specialized graduate degree program with either a master’s degree or a doctorate.

A CNS concentrates his or her work in specific diseases, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Because of this, they are uniquely prepared to work in various settings, from the emergency room to critical care. They may also serve as case managers in coordinating and organizing services, resources, and costs. This is an ideal field for individuals who want versatility in a specialization.

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

•$105,000 –$131,000 per year
•Highest paid nursing specialty
•Excellent choice for hands-on nursing
•Top-salary requirements: certification & experience in critical care

A certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) currently holds the top position for best nurse salary in the U.S. This is because it is an extremely niche field that requires a bachelor’s in nursing, a registered nursing license, and extensive hands-on training. The demand rises when considering that, in more than two-thirds of all rural hospitals, nurse anesthetists generally the only anesthesia providers available.

A nurse anesthetist is a licensed professional who offers the same services as an anesthesiologist (MD). Once certified, CRNAs may practice in all fifty states. It is an ideal field for those interested in working in hands-on proximity with anesthesiologists, podiatrists, dentists, and surgeons.

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  • Regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
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