There’s never been any doubt in your mind that nursing is for you — you love having the ability to make a difference in patients’ lives.
As you learn more about having a nursing career and all the responsibilities, hours, and education requirements that come with the job, you realize that salary does play a role in the position you choose.
Whether you’ve got college debt looming over your head or are just exploring the different paths at your feet, you’re likely asking: Is it possible to make over six figures as a nurse?
Read on to learn more about which career paths to consider and our top tips to help you land a high-paying nursing job.
Table of Contents
- Can Nurses Make Six Figures?
- Top 6 High-Paying Nursing Specialties
- How to Make Over 6 Figures as a Nurse — 7 Ways to Land a High-Paying Job
- 3 Best Tips for Landing a Six-Figure Travel Nurse Job
- Looking for Six-Figure Nursing Jobs? Find a High-Paying Position With Trusted Staff Nursing
Can Nurses Make Six Figures?
Absolutely! It is possible for a nurse — especially travel nurses — to make six figures. Making $100k or more as a nurse involves:
- Understanding that where you work may influence your pay
- Specialty certifications
- The amount of experience you have
- How many hours you’re willing to work
- And more
Top 6 High-Paying Nursing Specialties
Below are the top six nursing careers that make six figures. You may already work in one of these specialties and not earn six figures. However, it’s not just the position that determines the pay. Other factors include:
- Education and certifications
- Shift differentiators
- Type and size of facility
#1: Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists are responsible for administering medication (anesthesia) to patients before, during, and after a procedure. CRNAs are constantly monitoring the way their patients’ bodies function at all times.
Aside from the fact that employment rates for CRNAs are constantly growing — the demand for CRNAs is set to grow by 45 percent from 2020-2030 according to the BLS — as a CRNA, you’re responsible for your patients’ lives. So, it’s no wonder this position offers such a high salary.
The average salary for a CRNA is $202,470 per year.
Some of the requirements to become a CRNA include:
- A Bachelor’s degree
- Passing the NCLEX
- Gaining experience in an acute or critical care setting
- Pursuing and passing your Master’s from an accredited nurse anesthesia program or a Master of Science in Nursing program
- Passing the National Certification Exam (NCE)
#2: NICU Nurses
If you’re a nurse who loves caring for babies, you may want to consider specializing in neonatal nursing. Not only does this specialty pay a higher salary, it can also be a very rewarding career path.
The average salary of a NICU nurse is $136,592 per year with some positions paying as high as $207,500. NICU nurses work an average of 36 hours per week.
Some of the requirements to become a NICU nurse include:
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
- Passing the NCLEX-RN
- Experience in general nursing
- NRP (Neonatal Resuscitation Program) certification
- PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support) certification
- State licensure
As a NICU nurse, you may want to consider furthering your education to become a neonatal nurse practitioner or a neonatal clinical nurse specialist. Both designations command a higher salary and advancement opportunities.
#3: General Nurse Practitioner
General nurse practitioners work in an independent practice or as part of a primary care team in various settings. General nurse practitioners are able to advance their skills and earning potential and may choose to specialize in a particular field down the road.
The demand for GNPs is high, making it one of the top-earning nursing positions available. The average salary of a GNP is $121,610 per year and most general nurse practitioners work 40 hours per week.
Some of the requirements to become a GNP include:
- All requirements to become an RN
- At least 1-year of clinical experience as an RN
- A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
- Passing a national certification exam
- Nurse Practitioner licensure as specified by your state
#4: ICU Nurse
If you like a fast-paced work environment and are hoping for a six-figure nursing job, the ICU might be the place for you. However, ICU nurses require a specialized set of skills and they’re dealing with life-and-death situations daily.
Because ICU nurses are required to have very keen critical thinking and nursing skills, the average salary is $121,194 per year, with some ICU nurses earning as much as $173,500.
Some of the requirements to become an ICU nurse include:
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
- Passing the NCLEX-RN
- Experience in general nursing
- CCRN certification (recommended)
- State licensure
#5: Certified Nurse Midwife
CNMs provide gynecological, prenatal, and post-pregnancy care to patients. Some of the responsibilities associated with the job include:
- Providing prenatal care
- Performing physical exams
- Educating women about birthing options, birth control, etc.
- Monitoring maternal and fetal health
- Writing prescriptions
- Assisting with postpartum care
- Treating routine health conditions during pregnancy
- Ordering labs and reviewing lab results
Most CNMs work in OB/GYN offices, clinical, or hospital settings.
The median salary for certified nurse midwives (CMN) was $114,210 as of 2021.
If you’re interested in becoming a CNM, keep in mind that the six-figure salary comes with:
- Education requirements, including up to eight years of college
- Many responsibilities
- Long hours
- Being the number one support system for families during pregnancy
If you are someone who has a passion for helping families grow, supporting families during the highs and lows that come with it, and meets the education requirements, becoming a CNM may be a career path to consider.
#6: Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
Are you a nurse and an advocate for raising awareness and helping those struggling with mental health? Becoming a psychiatric nurse practitioner may be the career that allows you to make over six figures as a nurse.
Psychiatric nurse practitioners make an average of $112,874 annually.
Psychiatric nurse practitioners usually work in in-patient settings, helping patients manage and overcome psychiatric disorders such as:
- Mood disorders
- Anxiety and depression
- Substance abuse
- Bipolar disorder
Working side-by-side with psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners generally hold a Master’s degree or a Doctorate and have a national certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. You can expect to have around 10 years of education under your belt.
How to Make Over 6 Figures as a Nurse — 7 Ways to Land a High-Paying Job
#1: Relocate to a Higher Paying State
Working in some states may make it easier to make six figures than in other states.
The cost of living, demand for nurses, and location can all play a significant role in the amount of money you can expect to see from a nursing position in specific states.
Currently, the highest-paying states for registered nurses are:
- Oregon; and
When deciding on whether to relocate to a state with nursing jobs that pay six figures, it is vital to consider the following:
Although you may make more money in that state, you may also be paying for a higher cost of living — so be sure to do your research before deciding that relocating is the best way to make over six figures as a nurse.
#2: Work Overtime Hours
Maybe you’re in love with the field you already work in as a nurse, but you’re still looking for ways to increase your salary — working overtime hours may be the best way to increase your income and stay in your field.
Depending on the facility, nurses may even receive incentive pay or bonuses for picking up last-minute shifts or shifts when the facility is short-staffed.
If you are a nurse making an average hourly rate of $37 an hour and overtime pay is 1.5 times your hourly rate, you could work three extra eight-hour shifts every two weeks to make over six figures as a nurse — and that’s if you don’t include any incentive pay.
#3: Get an Advanced Nursing Degree
We have already mentioned six of the highest-paying nursing careers, two of which require an advanced nursing degree. But even outside of those specialties, having an advanced nursing degree can almost guarantee that you’ll be making an average salary that is at least six figures.
The average nurse practitioner makes $121,610 per year — and depending on which specialty you choose, you can make well beyond that amount.
While these degrees require …
- Effort, and
- More money toward your education
… if making over six figures as a nurse is your goal, it may be the most worthwhile and rewarding way to do so.
#4: Change Positions or Specialities
Are you ready to switch up your specialty or position? As a nurse, you have so many directions you can go in — and some of the salaries that come with those positions are well worth the transition.
Six-figure nursing jobs tend to be the most in-demand, like:
- Emergency room
#5: Start a Part-Time Business
If you love being a nurse and you want to share your passion with others, but you don’t want to put even more hours at the hospital, know that there are additional part-time jobs, or “side hustles” you can do to reach your income goals.
Consider the following part-time jobs to help you boost your salary:
- Freelance nurse writer
- Nursing instructor or tutor
- Healthcare transcriptionist
- Telehealth nursing
- Phlebotomy clinics
- First aid or CPR instructor
#6: Pursue Leadership Roles
Nurse managers and administrators often earn more than staff nurses. Consider pursuing leadership positions if you have the skills and interest in management.
Leadership positions allow you to have a broader impact on patient care, lead healthcare teams, and contribute to the overall improvement of healthcare delivery.
If this sounds like a path you might want to take to earn six figures as a nurse, here are some steps to help you get there:
- Further your education – While not always required, advanced degrees (like an MSN or DNP) can be very beneficial in leadership roles.
- Gain clinical experience – It’s important to have a strong foundation of clinical experience before you consider moving into a leadership role. This experience will help prepare you for the daily challenges and needs of the nurses you’ll be leading.
- Professional certification – Taking relevant certifications, like CNML (Certified Nurse Manager and Leader), can enhance your qualifications and demonstrate your commitment to leadership in nursing.
- Develop leadership skills – Soft skills, such as communication, problem-solving, conflict resolution, and decision-making are crucial for effective leadership.
The path to a leadership role may take time, but if you remain dedicated, continue learning, and are persistent in pursuing your aspirations, it can be well worth the investment.
#7: Become a Travel Nurse
If you’ve been a nurse for any amount of time, you may be curious about ways to help others, make a reasonable living, and experience the world around you — travel nursing can help you do each of those things.
Travel nurses make significantly more than staff nurses because compensation packages for travel nurses vs. staff nurses are very different.
In addition to their base wages as a travel nurse, they also receive extra compensation, typically in the form of:
- Mileage, housing, and meal stipends
- Referral bonuses
- Travel reimbursements
Because travel nurses generally work in areas where there is a high demand, they can expect to see above-average wages during their travel assignments.
Trusted Nurse Staffing believes in providing the best to those who sacrifice so much to work in healthcare, which is why we offer our travel nurses the highest rates in the industry and extensive benefits packages.
With flexible contracts all over the United States, a career with Trusted Nurse Staffing means finding your dream job on your own terms.
Visit Pronto today to learn more about how you can find six-figure nursing jobs with our agency.
3 Best Tips for Landing a Six-Figure Travel Nurse Job
No matter which direction you choose to go, if you are questioning how to make over six figures as a nurse, travel nursing may be the one that’s most appealing to you!
We understand how hard it can be to decide whether travel nursing is right for you, especially if you want to land a six-figure travel nursing job, so we’re offering our top three tips.
#1: Remember Your “Why”
You’ve likely been asked this one thousand times as a nurse: “What’s your why?”
A career in nursing isn’t for the weak, and no amount of money can prepare you for some of the challenges you may face — especially as a travel nurse.
So, no matter if you’re looking to make over six figures as a nurse or still exploring the field to figure out which specialty best suits you when things get complicated, remember why you embarked on your nursing journey.
#2: Be Flexible
Although a six-figure nursing income is your goal, remember that these jobs often come with costs that don’t always involve just finances. Consider the following:
- If you live on the East Coast and find a nursing job that offers over six figures, but it’s on the other side of the country, would you be willing to take it?
- Some of the highest-paying nursing jobs aren’t nine-to-five jobs — oftentimes they require late nights, long weeks, or weekends. Could your lifestyle be flexible enough to adjust to these changing shifts?
- If you’re seeking a specialty change, do you have the time to return to school to get the required certifications?
Flexibility is necessary as a travel nurse.
#3: Work With an Agency
Working with an agency is a great way to travel and find six-figure nursing jobs.
Travel nursing agencies provide higher wages and advocate for their travel nurses.
Say goodbye to the stress of searching for contracts on your own. When you work for an agency, they work with you to find the right assignment for you — and prepare you each time your contract comes to an end.
At Trusted Nurse Staffing, we have a team dedicated to supporting you. Whenever you need something, whether it be time to change your contract or solve a problem during your current contract — we’re here to support you 24/7.
We’ll help you make the most of your travel nursing career by helping you gain the experience, training, and salary that meets your needs.
Looking for Six-Figure Nursing Jobs? Find a High-Paying Position With Trusted Staff Nursing
Trusted Nurse Staffing is ready to help you level up your nursing career. If you’re looking for a six-figure nursing job that also offers:
- Sign-on bonuses
- Flexible contracts
- Health benefits
- 24/7 access to support
- Stipends for house, travel, and meals; and
- The opportunity to see the United States and make a difference
… we’re ready to help you get started on your travel nursing journey. Simply search our many six-figure nursing jobs on Pronto — adventure awaits!