How Nursing Salaries Compare by Job Titles

Compares median annual salaries for a variety of different nursing positions, including registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, nursing instructor and certified nurse anesthetist.
How Nursing Salaries Compare by Job Titles

Salaries vary widely across the field of nursing. From entry-level positions like licensed practical nurses to highly advanced roles like certified nurse anesthetist, the range between median annual salaries is vast. Whether you're just breaking into the nursing field and want to identify the most lucrative job titles or if you've worked in the field for some time but are thinking about progressing into a more advanced role, comparing nursing salaries by job title is sure to be useful.

Get a feel for how much a nursing job title can affect pay by considering these 12 especially popular options:

Home Health Aide


Certified nursing assistants, or CNAs, who work in patients' homes are known as home health aides. Only a small amount of training is required to qualify for this entry-level position, and the median pay reflects that.

Licensed Practical Nurse


Licensed practical nurses, or LPNs, must complete around a year of training and pass the NCLEX-PN licensing exam to earn their licenses. These health care professionals provide basic nursing care in a variety of settings, including hospitals, doctor's offices, nursing homes and rehab facilities.

Registered Nurse


Registered nurses, or RNs, work in a variety of settings. Their median annual salaries vary partially based on the training that they have received. You can become an RN by earning an associate's degree in nursing, or ADN, or by earning a bachelor of science in nursing, or BSN. The salary for the latter ranges from $41,000 to $78,000.

Clinical Research Nurse


Clinical research nurses are like RNs in that they provide care to patients. However, they typically do so in a clinical trial setting. Therefore, they care for patients who are participating in drug trials and other clinical trials. To become a clinical research nurse, you will need a BSN and several years of experience in a research setting.

Nurse Educator


Nurse educators, or nursing instructors, are registered nurses who are responsible for training and educating nurses. They typically do so in classrooms, but they also provide instruction in clinical units and similar settings. Typically, you must have a BSN as well as a degree in education or relevant experience to get into this field. The salary largely depends on the setting in which you work and on the amount of experience that you have.

Emergency Room Nurse


Emergency room nurses, or ER nurses, work exclusively in ERs. The work is demanding because it is often very fast-paced and hectic, but there are also often long periods of inactivity. Like most RNs, ER nurses work a variety of shifts, including night shifts. Many times, higher pay comes along with working inconvenient hours, including overnight shifts. Most ER nurses have BSNs as well as experience in emergency settings.

Nursing Director


Nursing directors are high-level managers of nursing units in hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities and settings. They are responsible for overseeing the overall performance of the nursing unit, which includes organizing, planning, evaluating and supervising activities, patients and other staff. Although a master's degree isn't always required, it is very common among those who work in this field.

Family Nurse Practitioner


Family nurse practitioners are technically nurses, but they do much of the same work as physicians. For example, they diagnose and treat illnesses and other conditions and, in many cases, they are authorized to prescribe medication. Many insurance companies also allow family nurse practitioners to act as primary care physicians, or PCPs. Unlike many nurse practitioners, or NPs, family NPs treat and manage the health of patients of all ages, from infants through senior citizens.

Certified Nurse Midwife


Certified nurse midwives are primarily responsible for coordinating the birthing process for expecting mothers. However, they also often provide prenatal care and other types of gynecological care to women of all ages. To become a certified nurse midwife, you must first earn your BSN. You must also typically obtain a specialized graduate nursing education, which may mean earning a master of science in nursing, or MSN.

Nurse Practitioner


Nurse practitioners are, for all intents and purposes, a short step below physicians. Like doctors, they are able to diagnose and treat acute, chronic and episodic illnesses and conditions. They work either independently or as a part of a larger health care team. They are able to perform a variety of diagnostic tests and can often prescribe medication. A graduate level nursing education is required to become an NP.

Travel Nurse


Unlike most nurses, who typically work in health care facilities or in patients' homes, travel nurses go where they are needed. To be a travel nurse, you have to be okay with uprooting your life fairly often to go where demand takes you. The median salary is a bit over $100,000, and that is for an average of 36 weeks' worth of work.

Certified Nurse Anesthetist


One of the most lucrative nursing job titles, certified nurse anesthetist, commands such high pay due to the importance and sensitivity of their work. They administer anesthesia, monitor patients' vital signs while they are under anesthesia and help them in recovering from anesthesia. Extensive education is required to become a certified nurse anesthetist, but you should start by earning your BSN. From there, most nurse anesthetists go on to earn MSNs or even DNPs, or doctor of nursing practice degrees, depending on their career goals.

With so many nursing job titles out there, it is easy for just about anyone in the nursing field to find a position that's right for them. By understanding the average salaries for these nursing professions, you can more easily zero in on one that works for you.

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