Average Nurse Salaries by Type of Nursing Career and Role

What type of salary range will you earn as a nurse? That depends upon your degree, certifications, location, years of experience, and type of nursing you plan to practice.

Some nursing careers require no degree, while most require an associate's degree, bachelor's, master's degree in nursing, or other advanced degree. Even doctorate level degrees are available for nurses.

As a nurse, your degree and your job responsibilities greatly affect your earning power. Your location, hours, and experience also impact your salary. Below are some average salaries for a variety of nursing careers.

Licensed Vocational or Practical Nurse

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Median income: $47,480 annually

Licensed vocational nurses (LVN) and licensed practical nurses (LPN) are some of the lowest-paid nursing roles, but that is due to the fact that the educational requirements are less than most other types of nurses. The above salary is based on U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data from 2020.

Practicing as an LVN/LPN does not require a college degree and some jobs only require a high school diploma and minimal training beyond that.

Registered Nurse

Average salary: $73,300 annually

Registered nurses (RN) are a large part of the nurse workforce. RNs practice in a variety of specialties and work environments. RNs must have at least an associate's degree in nursing, and many RNs have a bachelor's degree.

Additionally, many RNs go on to obtain advanced nursing degrees at which point they earn more money, and get promoted to advance nursing positions with more clinical authority.

Clinical Nurse Specialist

Salary range: $70,000-120,000+ annually

Clinical nurse specialists (CNS) hold at least a master's degree in nursing with a CNS track in one of several medical specialties, such as oncology, geriatrics, cardiology, etc. Due to their higher level of education and scope of practice, clinical nurse specialists earn more than RNs and many other types of nurses.

Nurse Practitioner

Average Salary: $115,800

Nurse practitioners (NP) hold a master's degree from an accredited nurse practitioner program​, and are considered advanced practice nurses. In fact, many states allow NPs to practice independently of physicians and even prescribe medications.

According to the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), average salaries for NPs vary slightly by specialty. The highest-earning NPs are in neonatal/perinatal care ($124,840 average annual salary), cardiology ($120,000), and emergency medicine ($98,862).

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

Average salary: $174,790 annually

Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) administer anesthesia to block pain during surgery or surgical procedures in hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, or dental offices. The top 10% of CRNAs earn over $185,000 annually.

CRNAs typically must be on call for emergency surgeries and may have to work long hours. The intensity and stress of the job, plus the high level of education required make CRNA jobs among the highest-paying nursing jobs. CRNAs are RNs who then go on to earn a master's degree in an accredited nurse anesthetist training program.

Nurse Midwife

Average salary: $106,910 annually

Nurse midwives are nurses who have special training in obstetrics, specifically in childbirth. Nurse midwives care for people who are pregnant and assist them during and after the delivery.

Nurse Educator

Nurse educators teach future nurses how to be nurses. The wide salary range for this role is due to the fact that nurse educators' jobs are also varied. Some teach part-time, others full-time. Some nurse educators teach online, others teach on-site.

Therefore, salaries vary accordingly. Most nurse educators have master's degrees, but some opportunities may be available to those with bachelor's degrees.

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  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Updated April 10, 2020.

  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Registered nurses. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Updated April 10, 2020.

  3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Updated April 10, 2020.

  4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Nurse anesthetists. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Updated March 29, 2019.

  5. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nurse midwives. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Updated March 29, 2019.