EP 92: Highest Paying Nursing Careers

EP 92: Highest Paying Nursing Careers

A nursing career is a career in which you work for the people. You deal with individuals during one of their hardest and most vulnerable times. It is a selfless career and all the emotions and stress we go through as nurses has no price point. Nurses still have to make a living and a nurse does make a decent income, but more schooling and certification leads to a higher paycheck. These are the top 10 most paid nursing careers of 2021.

1 – Certified Nurse Anesthetist

Nurse anesthetists provide anesthesia and related care before, during, and after surgical, therapeutic, diagnostic, and obstetrical procedures. They also provide pain management and emergency services, such as airway management. This highly skilled profession involves preparing and administering anesthesia to patients in collaboration with surgeons, anesthesiologists, dentists, podiatrists, and other qualified healthcare professionals, according to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists.

CRNA qualifications

Be prepared to hit the books in order to achieve a minimum of a master’s degree from an accredited nurse anesthesia educational program, and upon completion, passing the National Certification Examination. You’ll need to work in an acute ICU for at least a year before being able to apply to school. Then you’ll need an MSN or DNP with can take around 2-4 years.

What makes a good CRNA

A great CRNA has excellent critical thinking skills, attention to detail, calm logic and quick action in an emergency, and a daily desire to continually learn and improve.



2 – General Nurse Practitioner

The role of a General Nurse Practitioner can be defined as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) who may perform duties similar to those of a family doctor.

General NPs have the education and skillset to examine patients independently. They might prescribe medications, diagnose illnesses, or recommend alternative treatment options. In addition, they can interpret diagnostic lab tests.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Advanced Practice Registered Nurses typically perform the following tasks:

  • Recording patients’ medical histories and symptoms
  • Performing physical exams
  • Creating patient care plans or contributing to existing ones
  • Performing (or ordering) diagnostic exams
  • Operating medical equipment
  • Diagnosing various health problems
  • Analyzing test results
  • Administering patient medications and treatments
  • Monitoring patient’s condition during and after treatment
  • Collaborating with doctors and other healthcare professionals, as needed
  • Counseling patients and their families on staying healthy or managing their health conditions


To become a General Nurse Practitioner, you must earn a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing (BSN) and a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. Although it’s not required, some Nurse Practitioners also hold a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. Nurse Practitioners must also obtain national certification in a patient population focus as well as state APRN licensure.


3 – Clinical Nurses Specialist

Those who wish to work in a specialized unit or clinic should consider the Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) path. In addition to diagnosing and treating various conditions, you’ll be looked upon as an expert within your healthcare team. Clinical Nurse Specialists focus on improving the status of nursing at the hospital. They are involved in research and bettering the care provided in the healthcare setting.

  • Manage the care of complex and vulnerable populations,
  • Educate and support interprofessional staff to provide optimal care through the use of evidence-based research
  • Facilitate a culture of safety within health care systems.


Traditionally, the CNS role has been described as having four major components: expert clinician, educator, researcher, and consultant.

The primary focus of a CNS is to take care of the nurses so they can take care of patients safely and efficiently using the best evidence available. The major focus of the CNS’s role is to make sure that the stretcher-side nurses have the knowledge, skills, processes, policies, supplies, and equipment they need to provide safe and effective patient care.

  • Optimizing patient care by working with the nursing staff. This includes evaluating current practices, reviewing alternatives, consulting with patient care managers, and educating staff.
  • On the job, clinical nurse specialist roles can vary depending on their specialty, but general tasks include:
  • Developing specialized treatment plans after patient examinations
  • Educating patients and families on how to best manage their conditions
  • Incorporating practices to promote staff teamwork
  • Analyzing patient data and outcomes
  • Participating with colleagues on new research




A Clinical Nurse Specialist must earn a Master’s of Science in Nursing, with a specialization in clinical nursing.

4 – Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Responsible for helping patients heal from a variety of psychiatric disorders, psychiatric NPs help patients manage different psychiatric illnesses and disorders, including anxiety, ADHD, mood disorders, and substance abuse. They also help patients with more serious disorders, including schizophrenia.

For nurses with an interest in mental health, working as a psychiatric nurse practitioner will give you the opportunity to work with psychiatric medical physicians and counsel patients regarding mental health disorders. Psychiatric nurse practitioners also work with patients that suffer from a combination of mental health disorders and substance abuse issues. 

The role of the PMHNP is to assess, diagnose, and treat the mental health needs of patients. Many PMHNPs provide therapy and prescribe medications for patients who have mental health disorders or substance abuse problems. PMHNPs may also provide physical and psychosocial assessments, emergency psychiatric care, and treatment effectiveness evaluations. Nurses interested in this career path should be aware that most PMHNPs working in inpatient settings have traditional working hours with some night shifts when they are on call.



  • Nurses can choose to gain some nursing experience before going back to school or go directly into an MSN program depending on their unique situation. Most NP programs will require a minimum of TWO years of relevant work experience.
  • Enter into an MSN/NP program that offers a program to become a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.
  • Pass the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner exam


5 – Certified Nurse Midwife

A certified nurse-midwife, or CNM, is an advanced care registered nurse who gives care and counseling during pre-conception, pregnancy, birth and postpartum. CNMs also provide primary health care centered on women and their families all through their reproductive lives.

For RNs who love obstetrics, labor and delivery, and prenatal care, becoming a Certified Nurse Midwife is the perfect career path. CNMs mostly work in OB/GYN offices, clinics, or hospital settings, but many open their own practices depending on their state of practice.

As part of their core duties, certified nurse midwives:

  • Educate women on birth options and partner with them in planning their birth
  • Monitor fetal growth, maternal health, and treat health conditions that arise during pregnancy
  • Attend births in hospitals and birthing centers
  • Perform low-intervention techniques to induce labor or relieve pain during labor
  • Engage medical doctors or specialists as needed during pregnancy or childbirth
  • Assist mothers with breastfeeding, self-care, and postpartum healthcare
  • Develop treatment plans for patients
  • Write prescriptions
  • Order and review lab tests
  • Perform physical exams



Complete MSN program and pass the national midwifery certification exam.