You’ve endured countless hours of studying, crammed for lengthy exams, passed your boards, and, at long last, all of your hard work and dedication has paid off: You’re officially a Registered Nurse! Let the celebration begin! Champagne, anyone?

After a few nights of bubbly-induced hangovers, you’ll get serious about job hunting, and, before long, you’ll land your very first nursing job! Settle in, and revel in your success. But don’t get too comfortable…

We know it’s hard to believe that you would EVER want to go back to school after all you’ve just been through, but a few years in the field might just change your perspective. While even the most strategic hustler might not planning their next move just yet, these six figure salaries may peak your curiosity. Check out the five highest paid specializations in nursing:

1. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

Most CRNAs work full-time in collaboration with a surgeon, anesthesiologist, dentist, or podiatrist. If you choose this path, you’ll evaluate the type and amount of anesthesia required, administer the medication, monitor and adjust a patient’s levels during the procedure, and make sure things go smoothly in recovery.

Average Salary: $136,937 per year

Growth: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2014-2024, the CRNAs field is expected to increase by 19.3 percent.

Key strengths:

  • Cool under pressure
  • Plays nicely with others
  • Skilled communicator

Education:

  • Minimum of a Master’s degree from an accredited CRNA program
  • Passing the National Certification Examination

2. Pain Management Nurse

Pain Management RNs work with post-op patients and those suffering from chronic pain issues. By determining the cause of pain, they develop the best course of treatment and, of course, introduce a pain management plan to address their patients’ ailments. Bonus: This specialty means more autonomy and a boost in your bank account.  

Average Salary: $90,000 – $130,000 per year

Growth: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2014-2024, the RN field is expected to increase by 16 percent. Due to the severe epidemic of addiction facing the US, Pain Management RNs are in higher demand than ever.

Key strengths:

  • Ability to follow stringent rules & procedures
  • Passionate about combating addiction
  • Interest in alternative, mind-body therapies

Education:

  • You do not need an advanced degree- just a bachelor’s degree and your RN license.
  • At least two years as an RN and 2,000 hours of experience in a pain management nursing role
  • Certification by the American Nurses Credentialing Center

3. Gerontological Nurse Practitioner

A Gerontological Nurse Practitioner is an NP with a specialization in treating the elderly and their unique health challenges. Gerontological NPs are certified NPs who work in clinics, nursing homes, hospitals, or in home health services.

Average Salary: $94,485 per year

Growth: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2014-2024, the entire NP field is expected to increase by 35.2 percent. However, as the large population of baby boomers ages, Gerontological NPs will be in very high demand.

Key strengths:

  • An affinity towards the elderly
  • Plenty of patience
  • Empathy for working with people who may be reaching the end of life

Education:

  • Minimum of a Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN)
  • Certification for practicing gerontology from the American Nurses Credentialing Center of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners

4. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners work with psychiatrists to administer care to patients facing non-physical ailments. They may work with patients who need help managing ADHD, substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and more severe mental illness. If you choose this path, you’ll evaluate patients continuously to see if they’re responding to their treatment and monitor the progress of their condition.

Average Salary: $91,298 per year

Growth: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2014-2024, the NP field is expected to increase by 35.2 percent. While this is a smaller specialty field, we expect that the national attention on mental health care will continue to fuel the demand for growth in this field.

Key strengths:

  • Team player
  • Thick-skin for patient outbursts
  • Interest in mental health disorders

Education:

  • Minimum of a Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN)
  • Nurse practitioner licensure as specified by your state
  • Specialty certification in psychiatric/mental health

5. Nurse Practitioner (NP)

NPs work collaboratively with a physician to address holistic healthcare concerns, but they may also choose to practice independently. With similar scopes of work as a Physician, NPs may diagnose medical conditions, order lab work and x rays, prescribe medication, and make specialist referrals. Because they’re able to spend a bit more time with their patients, NPs can educate patients about their lifestyle decisions and how these decisions affect on their health.

Average Salary: $87,507 per year

Growth: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2014-2024, the NP field is expected to increase by 35.2 percent.

Key strengths:

  • Ability to empathize
  • People person
  • Entrepreneurial spirit

Education:

  • Minimum of a Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN)
  • Nurse practitioner licensure as specified by your state

Sources:

http://nurse.org/articles/75/15-highest-paying-nursing-careers/
http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Nurse_Anesthetist_(CRNA)/Salary
http://www.thebestschools.org/blog/2013/10/18/best-nursing-career-specialties-top-20/?utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F
http://bestonlinerntobsnprogram.com/top/topnursingsalarycareer.html