RNs excelling in their current role often take on leadership responsibilities. While these leadership roles may offer additional pay, highly skilled RNs should consider earning an MSN to advance their career.
Direct entry into an MSN program requires applicants to hold a bachelor's degree in nursing from an accredited program. Prospective students can use this page to explore advanced nursing positions, job responsibilities, and earning potential.
Featured Online MSN Programs
Top-Paying Nursing Jobs with an MSN
RNs enter the field focusing on healthcare practice and helping people in need. However, gaining experience often allows practitioners to discover niche areas of the field they enjoy most. Each specialty offers different perks, including notable increases in pay.
Students may want to compare and contrast the responsibilities, pay, and patient population of the following positions when considering a career path. The following list includes eight of the top-paying advanced nurse practitioner roles available for consideration.
Advanced Nurse Practitioner
MSN degree-holders often pursue an advanced practice registered nurse license or APRN, which allows nurses to practice in different MSN job specialties. These include nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, and nurse midwives. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects APRN employment to grow by 45% from 2019-2029.
Median Annual Salary: $117,670
These highly paid MSN degree-holders assist patients undergoing surgeries or procedures with pre-surgery consults concerning the medications they take, their allergies, and any illnesses. During procedures, anesthetists administer and adjust anesthesia levels. After surgery, they monitor vital signs and manage patients' pain. BLS data shows a projected job growth of 14% from 2019-2029 for these professionals.
Median Annual Salary: $183,580
NPs focus on particular patient populations, including acute care, family practice, geriatrics, and oncology. NPs perform many of the same duties as doctors, either independently or under a collaboration agreement with a physician, including prescribing medications. Due to a primary healthcare provider shortage, the BLS projects these MSN jobs to grow by 52% from 2019-2029.
Median Annual Salary: $111,680
Nurse midwives care for patients throughout all stages of family planning, pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. They deliver babies, perform gynecological exams, advise new mothers about wellness care, and assist surgeons with cesarean births. BLS data indicates that nurse midwives can anticipate a projected 12% growth in jobs from 2019-2029.
Median Annual Salary: $111,130
Nurse consultants work for hospitals, insurance companies, law offices, and pharmaceutical companies. They provide analysis and advice on legal issues and claims concerning healthcare policies and regulations, medical terminology, and patient records. These MSN jobs typically require RN licenses and hold a projected job growth of 7% from 2019-2029.
Median Annual Salary: $87,520
Working in clinics, hospitals, and laboratories, research nurses specialize in data collection, analysis, and informatics to advance patient care. As RNs who may also hold the title of clinical nurse specialists, research nurses may see a 12% projected job growth from 2018-2028. Some research nurses leverage their MSN to earn a doctoral degree.
Median Annual Salary: $74,420
Nurse educators work with hospital administration and on the faculty of nursing schools to train nurses. They develop continuing education programs and performance evaluations, along with educational policies, systems, and resources. They also analyze standards of care for deficiencies and formulate improvement initiatives. BLS data indicates that nurse educators should experience an 18% growth in employment from 2019-2029.
Median Annual Salary: $77,450
These professionals manage nurses and their healthcare services at residential care facilities, hospitals, and clinics. They hire staff and ensure that nurses comply with laws, regulations, and policies. Nurse administrators also interact with patients to monitor the care they receive. BLS data indicates a 32% job growth rate for these professionals from 2019-2029.
Median Annual Salary: $89,570
Frequently Asked Questions: Master's of Nursing Salary
Do MSN nurses get paid more than BSN nurses?
RNs perform multiple tasks, which can vary by day or work environment. Responsibilities include conducting assessments, recording medical symptoms, administering treatment or medications, or educating patients. While RNs play a significant role in managing or maintaining patient health, RNs with a BSN cannot perform certain duties and must work under nurse practitioners and physicians.
RNs who earn an MSN take on leadership roles and can legally take on more responsibilities than RNs with a BSN. For instance, these practitioners can prescribe medication and serve as primary care providers without needing to work under a physician.
RNs earn about $75,330 on average with full-time employment, according to BLS data. However, practitioners should note that multiple factors can affect earning potential, including work environment, geographic location, work shifts, and experience.
While RN positions offer competitive wages, practitioners who obtain an MSN qualify for even higher wages. For instance, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and nurse anesthetists earn around $117,670 on average.
Is it worth it to get a MSN?
Earning an MSN can create access to multiple opportunities for the right candidates. Currently, only about 17% of nurses hold an MSN nationwide, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and the demand for nurse practitioners with an advanced degree exceeds the number of professionals in the field.
BLS data projects a 45% increase in demand for nurse practitioners from 2019-2029. Nursing professionals with multiple years of experience, who can make an educated decision about what areas of healthcare appeal to them, can confidently apply to MSN programs.
Contrastingly, RNs who are newer to the field may want to consider holding off on earning an MSN until they gain more experience. MSN programs cost thousands of dollars and would not offer a good return on a student's investment if they study a field they could eventually dislike.
Practitioners not yet ready for an MSN program may want to consider shadowing practitioners in different specialties or securing employment in a setting that allows them to work with their target population.
Do hospitals pay for an MSN?
RNs considering an MSN may hesitate when they see the cost of obtaining this advanced degree. However, practitioners working in hospitals can often access financial help. RNs should contact their HR manager to see what sort of financial assistance is available.
While employers rarely pay for tuition directly out of pocket, hospitals may offer tuition reimbursement, as a highly educated staff offers a great return on the institution's investment. Tuition reimbursement can range from 50-100% depending on the hospital's resources.
Hospitals that offer tuition reimbursement often require applicants to commit to working for the hospital for a certain amount of years. Likewise, tuition reimbursement may also include a minimum GPA requirement. RNs should also note that they can become fully responsible for repaying the hospital should they break their commitment.
RNs often choose to complete their degree online, as these programs offer more flexibility than in-person programs. However, hospitals typically provide students with a flexible or abbreviated work schedule that allows practitioners to complete their degree.
Is it better to get a BSN or an MSN?
A BSN and an MSN both offer access to good paying careers with ample job opportunities in multiple specialty areas. However, determining which degree to get depends on the experience and education of the aspiring student. For instance, applicants without an RN license do not qualify to apply for an MSN and would need to obtain a BSN prior to considering an MSN.
RNs with an ADN can complete an RN-to-BSN or an RN-to-MSN program. These professionals should consider how much time they want to invest in earning another degree, program costs, and ideal roles they wish to apply for to determine which program meets their needs.
Contrastingly, practitioners with a BSN and experience in the field should consider enrolling in an MSN, as a master of nursing salary typically offers higher earning potential. Other practitioners interested in a terminal degree should consider a BSN-to-DNP bridge program.
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