8 Great Nursing Specialties with Exciting Earning Potential

Finding a career that aligns with your skills and interests is ideal, but it’s also important to pursue a career that can provide you and your family with some financial stability. Your passion for health combined with your altruistic nature makes the nursing field especially appealing to you.

The median annual salary for registered nurses (RNs) in 2014 was $66,640, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.* But what can you do to potential boost your earning potential even more? Specialize!

There are several nursing niches out there. We used real-time job analysis software from Burning-Glass.com to identify eight great nursing specialties that typically pay more than the average RN salary.** Here’s what we found:

High earning nursing specialties

1. Nurse anesthetist

  • Average annual salary: $118,056
  • Jobs posted last year: 4,957

The path to becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) will take longer than the average nurse’s, but it certainly pays off. These nurses prepare individuals for surgeries or operations by administering anesthesia to patients or aiding anesthesiologists. CRNAs typically work in health care facilities and hospitals but may also work in other health fields such as a dentist’s office.

2. Pain management nurse

  • Average annual salary: $96,890
  • Jobs posted last year: 1,520

It is the pain management nurse’s (PNM) job to assist patients with acute or chronic pain. After addressing the source of pain, they coordinate treatment and care to help alleviate it. PMNs may also work in a teaching environment, showing patients how to help manage pain, administer medications or by demonstrating different ways to relieve their pain.

3. Geriatric nurse

  • Average annual salary: $92,304
  • Jobs posted last year: 1,560

Geriatric nurses specialize in helping elderly patients. These patients often suffer from diseases and injuries such as osteoporosis, Alzheimer's or cancer. Much of their work is done in nursing homes, but may also take place in patient’s home or hospitals.

4. Nurse practitioner

  • Average annual salary: $92,007
  • Jobs posted last year: 147,136

Nurse practitioners (NPs) promote a comprehensive approach to healthcare. NPs are concerned with the overall health and wellness of their patients. They are qualified to meet the majority of patients’ healthcare needs, with 60 to 80 percent of the care doctors traditionally have performed can be administered by nurse practitioners,  according to the American Nurses Association.

5. Neonatal nurse

  • Average annual salary: $89,082
  • Jobs posted last year: 20,112

Neonatal nurses are responsible for caring for newborn infants who are born prematurely or suffer from health problems or birth defects. They work in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of a hospital. Most neonatal nurses care for babies from the moment of birth until they are discharged from the hospital.

6. Nurse educators

  • Average annual salary: $79,203
  • Jobs posted last year: 12,155

This nursing specialty is precisely what it sounds like. Nurse educators work in academic settings such as nursing schools and teaching hospitals where they educate aspiring nurses. In order to be a nurse educator, however, you must experience as an RN or within another nursing specialty.

7. Pediatric nurse

  • Average annual salary: $76,263
  • Jobs posted last year: 39,000

Pediatric nurses are responsible for the general care of children in many healthcare settings, with patients ranging from infants to teenagers. This includes administering periodic check-ups to ensure proper health, growth and development. They also treat children and adolescents suffering from illness or injuries.

8. Midwife

  • Average annual salary: $70,441
  • Jobs posted in last year: $2,405

Certified nurse midwives (CNM) provide care for women including gynecology check-ups, family planning services, preconception care and delivering babies. They ensure women remain healthy during pregnancy, have optimal births and experience proper postpartum recovery.

Ready to specialize?

You’re now familiar a few nursing specialties that will allow you to be competitively compensated for doing what you love – helping others. But before you can acquire the specialized skills these positions require, you’ll need to obtain a foundation of nursing knowledge and training.

Learn how the Rasmussen College School of Nursing can help you get started on your journey toward your chosen nursing specialty.


*Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.

**Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 424,017 nursing specialty job postings, Apr. 1, 2014 – Mar. 31, 2015)

Aaron Lawrence

Aaron is a freelance writer for Collegis education who writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen College. His interest in writing articles for students stems from his passion for poetry and fiction and the belief that all words can educate.

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This piece of ad content was created by Rasmussen College to support its educational programs. Rasmussen College may not prepare students for all positions featured within this content. Please visit www.rasmussen.edu/degrees for a list of programs offered. External links provided on rasmussen.edu are for reference only. Rasmussen College does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced. Rasmussen College is a regionally accredited private college and Public Benefit Corporation.

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