Best Registered Nurse (RN) Jobs and Salaries in 2024

Here are the best jobs and salaries for registered nurses (RNs) in 2024 Careers

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Becoming a registered nurse (RN) has always been a solid career choice. However, today, nurses have more career paths than ever before.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused healthcare systems to embrace technological advancements in new ways, making patient information more accessible and faster, subsequently opening the doors for new roles, such as virtual nurses and new use cases for telehealth nursing.

But, not all of the best RN jobs are tech-based. Some of the highest-paying nursing specialties that provide excellent career outlooks specialize differently, including advanced practice nurse (APRN) roles and other specializations beyond the standard nursing degree that enable you to provide advanced nursing care.

Or even without advancing their nursing education, RNs can still find a specialty that affords them excellent pay and opportunities. They can specialize in various primary care settings and patient populations with their BSN, including pediatrics, intensive care units (ICU, PICU, NICU), and public health nursing.

So, what are some of the best RN jobs and salaries in 2023? Check out the list of the 10 best below.

Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

FNPs are APRNs with either a master's degree or a doctorate. They provide primary medical care to patients in various work environments, such as acute or post-acute clinical settings, and can specialize in working with populations from pediatrics to elderly patients.

FNP Responsibilities

  • Performing physical exams, health screenings, and obtaining health histories
  • Ordering diagnostic tests and analyzing results
  • Diagnosing and managing physical and mental health conditions
  • Prescribing and monitoring the effectiveness of medications
  • Communicating with the patient and their family or caregivers about treatment modalities
  • Coordinating with other healthcare providers across the continuum of care
  • Referring patients to other health care services and specialists

FNP Salary

Because FNPs can work in various care settings, salaries will vary. Other factors impacting annual salary include years of experience and location, including state and if you work in a rural, suburban, or urban area.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), average salaries for FNPs are as follows:

  • Low: $87,340 or $41.99 per hour
  • Median: $121,610 or $58.47 per hour
  • High: $165,240 or $79.44 per hour

Nurse Administrator

Nurse administrators can oversee one or more nursing departments or an entire healthcare system. A few job titles that fall into the nurse administrator specialty include Unit Manager, Director of Nursing, and Chief Nursing Officer (CNO). These healthcare professionals lead nursing staff from CNAs to APRNs and oversee the care of patients across the life spectrum. They may manage care in healthcare facilities, outpatient centers, or long-term care facilities.

Nurse Administrator Responsibilities

  • Writing and operationalizing nursing policies and procedures
  • Developing a vision for the nursing department, facility, or healthcare system
  • Hiring and leading nursing staff
  • Managing budgetary decisions and reporting results to upper-level leadership
  • Serving as a liaison between nursing and other healthcare system departments

Nurse Administrator Salary

The BLS doesn't report nurse administrators' salary or job outlook data. However, it reports annual wages for medical and health service managers, which should include nurse leaders. BLS reports an average annual salary of just over $100,000 or a little over $48 per hour for these healthcare professionals.

To get a pay scale range, we looked at data from Payscale. This company conducts online salary surveys of the people who do the job. However, it's essential to know that all salary data is self-reported and not verified. Salary ranges, as reported by Payscale, are as follows:

  • Low: $64,000
  • Median: $94,000
  • High: $141,000

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

APRNs trained and certified in anesthesia delivery are called certified registered nurse anesthetists or CRNAs. They work in operating and procedural rooms, administering anesthesia to induce a sleep-like state to keep patients comfortable during surgical procedures. They can work independently or as part of a team of healthcare professionals.

CRNAs complete a specialized nursing program to learn how to administer anesthesia safely and assess, diagnose, and manage complex surgical patients. They are integral to the patient care operating room team and work with surgeons, surgical nurses, and other specialized providers.

CRNA Responsibilities

  • Providing education about anesthesia before the procedure and answering any questions
  • Reviewing medical histories to identify any anesthesia risks
  • Administering anesthesia and assessing the patient's response to the medication
  • Monitoring the effects of anesthesia during and after surgical procedures
  • Assessing vital signs and overall patient status and response to anesthesia and the procedure

CRNA Salary

CRNA pay scales range based on years of experience, location, and the type of healthcare facility in which they work. According to the BLS, CRNAs earn the following:

  • Low: $143,870 ($69 per hour)
  • Median: $203,090 ($97.64)
  • High: $227,160 ($109.21)

Nurse Educator

Nurse educators hold advanced degrees and train nursing professionals from entry-level to advanced nurses. In addition, they may instruct on nursing curricula, evidenced-based practice, nursing assessments, and other clinical nursing care. These professionals typically hold advanced degrees, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

You may also hear these professionals called nurse faculty because many of them are teachers at the college level. They are instrumental in building the pipeline of professionals in the nursing field and can instruct on specialty courses and education programs.

Nurse Educator Responsibilities

  • Instructing on nursing education, including theory and nursing practice
  • Providing motivation and support services to nursing students
  • Creating and evaluating nursing courses and programs
  • Providing mentorship and coaching to nursing students
  • Teaching clinical skills and overseeing clinical rotations at healthcare facilities

Nurse Educator Salary

Nurse educators' salaries range from lower to high-paying jobs based on years of experience, location, and other factors. According to BLS, the salary range for nurse educators includes the following:

  • Low: $47,760
  • Median: $78,580
  • High: $127,290

Legal Nurse Consultant (LNC)

LNCs provide medical expertise to attorneys during legal research and procedures. In addition, they use the nursing process to evaluate medical records and assist in creating a case in medical malpractice, personal injury, worker's compensation, and other legal proceedings.

These healthcare professionals work in private law firms, insurance companies, health maintenance organizations, and other professional settings. LNCs can also open consulting businesses to work independently.

To become an LNC, you must first be an RN with a bachelor's degree and a solid clinical background. You'll also need to complete a certification program in LNC and pass the certification exam. Some LNCs obtain advanced degrees in nursing or law to broaden their scope of practice and deepen their understanding of medical, legal, and other business topics.

Legal Nurse Consultant Responsibilities

  • Reviewing and analyzing clinical documents and medical records
  • Meeting with clients to obtain details about the case
  • Researching and establishing standards of practice for all involved healthcare professionals
  • Securing expert witnesses
  • Educating attorneys on medical issues and providing medical expertise

Legal Nurse Consultant Salary

According to BLS, the median annual salary for RNs in May 2021 was $77,600, or just over $37 per hour. Unfortunately, BLS does not specify salaries for LNCs. However, Payscale reports the following data for legal nurse consultant salaries:

  • Low: $66,000
  • Median: $87,000
  • High: $120,000

Travel Nurse

Travel nurse roles have long been available. However, staffing needs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have caused this nursing specialty to surge in popularity and demand. Travel nurses fill short-term nurse roles across the U.S. by accepting travel assignments that last a few days to a few months.

Travel nurses work in various settings, such as critical care, emergency room, neonatal intensive care, and other specialty units. Hourly wages for travel nurses have increased in recent years. Nurses in this specialty must carry multi-state nursing licensure or be able to apply for and hold several state licenses.

Most travel nurse companies require travelers to have at least a few years of nursing experience. It's also helpful to hold certifications in a specific specialty to distinguish yourself from other applicants with similar skills and years of experience.

Related: A Beginner's Guide to Travel Nursing

Travel Nurse Responsibilities

Travel nurses perform all the standard nursing tasks required on the unit in which they accept an assignment. Common nursing responsibilities include the following:

  • Performing patient assessments and obtaining vital signs
  • Administering medications
  • Preparing patients for procedures and diagnostic testing
  • Educating patients and caregivers on disease management and overall health and wellness
  • Collaborating with physicians and other healthcare professionals

Travel Nurse Salary

Travel nurse salaries range based on geographic location, years of experience, and demand, but they typically earn more than the full-time permanent nursing staff on the same unit. Some travel nurses also receive additional benefits, such as room and board or a staffing allowance.

While BLS doesn't provide salary ranges for travel nurses, you can expect to make more than the reported annual salary for RNs of $77,600. The healthcare jobs marketplace, Vivian, reports that average travel nurse salaries for May 2023 were as follows:

  • Low: $1,782 per week
  • Median: $2,158 per week
  • High: $2,628 per week

Nursing Informatics

Informatics nurses are RNs who work where technology and nursing intersect. Healthcare technology has advanced rapidly in recent years, making this a nursing career in high demand. These professionals use nursing knowledge, computer science, and information science to help integrate nursing into health systems.

To become an informatics nurse, you must first be an RN with hands-on clinical experience. You'll also need to obtain a nursing informatics certification. You can obtain this certification by working in informatics, getting real-life experience, or attending a graduate-level informatics nursing program.

Nursing Informatics Responsibilities

  • Assisting with building interoperability within your organization's data infrastructure
  • Influencing healthcare policy
  • Creating a vision for communication and information technology
  • Assisting with the implementation of new information technology
  • Improving patient safety through the use of information technology

Nursing Informatics Salary

Average salaries for nursing informatics roles vary based on geographic location, degree, and years of experience. Unfortunately, BLS doesn't provide annual salary ranges for this specialty. However, Payscale reports the following salary ranges:

  • Low: $66,000
  • Median: $84,000
  • High: $107,000

Telehealth Nursing

Nurses in telehealth use video conferencing and other technologies to deliver nursing care remotely. Telehealth nursing saw rising demand during the pandemic but continues to be an emerging market for nurses wanting work-from-home roles.

The advancement of telehealth nursing has tremendous implications for care delivery systems for people who live in remote communities. Highly skilled and specialized telehealth nurses can assess patients and educate them on self-care strategies, which can decrease exacerbations and hospitalizations.

In this specialty, nurses work remotely to admit and discharge patients in acute care settings so the clinical bedside nurse isn't bogged down with administrative tasks.

Telehealth Nursing Responsibilities

  • Monitoring patient's conditions and signs and symptoms of exacerbation
  • Referring patients to specialists and assisting with appointment scheduling
  • Educating patients on disease and symptom management
  • Monitoring vital signs, oxygen levels, blood glucose levels, and other assessment parameters
  • Providing pre-and post-surgical care

Telehealth Nursing Salary

Telehealth nursing roles might pay slightly lower than acute care in-person jobs because of the flexibility. However, many telehealth nurses continue to make high-paying salaries because of their experience, expertise, and location.

According to Payscale, the salary range for telehealth nurses is as follows:

  • Low: $64,000
  • Median: $77,000
  • High: $98,000

Oncology Nurse

Oncology nurses are specialized healthcare professionals who care for patients with various types of cancer. Oncology is a challenging yet rewarding field that requires clinical skills and stellar communication and problem-solving skills. In addition, they may care for patients in various settings and help with symptom control and pain management.

RNs can work in oncology without any additional training. However, many nurses who specialize in oncology care obtain one or more certifications in this specialty to advance their knowledge.

Related: 10 Fastest Registered Nurse (RN) Programs in 2024

Oncology Nurse Responsibilities

  • Administering chemotherapy and other medications
  • Creating and implementing care plans
  • Educating patients and caregivers
  • Providing pre-and post-surgical care
  • Coordinating with other healthcare professionals

Oncology Nurse Salary

Because oncology nurses are specialized, they often make more than standard nurses. According to Payscale, the salary ranges for oncology nurses are:

  • Low: $62,000
  • Median: $81,000
  • High: $115,000

Nurse Case Manager

Nurse case managers coordinate patient care in many different settings. They advocate for their patients and help them to obtain the services and specialists needed for holistic care. They can work in various settings, such as home and occupational health, and for insurance companies to help consumers navigate the health system and get necessary care and programs.

Most companies only require case managers to have an RN. However, some companies require a bachelor's degree or a certification in case management.

Nurse Case Manager Responsibilities

  • Creating and implementing care plans
  • Scheduling appointments with doctors and specialists
  • Educating patients and caregivers on conditions and management
  • Guiding patients with complex care decisions
  • Coordinating care with other disciplines and providers

Nurse Case Manager Salary

Salaries for nurse case managers range based on standard factors, such as geographic location and years of experience. In addition, case managers with advanced degrees or certifications may make more than case managers without.

According to Payscale, average case manager salaries are:

  • Low: $63,000
  • Median: $79,000
  • High: $98,000

Best Registered Nurse Jobs FAQs

Considering new RN jobs and career paths can leave you with many questions. Check out a few of the most common questions and the answers below.

Q: Do I have to have an advanced degree to make a high salary as a nurse? A: No. Nursing is one of the most flexible careers, which means you can earn an excellent annual salary without an advanced degree. You might consider obtaining a certification or specializing in a specific nursing career to earn more. However, earning more doesn't always mean more schooling.
Q: Is it best to become an LPN or an RN? A: One nursing degree isn't necessarily better than another. It depends on what type of work you want as a nurse. RNs generally have a larger scope of practice than LPNs and usually make more money. However, this also means they have more responsibility and a more extensive scope of practice.
Workforce Development Columnist

Melissa Mills has 26 years experience as a BSN and specializes in Workforce Development, Education, Advancement.

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