Salary Guide for Nursing Jobs

sheila cain

Written and reported by:

Sheila Cain

All Star Writer/Editor

three nurses in meeting with manager
three nurses in meeting with manager

Nursing salaries vary greatly, depending mostly on the degree you hold. You can jump into a job as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) after a short training program and earn a median salary of around $30,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), but if you want to top six figures, you’ll need to put in some time. Nurse anesthetists, for example, can earn more than six times the salary of a CNA, but they must hold a degree that can take more than six years to earn.

Popular Nursing Roles and Their Salaries

Those interested in nursing will find a wide range of educational programs for a great number of nursing roles. While the BLS reports median salaries for these jobs, your actual pay will vary depending on where you live, your workplace, your experience, and other factors.  

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)


Median Annual Salary: $30,830

About the Job: A CNA provides a range of basic care to patients, such as helping them dress, eat, and walk. Most CNAs work in nursing care facilities, retirement communities, or assisted living facilities.

Education You’ll Need: Certificate or diploma

How Long It Takes: 4-12 weeks

Job Outlook: Employment of CNAs is projected to grow 8% from 2020-2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)/Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)


Median Annual Salary: $48,820

About the Job: LPNs/LVNs work under the direction of physicians and RNs in healthcare facilities. They take vital signs, collect samples, administer medication, and ensure patient comfort. “LPN” and “LVN” are the same job. “LVN” stands for Licensed Vocational Nurse and is used in Texas and California; all other states use “LPN.”

Education You’ll Need: Certificate and license

How Long It Takes: About a year

Job Outlook: The job of LPN/LVN is expected to grow by 9% between 2020 and 2030.

Registered Nurse (RN)


Median Annual Salary: $75,330

About the Job: RNs provide and coordinate patient care in workplaces such as hospitals, clinics, and nursing care facilities. RNs can also focus on specific fields within nursing, such as pediatrics, oncology, emergency care, and more.

Education You’ll Need: Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), plus your RN license. Most workplaces prefer a BSN.

How Long It Takes: An ADN takes 2 years; a BSN takes 4 years

Job Outlook: RN jobs are projected to grow around 9% between 2020-2030, about as fast as the average for all jobs.

Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)


Median Annual Salary: $84,430

About the Job: A CNS is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), which means they have an advanced degree and certification. They have both clinical and leadership skills and often work at a high level in a healthcare facility, implementing policies that improve patient care. They also can specialize in certain areas. For example, a pediatric clinical nurse specialist focuses on the holistic care of children and their families. The BLS categorizes CNSs as RNs who serve in the role of “healthcare diagnosing or treating practitioners.”

Education You’ll Need: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

How Long It Takes: About 2 years (if you already have a BSN)

Job Outlook: Employment of RNs (the category in which CNSs fall, according to the BLS) is projected to grow 9% through 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)


Median Annual Salary: $111,130

About the Job: A CNM is an advanced practice registered nurse who provides care to women before, during, and after a pregnancy. They also provide general care such as gynecological exams and family planning services. They may act as a woman’s primary maternity care provider.

Education You’ll Need: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a specialty in midwifery

How Long It Takes: About 2 years (if you already have a BSN)

Job Outlook: The demand for CNMs is projected to grow about 11% between 2020 and 2030, slightly faster than the growth projected for all occupations.

Nurse Practitioner (NP)


Median Annual Salary: $111,680

About the Job: NPs are APRNs who specialize in areas that allow them to work with a variety of patients, such as children, the elderly, or women. Some popular specialties include family nurse practitioner, adult nurse practitioner, and women’s health nurse practitioner. NPs often serve as primary care providers, and in some states, they can prescribe medicine.

Education You’ll Need: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

How Long It Takes: About 2 years (if you already have a BSN). If you have a two-year associate degree and want to become an NP, you can consider an RN-to-MSN bridge program, which is designed for nurses who have completed an ADN training program.

Job Outlook: The BLS projects growth of 52% for nurse practitioners between 2020 and 2030.

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)


Median Annual Salary: $183,580

About the Job: A CRNA is an advanced practice registered nurse who administers anesthesia to patients prior to medical procedures.

Education You’ll Need: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and national certification; a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree will be required by 2025.

How Long It Takes: 2-4 years for a master’s; 3-5 years for a doctorate

Job Outlook: Overall, employment of CRNAs is expected to grow 13% between 2020 and 2030, faster than the average growth of all occupations.

Salary Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2020


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