Salaries for MSN-Prepared Nurses

Like never before, the nation’s healthcare system needs nurses with advanced degrees. We need advanced practitioners capable of serving the primary care needs of a growing patient population during a time when MDs are in short supply … We need nurse educators capable of preparing new nurses to enter the field … We need infomaticists who understand how to use data to improve the delivery of care and ensure better patient outcomes … And we need nurses who can lead, both in the clinical environment and at the executive level.

From a nurse’s standpoint, there’s plenty to get excited about. The healthcare system may be demanding more, but it’s willing to pay for it.

From clinically minded advanced practice nurse practitioners (APRNs) to nurse administrators, nurse educators, and nurse informaticists, the salaries for today’s MSN-prepared nurses are stronger than ever and growing at an impressive rate. Across the board, the value of the MSN is evident in the paychecks nurses earn.

Let’s examine a 2016 Medscape APRN Salary Report, which surveyed more than 10,000 nurses, 30 percent of which were APRNs (nurse practitioners, nurse-midwives, clinical nurse specialists and nurse anesthetists). The survey found that nurses in all APRN roles saw salaries increase or remain steady between 2014 and 2015. You wouldn’t expect to see much change over the course of a single year, but all APRNs other than CNSs saw a healthy bump. Extrapolate that over a number of years, and we’re talking about some serious increases.

  • Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS): $95,000 (2014) … $95,000 (2015)
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA): $170,000 (2014) … $176,000 (2015)
  • Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM): $99,000 (2014) … $104,000 (2015)
  • Nurse Practitioner (NP): $102,000 (2014) … $103,000 (2015)

Overall, the average APRN salary rose from $106,000 a year in 2014 to $109,000 in 2015.

To give you a snapshot of what it means to your pocketbook to have an MSN on your resume, we’ve broken down salaries for the four APRN roles and other roles outside of direct patient care that require a master’s degree:

Nurse Practitioners (NP)

According to a 2016 Clinical Advisor annual salary survey, NPs—the largest subsection of APRNs—had an annual salary of $101,989 in 2016.

For NPs, it’s no surprise that the majority (24 percent) worked in family medicine, followed by pediatrics (5.5), given that most practices are focused on family medicine and/or pediatrics.

But while family medicine was tops in terms of employment, it was cardiology that paid NPs the most in 2016, at $103,958, followed by…

  • Adult medicine: $101,914
  • Primary care: $97,404
  • Family medicine: $97,392
  • Pediatrics: $93,562

It’s also no surprise that NPs in the West continue to earn the highest salaries since this where the cost of living is generally higher, with few exceptions – looking at you NYC and DC…

  • West: $109,098
  • Midwest: $99,979
  • Northeast: $102,042
  • South: $99,822

To get a better idea of how salaries differ depending on location, we’ve used BLS statistics to assemble a list of cities in various parts of the country, highlighting salaries for NPs in the 50th and 90th percentiles…

  • Albuquerque, NM: $105,980 (50th) – $130,370 (90th)
  • Billings, MT: $96,640 – $123,140
  • Chicago, IL: $101,310 – $127,800
  • Columbia, SC: $94,070 – $122,440
  • Columbus, OH: $94,910 – $124,030
  • Dallas, TX: $104,870 – $139,430
  • Danbury, CT: $95,910 – $125,190
  • Honolulu, HI: $121,520 – $164,590
  • Miami, FL: $93,670 – $123,340
  • New York City, NY: $117,680 – $161,560
  • San Francisco, CA: $136,750 – $201,480
  • Seattle, WA: $110,850 – $133,460
  • Washington, DC, $107,320 – $132,530

Looking to practice settings for NPs, the BLS reported that salaries varied significantly, with NPs working in major hospitals earning the highest average salary, at $113,019, followed by those working in…

  • Hospital clinics: $109,997
  • Walk-in, ambulatory care: $101,184
  • Stand-alone clinics: $97,888
  • Office practice – $94,677

Using recent job postings (September 2017) for NPs, we were able to provide a real-time look at what NPs certified in the six different patient population focus areas earned…

Family/Individual Across the Lifespan

In family practice, we found NPs earning between $110,000-$150,000.


While we weren’t able to locate any acute care adult-gerontology positions, we found that NPs working in adult-gerontology/primary care earn between $71,000-$136,000 a year.

Women’s Health/Gender-Related

There were many positions for NPs in women’s health (OB/GYN) listed when we searched for job postings, but very few included salary ranges. However, we found the salary range to be significant, with the lowest salary at $70,000 and the highest at $160,000.


Our research found that neonatal NPs earned significantly higher salaries than their colleagues working with other patient populations, earning an annual salary of between $93,000 – $159,000. Many positions fell in the $120,000 salary range, and all were located in major hospital health systems.

Pediatrics (Acute care/primary care)

We found that pediatric NPs working in primary care earn between $80,000-$100,000 per year, while those working in acute care, such as in hospital systems, earn about $105,000 a year.

Psychiatric/Mental Health

Psychiatric/mental health NPs earn between $95,000 – $200,000 a year, with most job posts for community health centers and counseling services. We also found that psychiatric/mental health NPs working in outpatient treatment centers earning between $95,000 – $145,000.

Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM)

We turned to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to find the most recent data on certified nurse-midwife salaries. As of May 2016, the BLS reported that CNMSs earned an average, annual salary of $119,690, with the top 10 percent of earners bringing in $142,510.

BLS statistics also revealed that CNMs working in government agencies earned the highest salary during this time, at $127,670, followed by those working in…

  • Outpatient health centers: $115,070
  • General medical and surgical hospitals: $105,710
  • Physicians’ offices: $103,360

The top-paying state for CNMs was California, at $132,950, followed by…

  • Iowa: $125,650
  • New Jersey: $112,370
  • Massachusetts: $112,290
  • Oregon: $108,240

We also prepared a list of salaries for CNMs in cities across the U.S. using May 2016 BLS statistics to give you an idea of what CNMs are earning in different parts of the country. We featured salaries for CNMs in the 50th and 90th percentiles…

  • Albuquerque, NM: $103,960 (50th) – $126,390 (90th)
  • Boston, MA, $113,680 – $167,370
  • Chicago, IL: $95,870 – $123,380
  • Columbus, OH: $105,010 – $127,740
  • Dallas, TX: $110,200 – $149,880
  • Miami, FL: $92,140 – $101,530
  • New York City, NY: $107,860 – $161,560
  • San Francisco, CA: $136,750 – $131,030
  • Seattle, WA: $99,970 – $127,330

We also performed our own research using recent job postings (September 2017) to get a real-time snapshot of what CNMs are earning across the country:

  • A women’s OB/GYN practice in Las Vegas, NV: $150,000
  • A county health clinic in Los Angeles: $111,000 – $162,000
  • A natural birth center in Northern Virginia, postpartum care specialist: $72,800
  • A private practice OB/GYN in New York City (Bronx): $95,000 – $105,000
  • Hospital in Baltimore, MD: $75,000 – $120,000
  • A private OB/GYN practice in Palm Springs, CA: $90,000 – $120,000

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

As the top earners among all APRNs, CRNAs earn an annual average salary of $164,030, with the top 10 percent earning more than $208,000, as of May 2016, according to the BLS.

The BLS reports that CRNAs working in outpatient care centers earned the highest, average salary during this time, at $181,800, followed by CRNAs in specialty hospitals, at $175,800 and general and medical surgical hospitals, at $174,980.

The top-paying states for CRNAs were Montana ($242,140) followed by Wyoming ($233,400), something of a surprise, and an exception to the notion that the highest paid nurses must work in the nation’s biggest cities or on the coasts. Following just behind were:

  • California: $215,530
  • Oregon: $199,860
  • Nevada: $192,330

To better show the difference in pay for CRNAs throughout the U.S., we’ve assembled a list of cities and provided BLS salary averages for the 50th and 90th percentiles:

  • Chicago, IL: $101,750, $189,160
  • Columbus, OH: $140,670, $183,380
  • Dallas, TX: $162,280, $205,680
  • Honolulu, HI: $158,160, $207,870
  • Miami, FL: $152,150 (50th)
  • New York City, NY: $168,890 (50th)
  • San Francisco, CA: $205,690 (50th)
  • Seattle, WA: $168,280, $205,680
  • Washington, DC, $149,130, $199,920

We also looked at recent job posts (September 2017) to provide a current look at what CRNAs are earning:

  • Medical group, El Paso, TX: $150,000
  • General Hospital and Trauma Center, San Francisco, CA: $201,760 – $284,960
  • VHA, Houston, TX: $122,855 – $186,794
  • Hospital System, New Haven, CT: $156,000
  • Pain Institute, Gilbert, AZ: $270,400 – $332,800
  • University Medical Center, Columbus, OH: $145,600 – $216,320
  • Regional Medical Center, Magnolia, AR: $175,000

Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)

While we learned from the 2016 Medscape APRN Salary Report that CNSs earned an average salary of $95,000 in 2015, other salary statistics on these APRNs are in short supply. We took to recent job posts (September 2017) to get a better idea what CNSs are earning.

We found that there are many job openings for CNSs in areas such as pediatrics, med/surg., cardiovascular surgery, women’s services, oncology, neonatal intensive care, and psychiatric/mental health, among many others. Just a few of these job posts revealed the salaries offered for these positions:

  • Research position for the Department of Health and Human Services in Montgomery County, MD: $80,456 – $123,234
  • Los Angeles County Department of Human Resources: $104,988 – 4152,947
  • Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus, OH: $58,752 – $104,000
  • Veteran’s Affairs (Spinal Cord Injuries and Disorders), Palo Alto CA: $100,020 – $161,900

Nurse Educator

Nurse instructors and teachers earned an average salary of $75,030, as of May 2016, with the top 10 percent earning about $117,540, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nurse educators with an MSN are more often found in clinical settings than on university campuses. The BLS shows that the top earners work in specialty hospitals ($106,910), followed by those in psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals ($88,630), and general medical and surgical hospitals ($86,890).

The BLS also reported nurse educators earned the highest average salaries in the following states:

  • California: $105,030
  • New Jersey: $94,530
  • New York: $91,700
  • Connecticut: $89,990
  • Massachusetts: $88,240

Here’s a look at nurse educator salaries from major cities throughout the country as published by the BLS (50th and 90th percentiles):

  • Albuquerque, NM: $74,180 (50th) – $92,780 (90th)
  • Chicago, IL: $67,990 – $117,430
  • Columbia, SC: $68,350 – $101,570
  • Columbus, OH: $64,890 – $100,880
  • Dallas, TX: $62,290 – $98,330
  • Honolulu, HI: $74,640 – $105,630
  • Miami, FL: $79,490 – $116,720
  • San Francisco, CA: $96,830 – $163,370
  • Seattle, WA: $76,460 – $121,450
  • Washington, DC, $63,360 – $100,690

To get a better idea of current salaries for MSN nurse educators in postsecondary settings, we also looked to recent job posts from across the country (September 2017):

  • Charter College, Med/Surgical Specialty, Anchorage, AK: $43,503 – $79,218
  • Medical Prep Institute, Tampa Bay, FL: $70,000
  • Community College, Spartanburg, SC: $52,000 – $58,000
  • Simulation Instructor, Omaha, NE: $45,153 – $97,119

Nurse Administrators

As a nurse administrator, you may go by a variety of titles: Manager … Director … Chief Nursing Officer. These titles indicate different levels of seniority in certain hospital and healthcare systems, so salaries tend to vary widely based on title.

According to the 2016 salary and compensation survey conducted by the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE), most nurse administrators worked as Directors (35 percent), Managers (22 percent), and Chief Nursing Officers (CNO)/Chief Nursing Executives (CNE) (21 percent).

The survey found that about half of all nurse administrators earned between $90,000 and $149,999, while about 38 percent earned $150,000 or more, and about 12 percent earned less than $90,000.

Nurse administrators with senior-level titles earned the highest salaries. For example, about 69 percent of all directors and managers earned between $100,000 and $159,999. Just 2 percent of all directors and just 11 percent of all managers earned less than $80,000.

Among CNOs, 58 percent earned between $100,000 and $199,999 while 23 percent earned between $200,000 and $249,999 and 17 percent earned $250,000 or more. CNOs within a hospital system earned the highest salaries, with about 52 percent earning $250,000 or more.

The survey also examined nurse administrator salaries by geographic region and found that those working in the far western U.S. (identified as including Alaska, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington) had the most respondents (62 percent) earning $150,000 or more.

Nurse administrators in the Northeast (identified as including Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont) followed, with about 45 percent indicating they earned $150,000 or more.

To get a better idea of current nurse administrator salaries across the U.S., we examined current job posts and found the following (September 2017):

  • Wellness Director, Senior Living Community – Boise, ID: $66,000
  • Clinical Coordinator, Community College – Durango, CO: $44,285
  • Clinic Director, Men’s Clinic – Las Vegas, NC: $124,000 – $140,000
  • Director of Nursing, Health Clinic – Austin, TX: $90,000 – $100,000
  • Director of Nursing Services, School District – Onalaska, WI: $62,000 – $69,000
  • Director of Nursing, Healthcare Center – Salisbury, MD: $90,000
  • Director of Nursing, Skilled Nursing Facility – Portland, OR: $90,000 – $105,000
  • Chief Nursing Officer, County Medical Center – Comanche, TX: $90,000 – $127,000

Nurse Informaticist

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) revealed that as of 2015, nurse informaticists earned an average, annual salary of $111,388.

HIMSS also broke down average salaries for nurse informaticists, by geographic region and found that the Pacific Region had the highest average salary at $127,117, followed by:

  • Mid-Atlantic: $121,178
  • South Atlantic: $116,388
  • New England: $113,493
  • Mountain: $109,959
  • East South Central: $107,996
  • East North Central: $103,109
  • West North Central: $102,522
  • West South Central: $101,281

We also researched current job posts (September 2017) to locate salaries for nurse informaticists and found that earnings ranged widely in different parts of the country, likely due to the fact that these nurses go by a number of titles, including project manager, systems analyst, applications manager, and medical informatics coordinator, among others.

  • Olympia, WA: $82,056 – $134,532
  • Phoenix, AZ: $62,989 – $112,631
  • Salt Lake City, UT: $65,192
  • Tampa, FL: $65,000 – $66,000
  • Mammoth Lakes, CA: $76,960 – $112,320
  • Columbus, OH: $53,414
  • Moreno Valley, CA: $95,281 – $153,681