Nursing is undeniably a tremendously fulfilling career. You play a direct role in helping people and saving lives – it doesn’t get more meaningful than that. But in addition to that, nursing is a field that’s brimming with options and possibilities – you can choose a nursing specialization tailored to your passions. From informatics to working with children, you can choose the career track that’s best for you.
You can become a registered nurse by earning your Associate’s degree. However, advancing your studies and getting a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing not only will grant you a wider pool of career opportunities to choose from, but it is also your path to receiving higher pay. Granted, the salary is largely dependent on your level of education, years of experience, your area, and other factors. But as a BSN trained nurse, you’ll have a higher chance of securing a job that you love and that is compensated fairly well.
Read on to discover some of the highest paying nursing jobs for RNs who hold a Bachelor’s Degree, the states where BSN trained nurses to earn the highest wages, as well as the numerous other benefits that come hand in hand with getting your Bachelor’s degree in Nursing.
What are Some of the Best Paid BSN Jobs?
A 2019 study by Medscape highlights the difference in pay between nurses who hold a Bachelor’s degree and those who do not. Therefore, the study shows that the median income of a BSN nurse is around $80,000 a year, while RNs with an Associate’s Degree earn on average $75,000 annually. Let’s dive into some of the best nursing jobs available for BSN holders and see how well-compensated they are.
1. Informatics Nurse – $88,740
If technology interests you but you don’t want to sacrifice your love for nursing, you should pick a career that combines both your passions. As a nurse informaticist, you are the bridge between the hospital staff and the IT staff, as your responsibilities include analyzing data to improve patient care, evaluating and supporting healthcare technology, both software and hardware. All in all, the use of technology is critical for any health institution, so informatics nurses are generously remunerated – they make over $88,000 annually.
2. Pharmaceutical Nurse – $86,400
Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing opens a lot of doors for jobs in the pharmaceutical industry. You could pursue a career as a sales representative, or you could become a technical writer, writing articles in publications focused on the pharma industry. You can even pursue a career as a trainer/educator, offering guidance for pharmaceutical industries on how to use new drugs, therapies, or machines. The pharmaceutical industry is a rather lucrative field, making for one of the highest-paid specializations for nurses – on average RNs who work in this industry make around $86,400 a year.
3. Travel Nurse – $78,604
Travel nursing is nursing with a twist: you can provide medical assistance all over the country (or even abroad). As a travel RN, you can generally choose the location and the specialty you would like to pursue during your assignment. Partly because of the added unpredictability of the job, travel nurses typically earn slightly more than regular RNs, over $78,500 per year.
4. Legal Nurse Consultant – $78,046
The main responsibility of a legal nurse consultant is to provide invaluable consultation and expertise to attorneys regarding medical matters, such as the delivery of nursing and other healthcare services or the nature and cause of certain injuries. Legal nurse consultants need a strong educational and experiential foundation, but the fact that their mean wage is around $78,000 makes the effort worthwhile.
5. Operating Room Nurse (Perioperative Nurse) – $74,713
OR nurses work with patients right before they undergo surgery. They can also manage communication with the patient’s families. As a part of the surgery team, perioperative nurses assist the surgeon and make sure the procedure is happening in a secure, sterile, ready-to-go environment. Nurses who enjoy direct patient care can pursue this specialization and earn more than $74,000 per year.
6. Critical Care Nurse – $73,549
As a critical care nurse, you will treat patients suffering from extremely serious, even life-threatening illnesses. The job can get rather stressful, so critical care nurses must always be alert even after long hours of intensive work. According to the AACN, critical care nurses make up for about 37% of the RNs who work in hospitals. This is one of the highest-paid nursing jobs, with CCNs making around $74,600 yearly.
Find out more about the experience of a Nightingale College graduate who works as a Critical Care Nurse and is currently on the frontlines in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
7. Nurse Case Manager – $72,076
Case management nurses are in charge of long-term care plans for their patients, so, generally, they work with patients who require ongoing medical attention, such as geriatrics, HIV, or cancer patients. Nurse case managers earn over $72,000 a year.
8. Oncology Nurse – $70,273
Caring for people diagnosed with cancer is definitely a sensitive area of practice. Oncology nurses help patients deal with the cruelness of the disease, their main goal being to help cancer patients become cancer survivors. The annual salary of a BSN trained oncology nurse is over $70,200.
9. Dialysis Nurse – $69,506
Dialysis nurses’ main focus is treating patients suffering from kidney failure and helping return their kidneys to a functioning state. Although dialysis nurses’ salaries vary on account of different factors, such as institution size or experience level, on average they earn around $69,000.
10. Emergency Room Nurse – $67,434
ER nurses are in charge of treating patients who come to the emergency departments of a hospital. One of the main characteristics of this job is its unpredictability: running through the doors of the ER could be people with various symptoms, from having had a heart attack, to being shot or in a terrible accident. Emergency room nurses have mean wages starting from $67,400 per year.
11. Hospice Nurse – $65,997
As a hospice nurse, you will be taking care of patients at the end of their lives. This specialization isn’t focused as much on curing or fixing a patient, but rather helping ensure their quality of life during their remaining days. In addition to helping the patient live with the least amount of pain possible, hospice nurses provide the emotional support that is tremendously needed both by the patient and their family. Typically, they work at the patient’s home or in a hospice center, and on average they earn close to $66,000 a year.
12. Cardiac Care Unit Nurse – $65,000
Cardiac care unit nurses work closely with cardiologists providing care to patients suffering from various heart maladies. They are directly involved in diagnosing, treating, and controlling conditions that affect the complex cardiac system. In addition, they can also be involved in a patient’s process of cardiac rehabilitation by guiding them towards the lifestyle change that would prevent the aggravation of the disease. Cardiac care unit nurses take home a salary of around $65,000 yearly.
13. ICU Nurse – $64,471
ICU nurses, or intensive care unit nurses, care for patients who are usually in critical conditions and demand incredibly structured and regulated settings. Their patients might be intubated, ventilated, or could require potentially saving medication drips that need to be administered with clockwork regularity. ICU nurses also work more structured shifts and enjoy a more disciplined work life. Their salary on average starts from $64,500.
14. Pediatric Nurse – $60,695
The job description of a pediatric nurse ranges from working with toddlers to treating teenagers. As a pediatric nurse, you also have to educate the parents on how to provide the best care for their children and how to make sure they grow healthy and unharmed. Pediatrics is a very gratifying career to pursue as a nurse, especially if you love children. The median salary for pediatric nurses is about $60,700 per year.
15. Surgical Nurse – $58,238
Surgical nurses are the health professionals that assist surgeons both during routine and more complex surgical procedures. As a surgical nurse, your responsibilities range from prepping the patient for surgery, monitoring the patient’s vitals and handing instruments to the surgeon during the surgery and making sure post-surgical care is up to the highest standards. In this position, you will earn over $58,200 a year.
*Data regarding the average salaries for each nursing specialization was gathered using PayScale.
What Are the States Where BSN Nurses Have the Highest Wages?
According to official data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019, the average salary of a registered nurse was $77,460.
The highest paying state for Registered Nurses in 2019 is in California, with an annual median wage for RNs of $113,240. In Hawaii, nurses make on average $104,060 yearly, while in the District of Columbia, they earn around $94,820 per year. However, you must keep in mind that while these states do offer the highest mean salaries, they also come with a high cost of living.
Find out more about how much nurses earn in each state.
Why Should You Pursue a BSN?
Pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing goes beyond higher pay. As numerous studies show, BSN trained nurses are linked to better patient outcomes, fewer medical errors, and lower mortality rates.
Also, earning your BSN might become a requirement. In 2010 the Institute of Medicine called for an increase in the percentage of the BSN educated nursing workforce to 80% by 2020. More and more hospitals are falling in line with this recommendation. According to a 2019 AACN survey, 43.2% of hospitals and other healthcare settings are requiring new hires to have a Bachelor’s degree in nursing, while 82.1% of employers are expressing a strong preference for BSN program graduates.
Therefore, earning a BSN degree is an important stepping stone to a more fulfilling career which offers higher pay, better benefits, more flexibility, and more opportunities. But advancing your education is a serious commitment that requires time, money, and energy, so, in the end, it’s up to you to decide if this is the right next step for you and your career.
Enroll in a BSN program today and increase your chances of securing a high paying nursing job.