Salaries for MSN-Educated Nurses in Clinical and Non-Clinical Roles

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The nursing profession is uniquely diverse in terms of educational requirements for licensure at various levels, practice settings, and areas of specialization. Still, among the most disparate things in the field of nursing are the salaries these healthcare professionals earn.

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From advanced practice clinicians, to those in high-profile nonclinical roles in administration, public health and policy, informatics and education, the highest salaries are reserved for nurses who have achieved a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or higher.

MSN-educated nurses fill many specialized roles, the majority of which pay salaries comparable to other higher-level medical professionals. The Advance for Nurses 2012 Salary Survey shows the overall average among MSN-educated nurses in their various roles by regions of the US:

  • Northeast – $85,974
  • Mid-Atlantic & Lower Great Lakes – $81,546
  • South – $77,370
  • Midwest – $77,090
  • West – $87,933

Salaries for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses

Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), all of whom must possess an MSN or higher as required by state licensing boards, serve in specialty clinical roles and are compensated at a much higher rate than staff RNs with undergraduate degrees.

Due to an aging nursing workforce, an increasing elderly population, and changes in our nation’s healthcare system, the demand for APRNs is expected to increase significantly in the coming years. The US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the number of APRN jobs is expected to increase by 31 percent between 2012 and 2022.

As of May 2012, the highest paid APRNs worked in hospitals, followed by those in independent practice, physicians’ offices, and outpatient care centers:

  • Hospitals: $101,990
  • Offices of other health practitioners: $98,260
  • Offices of physicians: $97,600
  • Outpatient care centers: $92,270

Salaries for advanced practice nurses in the four recognized roles (nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse midwife, nurse anesthetist) are shown here:

Nurse Practitioners:

According to the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, NPs earned an average, annual salary of $94,050, as of 2011.

A 2013 national survey of nurse practitioners and physicians assistants conducted by ADVANCE for NPs & PAs reported that the average salary for a full-time nurse practitioner was $97,817, a nearly $6,000 increase in earnings from 2012.

The US Department of Labor reported a median, annual salary of $92,670 for nurse practitioners, as of May 2013. Nurse practitioners earned the highest salaries in the following settings, according to the BLS:

  • Personal care services: $117,300
  • Specialty hospitals: $109,850
  • Grantmaking and giving services: $107,350

A full analysis of nurse practitioner salaries by state is shown here (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013):

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Alabama
1770
88320
Alaska
370
111800
Arizona
1910
100590
Arkansas
1000
94220
California
9200
110590
Colorado
2090
95730
Connecticut
2550
97590
Delaware
520
94020
District of Columbia
670
81560
Florida
6240
91070
Georgia
3310
88840
Hawaii
230
106770
Idaho
550
94720
Illinois
3290
81400
Indiana
2910
92400
Iowa
1350
85290
Kansas
1070
81550
Kentucky
2070
89170
Louisiana
1110
92230
Maine
990
92480
Maryland
2270
90530
Massachusetts
4700
105010
Michigan
2550
89290
Minnesota
2910
97120
Mississippi
1710
95890
Missouri
3310
90090
Montana
420
92700
Nebraska
780
89020
Nevada
430
92130
New Hampshire
810
98790
New Jersey
2860
102060
New Mexico
740
100500
New York
9610
100420
North Carolina
3380
94910
North Dakota
520
87500
Ohio
4380
89530
Oklahoma
830
76370
Oregon
1160
107560
Pennsylvania
3410
85150
Puerto Rico
1230
21230
Rhode Island
480
98000
South Carolina
1240
84480
South Dakota
410
88130
Tennessee
4380
92400
Texas
6690
101490
Utah
1600
91640
Vermont
450
88050
Virginia
2940
89330
Washington
2360
97090
West Virginia
690
84220
Wisconsin
1920
89560
Wyoming
220
88600

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Certified Nurse Midwives:

Certified nurse midwives earned an average, annual salary of $114,152, as of 2010, according to the American College of Nurse Midwives. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reported that nurse midwives can earn as much as $90,000 per year in their first year, with nurse midwives in the Northeast and West earning higher salaries than their counterparts in other areas of the country.

The US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a median, annual salary of $92,290 for certified nurse midwives as of May 2013. The BLS also reported that nurse midwives that worked in the following settings earned the highest salaries:

  • Home health care services: $101,420
  • General medical and surgical hospitals: $97,730
  • Employment services: $95,880
  • Outpatient care centers: $94,470
  • Offices of physicians: $91,370

A full analysis of nurse midwife salaries by state is shown here (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013):

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Alaska
50
95640
Arizona
70
103980
California
280
120450
Colorado
170
91480
Connecticut
120
93210
Delaware
40
64810
Florida
270
83080
Georgia
250
89130
Hawaii
40
98390
Illinois
180
89300
Indiana
660
82050
Iowa
30
94440
Kentucky
160
89020
Maine
30
93200
Maryland
110
100680
Massachusetts
240
106780
Michigan
150
97670
Minnesota
150
100400
Missouri
Estimate not Released
82990
New Hampshire
40
112530
New Jersey
180
101440
New Mexico
70
95660
New York
490
97750
North Carolina
160
85460
North Dakota
30
107220
Ohio
150
88620
Oklahoma
30
61960
Oregon
110
105500
Pennsylvania
130
79730
South Carolina
40
82010
Tennessee
30
82890
Texas
210
97970
Utah
Estimate not Released
81180
Vermont
40
94370
Virginia
160
65020
Washington
110
102270
West Virginia
50
82730
Wisconsin
80
91030

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Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists:

According to a survey conducted by Becker’s Hospital Review in 2011, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists earned an average salary of about $169,000.

A 2010 article from a leading nursing magazine found that certified registered nurse anesthetists earned the highest average salary among all APRN roles, making an average of $135,000 that year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported an annual, median salary of $151,090 as of May 2013.

The BLS reported that certified registered nurse anesthetists earned the highest salaries when working in the following settings:

  • Offices of dentists: $179,570
  • Specialty hospitals: $174,850
  • Outpatient care centers: $169,770
  • General medical and surgical hospitals: $165,340
  • Offices of other health practitioners: $158,930

A full analysis of nurse anesthetist salaries by state is shown here (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013):

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Alabama
1040
148180
Alaska
40
149960
Arizona
250
168710
Arkansas
350
145640
California
950
163570
Colorado
110
171920
Connecticut
400
186500
Delaware
200
Estimate not Released
District of Columbia
60
187200
Florida
2300
135910
Georgia
740
135560
Idaho
Estimate not Released
168230
Illinois
1060
154910
Indiana
400
171360
Iowa
200
161770
Kansas
Estimate not Released
128810
Kentucky
850
138900
Louisiana
810
144980
Maine
180
159250
Maryland
490
196690
Massachusetts
440
137880
Michigan
1480
167920
Minnesota
1150
161180
Mississippi
210
145220
Missouri
1290
152610
Montana
Estimate not Released
127290
Nebraska
380
137980
Nevada
90
221240
New Jersey
660
Estimate not Released
New Mexico
50
120640
New York
1580
168150
North Carolina
2430
158840
North Dakota
210
171630
Ohio
2240
146770
Oklahoma
190
151250
Oregon
190
157070
Pennsylvania
1840
173580
Puerto Rico
290
54670
South Carolina
570
159430
South Dakota
270
165120
Tennessee
2550
145020
Texas
3140
162090
Utah
160
144080
Vermont
Estimate not Released
147410
Virginia
1200
166330
Washington
400
165490
West Virginia
550
168230
Wisconsin
470
200350
Wyoming
40
197310

*These figures represent hourly wages that are at least $90.00 per hour or annual salaries that are at least $187,199. These are the maximum salaries reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for Michigan.

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Clinical Nurse Specialists:

CNN Money ranked clinical nurse specialists number two in their list of “Best Jobs in America in 2013.” The median salary among nurses working in this APRN specialty was $86,500, while the top earners made an average of $126,000 that year.

In comparison, the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists reported that salaries for clinical nurse specialists can range from anywhere between $65,000 and $110,000, depending on the region of the country in which they practice and their practice specialty.

A leading nursing industry publication also ranked the clinical nurse specialist number eight in its “Top 10 Highest Nursing Salaries,” reporting an average, annual salary of $76,000.

MSN Salaries for Non-Clinical Nursing Professionals

RNs that possess MSNs also often choose to serve the nursing profession in a non-clinical capacity. The two most likely professions for MSN RNs in a non-clinical capacity are nursing administrators and nursing educators:

Nurse Educators:

Salaries for nurse educators vary significantly, depending on setting and educator experience. One of the biggest issues facing the supply of nurse educators is that colleges and universities are not able to offer salaries that are competitive with what would be earned in clinical settings, as was revealed in a report released by the National League for Nursing. This means that those drawn to nursing education do so for the love of the profession and because they prefer the classroom to the high-stress atmosphere of the clinical environment

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a mean, annual salary of $65,940 for nurse educators, as of May 2013. It also reported that nurse educators in the following settings earned the highest salaries during the same period:

  • State government: $88,340
  • Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals: $86,610
  • General medical and surgical hospitals: $81,810
  • Colleges, universities, and professional studies: $72,590

In contrast, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing reported that as of the 2012-13 academic year nursing professors earned an average salary of $102,399.

A 2011-12 survey conducted by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources reported the average, annual salaries for healthcare educators:

  • Professor: $98,415
  • Associate professor: $77,032
  • Assistant professor: $65,165
  • New assistant professor: $66,049
  • Instructor: $54,199

A full analysis of nurse educator salaries by state is shown here (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013):

Area name
Employment
Annual median wage
Alabama
970
64280
Alaska
Estimate not Released
81320
Arizona
980
69580
Arkansas
640
54190
California
3720
85140
Colorado
860
59820
Connecticut
700
74330
Delaware
260
74660
District of Columbia
260
79200
Florida
2680
69090
Georgia
1290
60170
Hawaii
170
76640
Idaho
270
51300
Illinois
1810
65820
Indiana
1590
62990
Iowa
650
60510
Kansas
490
57610
Kentucky
1690
56960
Louisiana
1410
58530
Maine
370
60280
Maryland
950
81610
Massachusetts
1520
75300
Michigan
1640
70590
Minnesota
1110
63550
Mississippi
590
66020
Missouri
1380
63730
Montana
300
55280
Nebraska
520
66020
Nevada
520
80310
New Hampshire
200
59830
New Jersey
1320
81950
New Mexico
240
62520
New York
3510
73840
North Carolina
1980
59290
North Dakota
200
60080
Ohio
3220
63750
Oklahoma
910
52520
Oregon
320
61770
Pennsylvania
3280
69790
Puerto Rico
890
35810
Rhode Island
200
70730
South Carolina
860
67450
South Dakota
210
58400
Tennessee
1200
54920
Texas
3700
59120
Utah
660
61350
Virginia
1530
62280
Washington
1130
58350
West Virginia
340
54470
Wisconsin
1590
63960
Wyoming
150
57900

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Nurse Administrators

Nurse administrators, often an umbrella professional term used to describe nurses in executive leadership roles, are usually at the top of the pay scale among nursing professionals. The three job titles most common among nurse administrators are: director, manager, and chief nursing officer/chief nursing executive.

The American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE), in their 2013 salary and compensation study, revealed that more than half of all nurse administrators earned between $80,000 and $130,000 per year. Just 14 percent earned less than $80,000.

The top 30 percent of nurse administrators earned more than $130,000, with the top 13 percent earning between $150,000 and $200,000. Nurse administrators with senior-level titles like director or manager earned the most, reported the AONE, with salaries for these nursing executives ranging between $80,000 and $160,000.

Among the AONE geographic regions, nurse administrators in Region 9, which includes Alaska, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, earned the highest salaries, at $120,000 or more.

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