A Master of Science in nursing (MSN) is a helpful degree that nurses can pursue to develop their occupational expertise and focus their training on a nursing specialization. If you're hoping to pursue an MSN, it's important to understand the average salary for those who hold the degree and the most common positions or roles they can pursue. In this article, we discuss how much nurses with an MSN make, what jobs they can get with a master's in nursing and other frequently asked questions about the degree.
Related: A Guide to MSN Nursing Programs
How much does an MSN make?
The average salary for someone with a Master of Science in nursing can vary depending on the individual's chosen profession and where they currently practice. For example, a clinical nurse manager makes $78,474 per year on average, while a nurse anesthetist makes $177,280 per year.
Though the salaries can change from position to position, most individuals who hold an MSN often make more than the average salary of a registered nurse (RN) which is $78,430 annually. Even if they don't pursue an advanced position or specialization, some nurses who hold an MSN might still receive a higher salary compared to those with just an undergraduate degree.
What are the benefits of earning an MSN?
There are several benefits to earning a Master of Science in nursing, including:
- Developing further nursing knowledge: Pursuing a graduate degree can help nurses earn a deeper understanding of the nursing profession and further develop key skills to help them perform their job duties more efficiently.
- Finding a specialization: Earning an MSN degree can allow nurses to specialize in a certain position or role in some hospitals and healthcare facilities. Through their studies, they can develop influential knowledge to help them pursue positions such as a research nurse, anesthetist and more.
- Pursuing advancement opportunities: Nurses who earn an MSN degree can pursue different advancement opportunities, including an advanced registered nurse practitioner, as well as management positions or roles in other fields, like business and academia.
What jobs can MSN graduates get?
MSN graduates can pursue several jobs and specializations that aren't always available to those with a Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) or Associate of Science in nursing (ASN). Those positions include:
Clinical nurse manager
A clinical nurse manager oversees the nursing staff of hospitals, medical clinics and other healthcare facilities. Throughout their career, they might interview and hire new employees, conduct performance reviews of nursing professionals and manage inventory and medical supplies. Though not every employer requires a master's in nursing, earning the degree can help candidates attract the attention of employers by demonstrating their occupational expertise. It's also beneficial for individuals to pursue management experience, which can also help them earn the position.
The average annual salary for a clinical nurse manager is $78,474 per year. They also earn an average of $14,250 annually for overtime compensation. However, depending on their work experience and where they work, some clinical nurse managers can earn over $100,000 per year. For example, their average salary in Seattle, Washington, is $117,519 per year, while their average salary in Anchorage, Arkansas, is $129,606 per year.
Read more: Learn About Being a Nurse Manager
Research nurses help develop important and life-saving medical treatments for patients, including vaccines, medical procedures and medications. Nurses who want to join the medical research field often gain influential work experience as a clinical data collector or research assistant to help their resumes become more noticeable to potential employers. They also pursue advanced degrees, such as a Master of Science in nursing or sometimes a Ph.D., to help them gain the necessary education and training to pursue open research nurse positions.
The average annual salary of a research nurse is $79,610 per year. However, depending on their experience level and place of employment, some research nurses can make over $90,000 annually. For example, the average salary for research nurses in Chicago, Illinois, is $93,789 per year, while their average salary in Bethesda, Maryland, is $94,663 per year.
A certified nurse midwife (CNM) helps women in different medical situations, including pregnancy, childbirth, menopause and more. Throughout their career, they can help educate women about birth options, assist mothers with postpartum care and develop helpful treatment plans for varying conditions or ailments. Their training and skill set also allows them to become a primary care provider for patients, performing similar duties to doctors or physicians. Becoming a nurse midwife requires the completion of a graduate education and earning a midwife certification to demonstrate your expertise in the field.
The average annual salary of a CNM is $98,614 per year. They also receive an average of $10,625 per year in overtime compensation, depending on their place of employment and experience level. Some hospitals or healthcare facilities might also offer influential benefits to further help CNM professionals, including tuition reimbursement, relocation assistance and paid time off.
Read more: Learn About Being a Midwife
Family nurse practitioner
A family nurse practitioner works as a primary care provider for individuals including children, adults and the elderly. They often work in outpatient settings providing patients with non-emergency services, such as treating minor injuries, conducting examinations and providing care for long-lasting diseases. They most often work in clinics but can also find available positions in schools, doctor's offices and hospitals. Family nurse practitioners can also start their own private practice assisting clients and patients with their ailments.
The average annual salary for family nurse practitioners is $119,723 per year. However, their salaries can vary depending on their current level of experience. For example, family nurse practitioners with three to five years of experience often make more than $126,000 annually compared to family nurse practitioners who just started their careers. Some nurses can make even more depending on their location. The highest-paying city in the United States for family nurse practitioners is Los Angeles, California, with an average salary of $161,149 per year.
Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner
Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNP) help patients with a wide range of mental illnesses and ailments. During their workday, they observe patients, study their medical history and conduct a risk assessment to determine areas of a patients' life that could trigger mental health challenges. While collaborating with physicians and psychiatrists, PMHNP professionals also help patients improve their mental wellbeing through therapy and prescription medication. They might also educate families of patients to help them understand their mental ailments.
The average annual salary of psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners is $137,049 per year. However, depending on their place of work, some PMHNP professionals can make over $200,000 annually, like in Houston, Texas, where the average salary is $271,704 per year. They can also receive an annual average of $15,000 in overtime compensation as well as helpful benefits, such as paid jury duty, loan repayment and health insurance.
A nurse anesthetist is a medical professional who helps patients manage their pain prior to, during and after surgery. They also might help deliver pain relief during other operations, including labor or minor treatments. During their workday, they often exam patients to determine what operation they're receiving and the medication or anesthesia that will benefit them the most. Becoming a nurse anesthetist often requires individuals to first gain some experience as an RN and then pursue a master's degree with a focus on a nurse anesthetist career.
The average annual salary for nurse anesthetists is $177,280 per year. They also receive an average of $27,000 annually in overtime compensation. Depending on where they work, some nurse anesthetists can also receive helpful benefits, including health insurance, 401(k) options and paid time off.
Read more: Learn About Being a Nurse Anesthetist
How much does an MSN cost?
The costs for a Master of Science in nursing degree can differ depending on several variables:
- Public vs. private: Though it's not always the case, private schools can sometimes cost more compared to public colleges or universities. If you're trying to decide between a public or private school, it's important to determine which might offer a better education or networking opportunity for your career goals.
- Local vs. out of state: Some schools might charge students more or less depending on if they're a resident of the state. When looking for colleges and universities, consider researching them to see if there's a price difference for local versus out-of-state students to help you make a more informed decision.
- Remote vs. in-person: When looking for an MSN program, most often a remote or virtual education will be cheaper compared to an in-person school. However, with nursing degrees, being in person can sometimes be beneficial if you need to complete clinical trials or network with other nursing professionals.
How can MSN graduates earn more?
Depending on if an MSN graduate pursued a specialization, they can often earn a larger salary by obtaining different nursing certifications. Nurses can pursue several types of nursing certifications which can help them demonstrate their occupational expertise, pursue positions of advancement and possibly earn a raise or higher salary depending on their place of employment. Even if they already have a specialization, some nurses can still pursue certifications that show other strengths and expertise that hospitals and healthcare facilities can benefit from, such as a certified asthma educator (AE-C) or an acute care nurse practitioner (ACNP-BC).
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