If you have completed a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree, then you have a lot of career prospects. Both average salary and demand are rising rapidly. There is a huge need for nurses, and there is a commitment towards improving the overall educational standard of the nursing workforce, which means that demand for MSN degree holders in particular is rising really rapidly.
In every industry, a high demand means salaries rise as well. According to the Health Resources & Service Administration (HRSA), around 50% of all registered nurses (RNs) currently hold at least a bachelor’s degree, twice as many as in 1980. By moving on to the master’s degree, RNs can attract far higher salaries,and rapid career advancement. But how do you get the best masters in nursing salary?
1. Choosing the Right Degree
The first a most important issue is that you choose a degree program that is properly accredited. MSN degree programs should be accredited by at least one of the following:
- Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME)
- Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME)
- Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
- Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
These accrediting bodies are nationally recognized, which means that your degree demonstrates that you have achieved the minimum acceptable standards of knowledge and skills.
2. Choose the Right Concentration
The next thing you must understand is that there are different concentrations within the MSN degree. Before you enroll in a program, you need to first consider exactly what you aim to do. Broadly speaking, you can become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), which is a clinical specialization, you can choose to move out of the clinical element and become involved in the business of healthcare, or you can become responsible for the training and education of the nursing workforce of the future, becoming a nurse educator.
Within the APRN specialization, there are important sub-specializations, including:
- Nurse practitioner (NP)
- Certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA)
- Clinical nurse specialist (CNS)
- Certified registered nurse midwife (CRNM)
Within the business side of the MSN, there are equally important specializations:
- Clinical nurse leader (CNL)
- Nurse administrator (NA)
- Nurse manager (NM)
Each specialization has its own pros and cons and offers different employment opportunities. They also attract different salaries and other benefits. Hence, you do need to have an extensive understanding of what you want to do as an MSN graduate, as it is often different to switch between concentration areas in the middle of your studies.
Besides this, you may also need to choose an even deeper concentration, which is particularly true for the APRN. Common concentrations include:
- Pediatrics – general
Pediatric critical care
- Pediatric acute care
- Pediatric chronic care
- Family health
- Psychiatric/mental health
- Women’s health
- Adult health
- Acute care
- Geriatric care
- Veteran’s affairs
Different schools offer various concentrations, so you do need to make sure that you research the universities open to you before you choose one, so that you can study towards the specific area of nursing care that you are interested in.
In terms of salaries, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that:
- Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners earn an average of $104,740 per year and can expect a growth in demand of 31% from 2014 to 2024.
- Medical and Health Services Managers earn an average of $94,500 per year at bachelor’s degree level, and can expect a growth in demand of 17% from 2014 to 2024.
Payscale.com, meanwhile, has delved deeper into expected salaries for more specific roles for those with MSN degrees. They report that:
- Family nurse practitioners earn between $74,721 and $107,905 per year.
- Nurse practitioners earn between $77,385 and $113,760 per year.
- APRNs earn between $74,564 and $117,706 per year.
- Acute care nurse practitioners earn between $82,075 and $118,481 per year.
- Adult nurse practitioners earn between $78,453 and $120,896 per year.
- Psychiatric nurse practitioners earn between $79,150 and $123,368 per year.
3. Choose Where in the Country You Will Work
Of significant influence to how much you will earn overall is the geographical location in which you choose to get a job. This comes with an important caveat, however, namely that in most areas where you can earn the most, the cost of living tends to be higher as well. According to Payscale.com, salaries for MSN degree holders in different states are:
- Ohio – $86,118
- Florida – $86,186
- Illinois – $89,819
- Pennsylvania – $90,571
- Texas – $93,690
- New York – $95,596
- California – $109,485
4. Other Factors of Importance
There are various other factors that will strongly influence how much you can earn as an MSN degree holder. These include:
- Your personal experience. The longer you have worked in the industry, the more you are likely to earn. Someone with more experience has more seniority and is therefore also in a better position to negotiate a raise.
- Being unionized. In certain states, you are obliged to join a union as a registered nurse (at bachelor’s or master’s level). In all states, however, those who are unionized are more likely to earn more and to have better remuneration packages.
- The city in which you work. Generally speaking, large metropolitan areas usually pay more than rural areas.
- Your working hours. The nursing workforce is on call 24/7. Those who are willing to work unsociable hours, including evenings, weekends, and national holidays, tend to earn the most.
- The type of institution you work for, with hospitals usually being the best employers for high pays. However, in return for this, you can expect longer working hours and more irregularity in terms of when you work.
Choosing to complete an MSN degree is a huge commitment, and will require a significant investment of both time and money. Only you can decide whether the benefits, in the long term, are worth that investment. You will not be able to earn your investment back within a year, but you can expect a very bright future and see a significant return on investment over the course of your career. The most important thing, however, is that most nurses go into the profession because they have a genuine desire to improve health outcomes for their communities. If that is your personal motivator, then obtaining an MSN degree will be the best possible choice.
- Employment Guide and Career Resources for Nurses. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.mastersinnursing.com/guide/msn-employment-guide-career-resources/
- Delece Smith-Barrow. Boost a Career in Nursing With a Master’s Degree (2015, Mar. 10) Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-nursing-schools/articles/2015/03/10/graduate-education-gives-nurses-a-salary-and-career-boost
- 5 Best Paying MSN Jobs in Nursing. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://nursejournal.org/msn-degree/5-best-paying-msn-degree-nursing-jobs-and-careers/
- Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Degree Average Salary. (2017, Mar. 25) Retrieved from http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Degree=Master_of_Science_in_Nursing_(MSN)/Salary
- Occupational Outlook Handbook – Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners. (2015, Dec. 17) Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm
- HRSA study finds nursing workforce is growing. (2010, Sep. 22) Retrieved from https://www.hrsa.gov/about/news/pressreleases/2010/100922nursingworkforce.html
- Occupational Outlook Handbook – Medical and Health Services Managers. (2015, Dec. 17) Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm