Are you an aspiring nursing professional or a current one and you want to earn a higher salary? If so, you should consider earning a graduate degree to become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN).
Salaries for APRNs are significantly higher than for regular RNs, and you will enjoy a higher level of responsibility and respect in the nursing profession.
To become an APRN, you generally need to earn your MSN degree which takes approximately two years, and then pass your national certification examination. In some cases, you may decide to also earn your Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree as well. This terminal doctoral degree puts you at the top of the APRN professions, and is the ideal path for nursing professionals interested in executive leadership or advanced research.
But most APRNs will earn their MSN, so let’s look at the details of the MSN degree up close.
A Master of Science in Nursing is the essential graduate degree to enter the APRN profession. All MSN programs feature at least two years of classroom and clinical work. Some of the classes that you will study in this APRN program are:
- Clinical nursing practice
To work as an advanced practice registered nurse after you earn your MSN, you have to have an active RN license and work experience in the clinical arena. As you are taking your MSN classes, you will need to decide quickly which type of APRN you want to be. Which career path you decide will greatly affect what you do every day on the job, and your salary as well.
The most popular APRN careers are:
Nurse Practitioner (NP)
An NP provides primary and secondary care to patients and families of all ages. NPs provide many of the same services as regular doctors, but generally work under the supervision of an MD.
Their most important day to day nursing duties are:
- Assessing patients
- Determining how to enhance the health of the patient
- Order and diagnose tests to treat diseases and conditions
- Talking about ways to improve a patient’s health
One of the interesting things about becoming an NP is that your job duties can vary considerably by state. In at least 23 states, it is even possible for nurse practitioners to open their own clinics and work independently.
Average NP Salary
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that the average salary for this type of APRN in 2015 was $98,190. The top 10% earned well over $100,000 each year. Many of the top earners most likely have a DNP degree and/or have more than 10 years of experience.
BLS also states that job demand for APRN professions by 2024 will rise by a huge 31%. That is a much faster rate of growth than most professions. Experts believe that the demand for APRNs is being pushed by the new federal health care legislation of recent years. As more people must have health insurance, there will be more people seeking healthcare services. Also, experts say that preventative care is much more important today than decades ago. Lastly, baby boomers are retiring and there are more people seeking health care services of all kinds.
BLS further reports that the job growth projected for RNs will be 16%. This is a healthy rate of growth, but an APRN will enjoy higher job demand for years to come.
Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
A CNM provides pre- and post-natal care to women, and generally provides comprehensive health care services to women. Their most important and common nursing duties as APRNs are:
- Gynecological exams
- Family planning services
- Prenatal care
- Delivering babies
- Managing emergencies during labor
- Wellness care
CNMs also give care patients and their partners in the area of sexual and reproductive health.
Average CNM Salary
BLS reports online that the average salary for CNMs is $92,510. The majority of CNMs have an MSN degree.
Certified Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
A CRNA is a highly trained and well paid APRN who offers anesthetic services for all types of surgeries and medical procedures. Many CRNAs also offer pain management services and emergency services, too.
One of the most important duties of a CRNA is to discuss with the patient before any surgery about their medical history. They have to go over carefully any medications that the patient is on so that anesthetic can be administered in a safe fashion.
Average CRNA Salary
The average salary for CRNAs is $157,000 per year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states. Generally, CRNAs are the highest paid APRNs.
Best Places to Work for APRN Degree Holders
BLS also states that average salaries for these three APRN professions can vary depending upon the workplace:
- Hospitals: $111,000
- Doctors’ offices: $104,000
- Outpatient care centers: $102,000
- Health care practitioner offices: $98,000
- Educational services: $95,000
Other Things That Influence APRN Salary
There are other things that can affect how much you will earn as an APRN:
- How long have you worked as a nurse? More experience in nursing means you will earn more money. The BLS survey reports that the top wages normally go to the most experienced APRNs.
- Where you are working. APRNs who work in large cities will often earn a higher salary than nurses in small towns. Naturally, big cities have higher living expenses, so this must be remembered.
- Who your employer is. Hospitals in larger cities tend to pay the highest salaries. If you work in a nursing home or outpatient care facility, you may make less.
- Your APRN specialty: Some specialties have higher wages, as this page has illustrated. Also, your subspecialty matters: If you are an NP who works only with neonates, you will likely earn more than a family nurse practitioner. Neonatal care is highly specialized and many NPs are not qualified to do it.
The bottom line is that obtaining your advanced nursing degree will help you to earn a high APRN salary. Now you only have to determine which career path most interests you. You can find more information about all APRN professions on this website.