MSN Nursing Degree Salary Outlook

If you are a nursing professional or aspiring to be one, the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree has a strong salary potential that makes it worth serious consideration. Salaries for MSN holders tend to be some of the highest in medicine, outside of physicians, but require less education than a full MD program.

Generally, you will need to be in school for two years to earn your MSN, and then pass your certification exam.

It is important to understand the most common career paths for a nurse with an MSN, as it makes a difference in salary.

MSN Overview

A Master of Science in Nursing is a graduate, advanced practice nursing degree that is required to work in the most common advanced nursing practice professions. An MSN program includes at least two years of classroom education and clinical experience. Classes that you will take in your MSN program include:

  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology
  • Clinical nursing practice
  • Anatomy
  • Biochemistry

To practice as an advanced practice nurse with your MSN, you must have an active RN license. As you are earning your MSN, you will need to decide upon which type of advanced practice nurse you want to be.

These are as follows:

Nurse Practitioner (NP)

A nurse practitioner is a primary and secondary care provider that provides advanced health care services to patients and families. Essential duties are:

  • Assessing patients
  • Determining how to improve patient health
  • Order and diagnose tests
  • Talk about ways to improve a patient’s health

The scope of practice for an NP can vary by state; in some areas, it is possible for an NP to practice independently. In others, the NP must work under the authority of a doctor.

Top States for Nurse Practitioner

According to, the top 25 states hiring Nurse Practitioner’s had an estimated salary of $100,160.

State Salary Estimate
DC $120,000
New York $116,000
Massachusetts $115,000
Connecticut $110,000
Georgia $109,000
Illinois $109,000
California $103,000
New Jersey $103,000
Mississippi $100,000
Maryland $99,000
Washington $99,000
Arkansas $98,000
Alabama $97,000
Michigan $97,000
Virginia $96,000
Iowa $94,000
Missouri $94,000
New Hampshire $94,000
South Carolina $94,000
Oregon $93,000
Texas $93,000
Indiana $92,000
Ohio $92,000
Pennsylvania $92,000

Average NP Salary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the average salary for NPs in 2015 is $98,190. The top 10% earned well over $100,000 per year.

Job Demand

BLS also reported that job demand for all advanced nursing professions by 2024 will rise by an impressive 31%. This is much faster than job growth overall across the US. This is being driven by federal health care legislation, which requires all Americans to have health insurance. There also is more stress today on preventative care. Further, the aging baby boomer population is contributing to a higher demand for all types of health care services.

Meanwhile, the projected job growth for RNs is expected to be around 16%. This is good, but there is definitely more demand for RNs with an advanced degree.

Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)

A CNM provides lifelong care to women, which can include:

  • Gynecological exams
  • Family planning services
  • Prenatal care
  • Delivering babies
  • Managing emergencies during labor
  • Wellness care

CNMs also provide care to patients and their partners regarding sexual and reproductive health.

Top States for Certified Nurse Midwife

According to, the top 25 states hiring Certified Nurse Midwife’s had an estimated salary of $85,640.

State Salary Estimate
DC $103,000
Massachusetts $99,000
New York $99,000
Connecticut $94,000
Georgia $93,000
Illinois $93,000
California $88,000
New Jersey $88,000
Mississippi $86,000
Washington $85,000
Maryland $84,000
Alabama $83,000
Arkansas $83,000
Michigan $83,000
Virginia $82,000
New Hampshire $81,000
South Carolina $81,000
Iowa $80,000
Missouri $80,000
Indiana $79,000
Oregon $79,000
Pennsylvania $79,000
Texas $79,000
North Carolina $78,000

Average CNM Salary

BLS states that the average salary in the field is $92,510. The vast majority of CNMs hold a MSN degree as their highest degree.

Certified Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

A CRNA provides anesthesia services before, during and after many types of medical procedures. They often provide pain management services and emergency services as well.

A CRNA must talk with the patient before any procedure to check which medications they are on so that anesthesia can be administered safely.

Top States for Certified Nurse Anesthetist

According to, the top 25 states hiring Certified Nurse Anesthetist’s had an estimated salary of $161,040.

State Salary Estimate
DC $193,000
New York $186,000
Massachusetts $185,000
Connecticut $177,000
Georgia $176,000
Illinois $175,000
New Jersey $166,000
California $165,000
Mississippi $161,000
Washington $159,000
Maryland $158,000
Arkansas $157,000
Alabama $156,000
Michigan $156,000
Virginia $155,000
New Hampshire $152,000
South Carolina $152,000
Iowa $151,000
Missouri $151,000
Oregon $149,000
Pennsylvania $149,000
Texas $149,000
Indiana $148,000
North Carolina $147,000

Average CRNA Salary

The average salary for CRNAs, according to BLS, is $157,000 per year.

Best Places to Work for All MSN Holders

BLS also reports that the average wages for all three advanced nursing practice professions can vary somewhat based upon where the professional works:

  • Hospitals: $111,000
  • Doctors’ offices: $104,000
  • Outpatient care centers: $102,000
  • Health care practitioner offices: $98,000
  • Educational services: $95,000

Other Factors That Influence MSN Salary

There are other factors that will affect how large your salary is with your MSN degree:

  • How many years have you worked on the job? More experience always means higher wages. The top wages in the BLS survey mentioned above usually are for the most senior workers.
  • Where you work. Advanced practice nurses who live in big cities usually earn more than professionals in rural areas. Of course, you will have a higher cost of living in Los Angeles than in Topeka, so you have to factor this in.
  • Who you work for. Hospitals in big cities often pay the most. If you work in a smaller health care center, such as a nursing home, your salary could be lower.
  • What your speciality is. There are some specialities that pay more than others. For example, if you are an NP who provides care to neonates, you will probably earn a higher salary than a family NP.

Overall, you will earn a quite high salary with your MSN degree. You just need to decide which occupation you want to focus on, as well as specialties. Both of these factors will affect your average salary significantly.

Additional Resources