How Much Does a Nurse with a Master's Degree Make?
MSN degree programs prepare you for a variety of advanced nursing positions - and your salary potential can vary based on the type of nursing career you choose as well as your area of specialization and location. The most common job for those with this degree is a nurse practitioner, but other options include nurse educator, nurse administrator or clinical nurse leader.
MSN Salary by Specialty
MSN programs allow you to specialize in various nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist areas. Average salaries vary based on an NP's specialization and experience level. Let's take a look at the salary info for some of these specialists:
|MSN Specialty/Clinical Focus Area||Average Salary|
|Hospice and Palliative Care||$111,202|
An Advance Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) is a licensed registered nurse who has earned an advanced degree (such as an MSN) and passed a national certification exam in a specialty area. APRNs include nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, and nurse anesthetists. Average salaries for these APRN positions are listed below.
|General Nurse Practitioner||$107,480|
Salary of a Nurse Educator with an MSN
If practical nursing isn't your goal, an MSN program can also prepare you for a career in nursing education, training future nurses. On average, nurse educators make around $77,000. The highest paying states for nurse educators are the District of Colombia ($150,560), New York ($97,080), and Connecticut ($95,170).
MSN Clinical Nurse Leader Salary
A clinical nurse leader (CNL) oversees a group of nurses and focuses on patient care outcome. They typically have extensive knowledge in a specialty area of nursing, such as pediatrics, oncology, or gerontology. The average salary for CNLs is $77,000.
Nurse Administrator Salary
If you're interested in a leadership career in nursing, then you may want to consider positions like a nurse administrator or nursing services manager. The nursing managers average around $83,000, though salaries can range from $61,000 to $114,000, depending on experience and location.
MSN Salary by Location
Salaries among careers, specialties and locations can be quite different. There are a lot of specifics to consider, including experience and industry. As the most common pathway for those with an MSN is an NP, we'll focus on nurse practitioner salaries across a few locations.
There are several very well-paying areas for NPs with an MSN degree. The top five states with the highest average salary are:
- California ($126,770)
- Alaska ($125,140)
- Hawaii ($122,580)
- Massachusetts ($120,140)
- Connecticut ($118,500)
The lowest paying states for an NP with an MSN were:
- Tennessee ($93,970)
- Alabama ($94,880)
- West Virginia ($95,000)
- Arkansas ($95,230)
- Kentucky ($95,450)
It's important to keep in mind that while there is a significant salary difference between the highest- and lowest-paying states, the cost of living will also vary greatly by location. With this in mind, let's look at some of the top paying metro areas for NPs in the US.
- Melbourne, FL ($164,180)
- San Francisco, CA ($151,660)
- Spokane, WA ($150,040)
- Alexandria, LA ($144,010)
- Salem, MA ($142,730)
MSN Nursing Jobs
Now that we've looked at salaries for the different career options for Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), let's look at what these jobs entail and the extent of what you can do with your degree.
Your job duties as an APRN depend on the type of job path you choose. If you become a nurse practitioner, you can work in general medicine or in any number of specializations, from pediatrics to geriatrics. NPs often act as primary care providers and are responsible for conducting check-ups, diagnosing illnesses, prescribing treatments and medication, and educating patients on nutrition and disease prevention.
Nurse midwives focus on care for women and newborns. They help deliver babies, conduct gynecological exams, and provide prenatal care. The duties of nurse midwives are somewhat similar to an OB/GYN, whereas they can prescribe pain medication and give checkups, but they typically work under the supervision or assist physicians during surgical procedures, such as a C-section.
Nurse anesthetists are another type of APRN. They provide anesthesia and related care for medical procedures and pain management purposes. Before a procedure, nurse anesthetists take a medication history and discuss the anesthesia with their patients. They then administer the drugs and monitor their patient during the procedure.
As a nurse educator, you'll be involved in curriculum-building and instructional methods for teaching prospective nurses. Most 4-year universities require a doctorate degree in order to teach students; however, an MSN can prepare you to teach in community colleges or work as a mentor in a hospital setting. Your daily duties might include presenting a lecture, overseeing a clinical session, advising students, grading assignments, or creating lesson plans.
Clinical Nurse Leader
As a clinical nurse leader, you'd be responsible for knowing the procedures, medications, and policies in place for your unit. Typically, CNLs work to make changes in the hospitals for the betterment of the patients. Rather than treating specific patients, you'll more likely work with a team to put new systems in place and advocate for change. To become certified as a clinical nurse leader, you'll need to earn an MSN and complete 100-200 hours of clinical training.
Individuals who chose a MSN program with a focus on administration or leadership could also consider careers in nursing administration. As a nurse administrator or nursing services manager, you would supervise other nurses and be an advocate for patients and the hospital. This role could have you involved in policy implementation, quality assurance, and clinic improvement. On top of this, you might handle administrative tasks like scheduling and training along with overseeing the delivery of healthcare services and enforcing HIPPA regulations.
*All statistics come from AANP.org (2015), U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017), and PayScale.com (2018)