Pink scrubs with money tucked into the pocket.

Top 10 Highest Paid Nursing Specialties in 2022

March 9, 2022

Careers in nursing span the healthcare industry with varied roles and responsibilities. And each nursing specialty comes with unique benefits and challenges. As a result, students and practicing nurses may be attracted to different fields within the nursing profession based on their interests. Besides offering various services, these specialties pay differently, depending on the education level and experience. The pay might also vary by location and specialty. This article highlights some of the highest-paid nursing specialties for career choice.

List of Top Paying Nursing Specialties

Top highest paid nursing specialties bar graph with salaries.

1. Nurse Anesthetist

A nurse anesthetist administers anesthesia to patients undergoing surgery while monitoring their response to it before and after an operation. This is considered by many to be one of the hardest nursing specialties. Certified nurse anesthetists must earn a master's degree in nursing from an accredited institution and pass the National Certification Exam. Beginning in 2025, CRNAs will have to have doctoral degrees to enter the field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), anesthetists earn an average salary of $183,580 per year, making it the top paying nursing specialty.

2. Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

Neonatal nurses are always in demand. This specialty entails caring for babies younger than 28 days. These nurses perform various roles like providing oxygen, medication, and NICU procedures to sick and premature newborns. Although any registered nurse can work as a neonatal practitioner, having a neonatal nurse practitioner certification is advantageous to advancing in this specialty. With the rise in premature births, the demand for neonatal nurses is increasing. According to, a neonatal nurse's average annual salary is $129,088.  

3. Cardiac Nurse Practitioner

Cardiac nurses and doctors work together to diagnose and treat heart diseases. This is a highly demanding profession because acute and chronic heart diseases are the leading causes of death globally. According to, a cardiac nurse practitioner's average annual salary is $118,200. The salary depends on factors such as the level of education and experience. Besides, cardiac nurses can work in long-term rehabilitation, residential care, and home care settings, increasing their compensation and securing their spot as a highest paid nursing specialty.  

4. Pain Management Nurse

Also known as orthopedic nurses, pain management nurses provide care to patients suffering from musculoskeletal injuries or diseases. They collaborate with doctors to assist patients recovering from surgery, rehabilitate them after an injury, and help them to regain full mobility. With the varied patient care, it’s not surprise that a pain management nurse is on the list for a highest paid nursing specialty. To gain certification, one must apply for a certification exam provided by the Orthopedic Nurses Certification Board (ONCB). According to, an orthopedic nurse's average annual salary is around $113,000, or $54 per hour.  

5. Cancer Treatment Nurse Practitioners

Oncology nurses work with doctors and surgeons to help cancer patients with therapy. They provide care, support, and information to patients and caregivers during cancer treatment. Emotionally, this can be one of the hardest nursing specialties and truly rewarding, too. Complete the oncology nursing certification provided by the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC) to be a licensed oncology nurse. says the average salary of an oncology nurse practitioner is around $113,000 per year or $54 per hour. As cancer research progresses the role of an oncology nurse practitioner is evolving.  

6. General Nurse Practitioner

General nurses primarily work in family practice, but can also work in women's health, pediatrics, and other healthcare settings, making this a highly versatile vocation. These nurses deliver basic preventative health care to their patients. To become an advanced practice nurse practitioner, one needs a master's degree from an approved program. The BLS states that general nurse practitioners earn an average of $112,000 per year or $53 per hour. The bureau predicts nurse practitioners will see a 45% increase in employment from 2019 to 2029.

7. Family Nurse Practitioner

These are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) with specialized educational and clinical training in family practice. In a family practice or clinical setting, they work with adults and children. To qualify as a family nurse practitioner, one must have a master in science degree and a family nurse practitioner certification from the ANCC. According to, a family nurse practitioner's average annual salary is around $110,000, or $53 per hour. The demand for family nurses is expected to rise with the overall demand for nurse practitioners.  

8. Clinical Nurse Specialist

Clinical nurse specialists (CNS) are also known as intensive care unit (ICU) nurses. These nurses diagnose and treat their patients' diseases, illnesses, and injuries. To become a clinical nurse specialist, one must have a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree specializing in clinical nursing. According to, a clinical nurse specialist's average annual salary is about $111,000. Due to their higher education level and training, clinical nurse specialists are expected to have an advantage over other nursing professions by 2029, when the demand for nurses is predicted to increase rapidly. We can expect to see clinical nurse specialties rise in the highest paid nursing specialty list rankings.

9. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

These nurses work in mental health facilities or correctional centers, treating various psychiatric and mental health issues. They offer daily physiological, mental, emotional, and spiritual assistance to their patients, which can be life-changing. The profession combines medical therapy with counseling to help patients cope. Due to the emotional and mental impact this practice has on an RN, this can be seen as one of the hardest nursing specialties. To practice as a psychiatric nurse practitioner, one must have a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, focusing on mental treatment. According to, a psychiatric nurse specialist's average annual salary is about $107,000, or around $52 per hour.

10. Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Pediatric nurses treat children and assist in their development. Pediatric nurses can work in various settings such as doctors’ offices, urgent care centers, intensive care units, and schools. Pediatric nurses must communicate effectively with their young patients and their caretakers. To qualify as a pediatric nurse practitioner, one must have a master's degree in nursing, focusing on pediatrics. After getting the MSN, one must apply for the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board's pediatric certification exam (PNCB). According to, a pediatric nurse earns an average annual salary of around $107,000, or $52 per hour. This is also another practice expected to grow in the future.

Factors in Determining Specialty Pay

Nursing is a financially and emotionally rewarding occupation with lots of specialties to explore. Specialized nursing occupations require particular talents and training. This profession offers multiple rewards. Also, there are additional ways of earning more money within the nursing career, such as promotions, leadership roles, or taking on more tasks. However, the amount of money one makes as a registered nurse depends on the location, industry, training and experience, and any additional skills.  

If you’re ready to launch your next travel journey to explore the world, earn great income, and expand your skills, start exploring jobs now!

Share this post: