Nursing is one of the most rewarding career options you can choose for yourself. Not only does it allow you to improve another’s life directly, but it can also be highly personalized to suit your interests, work/life balance idea, and even the salary that you want for yourself. While low-level nurses are typically underpaid for the work that they do, pushing for the next level of nursing and achieving all the necessary online nursing programs will allow you to build your career and even earn over $100,000 per year.

Nursing is a great, varied career, and with the state of nursing, as it is, there has never been a better time to get your career started.

The Nursing Industry: 2020 and Beyond

Nursing has been front and center this year, and for a good reason. Nurses are finally getting recognized for how essential they are in healthcare. RNs make up the bulk of healthcare, and APRNs fill many of the missing positions that the doctor shortage creates. Nurses are highly qualified, well-paid, and you can truly make your career yours.

There are currently an estimated 800,000 unfilled RN positions, and that number is expected to increase by 1 million by 2030 as existing RNs start to retire. Many states are also using this time to require hospitals and clinics to increase the number of BSN-RNs they have on staff.

This is because it is scientifically proven that more BSN RNs on staff improves patient outlook and saves lives. It also makes it possible for those RNs to work up with online nursing programs and become APRNs.

Unfilled Nursing Position Estimates

At the moment, there are an estimated 3.2 million Registered Nurses in the United States. Despite this high number, there are an estimated 800,000 unfilled positions at current, and a further million expected to open up when the oldest generation of nurses today retires by 2030. Add in the new roles expected to be created due to telehealth finally getting its time in the spotlight, and there has never been a better, or more important, time to become a nurse.

Average Salaries


Nursing can be a very well paid position – but only if you work beyond the bare minimum and strive to be the best in your field. An RN with a Nursing Associate Degree, for example, will earn far less than a BSN RN.


Nurses with an Associate’s Degree in Nursing will earn an average of $62,000 per year. The issue with earning an ADN isn’t that the pay you could earn isn’t a good amount, but rather it puts your entire career on hold until you go back in and get the finish the right online nursing programs.


Registered RNs who have a BSN degree typically earn an average of $77,000 per year. Not only do BSN-RNs earn more than Registered Nurses with an ADN, but they are also perfectly positioned to further the online nursing programs they have, and earn an MSN and later on a DNP if they are so inclined.


Those who have worked to achieve any of the specialized online nursing programs and achieve their MSN are those who can earn the highest amount in their field.

1.     Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

The highest-paid nurse, hands down, is the Nurse Anesthetist. These nurses work in a wide range of locations, from dentists offices all the way to surgery rooms and alongside doctors. They earn an average of $181,000 per year, though more experienced nurses in more high paying cities and hospitals will earn even more than this.

2.     General Nurse Practitioner

A general nurse practitioner is next up on the list, earning an average of $111,840. They have the most flexibility with their career and can work in almost any setting that requires healthcare. It is this flexibility that gives them the ability to seek out work outside of the traditional healthcare routes.

3.     Clinical Nurse Specialist

Clinical Nurse Specialists dedicate themselves to one area of healthcare, which can make it difficult to determine what their average salary is clearly. A Clinical Nurse Specialist who works in the oncology department will earn a different amount than one who works in pediatrics. Overall, however, their pay is quite high. The average for all Clinical Nurse Specialists who have completed online nursing programs in their field is $106,000.

4.     Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Mental health services are struggling to keep up with the new demand across the country. More and more people are opening up to the necessity of mental health services, and due to this, we need more mental health staff to cater to their growing needs. Lockdown, job losses, and the threat of the pandemic itself have caused serious mental fatigue and issues throughout the population. Psychiatric nurse practitioners can help with these patients, and provide better care that works to improve the physical and mental health of patients.

Their pay is also quite high, placing them at #4 in this list, as they earn on average $105,600.

5.     Certified Nurse Midwife

Nurse-midwives are also becoming increasingly popular. They provide 1-on-1 care for their patients, right in their homes. They are wonderful for improving maternity care and reducing stress during pregnancy. They can either replace OB-GYN visits, or they can work alongside those doctors’ visits for better, improved care throughout each trimester right along till delivery. They also earn quite a healthy salary at $108,800 on average every year.

6.     Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse

While nurse-midwives help pregnant and expecting mothers, neonatal nurses work in the delivery wards, and care for newborns who were born with defects, injuries, prematurely, and so on. You will work to save their life and build up their health until they are finally ready to go home with their family. It can be quite an emotionally demanding career, and to compensate Neonatal Intensive Care Nurses earn an average of $102,400 per year.

7.     Pain Management Nurse

Pain management is one of the most common parts of hospitalization. Those who are sick, injured, recovering, and so on are typically allocated pain medication or other pain management solutions to keep them as comfortable as possible, and therefore improve their recovery rate. Pain management nurses work to administer and monitor pain management efforts for their patients. They earn an average of $101,900 per year for their efforts at keeping patients calm and pain-free.

8.     Nursing Administrator

Nurse administrators work to keep the hospital or clinic running, and yes, they too need to have completed the necessary online nursing programs to qualify. This type of role is ideal if you want to move away from critical care and into a more consistent schedule for your own health or wellbeing. They earn a pretty penny as well and take home $100,900 on average.

9.     Family Nurse Practitioner

Family Nurse Practitioners have many of the same responsibilities as doctors. They can diagnose, write prescriptions, order tests, and more. They can even open their own family clinic, if they want to, and earn an average of $98,400 per year, though those who own their own practice would typically be expecting to earn more.

10.  Registered Nurse First Assistant

These nurses work alongside surgeons in the operating room. They are always under the supervision of one or more doctors, but their help is critical in the success of any surgery. They will typically make incisions, cuts, cauterizations, tie tissue, and more. They earn around $96,400 per year.

Telehealth Nurse

Telehealth may be very new, but it is set to become more common. Not only will telehealth allow for more in-depth ongoing care for patients, but it also ensures that those who live in rural areas have access to the healthcare they deserve. The pay for telehealth nurse practitioners is also currently very high, with the average wage resting at $113,883 per year, and the high end of the spectrum $242,500.

This pay is for APRN Nurse Practitioners, and the high pay is for those with ample experience working in high-paying cities. Still, with an average salary of over $100,000 across the United States, telehealth nursing is sure to become a popular option for the next generation of nurses.

Nurse Educator

Nurse educators are massively in demand, and though their average salary is just $80,000, the benefits more than outweigh the lower wage. Professor life is notorious for its work/life balance, and your work directly impacts the quality and future of healthcare around the country. It is a very important position to live in, and the work/life balance cannot be beaten.

The Nurse Licensure Compact: Current and Future Participating States

The Nurse Licensure Compact gives nurses greater freedom to move and set up their lives and careers. Participating states have worked out a system so that nurses simply need to notify of the move to transfer their license to the new state, without taking a new state exam in the process. It saves nurses money, allows them greater control over their careers, and unified healthcare.

The Nurse Licensure Compact replaces multi-state licenses and makes it easier for nurses to relocate or to even travel to hospitals and clinics that have shortages.

Currently, 34 states are either a part of the Nurse Licensure Compact or have it partially implemented. This has increased from the original 24 states that started the NLC, and a further six states, as well as Guam, are waiting to be approved to join the eNLC.

eNLC is simply a streamlined version of the NLC. After its implementation in 2018, all but three of the additional states beyond the original 24 joined and became part of the Nursing Licensure Compact.

How to Further Your Nursing Career in 2020 and Beyond

Knowing the state of nursing is key when it comes to choosing your future and developing your career as a nurse. Look within healthcare, or outside of it. There are many great careers available to RNs and APRNs alike.

The only thing that you need to pursue actively is further online nursing programs.

Always Choose the BSN Route

Always choose BSN over the Associate’s Degree in Nursing. It makes it much easier and faster to further your career, later on, as if you opt for the ADN, you will need to go back and complete a BSN anyway before you can further your career with other online nursing programs.

Personal Education and Shadowing

It can be hard to choose an area of medicine to dedicate yourself without any understanding of what is available to you. Before you choose from the online nursing programs, you will want to read up on the different areas of medicine in nursing, and even see if you can shadow or work in different departments around the hospital. Putting the time after you have earned your BSN to figure out exactly what area of medicine you want to work in will help you choose the right career path for you.

Though some options pay a lot more than others, it is important to remember that it is just the average salary. If you pursue something you are passionate in, in other words, something you excel in, you will stand out as a nurse and be able to qualify for even higher levels of pay. Telehealth nurses at the high end of the pay scale are earning around $240,000, but the average is over $100,000 less. It is passion, skill, and experience that will allow you to earn high levels of pay, and for that, you must care and love what you do.

Choosing the Right MSN Online Nursing Program

By taking the time to investigate different areas of medicine, personally, you are in a better position to choose the right online nursing program for your MSN. They typically require you to specialize from the start so that you can become a Nurse Practitioner, a Clinical Nurse Specialist, a Nurse Midwife, or a Nurse Anesthetists. There are many sub-types of nurses, yes, so try to be as specific as possible so that you can kick-start your career.

Work and Study

The best thing for your career is for you to continue to work while you complete your degree. There is no room in 2020 and the foreseeable future for nurses to take time off to complete their degree. Americans need you at work, but thankfully online nursing programs are designed around your work and are there every step of the way with you.