5 of the Highest-Paying Registered Nurse Specialties

nursing specialties
Written by
Miranda Kay, RN
October 12, 2022

Nursing is a very noble and essential profession, and sadly, one that is often overlooked. During the pandemic, the world saw that nurses are crucial professionals, with a job that is often underappreciated but that patients, hospitals, healthcare facilities, and home care need. One of the outstanding characteristics of nursing is that it is a profession that can be applied to many fields and specialties. Generally, the most complex things are the best paid. Therefore, this article is dedicated to covering the highest-paying nursing specialties.

Overall, before choosing a nursing specialty, it is important to do the necessary research to find out if it is something that the nurses enjoy. If it is not their thing, they can look for the one that best fits them. For each specialty, it is essential to consider whether it is to the professional's liking, whether the qualities needed to perform the job are what the nurse has, and whether they will be able to work with pleasure and constantly learn about their specialty.

5 of The Highest Paying Nursing Specialties

Some of the highest-paying nursing specialties in the United States for registered nurses (RNs) are: 

  • Certified nurse anesthetists (CRNAS)
  • Nurse anesthetists have gone through a lengthy training process that allows them to work with anesthesia: additional college courses, being registered nurses (RNs), and a national certification that allows them to work as nurse anesthetists. Their job is to prepare the patient for surgery and to prepare the patient physically and emotionally before anesthesia. In most cases, nurse anesthetists are the ones who administer the anesthesia, and they must monitor the patient at all times, as well as the patient's vital signs, until the patient wakes up from the anesthesia. They are highly sought-after nurses, and because their work is highly required, their salary can be as high as $181,000 a year on average, a salary that increases with experience and the training they take to update their knowledge.
  • CVICU Nurses - What is the CVICU (CVICU)
  • The CVICU is the cardiovascular intensive care unit, which monitors heart surgery patients and any heart procedures, like a heart transplant—nurses in the CVICU care for patients in critical condition. Thus the CVICU nurses need to monitor them very closely, as their situation can change anytime. They check the body temperature, oxygen saturation, heart rate, and blood pressure. Additionally, they need to know how to use all the monitoring equipment in the CVICU and how to act in case of an emergency, as many codes occur in this type of precarious nursing unit. This specialty requires nurses to be highly focused on their work and to be able to react in the case of an emergency. The average salary for a CVICU nurse is $94,052 per year.
  • Pediatric Intensive Care Unit Nurses (PICU)
  • A pediatric intensive care unit nurse cares for pediatric patients, who can be very young toddlers, babies, or even adolescents when they need intensive care. It is a highly stressful job, requiring nurses to focus on providing the necessary care and communicating with families with empathy and love. The hardest thing about the job is seeing such young, severely ill patients without the certainty that they will fully recover. The average salary for a PICU nurse is $75,278 per year.
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Nurses (NICU) Nurses:
  • Neonatal ICU nurses care for premature and newborn babies. Most premature patients have an underdeveloped system and have many health problems related to their prematurity, in addition to the fact that they likely have congenital disabilities that cause their prematurity. Nurses who want to work with neonates must be pediatric nurses, then study to care for newborns. Their work is so delicate and essential that the average salary for a neonatal nurse is around $125,000 a year.
  • What is the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU)?
  • The PACU is the post-anesthesia care unit. Although nurses in the PACU provide post-anesthesia care for the patients, they also have to provide care before the anesthesia. Most of the patients on this unit are bewildered and confused and will need all the psychological support and help the nurses can give them. Some patients will be under anesthesia after surgery, and nurses must monitor their vital signs to ensure they are safe. This specialty requires a lot of training, and the median salary for a PACU nurse is $77,600 a year.

There are many well-payed specialties for nurses. The Nursa team recommends that if nurses feel that this is something they are interested in, they should try to go ahead with their specialty studies, as the pay and knowledge, as well as the feeling of doing something that patients highly require, makes these specialties a plus for the nurses themselves.

Blog published on:
October 12, 2022

Miranda is a Registered Nurse, Medical Fact Checker, and Publishing Editor at Nursa. Her work has been featured in publications including the American Nurses Association (ANA), Healthcare IT Outcomes, International Living, and more.

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