How to Make a Lot of Money in Nursing: Nurse Penpal Best Tips

As a nurse, I know that our profession is not only about providing compassionate care but also about earning a good income to support ourselves and our families. While the median annual RN salary in the United States is $81,220, there are many ways to increase our earning potential within the nursing field. In this article, we will explore some options for making a lot of money in nursing, and as an RN myself with over 18years in the industry I have some great tips to share.

We will look at the highest paying nursing careers, ways to earn more money through additional shifts, per-diem jobs, advanced degrees, and other side hustles that can transform our finances. Whether you’re a seasoned nurse or just starting your career, these strategies can help us augment our incomes so that we can both enjoy a fulfilling career and a comfortable lifestyle.

Stay tuned to learn about different avenues for enriching our nursing careers, such as the 15 highest paying nursing jobs and the benefits of pursuing a per-diem or travel position. And remember, success in nursing is not only about the money we make but also about the lives we touch and the impact we have on our patients.

Understanding the Nursing Profession

Educational Pathways in Nursing

As a nurse, I can attest that there are various educational pathways to enter the nursing profession, we have lots of post here on to guide you on your journey. You can choose to start with a diploma from an approved nursing program or pursue an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). However, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is usually preferred by most healthcare organizations and is often required for more specialized nursing roles.

For those seeking advanced nursing positions, such as Nurse Practitioner (NP) or Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is essential. Nurses can also engage in continuous professional development through certifications and training programs.

Key Skills and Competencies

To succeed in the nursing profession, you need to possess certain essential skills and competencies. Some of the most important ones are:

  1. Communication skills: Nurses must effectively communicate with patients, families, and other healthcare professionals.
  2. Critical thinking: The ability to make informed decisions based on patient data and clinical guidelines is vital in nursing.
  3. Emotional intelligence: Nurses need to empathize with patients and manage their emotions in challenging situations.
  4. Attention to detail: Ensuring accuracy in medication administration and monitoring patient progress is crucial.
  5. Organization skills: Juggling multiple tasks and prioritizing patient care requires exceptional organizational abilities.
  6. Teamwork: Collaboration with interdisciplinary teams is a key aspect of providing comprehensive patient care.

By understanding the different educational pathways and developing the required skills, you can pave your way to a successful nursing career and potentially earn a six-figure salary in high-demand specialties. However, always remember that the primary goal in nursing is providing excellent care to patients and advocating for their well-being.

Advanced Nursing Degrees

Obtaining a Master’s Degree

One of the best ways to increase your earning potential as a nurse is by obtaining a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, and we strongly suggest this if you want to see a huge salary difference as an RN. On average, nurses with an MSN earn more than those with just a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). An MSN not only opens the door to higher paying positions, but it also offers more specialized career paths.

There are various MSN programs available, such as:

  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
  • Nurse Anesthetist
  • Nurse Midwife
  • Nurse Administrator
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist

As an MSN graduate myself, you can expect to work in roles that require a higher level of skill and responsibility. For example, Nurse Anesthetists can make up to $139,000 per year. Here at Nurse Penpal, we want to see nurses excel and we would always advocate for further education if a nurse seeks to be a high level specialist nurse.

Doctorate Opportunities in Nursing

For those looking to further their education even more, pursuing a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or a Ph.D. in Nursing can lead to even greater career opportunities and higher salaries. While both degrees focus on advancing nursing knowledge and practice, they differ in their emphasis:

DegreeFocusCareer Paths
DNPClinical practice and leadershipAdvanced practice roles, Administrators
Ph.D. in NursingResearch, education, and theory developmentAcademic roles, Research, Health policy

By earning a doctoral degree, you can become a leader in your field, participate in cutting-edge research, and have a significant impact on patient care and the healthcare system. Moreover, by obtaining a doctorate in nursing degree, you can find opportunities in academia, research, and various specialized healthcare settings.

Advance your career in nursing by obtaining higher degrees like an MSN or a doctorate in nursing, which will help increase your earning potential, open up specialization opportunities, and set you apart in the job market.

Specialization and Certification

Becoming a Nurse Practitioner

As a nurse looking to increase my earning potential, I decided to pursue becoming a Nurse Practitioner (NP). NPs are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who have completed a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing. They provide comprehensive patient care, including diagnosing illnesses, prescribing medications, and offering health counseling, depending on their chosen specialty.

To become a Nurse Practitioner, I had to complete the following steps:

  1. Complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
  2. Obtain my Registered Nurse (RN) license
  3. Gain relevant work experience
  4. Enroll in a nurse practitioner program (MSN or DNP)
  5. Graduate from the program
  6. Pass the national certification exam in my chosen specialty

Specialized Nursing Fields

While becoming an NP is a significant step towards increasing my earning potential, I also realized that certain nursing specialties offer higher salaries than others. Therefore, I chose to pursue one of the highest paying nursing specialties in order to maximize my income potential.

Some of the highest-paying specialized nursing fields include:

  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA): CRNAs administer anesthesia during surgery and are among the highest-paid nursing professionals. They must complete a specialized nurse anesthetist program and obtain certification.
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner: Neonatal NPs work with newborns in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs). They must obtain certification in neonatal nursing and often require additional clinical hours working with newborns.
  • Emergency Nurse Practitioner: Emergency NPs work in emergency departments and urgent care facilities to provide rapid treatment and triage for urgent and life-threatening conditions. They must obtain certification in emergency nursing and often have experience working in emergency departments as RNs.
  • Cardiac Nurse Practitioner: Cardiac NPs work specifically with patients suffering from heart and circulatory system diseases, providing diagnostic and treatment services. They must obtain certification in cardiac nursing and have experience working with cardiology patients.

By focusing on becoming an NP and further targeting a high-paying nursing specialty, I positioned myself for significantly increased financial success in my nursing career.

Navigating the Job Market

Identifying High-Paying Nursing Roles

As a nurse, I’ve learned that the key to making the most of my profession is to be strategic in selecting my roles. I found that by pursuing advanced degrees, such as an MSN, could significantly increase my pay. The pay discrepancy between registered nurses and those in advanced practice is worth considering when planning my career path. Here’s a quick overview of some well-paying nursing roles:

  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
  • Nurse Practitioner (NP)
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
  • Nurse Midwife

These roles usually require more education, but they can lead to higher salaries and greater job satisfaction. It’s important to keep in mind the requirements and outlook for these careers when making career decisions.

Leveraging Professional Networks

In addition to identifying high-paying roles, I’ve also harnessed the power of networking to navigate the nursing job market. My networking efforts include attending industry conferences, joining professional associations, and engaging with online nurse communities. These professional networks helped me discover lucrative job opportunities and connected me with experienced nurses for career advice.

For example, when I was searching for better paying job opportunities, I turned to my professional network for guidance. Through my connections, I learned about travel nursing, which can offer higher pay rates, housing stipends, and other benefits. Getting insight from my professional network made it much easier to decide whether becoming a travel nurse was the right choice for me.

When it comes to navigating the nursing job market, identifying high-paying roles and leveraging professional networks are essential strategies. Through advanced education and strategic networking, I have been able to find rewarding and well-paying opportunities in nursing.

Developing a Professional Portfolio

Building a Strong Resume

As a nurse, one of my top priorities is to create a strong resume that showcases my experiences, skills, and achievements. To start, I make sure to include a concise and well-written professional summary that highlights my nursing experience and expertise. Next, I list my educational background and any relevant certifications I have, such as Basic Life Support (BLS) or Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS).

It’s important to also showcase my work experience in a clear and organized manner. I use bullet points to highlight key responsibilities and achievements in each nursing position I’ve held. Additionally, including any relevant volunteer work or involvement in professional organizations can help demonstrate my commitment to the nursing profession. To make my resume even more impressive, I integrate a professional nursing portfolio that serves as a collection of relevant documents and evidence of my career journey.

Formatting is crucial to make my resume easy to read and understand. I use consistent fonts, headings, and bold text to emphasize important information. When necessary, I create tables or lists to organize details, such as certifications or additional skills.

Effective Interview Techniques

The interview is an essential step in securing a high-paying nursing position. Before attending an interview, I research the organization and prepare by reviewing common nursing interview questions. I also make sure to dress professionally and arrive early to demonstrate my commitment to the position.

During the interview, I maintain eye contact and speak confidently and clearly to convey my knowledge and skills. To highlight my strengths and experiences, I use the Situation, Task, Action, and Result (STAR) method to answer behavioral questions. This allows me to provide structured and concise responses that emphasize my problem-solving abilities and accomplishments.

Furthermore, I come prepared with examples of how my skills and experiences in nursing have led to positive outcomes for patients and healthcare teams. To showcase my strong communication skills, I ask thoughtful follow-up questions and listen attentively to the interviewer’s responses.

Finally, I remember to thank the interviewer for their time and follow up with a personalized thank-you note – this helps me stand out among other candidates and leaves a lasting impression.

By focusing on developing a professional portfolio that includes a strong resume and effective interview techniques, I increase my chances of securing a high-paying nursing position. By consistently showcasing my skills, experiences, and dedication to the nursing profession, I can succeed in attaining my career goals.

Maximizing Earning Potential

Negotiating Salaries and Benefits

When I first started my nursing career, I realized that one of the best ways to maximize my salary is to negotiate what I earned. From my research, I found that nurses can earn between $80,000 and $139,000 per year, but I had to know my worth and make a strong case for a higher salary.

When negotiating, I made sure to:

  • Research the industry: I looked into the average rates for nurses in similar roles to make sure I had a reasonable understanding of what the market offers.
  • Highlight my experience and qualifications: I emphasized any specialized training or certifications that I had obtained to show my potential value to employers.
  • Consider benefits in addition to salary: I didn’t just focus on the dollar amount – I also considered factors like insurance, paid time off, and retirement plans that could improve my overall compensation package.

Understanding Shift Differentials

To further increase my earning potential, I made sure to consider shift differentials. Many nursing roles offer pay variations depending on the hours I work. For example, night and weekend shifts often come with higher pay rates.

Some examples of shift differentials include:

  • Night shifts: Working during the late-night hours typically pays more to compensate for the inconvenience and potential impact on my health and well-being.
  • Weekend shifts: When I work on weekends, I receive higher pay to make up for giving up valuable free time with family and friends.
  • Holiday shifts: I earn a premium for working on holidays, as it shows my commitment and flexibility to provide quality care.

By strategically negotiating my salary and understanding the impact of shift differentials, I effectively maximized my earning potential in nursing, allowing me to focus on providing the best care possible to my patients and improving my overall quality of life.

Entrepreneurship in Nursing

Starting a Nursing Consultancy

As a nurse, I recognize the wide range of opportunities available in the field of nursing entrepreneurship. One such opportunity is starting a nursing consultancy. To begin, I need to gain clinical experience, as practical experience is crucial for understanding the intricacies of patient care and strengthening my soft skills, such as delegating, planning, problem-solving, and strategizing 1.

Creating a successful nursing consultancy involves identifying my area of expertise, developing a solid business plan, and obtaining any required certifications. Some examples of consultancy services for nurses include legal nurse consulting, where I can provide expert opinions on medical-legal cases, and patient advocacy, where I can offer guidance to patients navigating the complex healthcare system 2.

Innovative Nursing Business Ideas

Education and Training: With my nursing knowledge and skills, I can provide continuing education and training programs for other healthcare professionals. This can take the form of in-person courses, online webinars, or even creating a nursing education app to help nurses stay up-to-date on industry practices 3.

Telehealth Services: Telehealth has grown significantly in recent years, and my nursing background positions me well to offer virtual care services. As a nurse practitioner (NP), I can utilize telehealth to provide consultations, prescribe medications, and monitor patients remotely 4.

Health and Wellness Coaching: As a nurse, I understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle for both disease prevention and overall well-being. With this expertise, I can offer health and wellness coaching to individuals seeking guidance on nutrition, fitness, and stress management 5.


  1. Nurse Journal 
  2. NerdWallet 
  3. Purdue University Global 
  4. Nurse Journal 
  5. Nurse Journal 

Investing in Continued Education

Pursuing Further Specializations

As a nurse, I’ve found that investing in continued education can be a great way to increase my earning potential. One way to do this is by pursuing further specializations. For example, working in critical care areas such as the ER or ICU can lead to higher salaries. Further options include becoming a travel nurse or earning an advanced degree, which can open doors to more lucrative opportunities.

It’s essential to keep up with certifications and even add additional ones to my resume, as this can increase my value as a healthcare professional. Some popular certifications include:

  • Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN)
  • Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN)
  • Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML)

Acquiring these certifications can make me more marketable and enable me to negotiate for higher salaries or better working conditions.

Staying Current with Nursing Trends

Another crucial aspect of investing in my continued education is staying current with nursing trends. By understanding the latest developments in the nursing profession, I can better adapt to the ever-evolving healthcare landscape and provide the highest quality care to my patients.

Some ways I stay up-to-date with nursing trends are:

  1. Reading nursing journals and publications
  2. Participating in professional nursing organizations
  3. Attending webinars and conferences
  4. Networking with other nursing professionals

By staying informed and expanding my knowledge base, I can position myself to take advantage of new opportunities in nursing and potentially increase my earning potential. While it can be challenging to balance work, personal life, and continued education, investing in my professional development is crucial for long-term success and financial growth in the nursing field.

Financial Management for Nurses

Personal Budgeting and Investments

In my experience, one of the most important aspects of financial management for nurses is personal budgeting. By creating and adhering to a monthly budget, I can track my income and expenses, which helps me manage my finances more effectively (NurseRegistry). I recommend using a budgeting app or spreadsheet to categorize and monitor spending habits.

Another crucial aspect is investments. Diversifying investments through stocks, mutual funds, or real estate properties can help grow wealth over time. It’s essential to be cautious and learn about different investment options before making decisions. A solid investment plan (NurseJournal) can positively impact my long-term finances and help achieve financial goals. Furthermore, I make sure to set aside an emergency fund to cover any unexpected expenses.

Retirement Planning for Nurses

Retirement planning is an often-overlooked aspect in nursing, but it’s essential for financial stability. As a nurse, I consider the following elements when planning for retirement:

  1. Pension Plans: Some nursing employers offer a pension plan for their employees. It’s essential to understand the details of these plans, including contribution rates, vesting periods, and payout options.
  2. 401(k) or 403(b) Plans: Many healthcare organizations provide 401(k) or 403(b) plans, allowing nurses to save for retirement through regular pre-tax contributions (ANA). It’s crucial to take advantage of any employer matching contributions, as they effectively boost my savings without any additional effort.
  3. Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs): IRAs, such as Traditional or Roth IRAs, offer a tax-deferred or tax-free way to save for retirement. By contributing to an IRA, I can secure additional funds for my retirement years.
  4. Social Security: Understanding the role of Social Security benefits in retirement planning is critical. I ensure to keep track of my eligibility, projected benefit amounts, and the earliest claiming age to maximize my benefits.

By focusing on personal budgeting, investments, and retirement planning, I can establish strong financial management practices and secure a stable financial future as a nurse.

Work-Life Balance and Wellbeing

Maintaining Mental and Physical Health

In my experience, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is essential for a successful and fulfilling nursing career. This involves dedicating time to both my professional obligations and personal wellbeing to ensure overall health. Maintaining a good work-life balance means finding the right balance between work and personal life commitments. It may not be a perfect 50/50 split, but finding the balance that works for me helps keep stress and burnout at bay.

Physical health is a critical component of overall wellbeing in any profession, but especially in nursing. I’ve found that incorporating regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, and getting enough sleep help keep me energized and focused throughout my workday. Some strategies I have used for maintaining my physical health include:

  • Creating a routine: Establishing a consistent exercise routine, whether it involves going for walks, practicing yoga, or hitting the gym, keeps me physically active and reduces stress.
  • Meal planning: Preparing well-balanced meals in advance can help prevent resorting to unhealthy snacks or fast food during busy shifts.
  • Prioritizing sleep: Ensuring that I get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night supports my cognitive function and mental health, which is crucial for maintaining focus and making sound decisions on the job.

Dealing with Burnout in Nursing

Burnout is a salient issue in nursing professions, often resulting from long hours, high levels of responsibility, and emotional stress. Preventing burnout is essential for maintaining both job satisfaction and overall mental health. Some strategies I have found helpful in dealing with burnout include:

  • Setting boundaries: Being mindful of my limits and knowing when to say no to additional responsibilities can help prevent feeling overwhelmed.
  • Taking breaks: Regular breaks, like a short walk or a 5-minute breathwork break, can help me stay focused and manage stress. Also, using vacation days to unplug and recharge is crucial.
  • Building a support network: Connecting with colleagues who understand the challenges of nursing and can offer advice, guidance, or simply a listening ear is invaluable for maintaining mental health.

Ultimately, striking the right balance between work and personal life is key to building a fulfilling and successful nursing career. Investing time and effort into both mental and physical health not only ensures personal wellbeing but also benefits professional performance, making it a win-win situation for both me and the patients I care for.

Advocacy and Policy Influence

Engaging in Nursing Associations

I believe that engaging in nursing associations is a crucial factor in making a significant impact in the nursing field and, subsequently, increasing my income. By joining professional organizations such as the Canadian Nurses Association and the American Nurses Association, I can strengthen my skills and knowledge in policy advocacy and leadership.

Membership in these organizations provides me access to professional development courses, networking opportunities, and legislative updates. Some additional benefits include:

  1. Exposure to the latest research and trends in nursing
  2. Opportunities to collaborate with other nursing professionals
  3. Increased visibility in the nursing community

These benefits are crucial for my career progression and can help pave the way for a higher income in the nursing field.

Influencing Healthcare Policy

As a nurse, I recognize that my involvement in influencing healthcare policy is essential to creating real change and increasing my earning potential. I can leverage my experiences and insights as a nursing professional to advocate for policy changes aimed at improving patient care, working conditions, and nursing leadership. To achieve these goals, I need to be proactive in some of the following activities:

  • Keeping up-to-date with healthcare policies and emerging issues
  • Attending policy workshops and conferences to further my understanding
  • Connecting with local, regional, or national policy-makers and sharing my expertise
  • Developing policy proposals and position statements to promote the nursing profession

By priming my advocacy skills and influencing healthcare policy, I can advance my career, boost my income, and contribute to the betterment of the nursing profession at large.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the highest paid nursing specialties for a BSN graduate?

As a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) graduate, some of the highest paid nursing specialties include critical care nursing, such as working in the ER or ICU, and traveling nursing. Having a BSN opens doors for better-paying jobs and potentially higher-demand specialties.

What strategies can nurses use to increase their income without additional certifications?

Some strategies for increasing your income as a nurse without additional certifications include working night shifts, picking up extra shifts or overtime, and asking for a raise based on your performance and experience. Additionally, you may consider moving to a geographic location with higher salaries for nurses.

What are some legitimate ways for nurses to earn money from home?

Earning money from home as a nurse could involve work in telehealth services, taking medical surveys, or starting a healthcare blog or writing gig. As a nurse, you can explore various online side hustles to supplement your income while working remotely.

How can nurses supplement their income through online opportunities?

Nurses can supplement their income by exploring several online opportunities, such as working as a telehealth nurse, offering tutoring services for nursing students, or serving as a health coach. Engaging in these online opportunities allows you to utilize your expertise while earning extra income in the comfort of your home.

In which geographic locations, like California, do nurses tend to earn higher salaries?

Nurses tend to earn higher salaries in locations with a higher cost of living. For example, California and New York are known for offering higher salaries. However, it is essential to consider the cost of living relative to your income in these areas. Researching and comparing nursing salaries across different geographic locations can help you make informed decisions about where to work.

What steps can a nurse take to achieve a salary of over $200,000 per year?

To achieve a salary of over $200,000 per year, a nurse could pursue advanced degrees or certifications, like becoming a Nurse Practitioner (NP) or a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). Additionally, seeking management roles and focusing on high-demand nursing specialties can lead to higher earning potential. Keep in mind that reaching this level of salary may also require experience, networking, and dedication to advancing your career.

1 Comment
  1. […] as a per diem nurse can lead to increased financial wealth due to their typically higher hourly rates and the potential for overtime pay. […]

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