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Top-Paying Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Careers


The majority of healthcare workers in the world are nurses. The United States has more than 3 million registered nurses, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and they play an invaluable role in every aspect of patient care, from administering vaccines to children in schools to working on the front lines of trauma units.


Nurses have much more direct contact with patients than doctors do, and nursing is a rewarding career for those passionate about helping others. It can also be a challenging job that leaves many nurses wondering how they can earn higher salaries and what other opportunities may exist for them in healthcare.


Not surprisingly, salaries for registered nurses increase as their educational attainment increases, rising from a median salary of $73,000 per year for those holding Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) degrees to $89,000 for those who have earned a RN to BSN online degree, according to Payscale. A BSN degree can open the door to several top-paying BSN careers and also can be a stepping stone to a master’s or doctoral profession, such as a nurse practitioner specialization.

What Are Some of the Top-Paying BSN Careers?

Professional opportunities in nursing encompass a wide variety of specialties and work settings, ranging from intensive care units to emergency rooms to office settings. Even in some of the top-paying BSN careers, median salaries represent a baseline; actual nurse salaries vary based on factors such as the nurse’s experience, the hiring organization, and the region of the country where the job is located.

Registered Nurse Job Overview and Salary

Registered nurses are the foundation of healthcare in the United States, and their comprehensive knowledge and varied skill set allow them to perform a multitude of functions for patients and medical teams. Their duties can include checking vital signs, administering medications, recording symptoms, and coordinating care with doctors.


Holders of both ASN and BSN degrees can become registered nurses, though those with BSN degrees tend to make more than their ASN counterparts. As of May 2021, RNs had a median annual salary of $77,600, according to the BLS, with those in the 90th-plus percentile earning more than $120,250. RNs who specialize in certain areas may earn higher salaries, as may those who work in sectors like government (who had an $85,970 median annual salary).

Intensive Care Unit Nurse Job Overview and Salary

Intensive care unit (ICU) nurses treat patients in ICUs, where they deal with emergencies that can be life-threatening. Their work hours are often long and unpredictable since they are determined by unpredictable situations, and ICU nurses are generally experienced in the profession. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses offers certifications in adult, pediatric, neonatal, and cardiac intensive care.


As of November 2022, ICU nurses had a median salary of around $75,000, with those in the 90th-plus percentile earning over $109,000, according to Payscale.

Operating Room Nurse Job Overview and Salary

Operating room (OR) nurses spend their workdays (and nights) in operating rooms helping surgeons and anesthesiologists during surgical procedures as well as caring for patients at all stages of their surgery. Known also as perioperative nurses, OR nurses are experts in maintaining a sterile environment and handling surgical instruments.


As of November 2022, OR nurses had a median annual salary of around $77,000, according to Payscale, with those in the 90th-plus percentile earning over $110,000.

Nurse Case Manager Job Overview and Salary

Nurse case managers serve patients’ healthcare needs in an administrative capacity. They create and implement care plans in medical settings such as hospitals, doctor’s offices, and nursing homes while also serving as liaisons between patients and their providers and insurance companies. A number of nurse case manager certifications are available, including certifications offered through the Commission for Case Manager Certification, the America Case Manager Association, and the American Nurses Credentialing Center.


As of November 2022, nurse case managers had a median annual salary of around $76,000, according to Payscale, with those in the 90th-plus percentile earning more than $94,000.

Nursing Informaticist Job Overview and Salary

Nursing informaticists are unusual among nursing professionals in that they generally have little to no direct interaction with patients. Instead, they use computers and software to navigate the digital storage and sharing of medical information. Informatics nurses possess specialized knowledge of electronic medical records and the maintenance of hardware, software, and computer systems in medical settings.


Nursing informaticists had a median annual salary of around $80,000 as of November 2022, according to Payscale, with those in the 90th-plus percentile earning more than $98,000.

Travel Nurse Job Overview and Salary

career in travel nursing is a great option for those who like to see different places. Travel nurses go wherever they are needed, often serving temporary roles in areas experiencing nursing shortages.


As of November 2022, travel nurses had a median salary of around $81,000, according to Payscale, with those in the 90th-plus percentile making more than $111,000. Some travel nurses earn much more than this figure due to bonuses and other benefits that have become more common in recent years as facilities cope with nursing shortages and short-term staffing demands.

Nurse Administrator Job Overview and Salary

Like nursing informaticists, nurse administrators typically have little direct interaction with patients. They use their training to manage teams of nurses or perform other supervisory functions while serving as a conduit between their staff and higher levels of management.


The American Nurses Credentialing Center offers the nurse executive board certified (NE-BC) certification, which can be an entry-level credential for those beginning careers as nurse administrators. Other certifications available include the certified in executive nursing practice and certified nurse manager and leader credentials, both offered by the American Organization of Nurse Executives.


Nurse administrators are classified by the BLS as medical and health services managers. The BLS reports these managers had a median annual salary of $101,340 as of May 2021. There are various types of nurse administrators, including nurse executives, nurse managers, nursing supervisors, charge nurses, and chief nursing officers, though many of these top roles require a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. Following are the median salaries for each position according to Payscale as of November 2022:


  • Nurse executive: $109,000
  • Nurse manager: $90,000
  • Nursing supervisor: $79,000
  • Charge nurse: $77,000
  • Chief nursing officer: $135,000

Advance Your Career with a BSN Degree

Whether you want to work in the fast-paced and unpredictable world of the ICU or prefer sitting at a desk handling important administrative duties, there are many ways to fulfill your calling as an RN.


Discover how Maryville University’s RN to BSN online program can open up a wealth of opportunities for you to advance into a top-paying BSN career.


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