What the demand for nurses with a master’s degree means for their salaries

BY Meghan is lazy08 August 2022, 13:17

Prospective employees are interviewed at a job fair at AltaMed Health Services, as seen in July 2021 in Huntington Park, California. (Photo by Frederic J. Brown—AFP/Getty Images)

The United States desperately needs more nurses and other health care workers — and there will be far more jobs for registered nurses than for any other profession, according to estimates from the American Nurses Association. Beyond the immediate need for more nurses in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing is expected to remain one of the fastest growing career paths over the next decade. And while nurses of all levels of training are in demand, there is a particular need for professionals with a master’s level education or higher.

“Nurses with a master’s degree have the potential to earn higher salaries than their counterparts with a bachelor’s degree, especially when trained as advanced practice registered nurses such as nurse practitioners, registered nurses midwives, nurse anesthetists and clinical nurse specialists,” says Cindy. Anderson, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Educational Innovation at The Ohio State University College of Nursing.

The median annual salary for registered nurses (RNs) was $77,600 in May 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, the median salary for nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, and nurse practitioners — careers that require a master’s degree — was $123,780 per year. That’s a pay raise of over $46,000 a year by earning an advanced degree.

Higher demand leads to higher wages

The large difference in salaries is reflected in employment growth trends in the field. The job outlook for registered nurses is expected to grow 9% from 2020 to 2030, just a fraction of the 52% growth rate for nurse practitioners, according to BLS figures.

While the nurse practitioner role is projected to be the fourth fastest growing career in the United States, other popular career paths for graduates of master’s programs, such as nurse practitioner, nurse midwife and nurse anesthetists, are expected to see gains of 45% by 2030.

The demand for nursing professionals is driven by the need for more health care services as the US population ages and the aging of the nursing workforce itself. In order to add enough nurses to the workforce, nurse educators, who must have a master’s degree or higher, are essential, studies show. According to a report by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, in 2019 nursing schools turned away more than 80,000 qualified applicants to baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs due to insufficient faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors and budgetary constraints. .

How to Get a High Paying Nursing Job

For admission to most accredited master’s degree programs in nursing, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in nursing. There are master’s tracks for people who don’t yet have an undergraduate degree, but they usually require more credits and take longer. A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program typically takes two to three years of study, according to Nurse Journal, and average program costs are $590 per credit, GetEducated.com found.

Individuals seeking the aforementioned professions of nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, and nurse anesthetist must have a registered nurse license and a bachelor’s degree in nursing. These programs may also require a year or more of applicable work experience to gain admission.

As the demand for registered nurses increases, there are more and more career options for MSN students. Professions such as nurse consultant, nurse administrator, or clinical nurse specialist all require an MSN and, on average, these roles pay more than RNs with only a bachelor’s degree in nursing. The average salary for a nurse educator at a college, university or vocational school was $83,340, but at a general medical and surgical hospital, the average salary was $95,720, according to the latest BLS figures. of 2021.

Financial considerations, career development, and growth potential are all typical major factors for someone to consider advancing to a master’s degree, Anderson says. So while a master’s degree in nursing doesn’t guarantee a better salary, diversifying your skills can be a valuable tool in opening doors to personal and professional growth.

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