What Can I Expect to Earn After I Receive My MSN Degree?

thegradberryteam September 30, 2012 1

After putting some time in as a registered nurse, many nurses decide to pursue higher education to move into administration or education roles.  A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree is intended for current registered nurses. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and be a licensed registered nurse. While this degree will immediately open you up to a variety of new careers and possibilities, it is also a prerequisite for doctorate-level nursing degrees.

The application process is quite selective, requiring complete resumes, letters of recommendation and impressive transcripts in ordered to be accepted into these highly sought after programs. Some schools conduct interviews as well. If you are considering applying for an MSN program, you may be asking, “What can I expect to earn after I receive my MSN Degree?” Pursuing a master’s degree can be expensive; the benefits must be worth the investment of both valuable time and money.

Gain Applicable Knowledge

While an MSN degree will certainly allow you to start a career with a higher rate of pay, it will also provide applicable knowledge that will advance your overall medical understanding. Traditional and online MSN programs will both cover:

  • Nursing research and theory
  • Healthcare financial management
  • Advanced nursing leadership

During the course of an MSN program, students will also be able to select one or more advanced nursing specialty. These specialties will focus on a particular aspect of nursing and further refine the applicable knowledge that is received. There are many nursing specialties available in the world today; many common options are:

  • Family
  • Adult
  • Pediatric
  • Psychiatric
  • Gynecological
  • Geriatric

Perhaps the most valuable aspect of earning a MSN degree is the knowledge that it provides. Even if you remain in your current position after graduating, you will be able to immediately apply your advanced knowledge to provide better care for patients.

Average Salaries for Careers that Require a MSN

There are many careers that require a Masters of Science in Nursing. With the exception of registered nurse, which is provided for comparison, all of the below careers require a MSN. These salaries were tabulated by PayScale.com, a website that compiles a number of different sources to arrive at a general average salary for careers.

  • Registered Nurse (RN): $37,000 – $88,000
  • Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP): $65,000 – $105,000
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS): $65,000 – $109,000
  • Clinical Nurse Manager: $60,000 – $105,000
  • Nurse Practitioner (NP): $61,000 – $100,000
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (NP): $63,000 – $96,000

These salaries illustrate that a MSN degree can allow you to pursue positions that provide a substantial pay raise. Keep in mind that there are many factors that affect salary beyond the job itself. The location of the employer, size of facility and your own experience will all be a factor in determining your salary. For instance, based on Payscale.com data, employees with MSN degrees in Philadelphia tend to have a higher starting wage than most cities, while employees in New York have a higher maximum average.

Common Employers of MSN Graduates

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall field of nursing is expected to gain 28 percent more jobs by 2020. This is significantly above the national average for anticipated job growth. This statistic signifies that there will likely be numerous vacancies for most positions. The BLS postulates that primary causes of this growth are an increased emphasis on preventative care and the aging population of baby boomers. Payscale.com has also tabulated the average salaries of MSN graduates based on which type of employer the find employment with.

  • Schools: $92,000
  • Non-Profit Organizations: $80,000
  • Federal Departments and Organizations: $77,000
  • Private Practices: $74,000
  • Hospitals: $79,000

This data indicates that not only does the location of employment play a role, but also the type of organization.

Expect to Earn Valuable Knowledge and a Pay Raise

There are many factors that must be carefully considered after you have received your MSN degree. Your specialty, geographic location and type of employer will all play a role in deciding exactly how much you will earn. You are guaranteed to receive valuable, applicable knowledge that will help you become a far more effective nurse.


About the author: Vanessa DeWitt is a nursing masters student; she maintains a nursing-related blog with several friends where they commonly address issues in their future field.

  • Sabrina

    Wow, $100,000 to be a nurse practitioner? There’s something to consider if you want a lucrative position in this field!