18 Tips to Make Six Figures ($100K+) as a Nurse

Written By: Brittney Bertagna, BSN, RN

We all are aware nursing is a great profession to get into. The question is how to make the most out of the time and energy you put in. How to make 6 figures as a nurse? Many nurses have a great income that can support their families, but here are 18 tips to make six figures as a nurse.

Can Nurses Make Six Figures?

Yes, you can 100% make six figures as a nurse. The disclaimer is that working in some states may make this easier than working in other states. Geographic location is a huge indicator of starting salary and can be a reason why some of you are not as close to others when looking at raw data. Take this into consideration when reading the following, but in short, yes you can make six figures.


What Types Of Nurses Typically Make Six Figures?

To make six figures as a nurse it’s important to look at who these nurses are and what things they have in common. You will no doubt see “go-getters”, those nurses who are naturally motivated by money and have the grit to make sacrifices and put the time and energy into their career. You will surely find specialty nurses as well as nurses who have higher education and greater responsibilities making more money. But, there are plenty of opportunities for others as well. Many of these nurses will be working in California or another state which starts at higher pay, but the cost of living is always a consideration because their six figures might not be going as far as another person’s six figures.


(Following the 18 tips below will enhance your chances of making a six-figure salary as a nurse.)

1. Become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

Advancing your degree is one of the best ways to make more money as a nurse. For the first three on our list take a look at this. As a CRNA, you will be working directly with surgical staff. For someone who is looking for more schooling, and a great career to consistently make six figures, this is one to consider. There is a master’s degree requirement for this career, but again would be well worth your time.

2. Become a Nurse Practitioner (NP)

Similar to the above, this requires a master’s degree but is a sure-fire way to consistently hold an income with six figures. There are plenty of job opportunities and many programs across the nation. With this, you will be taking your nursing degree to treat patients from the beginning of their care. As an NP you will be responsible for the entirety of the patient and have the ability to prescribe medication and open your practice in certain states.

3. Become a Nurse Midwife

Within this specialty as with the two above, you will be required to have a master’s degree and previous working experience. There is an expectation for the demand to increase over the next few years and now is the time to get into the field. Within this role, you can continue to make a huge impact on your community and create bonds with your patients that are not typical for the average RN.

4. Advance in Nurse Leadership

Another way to make 6 figures as a nurse is to advance into a nurse leadership role. All hospitals and organizations have multiple opportunities to rise the chain of command and provide indirect patient care. Within a leadership role, you are typically concerned day-to-day with the staffing and care the floor nurses are providing. By understanding your role in leadership and providing additional support to staff you increase the overall experience for the patient as well as staff. Most nurse leadership roles come with an increased income because of the shift in responsibilities and schedule. Nurse leadership usually works a 9-5 schedule. This may be a good fit for you if you are looking for more of an office job within nursing.

5. Begin travel nursing assignment

Making a six-figure salary as a nurse can be incredibly rewarding and when combined with travel assignments you become rich in life experience as well. Contracted travel assignments provide you with a steady income and living stipend that can be used as you see fit. Living with a frugal lifestyle will increase the advantage of this income and provide you with better-earning potential. You will have the freedom to choose where you would like to work and often can extend these contracts if needed in an area that you enjoy. This may not be as consistent as other positions to make six figures, however, if you are looking for work, there are plenty of opportunities during the current times.

6. Change Nursing specialties

Specializing in an area of nursing is a great way to increase your overall income. To make more than you are now, consider what areas or types of patients you consistently enjoy caring for and what tasks or nursing skills you may be particularly good at. One example would be to specialize in cardiac surgical nursing. In this position, you would be assisting surgical staff in the operating room and being able to step aside from bedside nursing because your patients should be unconscious. Performing specialized skills and having this experience will no doubt give you more leverage in the future if you are ever looking to specialize again.

7. Relocate to a higher paying state

As previously mentioned, it is a well-known fact that certain states have a higher starting wage for all positions. Nursing salaries vary, so if you're concerned about finances, moving locations may be an option. There are also opportunities to work in these states and reside outside of these states to minimize the cost of living. When considering a move to a different state, please consider the licensing requirements as well. Based on what state you live in there are also tiered systems that provide a naturally occurring raise based on how long you have been working as a nurse. Take this to your advantage and put in the time and years of working to consistently increase your income to six figures.

8. Make sacrifices

Making a six-figure salary as a nurse might mean missing out on other things. There is a part of nursing that requires determination and a pure desire to help others. When considering this option, think about working more hours and maybe sacrificing a weekend with the family to pick up some extra shifts. Another sacrifice might be your current commute. Without changing your living environment or current lifestyle, maybe the sacrifice is to increase your commute and work at a different facility that pays more than your current employer. This will continue to bring you closer and closer to your dream of making six figures.

9. Add a nurse-related side hustle

Use your nursing knowledge and insight into the medical field to have a side hustle on top of your nursing position. Start a lifestyle blog and provide the community with stories from your career. Start an educational blog for nursing students with resources that will help them not only in school but in real-life nursing. Tutoring can provide a very flexible income that is set at your rates. Some people need your help and understanding of subject matter that pay a lot of money for tutoring. Creative in nature? Design and sell practical nursing items to fellow nursing staff to make their job that much easier.

10. Work in medically underserved communities

A huge push in the medical field is to work in medically underserved communities. They need the support that is not always available and this is where you can make more for what you already do. Because of the push, these communities get additional money from the government to staff hospitals and can decrease the financial burden nursing staff create for an organization. The need is there and can provide you with the chance to make a huge impact on your patients that you might not otherwise see.

11. Create passive income

One way to make 6 figures as a nurse is to create a form of passive income to supplement your current nursing salary. This is another way to use your knowledge, experience, and expertise to help others. Examples of this would be to write a book or to build a course that provides logical information in an organized fashion to those interested. Be creative and front load your work to have a more steady income in the future.

12. Network with others and talk to a recruiter

Networking with others may be one of the easiest ways to increase your overall income. Talking about your income can have a huge impact on what you get paid. Speaking with a recruiter can give you an excellent understanding of what to expect and where to look when trying to get paid the most for the work you do. By networking with friends and family you can utilize others to help you succeed in making six figures as a nurse.

13. Add on certifications

When considering what else you can do to increase your income without creating consistently more work or changing your current position, look to certifications. Within emergency nursing alone there are many certifications you can add to increase your hourly pay and make you a more well-rounded and desired employee. The Certified Emergency Nurse Specialization (CEN) can be a great option for a quick increase in wages. Trauma Nurse Core Course (TNCC) certification can be done with a weekend-long training and certifying exam. If there is a nursing specialty, there is a certification for it.

14. Working overtime

There are and always will be opportunities to pick up overtime in the nursing field. Take this to your advantage. Stay over extra hours, work an extra day, pick up shifts for others. This is the grit of making a six-figure salary as a nurse and unfortunately, not everyone is willing to do it. By working more hours, you will make more money, period.

15. Picking up shifts when there are financial incentives.

Let’s talk more about the grit to make six figures as a nurse. Picking up extra shifts is one thing, but waiting for the organization to be more desperate is another. Often, when very short-staffed and no sign of interest from the staff to work overtime there are extra financial incentives to bribe nursing staff to work. There may be a “third-weekend” incentive that gives you overtime because working this weekend is outside of your original contract. Again, working more means making more, but there are times where you can get more than just overtime pay for the time you put in.

16. Start a business

Starting a business can be a great way to make money. But it is not going to happen overnight. Any “get rich quick scheme” that is too good to be true, probably is. Whether you want to work from home for yourself or you want to create a company that builds a better future for healthcare, there are business ideas out there that can support your dreams. Starting a business has endless possibilities that can support whatever lifestyle you choose to live.

17. Ask for a higher starting pay

Know your worth! As previously mentioned, there are always nursing positions available and there are increased wages based on how long you have worked as a nurse. By negotiating a higher starting point, you can make more money from the beginning and continue to increase your wage from there rather than 2 years down the line. Other factors contribute to negotiating nursing wages, but things to consider are previous experience, education level, additional certifications, and open communication throughout the entire process. Be okay with turning down a position if it does not meet the criteria you are looking for, but also be reasonable and make sure your criteria are realistic for the nurse you are at the time of hire.

18. Work as a per-diem or on-call employee.

Most per-diem or on-call employees can work full time at a hired hourly wage but do not get the benefits packages, or consistent schedule as other employees do. This might be an option for you if you do not rely on your job for insurance or retirement and love to live on the fly. A position like this will be less consistent in the schedule and often has last-minute opportunities for work but is a way to increase your overall income by making more per hour.

My Final Thoughts

There are so many ways of how to make six figures as a nurse. It is 100% realistic and you can do it too!! Get creative and maybe incorporate a mixture of some of the tips above in addition to what you are already doing. I hope these 18 tips to make six figures as a nurse has helped you to understand the potential you have as a nurse and provide you with the extra support in making more for the work you do.

Brittney Bertagna, BSN, RN
Brittney Bertagna is currently a nurse and writer in Las Vegas, NV. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in business administration she completed nursing school and became a registered nurse. While working a night shift in the neonatal ICU she went back to school to get her second bachelor’s degree in nursing from Western Governors University. Now she enjoys working with children in the surgical setting as well as with her adult patients as an infusion nurse.