Nurses Salary by Specialty Certification

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Salary chart

Nurses certified in their specialty earn 23% more on average than their non-certified coworkers

Perhaps the most interesting information in this year’s Salary Survey came from the question about specialty certifications. Respondents were asked for their areas of specialty, and whether or not they had a certification within that specialty. Upon comparing the two groups of responses, we found very encouraging results for certified specialists.

Looking at the top-20 specialties, the average salary is 23 percent higher for a professional with a certification. The largest disparities were shown in groups outside the top 20, as listed below:

  • Dermatology—52% higher salary for certified professionals
  • Eye, Ear, Nose, and Throat—49%
  • Neurology/Neuroscience—49%
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist—48%
  • Urgent Care—47%

Within the top 20, Medical/Surgical was the most commonly reported specialty with 877 responses. About 30 percent (259) respondents reported holding a specialty certification, and their salaries were 17 percent higher on average. Out of 68 specialty areas offered in the survey, only three did not show a positive correlation between specialty certification and salary level. So, with very few exceptions, regardless of your title—it pays to specialize!

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About Author

Rob Senior
Rob Senior

Rob has 15 years of experience writing and editing for healthcare. He previously worked for ADVANCE from 2002 to 2012.