How Much Does a Clinical Nurse Specialist Earn?


Clinical nurse specialists are advanced practice nurses with a minimum of a master's degree education in nursing. States may allow advanced practice nurses to prescribe medication and practice without direct physician supervision. A clinical nurse specialist provides direct patient care, performs physical examinations and counsels patients. According to PayScale, the average annual salary for a clinical nurse specialist is between $66,723 and $87,303, as of December 2010.

Type of Employer

  • Clinical nurse specialists may work in hospitals, private practice, non-profit organizations or for a government agency. The salary the nurse specialist earns depends on the type of employer. For example, clinical nurse specialists working for the Federal government earn salaries between $73,736 and $101,960 per year, while those working in a hospital earn salaries of $66,131 to $86,791, according to PayScale.

Geographic Location

  • Clinical nurse specialists in Massachusetts earn an average annual salary between $76,184 and $101,734 and those working in Ohio earn an average salary of $65,272 to $78,258. The cost of living and demand for nurse specialists are factors in the salary she may earn. According to Sperling's, the cost of living is 53 percent lower in Dayton than it is in Boston.


  • Experienced clinical nurse specialists earn the highest salaries, according to PayScale. Nurses with 20 years of experience or more can earn a salary of $66,090 to $94,320 per year while those with less than a year in the position earn salaries of $51,886 to $72,998, as of 2010.


  • The benefits an employer offers add value to the total compensation package by up to 30 percent. For example, an employee receiving a salary of $50,000 with benefits that include health insurance, retirement and paid time off, increases the value of his salary by as much as $15,000. Clinical nurse specialists receive benefits such as 401k plans, insurance, paid time off and education assistance. Education assistance helps the nurse specialist continue training and increases her average annual salary.


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