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Highest Paid Nurses in Australia (Ranked)

Top-earning nurses include practitioners, managers, consultants, educators, and clinical specialists.

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Which Type of Nurse Gets Paid the Most?

Nurse Practitioners are the highest-paid type of nurses, earning up to $151,292 in Queensland and with an average maximum across Australia of $143,509. Nurse Unit Managers, Clinical Nurse Consultants, and Nurse Educators are next in line, earning up to $133,952, $133,358, and $133,358 respectively.

These figures indicate the peak earning potential for specialised roles where nurses provide or oversee patient care. Senior executive and corporate positions are excluded.

Table 1. Nursing jobs ranked by highest salary, 2024

Rank Job title* NSW VIC QLD AUS
1 Nurse Practitioner $145,182 $135,398 $151,292 $143,509
2 Nurse Unit Manager $132,711 $130,958 $139,732 $133,952
=3 Clinical Nurse Consultant $138,111 $122,583 $139,732 $133,358
=3 Nurse Educator $138,111 $122,583 $139,732 $133,358
5 Clinical Nurse Specialist $113,556 $99,593 $112,236 $108,560
6 Registered Nurse / Midwife $98,351 $95,706 $103,053 $98,692
7 Enrolled Nurse $68,599 $71,386 $73,400 $70,775
8 Assistant / Trainee $55,226 $54,626 $69,979 $58,860

* Job titles vary by state. We have chosen commonly used titles, which may not match the specific grade in a particular state. 'Midwife' has been omitted from job titles for conciseness. Figures for Australia are averages, weighted by state populations. The three states account for more than three-quarters of the Australian population. Sources: Public sector nurse and midwife enterprise agreements for NSW, Victoria, Queensland. Salaries are the highest normally available to experienced nurses. Updated: 14 November 2023.

The high salaries reflect many years of nursing experience and, typically, the pay benefits of a nursing master's degree. Nurses receive pay increments each year for up to 7-9 years in case of RNs. Experiential grades or levels also apply to higher job classifications. As well, there are pay bonuses for holding postgraduate qualifications, although these are not included in the displayed salaries.

The lowest-paid nurses in Australia are assistants or trainee nurses, earning up to $54,626 in Victoria and $55,226 in New South Wales. Enrolled nurses, who typically hold a diploma qualification, can earn close to $12k more, with their annual salary reaching around $70,775 on a national level.

Job Descriptions

Which State is Best for Nurses?

Young woman holding Australian currency in medical office

Queensland is the best state in Australia for nurse pay. Based on the public sector award figures for registered nurses, Queensland nurses enjoy a 9.9% earnings premium compared to Australia as a whole. The state also offers attractive incentives to healthcare workers, particularly those willing to move to regional and remote areas, with bonuses up to $70,000.

Queensland is followed by the Northern Territory and Western Australia, with calculated pay premiums of 7.2% and 0.3% respectively.

Table 2. Average salary for registered nurses by state

State 5th-year RN salary Pay premium
QLD $95,469 9.9%
NT $93,085 7.2%
WA $87,116 0.3%
ACT $86,024 -1.0%
NSW $85,813 -1.2%
SA $84,870 -2.3%
VIC $83,548 -3.8%
TAS $82,109 -5.5%
AUS $86,861 0.0%

Updated: 14 November 2023. Sources: Public sector nurse and midwife enterprise agreement for each state and territory.

The most under-performing state in terms of nurse pay is Tasmania, with a mid-career pay shortfall of 5.5%. However, this differential is modest considering the relatively low cost of living in the state. Tasmania has made strides to close this gap from 1 December 2023, with a pay deal set to increase nurse and midwife earnings by about 15% over three years, aiming to match the national average.

Qualification Allowance Payments

Adding to their salaries, nurses in Australia commonly receive payments, known as qualification allowances, for completing postgraduate courses. The amount depends on your highest qualification, region, and employer. To be eligible, you need to earn post-registration qualifications, such as those available online from James Cook University and UTS Online.

James Cook University - Courses for Nurses

James Cook University has a postgraduate program for registered nurses that consists of a Graduate Certificate of Nursing (4 subjects), a Gaduate Diploma of Nursing (8 subjects), and a Master of Nursing (12 subjects). Each course is fully online has been designed for flexible part-time study. The courses all form part of the Master of Nursing program, with the option to continue studying for higher qualifications after completing the shorter courses. Available specialisations include Advanced Practice, Education, and Leadership and Management.

UTS Online - Advanced Nursing Program

UTS Online offers a broad selection of courses in its 100% online Master of Advanced Nursing program. You have the option to complete a graduate certificate, graduate diploma, or master's degree. Specialisations include Acute Care, Chronic and Complex Care, Critical Care, Mental Health, and Quality and Safety. Examples of topics students explore are applying best practice in your specialty area, clinical decision-making skills, and developing advanced patient assessment techniques. Six intakes into the program are available each year.

The average allowance for a Graduate Certificate in Nursing is $3,253 per year across Australia. A Graduate Diploma yields $4,312 per year on average. For a Master's in Nursing, the typical allowance is $5,331 annually. These figures represent extra income nurses receive for advanced education.

The highest allowances are seen in Victoria, with payments up to $6,266 for a Master of Nursing. Conversely, New South Wales offers the lowest qualification allowances, with a Graduate Certificate fetching around $2,332 annually.

Related: Nurse Qualification Allowance Rates in Australia