Expect a pay increase of around 6% to 65% after you graduate with a nurse master's degree.
How Much Do Master of Nursing Graduates Earn?
Based on average salaries for jobs that require postgraduate education, Master of Nursing graduates in Australia typically earn between $92,500 and $143,509 per year. This salary range reflects the advanced skills and expertise associated with such degrees.
The higher pay that a master's degree can yield represents a salary premium between $5,639 and $56,648 annually. As a benchmark, the average salary for a registered nurse in Australia currently stands at around $86,861 per year.
Highest Paid Nursing Jobs
Some of the highest-paying nursing jobs in Australia are Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Unit Manager, Nurse Educator, and Registered Mental Health Nurse. These jobs require advanced training and specialisation. Obtaining a master's degree can be highly advantageous, if not essential, for career advancement.
1. Nurse Practitioner
As a Nurse Practitioner (NP), you're not just an average Registered Nurse (RN). You're an RN plus, armed with advanced clinical knowledge in a speciality area – think mental health, paediatrics, women's health and beyond.
In this role, your toolkit isn't just limited to standard nursing tasks. You'll be:
- running diagnostic investigations,
- conducting assessments and making referrals; and
- taking on the responsibility of prescribing medications.
Working collaboratively with fellow healthcare pros, you'll also be actively contributing to health promotion initiatives.
To become an NP, an RN must first complete a Master of Nurse Practitioner course or an equivalent postgraduate qualification.
The majority of NPs are found in the thick of it, employed by state and territory governments in acute care settings all over Australia. As per the Department of Health, this role isn't just seen as important – it's a key player in the Government's health reform agenda.
Australia's first Nurse Practitioner Workforce Plan aims to strengthen their role in health and aged care. The plan boosts Medicare rebates, promotes diversity, offers scholarships for further study, and removes restrictions, allowing full use of NP skills and training.
The future's looking bright for NPs. Solid job growth projections are matched by a healthy financial outlook – expect to draw a comfortable six-figure salary. A Nurse Practitioner is the highest paid type of nurse in Australia, with an annual salary ranging from $137,108 to $143,509.
2. Nurse Unit Manager
As a Nurse Unit Manager, you're the linchpin guiding a healthcare team in environments such as hospitals, medical centres, and residential aged care. Your pivotal role involves not just upholding, but elevating the quality of care, in accordance with guidelines and evidence-based practice.
This role requires you to merge:
- hands-on clinical know-how
- adept administrative finesse
- inspiring leadership traits.
The Nurse Unit Manager role is akin to navigating a multifaceted control hub. You'll be mastering the balancing act of managing finances, nurturing relationships, and adapting to ever-evolving technological advancements.
A Master of Nursing degree is not just a nice-to-have for this job; it's an employer magnet. It exemplifies your dedication to your profession and a willingness to go the extra mile in education. Showcasing superior skills and knowledge is easier when applying for senior roles with a master's degree in management or a specialised field.
The Australian government's data shows that this managerial nursing role is not just in high demand, it's forecasted to expand impressively. Jobs and Skills Australia projects employment of Nurse Managers to rise by 12.1% over a 5-year period, from 20,800 jobs in 2023 to 23,300 by 2028.
Choosing this rewarding career path brings about substantial financial benefits. With potential earnings of around $133,952 per annum for nurse unit managers, you could be making about 54 per cent more than the average wage for a registered nurse.
3. Clinical Nurse Consultant
A Clinical Nurse Consultant (CNC) is an RN who leads nursing care within a clinical unit or area of practice. They uphold quality standards, offer expert support to other nurses, and manage complex patient cases.
Consultants elevate care standards by guiding nursing practice, research, education, and strategic planning. The job is alternatively referred to as 'Clinical Consultant' in Victoria and 'Nurse Consultant' in South Australia.
CNCs are integral to the healthcare system, with their role recognised and defined across various Australian states and territories. They are typically employed in public healthcare settings, with responsibilities spanning from clinical advisory to developmental services. The job outlook for CNCs is positive, with consistent demand for their expertise in clinical leadership and nursing care coordination.
The average salary for Clinical Nurse Consultants is $128,802, varying by state and territory. In 2024, the range spans from $118,693 to $138,910, with the highest average in the Northern Territory at $144,733 and the lowest in Tasmania at $104,151.
4. Nurse Educator
Nurse Educators, they're the heartbeat of the nursing profession in Australia. These individuals, all Registered Nurses themselves, have the crucial task of shaping the next generation of nurses, arming them with knowledge and skills fur future practice.
A nurse educator plays a vital role in assessing, planning, implementing, and refining professional nursing programs. The role is fluid, constantly adapting to include new technologies like telehealth and virtual simulations to optimise learning outcomes.
Educators are employed across various settings in Australia, from hospitals to government departments, TAFEs and universities. If you're aiming for senior teaching roles, especially within universities, a Masters in Nursing Education is a typical prerequisite.
The job outlook for Nurse Educators and Researchers in Australia is promising. Jobs and Skills Australia projects that from May 2023 to May 2028, employment in this occupation is expected to grow from 7,800 positions to 8,700. This represents a significant increase of 900 jobs, or 11.4% growth over the five-year period.
Embracing an educator career promises both professional fulfilment and financial stability. A clinical nurse educator's average annual salary rises from an initial $111,191 to as much as $130,084.
5. Clinical Nurse Specialist
Clinical Nurse Specialists have acquired advanced knowledge and skills in a specific area of nursing. They play a pivotal role in the healthcare system, contributing significantly to patient care, nursing practices, and mentoring other healthcare professionals.
With a deep understanding of nursing practice and healthcare delivery, CNSs provide expert advice, engage in complex clinical decision-making, and lead initiatives to improve healthcare services. Their extensive experience and advanced education enable them to take on these challenging and rewarding responsibilities.
The job prospects for clinical nurse specialists in Australia, especially in Victoria and New South Wales, are strong due to their specific recognition in nursing pay agreements, guaranteeing sustained demand.
Clinical nurse specialists enjoy higher salaries compared to even the most experienced RNs, earning approximately 16% more in NSW and 4% more in Victoria. Their salaries peak at $113,186 in NSW and $92,841 in Victoria according to recent public sector enterprise agreements.
6. Registered Mental Health Nurse
Registered Mental Health Nurses form a pivotal part of the healthcare ecosystem in Australia. These specialists, registered nurses with mental health nursing expertise, offer care and support to clients experiencing psychological issues. Their work contributes to patient recovery and wellbeing, spanning settings like hospitals, correctional services, and community health centres.
The responsibilities are broad, encompassing the administration of medication, monitoring of vital signs, provision of counselling, and assisting in the development and implementation of care plans.
To become a registered mental health nurse, postgraduate education is highly advantageous. This advanced credential can be a Graduate Certificate, a Graduate Diploma in Mental Health Nursing, or a Masters in Mental Health Nursing. The latter two qualifications enable eligibility for the role of a Credentialed Mental Health Nurse, signifying a higher level of expertise and training.
In Australia, there are strong job prospects for mental health nurses. The mental health nursing sector expanded 25% over eight years from 2013 to 2021, from 16,474 to 20,565. Given the rising demand for specialised nurses, the sector's growth is anticipated to continue.
A career in this field promises both professional fulfilment and financial stability. The average salary for a Registered Nurse (Mental Health) is similar to clinical nurse specialists.
Is a Masters in Nursing Worth It?
Yes, a Masters in Nursing is worth it for those who have career goals that align with the benefits offered by the advanced qualification.
The degree can open up new career opportunities, including roles in advanced nursing practice, leadership, education, and research, which command higher salaries than general RN positions. It can also provide deeper knowledge in a specific field, thus enhancing professional expertise and credibility.
Many programs offer flexible delivery modes, including part-time, accelerated, and online learning, making them accessible to working professionals. You can continue full-time work, study part-time online, and still complete your degree in two years.
The Master of Nursing at James Cook University is a fully online course with 12 subjects. Specialise in Advanced Practice, Leadership and Management, or Education, to advance your nursing career in the direction you choose. This program enhances skills for complex healthcare roles and leadership positions, preparing you for greater responsibilities. It is perfect for nurses aiming to progress their careers while balancing life commitments.
UTS Online's Master of Advanced Nursing is a fully online program for registered nurses. The part-time course includes 12 subjects and offers specialisations in Acute Care, Chronic and Complex Care, Critical Care, Mental Health, and Quality and Safety. It's structured to provide advanced nursing skills, with 8 core subjects and 4 electives. Designed for working professionals who want to study flexibly in their spare time, this program is a pathway to high-paying nursing positions.
Options like a Graduate Diploma in Nursing are also available for quicker and more cost-effective results, in addition to other postgraduate nursing courses. An online MBA in Healthcare Management is also available for more general management training.
Despite the program's intensity and investment required, the degree provides a compelling opportunity. The potential career advancement and increased earnings can make the endeavour incredibly rewarding for those eager to elevate their careers.
Do You Get Paid More for Having a Masters?
Yes, in addition to the numerous career benefits, public service employers in Australia actually pay nurses more for having a master's degree. The Qualification Allowance for an MN averages $5,331 per year, higher than the allowances for lower qualifications.
For comparison, the average allowance for a Graduate Certificate is approximately $3,253 per year, and for a Graduate Diploma, it's around $4,312. Although the increase in allowance from a Graduate Diploma to a Master's is significant, the greatest potential benefits from higher qualifications are more to do with job opportunities.