Nursing Salaries: How Much Does a Palliative Care Nurse Make?

Palliative care nurses earn varying salaries, depending on their degree and expertise. Learn how much a palliative care nurse can make.

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by Tessa Cooper

Updated September 19, 2022

Reviewed by Shrilekha Deshaies, MSN, CCRN, RN

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Nursing Salaries: How Much Does a Palliative Care Nurse Make?
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Palliative care nurses perform meaningful and important work. They assist people with serious illnesses and provide comfort to their patients' families. They often provide care for people in their final days of life.

This difference between hospice care and palliative care is usually defined by the time a patient has left to live. Less than six months usually involves hospice care. Palliative care typically helps patients have the best quality of life during their remaining time, which may be anywhere greater than six months.

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What Is the Average Palliative Care Salary?

Salaries vary between different palliative care nursing positions, according to Payscale and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

What Are the Highest-Paying Palliative Care Nurse Jobs?

High-paying palliative care nurse jobs typically require advanced degrees and licenses. For some people, increased salary potential may make it worth the effort. This table outlines the highest-paying jobs in this field.

Highest-Paying Palliative Care Jobs
Palliative Care Nurse Job Average or Median Annual Salary
Nurse Anesthetist $166,720 as of June 2022
Nurse Practitioner $120,680 as of May 2021
Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner $97,070 as of August 2022
Hospice Nurse Practitioner $91,000 as of August 2022
Registered Nurse $77,600 as of May 2021

How Much Do Palliative Care Nurses Make in Your State?

As with any job, location plays a role in salary. Hospitals and clinics located in areas with high costs of living may pay their nurses more. This often includes larger cities and towns on the coasts.

However, rural areas may pay extra to attract nurses to the area. States with higher needs for palliative care nurses may pay more to encourage nurses to move. This chart highlights the average salary for nurses in each state.

Median Salary for Palliative Care Nurses by State 2021

The Highest-Paying States for Palliative Care Nurses (by Average Salary, 2021)
Registered Nurse Nurse Practitioner Nursing Instructor
California
Hawaii
Oregon
California
New Jersey
New York
California
Massachusetts
Hawaii

Data sourced from the BLS

Job Growth for Palliative Care Nurses

The BLS forms projections on job growth for all occupations. The average projected growth rate for all U.S. occupations between 2020 and 2030 sits at 8%. However, aspiring nursing graduates may benefit from an even higher job growth rate. The BLS projects healthcare occupations to grow by 16% during the same time frame.

The BLS projects certain nursing jobs to grow at an even faster rate. For example, 52% job growth is projected for nurse practitioners. The BLS cites the need to replace workers who change to other occupations or retire as the reason for the high growth projections.

What Nursing Field Pays the Most?

Nurse practitioner positions often pay the most in this field. The median income for these professionals is $120,680, as of May 2021. According to Payscale and BLS data, general nurse practitioners may earn more than palliative care or hospice nurse practitioners.

Nurse practitioners typically have more responsibilities and autonomy than registered nurses. They can diagnose minor ailments and even write prescriptions. Nurse practitioners need a more advanced degree and license than registered nurses.

More Education May Lead to a Higher Nursing Salary

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Salary

BSN nursing degree programs prepare learners to pursue positions as registered nurses. These professionals implement care plans that doctors design. They also instruct nursing assistants. After earning this four-year degree, learners begin applying for jobs. To narrow the job search, learners should determine what type of registered nurse they want to become.

Examples of jobs:

Palliative Care Nurse

Palliative care nurses provide comfort and everyday care to people dealing with life-altering illnesses. They follow care plans that sometimes include curative goals. Other times, they work on care plans that focus on making a person comfortable before they die. Some palliative care nurses work in clinical settings. Others visit a patient's home.

Average Annual Salary (as of August 2022)
$76,500


Hospice Registered Nurse

Hospice nurses help make patients comfortable before they die. They help meet patients' needs so the patients' loved ones can focus on enjoying their final days together. Hospice registered nurses coordinate care plans and provide grief support. They work on care plans with no curative care goals.

Average Annual Salary (as of July 2022)
$69,500


Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Salary

An MSN program takes learners about three years to finish. This program can help students pursue jobs as nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners generally earn higher incomes than registered nurses. They may lead a team of registered nurses. However, they often work independently and may fill in for doctors. Many MSN graduates go straight into the workforce. Others decide to pursue a doctorate.

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners diagnose and treat ailments. They perform similar tasks as doctors. They provide guidance to their patients on preventing and living with illnesses. These professionals must commit to continuing education. Some nurse practitioners may specialize in one age group or condition.

Average Annual Salary (as of July 2022)
$100,970


Family Nurse Practitioner

Family nurse practitioners provide care for a variety of ages. They perform physical and wellness exams. These professionals also refer patients to doctors and other specialists when necessary. They often work in clinic settings.

Average Annual Salary (as of July 2022)
$98,370


Geriatric Nurse Practitioner

These nurse practitioners work with the aging population. They possess extensive knowledge of how the human body changes as it ages. Some geriatric nurse practitioners work at nursing homes. Others work in private practice. They often refer patients to specialists, such as physical therapists.

Average Annual Salary (as of August 2022)
$92,030


DNP Salary

A DNP program allows graduates to pursue some of the most advanced roles in the nursing field. This terminal degree prepares learners to work in a variety of direct and indirect care positions. For example, DNP graduates may work as caregivers, researchers, or instructors.

Medical Scientist

Medical scientists conduct research that aims to improve human health. Many medical scientists work in laboratories. They investigate causes and potential cures for terminal illnesses. These professionals share their findings in research papers. They often write grant proposals to earn funds for their research.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2021)
$95,310


Biochemists and Biophysicists

These professionals study the physical properties of living things, including humans. Biochemists and biophysicists study the impact of drugs, hormones, and nutrients on the human body. They usually oversee a team of laboratory technicians. They present their findings at conferences and in research papers.

Median Annual Salary
$102,270


Nursing Instructors

Nursing teachers educate the next generation of nurses in a higher education setting. Most nursing instructors work for colleges and universities. They teach courses in lecture-based formats. They also perform demonstrations and oversee clinical rotations.

Average Annual Salary
$82,040



Editor's note: Some of the salary numbers above may be based on relatively small samples, and potential nursing salaries could vary widely depending on the employer. Reach out to a relevant professional nursing organization for more information about potential salaries in your area.



Frequently Asked Questions About Palliative Care Nurse Salary

What type of nurse gets paid the most?

Nurse practitioners generally make the most money. Palliative care nurses who want to earn an even higher income may choose to earn a DNP. This palliative care nursing degree may lead to research-related roles, which tend to pay more.

Hospitals offer varying salaries to night nurses vs. day nurses. They may offer a higher salary to night nurses as an incentive.

Aside from position type, other factors play a role in salary. For starters, years of experience influence how much a palliative care nurse earns. Entry-level nurses, for example, usually earn less than ones with several years of experience.

What is the difference between a palliative care nurse and a hospice nurse?

Palliative care nurses help terminal patients have the best quality of life in their remaining days. The hospice nurse focuses on patients having the best quality of death in their remaining days.

However, palliative care nurses and hospice nurses often perform similar tasks. They mainly aim to ensure a patient remains comfortable. They also support grieving families. These professionals coordinate care schedules with other healthcare professionals.

Some palliative care nurses and hospice nurses work in hospitals. Others provide home healthcare services. They may also coordinate end-of-life services and connect families with funeral service providers.

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