A career in nursing informatics is a rewarding profession that focuses on supporting the practice of nursing, as well as improving patient care outcomes. A career in nursing informatics incorporates nursing, computer, and information sciences to boost the management of information and communication in the field of nursing.
And with a career in nursing informatics requiring specialized knowledge on boosting efficiency, cutting costs, and boosting patient quality care and licensure as an RN (registered nurse), the salary of a nurse informaticist is one that is highly competitive. In this article, we examine the salary for those who seek a career in nursing informatics, as well as the job outlook for this challenging profession.
If you are just beginning your career path to the field of nursing, you may not be aware of what nursing informatics is and what a nurse informaticist does. The goal of nursing informatics is to ultimately improve the healthcare of patients while reducing costs. Nursing informatics itself refers to the practice and science of integrating nursing information and knowledge with technology to reduce costs and boost efficiency and patient quality care.
The day-to-day roles and responsibilities of a nursing informaticist will be highly technical. It will not require the same routines or activities like those working as a clinical Registered Nurse. This role will instead allow you to use data and technology daily to monitor systems, programs, and patient care initiatives.
The daily tasks of a nursing informaticist include but are not limited to the following:
The salary range for nurse informaticists varies widely depending on the platform. As of Apr 12, 2021, the average annual pay for an Informatics Nurse in the United States is $102,230 a year, according to ZipRecruiter.
However, PayScale.com reports an average salary of $84,744 per year for the same profession, while Salary.com reports an average of $90,690. However, as of 2017, the HIMSS Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey found that 46% of respondents earned an average base salary of more than $100,000 each year.
As a nursing informaticist, three main factors will affect the salary you are eligible for: your level of education, certification, and years of experience working in the field. Generally, a higher level of education in the form of nursing informatics programs and experience can greatly impact your salary, putting you in a much higher percentile than the average pay for this type of position.
In this increasingly competitive field, possessing a higher degree than other candidates can make a serious difference when it comes to both your career path and your salary. To be eligible for a nursing informatics job, you will generally be required to have achieved at least a bachelor’s degree over an associate degree. However, the possession of a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is quickly becoming the standard degree in this field.
If you wish to advance your career even further, you may wish to go on to achieve a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or a Ph.D. in Nursing. While both of these options require a significant amount of education beyond your Master’s, possession of a doctoral degree can significantly impact your earnings as a nurse informaticist.
In fact, when referring to the same previously discussed 2017 survey conducted by the HIMSS Nursing Informatics Workforce, it was reported that 61% of nurse informaticists with a doctorate earned well more than average for the field. This is due to the fact that a doctoral degree in nursing will permit you to apply for high-level leadership roles that those with a bachelor’s or even a master’s degree will not allow you to be eligible for.
While advancing your education is one of the top ways to increase your earnings as a nurse informaticist, there are several additional steps that you can take. Regardless of if you just possess a bachelor’s degree, you will be eligible to earn a certification. And while certification isn’t a requirement for those who work in nursing informatics, it can certainly help achieve a higher pay grade. And while certification may not be a legal requirement, some employers will require you to have it regardless.
To apply for certification, you will require education, experience, and a license as a Registered Nurse (RN). Common nursing informatics certifications will include:
Each of these certifications holds a different level of education requirements combined with experience; however, none of these credentials will require you to possess more than a bachelor’s degree.
You may also become eligible for a higher nursing salary by allowing yourself time to gain experience in the role. While gaining experience as a nurse informaticist will come with time, you may also attend conferences and participate in continuing education activities. And while this may not be your fastest option to increasing your earnings, your experience will play a large part in your earning potential over time. In fact, statistics from the HIMSS survey show that nursing informaticists with over 11 years of experience were the top earners above any other candidates.
So, how do you get a nursing informatics job in the first place? While we have touched on both the educational and certification requirements to get a job as a nursing informaticist, we now break down the exact requirements to find employment in this competitive field.
To have a career as a nurse informaticist, you must first earn either an associate degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited nursing program. And although these are the minimum educational requirements to work as a nursing informaticist, a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is preferred.
Nurses who have earned their ADN may either complete the additional step of furthering their education to a BSN degree on their own or enter into an RN to MSN program. This accelerated option will allow ADN-prepared nurses to complete their BSN and their MSN at the same time.
Those who wish to find work as a nurse informaticist but first pass The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to become a Registered Nurse. This entry-to-practice level examination tests the competencies nurses need at the beginning of their careers and is legally required in order to practice as a nurse.
Before becoming eligible to earn your certification as a nurse informaticist, experience is required. Not only do candidates need to possess a current active Registered Nurse license and a bachelor’s degree in Nursing or higher, but they must also have practiced for the equivalent of two full-time years as an RN. In addition, they must also have completed 30 hours of continuing education in informatics within the last three years.
The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers an Informatics Nursing Certification (RN-BC) to RNs who are looking for advanced certification. In addition to the requirements discussed above, candidates must also meet one of the following practice requirements:
While some employers will hire nurses who have achieved the required minimum of a Bachelor of Science in nursing, the demand for nurse informaticists who possess a Master’s Degree in Nursing, Health Informatics, or a related field is on the rise. For those serious about a career as a nurse informaticist and wish to increase their earning potential, this is a wise degree to pursue.
Informatics nurses who possess graduate degrees are easily able to find careers as nurse administrators or nurse educators, as well as chief information officers or information technology nursing advocates.
Informatics nurses can work in a variety of areas, which typically include healthcare organizations and technology companies. With the role of the informatics nurse constantly expanding and the demand for nurses who possess knowledge in this field on the rise, available work locations are increasing.
The following are only a portion of the locations that a nurse informaticist may currently find work:
Due to the ever-growing opportunities for those who work in nursing informatics, it is reported by the Advance Healthcare Network for Nurses that as many as 70,000 health informatics specialists will be required within the next few years. Due to the many career opportunities currently existing and are on track to be created to nurse informaticists, this is the ideal time for those who wish to enter this field.
While your general job as a nursing informaticist will always be similar, your job title and additional duties may vary. The following are jobs you may be eligible to hold as a nurse informaticist:
It’s important to note that each of these positions may require a different level of education. For example, a Nursing Informatics Specialist is the most common title for a nurse informaticist to hold and requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. However, a Nurse Educator/Instructor will require a minimum of a Master of Science in Nursing degree.
Location can often play a large factor in determining your salary as a nursing informaticist. It’s important to note that the overall cost of living typically influences an increase in the average salary rate. However, it is also influenced by the demand for nursing, as well as the ratio of healthcare employers.
Several areas all over the United States offer higher-than-average pay for nursing informaticists, including the Midwest, New England, and the Southeast. Let’s take a look at the average pay for nursing informaticists in some of the top-paying areas of the United States, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2019:
It’s important to note that these statistics have a focus on the high-paying metro areas. You can find high wages in several other metropolitan areas all across the country, including on the West Coast. While California is not on the above list, it’s important to note that California has the highest wages for RNs overall.
As mentioned, a competitive salary as a nurse informaticist is often based on significant need but is also due to a higher cost of living. This is an important factor to take into consideration when considering the best nursing jobs and when calculating an informatics nurse’s net profit.
In fact, a higher cost of living may directly correlate to the shortage of nurses in these areas, including states like California, Texas, Massachusetts, Washington, and New York. Southern states generally have a lower cost of living, which contributes to these states possessing a lower need for nurse informaticists, and therefore, a lower salary.
Taking your employer into consideration is wise for those who wish to make a top wage in the field of healthcare information technology. According to the previously mentioned 2017 HIMSS survey, findings concluded that hospitals and health systems are the primary place of employment for nurse informaticists. However, this does not mean that these facilities are the top-paying employers when it comes to careers in this field.
Other common places of employment for nurse informaticists and their average salaries include:
With a rise in popularity for nursing informatics specialists, how much demand still exists for Registered Nurses in this field? According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were more than 3 million registered nurses in the United States in 2018. However, by the year 2028, it is expected that there will be a need for additional 371,500 nurses.
At an expected growth of 12%, this number is expected to grow even higher due to our aging population. In addition, the American Medical Informatics Association has estimated an increased need for up to 70,000 nursing informatics positions due to healthcare’s ongoing technological advancements and requirements.
An increase in legal legislation in the past decade has also increased the need for nursing informatics specialists. The implementation of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) in 2009 and the Patient Protection and Accountable Care Act (PPACA) in 2008 have brought an increase in demand for technology-based nurses.
All in all, the career life of an informatics nurse is one that is projected to be both lucrative and long-lasting.
Several factors contribute to a higher than average earning potential that goes well beyond the job’s role. A higher level of education, additional certification, and years of experience will make a difference when earning a higher salary.
Although not a requirement, nursing informaticists are encouraged to receive a higher level of education than a typical Registered Nurse to work in the field of nursing informatics and require a significant amount of experience to receive certification in this field.
These factors alone will contribute to a nursing informaticist’s salary being higher than other nursing jobs requiring as much additional education and experience.
It should be noted that the US Bureau of Labor Statistics does not specifically track data for nursing informaticists. Instead, this category of nursing currently falls under a healthcare hybrid that is set to be separated in the near future. It is expected that by the year 2022, all jobs listed in this hybrid, including nursing informaticists, will include more specific salary data.
While the average salary in this hybrid is currently $58,600, more accurate data may be able to be determined by the HIMSS Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey, which found that 46% of respondents earned an average base salary of more than $100,000 each year.
As discussed above, ZipRecruiter also reports an average salary for an informatics nurse in the United States to be $102,230 per year, while Salary.com reports an average of $90,690.
So, how does the average annual salary of an informatics nurse compare to other nursing roles? Let’s take a look at some typical salaries:
Those who earn higher education outside of the required associate degree in Nursing or Bachelor of Science in Nursing will nearly always be rewarded in terms of their salary. Statistics show that a healthcare informatician with a master’s degree or Ph.D. can earn anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000 or more per year.
Industry sources have also noted that healthcare informaticians with clinical backgrounds offer knowledge in both healthcare and information technology and understand the “lingo” that goes along with it. This can be a significant advantage to those who work alongside these professionals, as they can essentially act as interpreters for others who do not have experience in both fields.
When it comes to your earning potential as a nursing informaticist, the level of education you have achieved can truly make all the difference. Nursing job requirements state that you must achieve a minimum of a bachelor’s degree to work in this field.
However, additional nursing degrees will both boost your salary, as well as open you up to additional opportunities. And while it is true that a combination of education and experience may be able to earn you as much as a nurse informaticist with a bachelor’s degree, those with a Master’s degree or a Doctorate will often immediately receive a higher than average salary.
A nurse informaticist that has chosen to further their education with a Master of Science degree will nearly receive an immediate higher salary, along with a plethora of additional job opportunities. An increase in both salary and career options is not specific to a career as a nurse informaticist but is true for anyone who holds a Master of Science degree in nursing. Additional career options for those who have earned a Master of Science degree in nursing include but are not limited to teaching, consulting, crafting health care policy, and management positions.
Statistics show that the annual job growth outlook for nurses with MSN degrees is 26 percent, versus 16 percent for Registered Nurses, with a salary increase to reflect this growth. As of 2015, salaries for nurses with MSN degrees averaged $86,000, while RNs averaged $67,490.
Numerous pieces of research have been conducted on the average salaries of nurses and the numerous factors that go into a higher or lower salary. A 2013 Salary and Compensation Study for Nurse Leaders by the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) found that nurses who hold a Doctor of Practical Nursing (DPN) earn an average of $7,689 more per year more than those who hold a Master of Science in Nursing. Furthermore, nurses who have achieved a DPN are more likely to be eligible for a career as an executive leadership nurse, earning between $120,000 and $300,000 per year.
The outlook for Ph.D. in Nursing graduates is incredibly bright, with more and more employers vying to attract this type of advanced degree. And while a Master of Science in Nursing is preferred in the field of nurse informatics, a Ph.D. in health informatics can be an incredibly lucrative investment in the long run.
Holding a Ph.D. not only puts you in a greater position to negotiate your own salary, but you will likely be able to negotiate additional benefits as well. These include such benefits as medical and life insurance, retirement plans, paid vacations, bonuses, commissions, and much more. And while a Ph.D. in nursing will take a significant investment of both time and money, this is one investment that will more than pay for itself in the long run.
Nursing informatics is a specialty that combines the knowledge of nursing, communications, computer science, and information science to boost the management of information and communication in the field of nursing. And with the ever-changing technological advancements in all facets of healthcare, nursing informatics is an exciting field to be in right now.
If you are interested in improving healthcare quality, along with providing much-needed specialty information on boosting efficiency, cutting costs, and boosting patient quality care, then a career in nursing informatics may be for you. And due to the fact that this career field is constantly growing, salaries are steadily growing along with it.
A career as a nursing informaticist is a rewarding, high-paying career that will only get more so with the amount of training and education you are willing to put into it. Depending on your level of education, where you work, and a number of other factors, you are likely to end up with the salary of your dreams.