How Much Do Nurses Make?

Nurse salaryNursing is a very rewarding career for any man or woman who wants to pursue this career.  

Bear in mind that it takes hard work and dedication to be successful as a nurse, and it’s clearly not for everyone.

Nursing is hard work. It takes dedication to complete the training and pass the boards before receiving your license.  

The job itself can be physically and emotionally draining. Nursing is also about helping others heal.  

For those special men and women who have what it takes to be a nurse, the rewards are great.

There are several degrees and specializations in nursing.  Most often, the term “nurse” refers a Registered Nurse (RN) plus an associate’s degree. Registered Nurses can pursue higher education degrees by graduating with bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, or even PhD’s.
There are certifications within each degree, and yearly competencies that must be met. A nurse never stops learning!

Nurse Salary

So, how much do nurses make?
In the US, nurse’s salaries vary according to region and employer.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics offers a wealth of information about nursing career options and salaries. The BLS breaks down the information into categories of average nurse salary and high and low wages, and geographic profiles by states and regions of the US.

nurse average salaryNationwide, the median annual Registered Nurse salary is $71,730 which is equivalent to $34.48 per hour.
The starting salary is approx. $50,000.

Nurses who earn a Master of Degree in Nursing (MSN) may become advanced practice nurses and can earn significantly higher salaries, ranging from $67,350 to as high as $103,719. These nurses can work with physicians or independently, in careers such as nurse midwives , nurse anaesthetists and nurse practitioners. Advanced practice nurses may prescribe medications in most states.

One of the most exciting things about your nursing career is the variety of options available to you.

As a Registered Nurse, you can work in the hospital, a doctor’s office, in a home setting, sales, or an insurance company.

Nurses can work full time, part time, or per diem (on an as needed basis). Nurses have the option to get a higher educational degree and specialize within their field. Nurse anaesthetists and Nurse Practitioners are examples of Registered Nurses with advanced degrees.

Top Paying States for Nurses

FlagStateEmployment per 1000 JobsHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
California FlagCalifornia16.75$47.31$98,400
Hawaii FlagHawaii17.39$42.42$88,230
Massachusetts FlagMassachusetts24.05$41.23$85,770
Alaska FlagAlaska17.79$41.22$85,740
Oregon FlagOregon18.44$39.87$82,940

Top Paying Industries

IndustryPercent of industry employmentHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
Electronic Markets and Agents and Brokers $40.48$84,200
Employee and Insurance Benefit Funds0.74$39.44$82,030
Federal Executive Branch3.64$38.71$80,510
Management of Companies and Enterprises 0.50$36.58$76,090
Oil Extraction 0.02$36.34$75,590

What Does a Nurse Do?

nurse job descriptionThe duties nurses perform vary with the job. They can work in various hospital departments, such as the Emergency department, intensive care, surgery, etc.
The duties nurses perform vary widely. They administer medication, perform wound care, prevent infection, bathe and assist patients with physical activity, ease their pain, and make critical decisions on patient care.

They perform physical exams, chart and maintain the patients’ medical files, educate and promote a healthy lifestyle. They assist in labor and delivery, and ease the transition at the end of life.
Medications may be administered orally, intramuscularly, or intravenously. Nurses are highly trained in medication administration, doses, and pharmacological properties.

RNs may also insert PICC lines and access ports, for procedures where IV’s are not appropriate.
Nurses are most often involved in direct patient care.  Some nurses, however, work as managers, educators, developing quality assurance procedures and directing care systems, and conducting clinical research.

They are often on the front line of patient care , providing advice and emotional support to family, coordinating care between doctors and other medical professionals, and acting as an advocate for the patient.

Nursing Career Outlook

nurse job descriptionThe demand for skilled nurses is expected to grow 15% from 2016 to 2026. This expected demand for more nurses is due in part to a greater emphasis on preventative care, an increase in chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and the aging baby boomer population.

There are many great reasons to choose a nursing career. You will be making a difference, not only in your patients’ lives, but the lives of their families. You will work as a team with the other nurses, physicians and other medical professionals and staff.

Being on the front line and taking an active role in patient care, you will often see improvements in your patient’s condition over time.
There are many specialties in nursing, and your education never ends. A nurse can choose the shifts you want to work.

Noel Griffith, Ph.D.
Noel Griffith is a Doctor of Philosophy with a strong interest in educational research. He has been an editor-in-chief of since 2014. Noel is an avid reader (non-fiction), enjoys good food, live theatre, and helping others make wiser career decisions.

5 Responses

  1. Thank you for this article. I wanted to comment on the salary and ask how this information is obtained? I have a BSN and have been working as a RN for almost 4 years. My experience is in critical care where I had to be skilled in many different procedures and interventions; i.e. Balloon Pump, CRRT, ACLS, Immediate recovery from the OR after an Organ Tranplant (no PACU), Pulmonary Hypertension and treatments for the disease, knowledge about transplantation and the treatment including all the anti-rejection medications, EKOS, ECMO, Intubation, Placing and monitoring EVD drains, NIH stroke certified, Stroke care and treatment, and the list goes on. I recently transferred from Critical Care to the ED at a Level 1 Trama Center to expand my knowledge and experience. The issue I have and am very concerned about is that I feel I’m very underpaid for all my knowledge, experience, certifications, and HARD WORK! When I started nursing I was hired in at $21.50/hr in 2011. And since then my pay has only increased to $22.90/hr (due to hospital wide market increases), not based on experience or work ethic. While I was at attending an orientation class for the new position and new grad nurse and I were talking about pay. I was informed that a brand new nurse, who is hired in as a Nurse Resident with no experience are being hired in at a rate of $22.50/hr. How is it possible or even fair that a person with ZERO experience is making $0.40 less/hr than some, like myself, who has more time, experience, certifications, and knowledge? I live in a very populated city in Kentucky. When I was reading this article, I noticed on a graph that the average nurses in Kentucky makes $27+/hr. How should one deal with this type of situation? I love my job, love nursing, patient care, and helping to heal the people of my community, but when a nurse feels over worked and VERY UNDERPAID, it makes it hard to want to continue doing what we do. I know that many nurses would agree that we, nurses, are ALL over worked and underpaid, but I feel this circumstance is a major issue! I’m sure I’m not the only nurse who finds themself in this type of situation with such an odd salary issue. Does anyone have any insight or suggestions for myself or other nurses with this problem? Thank you

    1. Thanks for your analysis Whitney all the data are acquired through BLS.
      I am not a nurse but from my working experience a lot of times unfair things like your situation happen at workplaces.
      And you can do 2 things about that:
      1)Work hard prove yourself and ask for a raise later.
      2)Leave the job and look for something better

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