Do Nurses Make Good Money?

This article is going to dive in and answer a question every pre-nursing student is wondering about nurse pay.

“Do nurses make good money?”

Or

“Do nurses make a lot of money?”

Yes, nurses do make good money and plenty of nurses can make a lot of money as well. Relative to other college graduates or non-college graduates nurses can earn above the average national income.

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Can Nurses Make Good Money? 

That’s the question many nursing students will ask themselves.

In an ideal world, everybody who gets into nursing (or any job for that matter) would be getting into it for altruistic reasons.

The truth is we live in the real world and while many nurses are wanting to make a difference in people’s lives many people become nurses because of 

  • Nursing job security.
  • Potential to make a decent income working as a nurse.
  • The ability to provide and take care of themselves and their families.

It’s important to note that just because your reason for getting into nursing is about money or job security doesn’t make you a bad person or mean that you don’t care about your job. 

Caring about your job and wanting to make a good living doing it are not mutually exclusive.

In other words just because you want to make a decent income doesn’t mean you don’t want to have job security and make a difference in the lives of patients as well. 

Now that we’ve got that out of the way let’s focus on the second bullet point. “Do nurses make good money?” 

To be honest with you it really does depend. It depends on what you’re calling “good money.”

Before moving forward you need to understand what “good money” means to you because different people have different definitions. 

To some, it might be about making more than others comparatively.

To another, it could be all about being able to afford their lifestyle.

Whichever camp you fall in we’re going to tackle each one.

Let’s start with.. 

Do Nurses Make Good Money Compared to Other Graduates? 

For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to use average wages.

You should keep a couple of things in mind. 

While averages are nice from a comparing standpoint they do not give the full picture. 

What do I mean by that? 

A national average could look very different from the average income salary in your area. So, if you live in a city like Los Angeles, California your income could be drastically higher than someone who lives in Kansas City, Kansas. 

Keeping in mind that the cost of living for both places are drastically different.

The average income of Registered Nurses in the United States is $70,000 per year or $33.65 per hour (source). 

The average salary of college graduates in the United States is about $50,000. 

As you can see nurses do make a bit higher than the average. 

Keep in mind that this is taking into account all degrees. 

So while nurses are probably making more money than a graduate with an English degree it looks different when comparing nursing to more technical STEM degrees like engineering.

Just to give you an idea, national average salary of an engineer is anywhere between $58,000 to $117,000 (source).

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Pay

Even as an LPN which traditionally makes less than a registered nurse you still end up making pretty good money. 

The average LPN pay is a little over $46K a year or $22.23 per hour (source). 

Keep in mind that many LPN programs take about 12 months or so to complete.

Given that, many LPNs are doing really well considering I’ve met LPNs making much higher than the average and some making more than RNs.

Do Nurses Make Good Money Compared to Non-College Graduates?

wage graph of RNs, LPNs, Engineering, college and non-college graduates
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A visual graph comparing the wages of nurses (LPNs, and RNs), college graduates, non-college graduates, non-college graduates (no high-school diploma) and engineering.

The next question you might be wondering is how does a nurse’s pay compare to those who don’t have a college degree. 

We’ve already established the wage of an RN at about $70K and the salary of an LPN at about $46K.

What about non-college graduates? 

Workers who have less than a high-school degree can expect to make around $25,000 a year. While workers who have a high-school degree will earn about $35,000 a year (source).

As you can see compared to non-college graduates without a highschool diploma and those with a high school diploma nurses earn a lot more money.

Highest Paying Nursing Careers

I go through this deeper in our article about the highest paying nursing jobs. 

You should definitely check out that article. 

  1. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist(CRNA) Average wage: $175,000
  2. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Average wage: $108,000
  3. Nurse Informatics Average wage: $80,000

Related Article: What Are Some Good Paying RN Jobs?

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can nurses make the most money? 

If you’re trying to figure out how nurses can make the most money check out our article on that.

I explain it a lot better in that article and in more detail.

2. Do RNs make good money? 

Yes, RNs can make really good money with the average pay being around 70K.

Just because you see $70K doesn’t mean you can’t make more. Like I said earlier, averages can be deceiving.

For instance, I have met nurses who were making well over 6 figures as a registered nurse.

3. What setting do nurses make the most money? 

watering a money plant
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From experience, registered nurses make more money working in specialty patient care positions.

For example:

You can also make good money in higher-up nursing leadership positions like director of nursing and chief nursing officer. 

If you want to go the master’s route, a certified registered nurse anesthetist can make really good money also.

Final Thoughts

It’s not all about the money.

But if you’re looking for a profession that will allow you to make a difference in people’s lives and pays well enough for you to provide for your family than you should really consider becoming a nurse.

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