How Much Do Nurses Make?

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With well over 3 million registered nurses currently employed in the U.S. and many more working as licensed practical and advanced practice nurses, there is plenty of variation in job duties, facility types and educational requirements.

In particular, you may be wondering about your salary as a nurse.

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How Much Do Nurses Make on Average?

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for registered nurses as of 2019 was $73,300 per year. However, there are many variations in pay rate based on such factors as length of experience, educational background, facility type, hours worked, and more.

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How Much Do Nurses Make Yearly and Hourly?

Based on the $73,300 annual salary mentioned above, this works out to an average hourly rate of $35.24.

However, there are many ways that nurses can increase their incomes if they want, such as by advancing their degrees, taking on advanced duties, moving to a different state or taking on more overtime hours.

As the United States continues to see an incredible need for highly educated nurses thanks to its rapidly aging population, nurses will continue to see competitive salaries.

In fact, the BLS projects that registered nursing jobs will increase by 7% between 2019 and 2029, adding well over 200,000 jobs in that time.

Some advanced practice nurses can expect a much higher job outlook than even this with nurse practitioners, for example, experiencing a 45% increase in job numbers in that same time.

Related: 10 Top Paying RN Jobs

Do Work Hours Affect a Nurse’s Salary?

One of the many factors that can affect a nurse’s salary are the hours that he or she works.

If you work straight day shifts, you will see a healthy base salary but will not be able to get in on some of the shift differential benefits that your colleagues will see.

Of course, the hours you are scheduled will certainly depend on your unit. For example, if you work in a clinic, you may have no choice but to work straight 40-hour weeks.

However, if you work in a hospital, you will have far greater opportunities for increased pay.

What About Overtime?

Approximately 12% of nurses work mandatory overtime while over 45% work voluntary overtime in any given week.

With many health care facilities paying time and a half for overtime hours, this can significantly increase one’s paycheck.

What About Evenings, Nights and Weekends?

Most health care facilities also offer shift differentials, paying slightly more for evening hours, a moderate amount for overnight hours and the most for evening and overnight hours on weekends.

What About Holidays?

Each health care facility has a holiday shift differential policy, and some are certainly better than others. At my hospital, we were only paid an extra $3 per hour on holidays.

However, many facilities pay time and a half for the six major holidays of each year.

Does Geographic Area Affect a Nurse’s Salary?

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Additionally, where you live in the country can also affect your salary as a nurse. In general, you will find that working in a metropolitan area will pay more than you would earn in a rural area.

Of course, per capita income and general economic health of a state will also affect your salary.

Find Nursing Programs Near You

Search our school database to find schools and get information on the programs that’s right for you. (Don’t worry it’s fast and free!)

Which States Pay Nurses the Most?

The states that pay the highest salaries to nurses on average include the following:

  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Washington DC
  • Massachusetts
  • Oregon

Which States Pay Nurses the Least?

The states that pay the lowest salaries to nurses on average include the following:

  • South Dakota
  • Mississippi
  • Iowa
  • Alabama
  • Arkansas

Does Educational Level Affect a Nurse’s Salary?

The level of education that you have may also help you command a better annual salary.

For example, if you only have a nursing diploma or associate’s degree, you can expect to earn at the lower end of the salary spectrum.

However, if you completed an RN-to-BSN program or furthered your education with a master’s degree or doctorate, you can expect to command a higher salary.

For example, nurses with diplomas make an average of $66,092 per year while BSNs make $73,995 yearly.

Does a Nurse’s Specialty Affect Their Salary?

Many nurses go into advanced practice to further their careers and meet their financial goals.

While education can be costly, you will certainly earn a far higher salary if you choose this route. Some of the most common advanced practice nursing careers include the following:

  • Certified nurse anesthetist
  • Certified nurse-midwife
  • Certified nurse specialist
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Advanced practice registered nurse

The average annual salary for a nurse with a master’s degree is $86,000 while a nurse with a doctorate can expect to make an average of $102,000.

Keep in mind that the unit you work on could also affect your salary.

For example, a critical care unit nurse or operating room nurse usually makes more than a medical/surgical or clinical office nurse does because of the higher acuity of care in these units.

Related: 100+ Different Nurse Specialties

Are There Gender Pay Disparities in Nursing?

While nursing is still often thought of as a female-dominated career, increasing numbers of male nurses are joining the ranks in recent years.

Sadly, gender pay disparities are a part of this career just as they are in numerous other industries.

On average, male nurses earn approximately $10,000 more per year than their female counterparts do.

Do Health Care Facility Types Affect Nurse’s Salaries?

Finally, working in a high-acuity trauma hospital is sure to pay you more than you would earn at a physician’s office in the same town.

In general, trauma centers, surgical centers and hospitals will pay more than clinics and long-term nursing care facilities will.

Final Thoughts

While working as a nurse can be rewarding for both your career and your bank account, there are certainly many differences in salaries among nurses across the country.

To find a job that fits your goals and pays your bills, search our job board today.

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