When contemplating a career in nursing, one of the factors that should be considered is that of a nurse’s salary and benefits. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for a registered nurse in 2013 was approximately $65,470. The upper 10% of RNs earned an average of $94,720 per year while the lower 10% made about $45,040 per year. Nurses specializing in government, hospital (state, local, and private) and home health care services earned the highest wages of any of the sectors in the nursing field. By location, the highest-paid nurses in 2013 were those working in major metropolitan areas of northern California, including areas in and surrounding San Jose, Oakland, Sacramento and San Francisco.
How much do nurses make and what are the financial benefits of being a nurse? The chart below shows the latest published (as of 2015) median annual salaries of practitioners and registered nurses, compared to the total median annual wage of all occupations in the U.S. Economy.
Overall, nurse salaries are influenced by several factors, including:
- Level of education and/or type of degree earned
- Years of experience in a specific field of nursing
- State and city where you work (cost of living)
- Type of work performed
- Type of nursing specialty
Explore How Much Nurses Make
To learn more about the nursing salaries and benefits of a particular nursing specialty or field, choose from the selection below.
- Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Critical-Care Nurse
- Emergency Nurse
- Hospice/Palliative Care Nurses
- Labor & Delivery Staff Nurse
- Neonatal Nurse
- Nephrology Nurse
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Nurse Educator
- Nurse Executive
- Nurse Midwife
- Nurse Practitioner
- Nurse Researcher
- Occupational Health Nurse
- Oncology Nurse
- Orthopedic Nurse
- Pediatric Nurse
- Perioperative (O.R.) Nurse
- Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse
- Public Health Nurse
- Registered Nurse (RN)
- School Nurse
- Staff Nurse
- Vocational/Licensed Practical Nurse
- Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
Clinical Nurse Specialist
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2013 (latest salary publication), the median salary for clinical nurse specialists was $66,220. The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists reports that clinical nurse specialists practicing within the United States earn average salaries between $65,000 and $110,000 per year. Annual salaries are affected by specialty and region of the country in which the nurse is practicing. The job growth between 2012-2022 for clinical nurses according to O-Net is faster than average, 15% – 21%.
As of 2010, critical-care nurses salaries averaged $61,983 per year. Critical-care nurses typically earn slightly more than registered nurses in other fields. The median annual salary for critical-care nurses is currently about $68,000. After acquiring 20 years of work experience, critical-care nurses typically earn more than $70,000 per year. With retirement and healthcare benefits factored in, these specialists earn more than $85,000 per year.
Annual salaries for emergency nurses are greatly influenced by employer, specialty, and location. Because nurses are in-demand nationwide, many healthcare organizations currently offer emergency nurses relocation and sign-on bonuses. The majority of emergency room nurses earn about $60,000 per year, but emergency nurses with experience and specialized training can earn up to $90,000 per year.
Hospice/Palliative Care Nurses
As of 2011, the average median nursing salary for those specializing in hospice care exceeded $65,000 per year. Hospice nurses providing home care with salaries in the upper 10th percentile earn more than $77,000 per year. Hospice nurses practicing in New York City earn the highest salaries, averaging $77,810 annually. New York based hospice nurses with salaries in the upper 10th percentile earn more than $91,000 per year.
Clinical nurse specialists that provide hospice care must have a graduate degree, at least five years of work experience, and specialize in geriatrics, oncology, or pediatrics. They can earn more $70,822 per year. Hospice clinical nurse specialists with annual salaries in the upper 10th percentile can earn more than $91,000 per year.
Labor and Delivery Staff Nurse
A Labor and delivery nurse’s salary can span a wide range, making it a bit more difficult to pinpoint just how much Labor and Delivery nurses make. On average, their salaries are set anywhere from $40,000 to 90,000 per year depending on experience, education, employer and location. Annual salaries for labor and delivery nurses who specialize can also vary dramatically. For example, labor and delivery specialists employed as clinical nurse managers earn high salaries that exceed $83,000 annually. Additionally, women’s health nurse practitioners (WHNPs) working in labor and delivery typically make more than $74,000 per year.
As of 2010, neonatal nurses’ salaries averaged between $49,296 and $68,784 with less than one year of experience. Those with more experience, one to four years, earned salaries averaging between $61,233 and $81,844 annually, while neonatal nurse practitioners with five to nine years of neonatal nursing experience averaged $67,520 to $84,570 per year. Nurses with 10 to 19 years of neonatal nursing experience earn high annual salaries, averaging between $80,901 and $104,313 per year. The most experienced neonatal nurse practitioners, 20 or more years of work experience, on average earn more than $111,000 per year.
Annual salaries for nephrology nurses typically increase as nurses gain relevant experience. Nephrology nurses with one to four years of nursing experience earn median salaries exceeding $73,000 per year. Nephrology nurses with five to nine years of experience earn median salaries exceeding $76,000 annually. More experienced nephrology nurses, with 10 to 20 years in nephrology nursing, earn median salaries of more than $77,000 per year. During 2010, those with 20 or more years of work experience earned annual median annual salaries of $80,200.
As of January of 2011, certified registered nurse anesthetists nationwide earned salaries averaging between $101,261 and $154,350 per year. Nurse anesthetists with less than one year of experience typically earn around $100,000 per year. More experienced nurses, 20+ years, typically earn $125,000 to $160,000 per year. The highest paying jobs for nurse anesthetists are found in Florida, Texas, New York and California.
Across the nation, nurse educators earn annual salaries averaging $65,240. Nurse educators with annual salaries in the lower 10th percentile of all nurse educators average $38,200 per year, while those with salaries in the upper 10th percentile make more than $99,000 annually. Nurse educators working in California, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut earn the highest average annual salaries. Nurse educators employed at specialty hospitals typically earn the highest salaries nationwide, averaging $103,500 per year, but most nurse educators work at vocational schools, universities and colleges.
As of 2011, the median annual salary for nurse executives was $178,824. The bottom 25% of nurse executives earned less than $152,338, while the remainder earned annual salaries averaging more than $207,000 per year.
Nursing directors have similar responsibilities as nursing executives. Nationwide, nursing directors earn median salaries exceeding $120,000 annually. Those with wages in the bottom 25% percentile of all nursing directors can earn more than $106,000 per year, while the remainder of nurse directors can earn more than $136,000 per year.
As of 2011, certified nurse midwives earned median annual salaries of $91,321. Nurse midwives with annual wages in the 50th percentile of all nurse midwifes made between $84,035 and $99,548. Nurse midwives with annual earnings in the upper 10th percentile made $107,037 or more per year, while those in the lower 10th percentile earned $77,402 or less each year.
Nurse practitioners are among the highest paid of all nursing professionals. Annual salaries for nurse practitioners increase as they gain relevant work experience. In 2010, median annual salaries for nurse practitioners with one year or less of experience was between $59,369 and $75,812 per year. Once they acquired at least five years of experience nurse practitioners earned between $70,898 and $88,435 annually. The most experienced nurse practitioners, 20 or more years, made between $71,314 and $93,777 per year.
Annual salaries for nurse practitioners are influenced by specialty. As of 2010, nurse practitioners specializing in critical care earned salaries averaging $108,000 annually. Neonatal care specialists earned annual salaries averaging $95,000. Nurse practitioners specializing in pediatrics made more than $95,000 per year.
As of 2010, nurse researchers earned salaries averaging $57,000 per year. Salary and benefits for nurse research are influenced by work experience, geographic location, and employer. Nurse researchers employed full-time typically receive retirement and healthcare benefits.
Occupational Health Nurse
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2010, registered nurses specializing in occupational health earned average salaries of $66,530, while those with the highest salaries make $77,970 or more per year. It’s not uncommon for experienced occupational health nurses to earn even more.
As of 2010, oncology nurses earn salaries averaging between $53,257 and $73,952 per year, or $25.19 and $34.37 per hour. As with most nursing positions, oncology nurses can earn more as they acquire more work experience. Oncology nurses with one to four years of experience typically earn $50,000 to $70,000 per year, with five to nine years of experience, more than $77,000 per year and with 20 or more years of experience they can expect to earn more $85,000 per year.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median salaries for registered nurses nationwide exceed $62,000 annually. Among the highest paid registered nurses are orthopedic nurse practitioners. These specialists average more than $81,000 annually, and it’s not uncommon for them to earn up to $94,000 per year.
A pediatric nurse’s salary can be increased by obtaining professional certifications in advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), critical care, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Since 2010, pediatric nurses with CPR certification earned between $38,500 and $61,000 per year, while those who were critical care certified made between $40,500 and $65,000 per year. Pediatric nurses that were ACLS certified earn between $37,400 and $55,800 per year. Here are the 2012-2013 Best Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Colleges.
Annual salaries for pediatric nurses are also influenced by specialization. For example, labor and delivery pediatric nursing specialists typically earn anywhere from $24,000 to 65,000 annually. Acute care specialists earn the highest annual salaries among pediatric nurses, $50,000 to 75,000 per year.
Perioperative (O.R.) Nurse
Operating room (Perioperative) nurses on average make between $62,415 and $74,664 per year, while the median annual salary for these specialists is $68,473. On average, operating room nurses earn $3,000 more per year more than registered nurses (RNs) with generalized responsibilities.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2010, mental health nurses earned salaries averaging $66,530 per year. According to the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA), advanced practice mental health nurses average about $64,000 per year. See the 2012-2013 Best Psychiatric and Mental Health Clinical Nurse Colleges.
Mental health nurses with work experience typically earn more than less experienced nurses. In 2010, nurses employed in entry-level positions started out making $35,000 to $40,000 per year. Mental health nurses holding graduate degrees enjoy greater earning and employment opportunities, and many are promoted to nurse executive positions.
Public Health Nurse
Annual salaries for public health nurses are greatly influenced by work experience, education level, employer and employment location. As of 2010, public health nurses earned an average annual salary of $72,000. View Public Health Nursing Colleges and Universities.
Registered Nurse (RN)
As registered nurses (RNs) can specialize in large variety of nursing areas, salary figures can vary greatly from one RN to another. In addition, annual salaries for RNs are affected by job responsibilities, employment location, work experience, and demand. In certain areas, salaries are affected by work availability as well. RNs typically earn salaries between $40,000 and $100,000 per year. RNs that have a BSN, MSN or graduate degree in nursing typically earn more than nurses with lower levels of education.
In 2010, school nurses earned annual salaries averaging $43,893. More than 50% of school nurses earned between $35,070 and $55,412 annually. School nurses employed in large cities typically earn higher annual salaries than those employed in rural or suburban areas. For example, school nurses employed in Boston earn average annual salaries of $88,024. School nurses with professional certifications, such as a licensed practical nurse certification, typically earn more than non-certified school nurses.
The average salary for a general staff nurse (RN) in the United States is about $65,500 per year. Annual compensation and salary level is greatly influenced by education level, experience, location and employer.
Vocational/Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN/LVN)
On average, licensed practical nurses (LPNs) employed in entry-level positions earn annual salaries of $30,000 to $40,000 per year. LPNs in California, New Mexico, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Connecticut are among the highest paid nationwide, earning an average of $49,000 to $52,000 per year.
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
Nurse practitioners specializing in general nursing care or family medicine, or those working at hospitals, earn annual salaries averaging between $70,234 and $90,639 per year. These professionals typically have one to nine years of work relevant experience. Practitioners with less experience that are just getting started typically earn less.
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