What’s In It For Me? A Summary of Nurse Salaries in the US

Nurse salaries should not be a major issue when thinking about the nursing career as a calling or vocation. Still, these tough times call for practicality and many interested individuals are wondering just how much they stand to earn as a nurse.

The latest data from Salary.com shows that the median salary for a typical RN staff nurse in the country is $65,379. For the record, the website based its findings on the data gathered from a survey conducted on thousands of HR departments.

In addition, the website PayScale.com puts the total pay for registered nurses as within the range of $46,000 and $66,000 per year. On an hourly basis, the site also lists nurse salaries as between $22 and $30 for regular shifts, and $30 to $45 for overtime.

According to these sources, the median hourly salary is about $31.99 per hour, with the lowest-paid 10% earning $21 per hour, and the highest 10% getting more than $45 per hour. Computed annually, the median salary for those in the nursing profession is $65,000. On the low end of the pay scale are the 10% who earn around $44,000 per year, while on the other end, the upper 10% receive at least $93,700 annually.

Not surprisingly the most number of nursing jobs are in the largest cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Nurses employed in these areas also receive relatively higher pay than their counterparts in less urban settings. On the downside though, longer hours and stressful situations are part and parcel of big city nursing positions.

It’s worth noting however, that nurse salaries may vary even for RNs with the same experience and specialty.

Education is one major factor that affects nursing pay. While both a 2-year associate’s degree (ADN) and a 4-year bachelor’s degree (BSN) allow one to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam and become a licensed nurse, RNs with a bachelor’s degree are generally considered as the “professionally” trained ones (as compared to the technical training of ADN holders) and therefore command higher salaries and can rise faster to administrative positions or train for specialty areas.

Other factors that may affect nurse salaries include years of experience in the practice, the state where you work in, and the place of employment. Data shows that nurses in hospitals, which comprise more than 50% of the entire nursing workforce, have higher hourly rates than those in nursing homes and clinics.

The prospects for the current crop of RNs and nursing graduates in the country continue to look bright. With the nursing shortage and the growing need for health care, nurse salaries are expected to rise in the next few years.

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