Nursing Pay Information

Nurse compensation is very good. Well, it’s not Bill Gates money, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses earn an average of $52,330 a year.

The middle 50 percent of nurses average between $43,379 and $63,360 and the top 10 percent of RN earners make more than $74,000. The average nurse makes more than the average school teacher, paralegal or social worker and nearly twice as much as the average EMT.


And of all the jobs in health care those in the nursing profession are among the most stable and with the broadest range of career advancement opportunities.

Nurse pay depends on a number of factors, including specialty area, type of work, cost of living in the local area, years of experience as a nurse, and in the chosen specialty area, and level of education (that is, an associate degree or bachelor’s degree).

Traditionally nurses working in hospital situations make more than their peers in home care, outpatient facilities, or long term care facilities. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics, nurses who worked for an employment service (i.e., "agency" nurses who are essentially freelance) are on top of the RN salary heap, with an average yearly salary of $63,170 (although it should be mentioned that agency nurses are rarely provided health or medical or retirement benefits, so paying for these things will subtract from the ultimate bottom line), while the average salary for an RN who works in a general medical/ surgical hospitals is $53,450 a year and the average for a RN employed in a nursing care (i.e., long term) facility is $48,220.

Nurse salaries vary from area to area both because of supply and demand and because of relative costs of living. The average RN (any specialty) in California makes $31.88/hour, as compared with the average Florida RN, who makes nearly one third less at an average of $23.26 an hour.

Salaries also vary by shift; nurses who cover night shifts, weekends, and some holidays may earn a substantial amount more than nurses who work day shifts, depending on the policy of the particular facility.

In addition to providing a decent salary, many employers who hire nurses also provide good benefits. While health/medical benefits and a certain amount of vacation days are standard for full-time employees, some employers, such as academic health centers, may provide as much as four weeks of vacation. And because the supply of nurses currently is lower than the demand, some hospitals (and even long term care facilities) offer sign-on bonuses of up to $15,000. Some – but not all – of these sign-on bonuses may be reserved for experienced nurses. In addition, many nurse employers offer tuition reimbursement (a perfect way to get that RN to BSN program paid for) and if you are willing to work in a high shortage institution (most hospitals in urban areas meet the criteria for this) you may be eligible to have some or all of your student loans forgiven through programs funded by the federal or state government and sometimes private foundations.

Sign up for our newsletter!