Registered Nursing (RN) Salary

rn nurse salary

According to U.S Bureau of Labor and Statistics, in 2017 the average salary for a Registered Nurse (RN) was $73,550. That being said, salaries vary greatly across the country for many reasons.

Salary by Location

The cost of living differs from state to state and as such, so does the average salary for RNs. Other factors may influence the pay scale locally as well, including saturation of the field, number of retirees, local schools and the needs of the community. States with the highest salary for nursing include California, Hawaii and Massachusetts - with California topping the list at an average annual salary of $102,700.

Degrees Needed to be an RN

There are two degree possibilities to become an RN: an Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Although the initial salaries for both nurses holding an ADN or a BSN are very similar, after just a few years nurses with BSN degrees begin to make a few thousand dollars more than their ADN counterparts. More and more, individual institutions are requiring a BSN as a minimum in order to apply for jobs, as opposed to the national minimal requirement of an ADN. In addition, a BSN offers more opportunities for growing and branching out, which can mean pay increases. Even greater pay increases can come with additional certifications.

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Diversified Specialties 

With dozens of specialized fields to choose from, nursing is one of the most diverse careers available today. Along with the variety of fields comes a variety of salaries. Among the highest paying nurse specialties are dialysis, oncology, pain management, midwifery and informatics. Salaries may vary from state to state and even within a city between employers. Many specialized fields offer a higher pay rate at the cost of additional certification, education, or experience.

Experience is Key

Experience plays a big part in the hiring process. A nurse with 20+ years of experience in Intensive Care Units will stand above a new graduate nurse to a hiring board. This same experience can earn a nurse up to $10,000 more based on certifications, loyalty and raises within a company, increased job requirements and a good reputation. Be aware, though, that many employers only view experience within the field in question as applicable. The above mentioned nurse with 20+ years of ICU experience is in an exceptional position to get a job in an ICU, but if they applied for a role in pediatrics they could get overlooked in favor of a nurse with fewer years of more relevant experience. This applies to pay scale as well.

Clearly, not everyone can hold all of the cards; the case of an RN with a BSN, 30 years of experience in dialysis and working in California is the exception, not the rule. However, with the above information in mind an RN can make educated decisions when pursuing further education, certification, and selecting their field, to ensure they demand the best possible salary.