Nursing Salary by State

According to U.S. News and World Report, employment as an RN places ninth in the top 100 best jobs in 2015. Unlike many other occupations, nursing is not only a profession but also a calling, involving both skill and empathetic care.

The hospitalized patient experiences more contact with a registered nurse than any other healthcare professional while receiving treatment. Nurses provide comprehensive care that addresses mental, emotional, social and physical needs. There are an estimated 2.6 million RNs employed in the United States currently.  There are many factors affecting the earning capability of a nurse including location, position of employment, years of experience, and level of education.

“With more than four times as many RNs in the United States as physicians, nursing delivers an extended array of health care services.” – AACN

The profession of nursing, and the accompanying salary, has come a long way. In 1937, the average home visit by a nurse cost $1.25 and to collect 1/8 of the fee as a salary was considered “excellent.” Currently, the salary of an RN is decidedly higher, yet varies greatly. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2013:

  • Median RN Salary: $68,910
  • Highest RN Salary: over $96,320 (10% of nurses are in this pay range)
  • The five states with the highest average RN salaries include:
    • California: $96,980
    • Hawaii: $85,380
    • Massachusetts: $83,720
    • Alaska: $83,640
    • Oregon: $80,440

 “The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the profession to grow 19.4 percent by 2022, opening up 526,800 new jobs.” U.S News & World Report

A nurse’s salary is highly influenced by the level of education attained. As with education in general, the more advanced the education attained has a direct correlation to a nurses earning capability., According to PayScale, average salaries in the field of nursing include:

  • Certified Nursing Assistant: $10/hour (range of $18,072 - $31,421)
  • Licensed Vocational or Licensed Practical Nurse: $18/hour (range of $30,645 - $53,861)
  • Registered Nurse: $68,910 (range of $45,630 - $96, 320)
  • Nurse Practitioner: $85,052 (range of $67,165 - $107,508)

Nurse salary increases are based on many influences including years of experience, level of education, position of employment and geographical location. Perhaps the greatest determinant of salary is the nurse’s level of education, which is also one of the easiest to advance.

An RN choosing to pursue a BSN degree, often via an online RN to BSN program, demonstrates dedication to the profession of nursing, a commitment to personal education, superior time management skills, and internal motivation.  All of these attributes are desirable to prospective employers. Advanced education in turn pays great dividends in the form of increased earning capability and the ability to provide superior patient care.