How much do nurses make is a question being asked more and more often since a career in nursing is one of the best paying not only in the USA but also globally. Apart from this, it is also among the few sectors that have seen a steady rise in the average salary in the last couple of years. The good pay and steady increase can be attributed to the shortage of most types of nurses in the USA. This makes it an excellent career choice and if you are not sure what profession to take then the attractive pay package associated with all nursing specialties should attract you to take nursing.


Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in 2013 the average nurse salary in the USA was $ 67,910 annually, and this shows that on average a nurse would expect to earn slightly over $33 per hour. The average wage was calculated for the 2.7 million nurses in the USA, and it is important to note that it was arrived at by bringing all specialties in nursing together. This average was 15% higher than the national average for other occupation and hence making this one of the best-paying jobs in the US. The average salary has increased by a significant margin over the last few years and according to statistics, it will rise even much faster in the coming years because the shortage of nurse is expected to be higher. And so hospitals and other organizations that employ nurse will have to increase their pay package to attract the best in the market.



Salary by State

  • California. California is the biggest state in the USA, and so it has one of the highest numbers of nursing specialties. It is estimated that there are about 250,000 registered nurses in the state earning an average salary of $94, 120 making it the best paying state for nursing careers in the USA. The most interesting thing is that even with the very high salaries California is also one of the states that have the highest shortage of different nursing specialties.
  • Texas. The state of Texas employs about 188,000 registered nurses that earn an average salary of $66,350 annually or $31.90 per hour. This salary is below the national average for registered nurse, but it is still higher than what most other careers will pay. And if you are well educated and experienced you can earn way much more than this in Texas. The average salary is higher for other specialties such as nurse practitioners.
  • Florida. Florida is the fourth largest employer for registered nurses, and also for most other nurse specialties. On average, a nurse will earn a salary of $62,060 per year and $29.84 per hour. Although this salary may look attractive, it is lower than the national average by seven percent meaning many other states pay better than Florida.
  • New York. A 2013 survey by the BLS found that the mean salary for a registered nurse in New York was $75,470 annually which translates to $36.29 per hour. This means that it is above the national average. New York is also one the largest nurse employers in the US as it currently employs more than 170, 000 nurses.
  • Minnesota. Minnesota currently has about 58,000 registered nurses, and this is quite a small number compared to other states. These nurses earn an average salary of $58,000 annually, and it is 13% lower when compared to other regions in the USA. However, it is also important to note that the salaries will also vary from city to city. Some cities in the state like Saint Paul and Burnsville have better packages as nurses here earn up to $35 per hour.
  • Massachusetts. Only Hawaii and California have better nurse salary than Massachusetts in the USA. There are more than 80,000 registered nurses employed Massachusetts earning an average wage of $83,720 with the hourly wage rate being $40.25.
  • District of Columbia. District of Columbia has a decent package for the registered nurses working there as the average salary is about $ 76,044 that is higher than the national average. This means that on average a nurse will earn $1,462 per week or $37 per hour.
  • Louisiana. Louisiana is one of the most populous states in the USA, and so the demand for nurses is very high. Here there are currently approximately 41,000 nurses working in the various hospitals and other healthcare facilities. On average, a nurse in Louisiana will earn approximately $62,000 annually and $30 per hour.
  • North Carolina. There is close to 90,000 nurses currently employed in North Carolina, which is more than what most other states have. On average these nurses earn about $59,290 annually and $28.51 per hour.
  • Alaska. Alaska is one of the least populated states in the USA and so there are not very many nurses working here. On average the close to 6,000 nurses working in Alaska earns approximately $49,000 making it one of the lowest in the USA.


What Causes the Salary Disparity in These States?

The USA being the largest economy in the world also has the highest salaries for most professions compared to other countries. However, what is evident is that there are a lot of disparities in what people earn different states. Whereas some states pay very high salaries, for some, it is not that high. The nursing profession is one of those with the greatest differences in pay, and this is due to several factors, and the following are the top ones.

  1. State government policies of the individual state affect what people earn. Although there are federal labor laws that each state has to adhere to each also has bylaws that affect things such as taxation and work-related policies. These laws and policies affect what hospitals and other facilities can comfortably pay their nurses.
  2. Salaries are often dictated by living conditions. The living conditions are different from one state to the other and so the salaries will also be different.
  3. Some states have higher nurse shortages than others, and so they will pay more to attract people from other states so as to try and cover the deficits.
  4. Availability of different sources of employment for nurses is also another factor that causes the disparity. In some states, they are many other places that a nurse can work. For example, such as schools and nongovernmental organizations. The availability of many opportunities in some regions creates and increased demand and so this also pushes the wages high.

Factors That Influence Nurse Salary


Nurse salaries will vary from state to state ad even from one city to the other due to the factors mentioned above. However, there are also some important factors that will determine how much money you will earn as a nurse. These factors include the following.

  • The level of education. This is the primary factor that determines how much you will earn as a nurse because your level of education will determine how skillful and hence how beneficial you are to the employer. The more educated you are, the more you can expect to earn.
  • The level of experience. Experienced nurses are in very high demand in most hospitals as they have more expertise thanks to their many years on the job, and so they will also earn more. The longer you have been practicing as a nurse, the more you will earn.
  • Type of employer. Hospitals are the primary source of employment for registered nurses and other specialties, but they are not the best paying. Others such as nongovernmental organizations pay much more than hospitals.
  • Specialty. There are different specialties that a nurse can choose especially during the post graduate studies, and this will determine how much they earn. For example, nurse anesthetists make more than most other specialties.
  • Working hours. The number of hours that you work for will determine how much you make because in the USA wages are hourly. Some hospitals also have special pay for night shift and hence meaning that nurses that work at night make more.

Does Gender Influence the Salary?


Although the nursing industry is female dominated, overall male nurses earn more. The government is very strict with gender-based discrimination, but several factors make male nurses earn more than women. For example, there are very few men that pursue nursing as a career. This is regardless of the fact that most hospitals need them to attend to male patients in certain situations. The overall shortage of male nurses makes their salaries higher as hospitals compete for the few available. Another reason is the fact that male nurses are often more educated and hence more skilled, meaning that they will earn more than women. And so studies shows that a male nurse makes on average $5,000 more than female nurses annually in the USA.

Salary by Types of Nurse


  • Registered Nurse. The median national annual salary for a registered nurse in the US is $66,640 according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, actual salaries will vary depending on specialization and experience.
  • Nurse Practitioner. There are different specialty NP but the most common one is the Family Nurse Practitioner, and these professionals earn an average salary of $102,670 per year.
  • Nurse Anesthetist. With a mean wage of about $164,000 a nurse anesthetist is one of the best-paying nurse specialties in the USA and also globally.
  • Pediatric Nurse. The Pediatric nurse will earn $65,000 on average annually, but this will depend on their level of education because those with an MSN make double this amount.
  • Neonatal Nurse. Neonatal nurses in the USA earn an attractive median salary of $106,500 annually. This is due to the fragile nature of the patients that they care for which makes their work more complicated.
  • School Nurses. The median salary for a school nurse is $45,000 which is lower than the national average nurse salary. However this should not scare you given the fact that a school nurse only works for about 9 or 10 months annually and all evenings and weekends they are free.
  • Travel Nurses. On average travel nurses make $67,000 per year but unlike most other nursing careers their salaries will mostly depend on the type of employment.
  • ER Nurse. ER nurses do not know what kind of emergencies to expect, and so they should always be prepared for anything and also have the ability to stay calm under pressure. The challenging nature of the work is compensated by a huge salary with these nurses earning an average of $92,500 annually.
  • Nurse Assistant. A nurse assistant makes an average wage of $63,000 which is pretty good given the fact that it only takes a couple of months to qualify as one.
  • Flight Nurses. If a patient develops an emergency when on a flight their fate rests on the competence of a flight nurse who in most cases does not have the benefit of the state of the art hospital equipment. And so their decent median salary of $72,000 shows just how important they are.
  • Surgical Nurses. A surgical nurse can perform some procedure with the supervision of a surgeon, and so they are very skilled. This is perhaps what makes them earn more than other nurses with an average salary of $84,300 per year.
  • ICU Nurse. ICU Nurse Services are probably the most stressful, and this perhaps explains the high staff/patient ratio. Closer monitoring of the patient and acute attention for detail is necessary, and so only the best make ICU nurses and so the median annual salary of $100,500 is by far higher than the average for the other types of nurses.
  • Oncology Nurse. An oncology nurse cares for people facing the reality of cancer. Ironically their median annual salary of $67,200 is on the lower end of the scale.



Other Nurse Benefits

Apart from the salary, nurses just like any other employees enjoy many other benefits, but the following four are the most common.

  1. Most nursing jobs offer an insurance plan for you and your family and in some states, this is a mandatory requirement.
  2. Some institutions also have a tuition fee reimbursement scheme for their nurses where they offer them financial assistance to further their studies, for example, when taking an MSN program.
  3. Paid Time off or PTO is another common benefit in nursing where you are paid for up to 180 hours after working for a year. It means that you can take up to 15 days off and still get paid for them.
  4. Hospitals nowadays also have other incentives such as recruitment bonuses that can be as much as $20,000, housing assistance and also relocation assistance


Tips for Getting a Good Salary as a Nurse

  • Get a good education and go all the way to masters or even doctoral level because the more educated you are, the better the pay.
  • Be patient and start anywhere you can so as to build experience because it is also a key determinant in what you earn.
  • Try your luck in other places other than hospitals for example in nongovernmental institutions and if you are well educated, you can try nursing schools as an educator.
  • If you have a flexible schedule or work for a few hours taking two jobs is not such a bad idea as you will earn more.

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