How Much Do Nurses Make?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated September 15, 2021

Published February 25, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The national average salary for a registered nurse is $78,775, however, a registered nurse's salary can vary greatly based on their specialty, experience, demand, geographic location and if they work overtime hours—which is often available in this field.

Due to an increase in the use of preventative medicine, longer life expectancy and a large aging generation requiring medical care, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a rise in demand for nurses over the next years.

This rise in demand is set to be matched by a potential increase in salaries after a decade of slow growth, a trend that has already begun to reverse. The increasing need for staff with a range of specialties to work in a variety of facilities suggests that registered nurses will continue to earn relatively high wages in comparison to other health care staff.

In this article, we discuss how much registered nurses earn and how the level of qualification, experience and geographic location can impact their salary.

Related: Interview Question: "Why Do You Want To Be a Nurse?"

Average nurse salary by state

Salaries for registered nurses can vary significantly based on the state where they work. Rural states, for example, simply don't have the variety of income streams that urban hospitals do, meaning that their budgets will only stretch to wages at the lower end of the scale. Healthcare facilities that serve communities where the majority are on state health insurance plans will have relatively limited funds, but the relatively low costs of living in these states mean that they are still able to attract qualified candidates.

The average salary of a registered nurse by state is noted below. For the most up-to-date information from Indeed, please click on the salary link noted in the section above and search by state.

  • Alabama: $24.26 per hour

  • Alaska: $14.64 per hour

  • Arizona: $34.12 per hour

  • Arkansas: $27.29 per hour

  • California: $44.66 per hour

  • Colorado: $27.37 per hour

  • Connecticut: $38.96 per hour

  • Delaware: $27.31 per hour

  • Florida: $26.38 per hour

  • Georgia: $34.47 per hour

  • Hawaii: $34.99 per hour

  • Idaho: $31.85 per hour

  • Illinois: $35.70 per hour

  • Indiana: $31.63 per hour

  • Iowa: $31.44 per hour

  • Kansas: $29.75 per hour

  • Kentucky: $31.57 per hour

  • Louisiana: $26.54 per hour

  • Maine: $13.15 per hour

  • Maryland: $11.75 per hour

  • Massachusetts: $37.44 per hour

  • Michigan: $37.44 per hour

  • Minnesota: $32.00 per hour

  • Mississippi: $28.76 per hour

  • Missouri: $27.28 per hour

  • Montana: $34.83 per hour

  • Nebraska: $34.83 per hour

  • Nevada: $32.77 per hour

  • New Hampshire: $12.89 per hour

  • New Jersey $37.71 per hour

  • New Mexico: $34.67 per hour

  • New York: $32.63 per hour

  • North Carolina: $32.08 per hour

  • North Dakota: $28.33 per hour

  • Ohio: $30.54 per hour

  • Oklahoma: $33.18 per hour

  • Oregon: $38.11 per hour

  • Pennsylvania: $33.15 per hour

  • Rhode Island: $35.94 per hour

  • South Carolina: $25.84 per hour

  • South Dakota: $10.29 per hour

  • Tennessee: $24.83 per hour

  • Texas: $28.35 per hour

  • Utah: $30.54 per hour

  • Vermont: $42.93 per hour

  • Virginia: $34.79 per hour

  • Washington: $38.81 per hour

  • West Virginia: $34.68 per hour

  • Wisconsin: $33.19 per hour

  • Wyoming: $33.53 per hour

Related: Salary vs. Hourly Pay: What Are the Differences?

Factors that affect salary

One of the key factors affecting a registered nurse's wage is their level of qualification. Recent graduates who have completed an Associate Degree in Nursing will generally join the workforce at the lower end of the scale, but there are opportunities to earn additional qualifications which can lead to promotions and salary increases for nurses that choose to pursue such a career path. Registered nurses can complete a postgraduate program to become advanced registered nurse practitioners, where the average salary is $99,910 per year.

There are also positions for nursing managers to supervise and train licensed practical nurses and certified nursing assistants. Management skills, such as discharge planning, mentoring, recruitment, budgeting and scheduling, are all in demand from nursing managers, so expertise and experience in these disciplines can attract higher wages.

There are also nursing roles that are more suited to those with the advanced clinical knowledge gained during a master's degree, and these roles command higher rates. A registered nurse in an ICU, for example, earns an average of $1,623 per week, whereas a medical or surgical registered nurse earns $1,446 per week on average.

The setting where a registered nurse works can also have a big impact on the salary available. Jobs for the government tend to pay above-average salaries. Registered nurses can command these higher rates working in prisons and other detention facilities or with law enforcement agencies like the police and the CIA. There are also positions available in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs.

Registered nurses who work in hospitals tend to earn the average wage, whereas nurses working in doctor's offices typically earn the lowest average salaries. For the most up-to-date information from Indeed, please click on the salary link for each job listed above.

Related: Jobs That Pay Over $50k

High-paying RN jobs

Some of the best-paid registered nursing jobs are with organizations trying to recruit nurses with a significant level of skill in an area of high demand. Some of the highest-paying registered nurse jobs include the following. For the most up-to-date information from Indeed, please click on the salary link for each job title below.

1. Registered nurse, endoscopy

National average salary: $1,701 per week

Primary duties: Endoscopy departments require specialist nurses to build up relationships with patients, establishing therapeutic partnerships to enable high-quality care. They assist during endoscopic procedures, sedating and monitoring patients, administering medication and observing their vital signs. They prepare instruments and complete all relevant documentation, including discharge papers and patient notes.

2. Registered nurse, PACU

National average salary: $1,709 per week

Primary duties: A registered nurse working in the post-anesthesia care unit will collaborate closely with the charge nurse and surgical team to ensure that patients are cared for effectively. They coordinate post-operative care with the surgeon and anesthesiologist, sharing information about the patient's condition, noting any changes and assessing the results of diagnostic tests. They work with teams from other departments to ensure that care is delivered according to hospital policies and standards.

3. Registered nurse, quality and patient safety

National average salary: $1,195 per week

Primary duties: Quality and patient safety specialists develop and implement programs to improve patient safety. They identify potential weaknesses in existing systems, research ways to reduce or eliminate the risks and ensure compliance with regulatory standards and clinical best practices. They are responsible for creating strategies to prevent and minimize errors and act as champions for patient safety.

4. Registered nurse, cardiac electrophysiology lab

National average salary: $1,875 per week

Primary duties: Registered nurses working in this area are responsible for helping physicians with a range of cardiac procedures, such as valve replacements and repairs, catheterizations, implants and ablations. They perform monitoring for patients during procedures and conducting pre- and post-operative care. They also work with patients and their families to educate them about the nature of the procedure and care options.

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