Choosing to become an RN is a smart decision for anyone looking to unlock rewarding career opportunities with a lucrative salary and strong job stability. Registered nurses are trained healthcare professionals who are responsible for coordinating and implementing patient care in a variety of medical settings. Registered nurses often work closely with physicians, surgeons, and other health specialists while overseeing nursing assistants and licensed practical nurses. Due to the increasing demand for medical services created by an aging baby boomer population and better access to insurance, there’s a critical shortage of RNs. Employment of registered nurses is also projected to skyrocket much faster than average at 19 percent to create 526,800 new jobs by 2022. Below we’ll discuss the salary potential that aspiring RNs can expect from joining this in-demand health specialty.
Average RN Salary
Reports published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the over 2.6 million registered nurses currently employed in the United States have a mean annual wage of $69,790, which could be comparable to an average hourly wage of $33.55. RNs with less experience typically land in the bottom tenth percentile of earnings with an average yearly salary around $45,880. However, the top tenth percentile of RNs can break through the six-figure mark by bringing home a salary over $98,880 each year. Registered nurses can improve their salary potential further by advancing as nurse anesthetists ($158,900), nurse practitioners ($97,990), nurse midwives ($97,700), or nurse educators ($70,650).
Salary Based on Work Environment
As with most other professions, where a registered nurse is employed can greatly affect the dollar signs attached with his or her annual salary. By far, the highest percentage of RNs are employed within general medical and surgical hospitals to earn an annual mean salary of $71,640. RNs make less than average by working in physician offices at $63,800 and nursing care facilities at $62,440 annually. On the flip side, RNs employed by the federal government make considerably higher with an average salary of $80,510. Nurses in specialty hospitals also reap a good pay day with a mean yearly wage of $74,590.
Highest Paid Registered Nurses
If nurses are able to relocate, it’s possible to maximize earnings by moving to a state with an above-average salary potential for needed RNs. Not only does California have the largest number of RNs, but the vast state also has the highest average nursing salary at $98,400 each year. Hawaii comes in second with an annual mean salary of $88,230, which is equivalent to an hourly wage of $42.42. Our nation’s other highest paid registered nurses can be found in Massachusetts at $85,770, Alaska at $85,740, and Oregon at $82,940 yearly. In particular, the San Francisco metropolitan area pays RNs the best nationwide at $128,190 on average.
Before you can realize this salary potential and assume the #9 best job in America, you’ll need to follow a few steps of schooling to become a registered nurse. RNs can fulfill the education requirements by completing a one-year hospital diploma program or a two-year associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), but many are selecting a BSN Nursing Degree for the best promotion prospects. From there, you’re qualified to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) and start practicing as an RN.