RN Salary 

Career as an RN


By Diane Turner

A registered nurse or RN is an invaluable part of the medical industry. These individuals will be asked to perform a variety of tasks ranging from recording the patient’s medical history and symptoms during a visit, administering treatment or medication, setting up outpatient care or consulting with the doctor regarding additional medical care that may be needed.Throughout the patient’s visit they may also perform and evaluate medical examinations or tests or monitor the patient’s ongoing condition. The average salary for an RN will be closely tied to the type of tasks they are trained to take on and their skill level at these given occupations.

Most registered nurses will work at general medical facilities, but there are also many working in private facilities as well. This may include government or support offices, educational programs or within employment venues to treat and advise employees at risk of on the job injury. The necessary skills or work hours will vary depending on the type of facility where the RN works. Many nurses are expected to work holidays or remain on call throughout the night to provide care to patients that must remain in a facility for ongoing treatment.

In order to become an RN, individuals must earn at least an associate’s degree in a given field. More advanced degrees in nursing are also available. These programs will typically revolve around a curriculum of hard science as well as teaching proper communication and leadership skills that will be necessary on the job. The salary of an RN may be raised if a nurse takes the time to earn a more advanced degree or earns additional training that will allow them to work in a more specialized medical environment. In addition to earning a degree, nurses must become certified with their state, allowing them to register as a qualifying member of their profession.

RN Average Salary

The RN average salary is $69,110. However, it should be noted that there are several factors that will affect the salary of an individual. The level of education and the type of facility where the RN is employed will be the two largest influences on the salary they are expected to make.

RN Salary Factors and Influences

The mean hourly wage for an RN is $33.23 with the lowest percentiles averaging $21.62 and the highest percentiles averaging $46.46. There are a number of factors that can influence what hourly wage an RN will earn. The most common influence on the RN average salary is the type of facility where the RN is employed. Listed below are the top paying industriesthat regularly employ an RN staff.

Personal Care Services Average Salary: $85,940

Lessors of Real Estate Average Salary: $81,850

Securities and Commodity Contracts/Intermediation and Brokerage Average Salary: $81,090

Oil and Gas Extraction Average Salary: $80,700

Medical Equipment and Supplies Manufacturing Average Salary: $80,290

As you can see, these employers very rarely have a strong medical affiliation. Instead, these are facilities that employ a staff that is likely to perform physical labor or takes on tenants that are likely to need additional care but may not have the means to travel to a facility. They may not have the funding to employ a full time doctor to remain on site, but for the same price can hire a staff of nurses to provide necessary care to their charges. The salary for an RN will vary based on the budget of their employer and how many other nurses will be on-site.

Compare these salaries to those offered by the highest employers of registered nurses:

General Medical or Surgical Hospitals Average Salary: $69,810

Offices of Physicians: $72,890

Home Health Care Services: $65,120

Nursing Care Facilities: $60,830

Outpatient Care Centers: $72,220

These statistics are more in line with what you would expect for a registered nurse, which is to say that they are generally facilities within the medical profession. The average salary of an RN here is much lower than the employers listed above because these facilities will be hiring a large number of nurses and other aides, making it easier to divide up daily tasks accordingly.

RN Salary Compared To Related Fields

Registered nurses can expect to make an average salary compared to other medical professions that are similar in nature.

Average Salary for an RN: $69,110

Average Salary for a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer: $64,380

Average Salary for an EMT or Paramedic: $30,360

Average Salary for a Licensed Vocational or Practical Nurse: $40,380

Average Salary for a Physician’s Assistant: $86,410

Average Salary for a Dental Hygienist: $68,250

As you can see, the salary of an RN is higher than many other occupations that require the same time commitment and expertise. The main factor that will determine how much an assisting medical professional can expect to make is their education level. For example, physician’s assistants are expected to earn an advanced degree while an EMT does not typically need secondary education to become employed. A registered nurse can fall somewhere in between these extremes depending on the type of facility where they expect to gain employment.

RN Salary by State

Location can play a large role in the salary an RN can expect to earn in the field. Take a look at the salaries that are offered in the top paying states hiring RNs.

RN Salary in California: $90,860

RN Salary in Massachusetts: $86,810

RN Salary in Hawaii: $83,950

RN Salary in Alaska: $88,080

RN Salary in Nevada: $77,840

As you can see, these states all offer a salary that is well above the average for an RN working. This is largely due to the fact that these states have a population that is centered around several large cities. These areas will have a high demand for care in these areas and fewer facilities spread out throughout the remainder of the state. Nurses that plan to work in some of these more remote areas will be in higher demand, driving up the overall salary. To further illustrate this point, note the RN salary by state based on the states that have the highest RN employment levels.

RN Salary in California: $90,860

RN Salary in Texas: $67,580

RN Salary in New York: $75,370

RN Salary in Florida: $64,020

RN Salary in Pennsylvania: $67,140

As you can see, the average salary of an RN in these areas has dropped significantly compared to the list above. Many of these areas do not even offer a salary that meets the national average. This is because there is more competition for care here, eliminating the need to compete for competent nursing staff. These states also have a higher amount of training facilities, making it easier to get the staff they need for local medical treatment centers.

RN Types of Salaries

Staff Nurse: Average Salary: $66,667

Nurses on a medical staff will be expected to execute any planned treatment options for assigned patients. They may be asked to assist the physician during necessary procedures or examinations or administer tests that can be used to determine any necessary ongoing treatment. In some cases you may be asked to educate the patient about the steps of the treatment plan or home care that will need to be administered once the patient leaves the medical facility.

Recovery Room Staff Nurse: Average Salary: $71,090

Staff nurses working in a recovery setting will evaluate the patient’s status after their procedures. This may include implementing additional care should it be required, applying remedies for pain or working to ensure neurological or hemodynamic stability as necessary. Additional training for this position may be necessary depending on the nature of the medical services provided at a particular facility, though much of this training can be earned on the job.

Long Term Care Staff Nurse: Average Salary: $60,486

These nurses will work in a long care environment such as a specialized hospital. They will assist the physician in performing any necessary exams or procedures by supplying equipment, changing dressings or monitoring the patient. They may need to prescribe or administer medication depending on the needs of the patient. Nurses in these facilities will need experience and training in the specific field of medicine practiced by these physicians before seeking employment.

Occupational Health Staff Nurse: Average Salary: $69,891

Nurses in an occupational health facility will provide on-site care for clients in a company. This may include annual physicals, providing vaccines or teaching safety or general health classes. Nurses must be trained and familiar with the specific health concerns and concepts that will affect people in this given occupation. They will also be required to work within the requirements of the company and their insurance providers to create cost effective on-site health options for employees.

Surgical First Assistant Staff Nurse: Average Salary: $83,144

Surgical assistants will perform basic surgical procedures under the direct supervision of a surgeon. They may also be asked to act as a circulating nurse or scrub on more advanced medical procedures. In order to work in this field nurses will need to become a registered nursing assistant through the CRNFA and have at least two years of experience working in an operating room.

Staff RN Research Nurse: Average Salary: $71,886

Nurses assisting in a research facility will be responsible for planning, evaluating, implementing and documenting any ongoing research that includes human test subjects. They may also be asked to analyze the results of these projects and provide any feedback of counseling to the test subjects regarding the outcome of the examination. You will work directly with the research staff to complete these goals while maintaining any necessary anonymity necessary for the testing process to continue. 

There are any number of specializations that a registered nurse can take on such as oncology, obstetrics, flight transport, infusion therapy and more. These may each have additional training requirements as well as salary levels that will be applied to the position. If you are interested in taking on a job in a specialized field you will need to check with your local health care facilities to determine any additional training or licensing that may be necessary.

History of Registered Nurses

Professional nurses were first recorded in medieval times. In this time period, nuns would act as nurses, caring for soldiers that were injured in battle and caring for those in the population that were ill. In most cases, these nurses would simply carry out orders given by a doctor. During the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale authored the first textbook on nursing, bringing these practices into a field of their own. New Zealand was the first country to require nurses to register with an organization and earn a license to practice in 1901. This idea was adopted in North Carolina in 1903, making a registered nurse an official profession in the United States. Since this time the role of an RN has changed greatly. They are now required to get a full education in autonomy so they may provide referrals, make prescriptions and provide care without constant supervision.

RN Salary Outlook – Conclusion

The RN field is expected to grow by 26 percent in the next 10 years, which is nearly double the rate of the total occupational growth for the nation. Many parts of the country are reporting difficulties finding an adequate supply of registered nurses, which is improving the overallRN average salary. There are greater incentives for those looking to move into this field, particularly due to the fact that there is a high turnover rate for registered nurses in many facilities. Nurses will typically use their experience to move into working situations with better pay and hours as their careers grow.

Because the population is growing at a high rate and a large portion of the population is reaching an advanced age, the medical profession as a whole is growing very quickly. As new rehabilitation and long term health care facilities are erected to meet this growing demand for care, there is a constant need for competent nurses to manage the day to day procedures within these facilities. Because the amount of jobs available is constantly growing, the average RN salary is likely to remain competitive rather than dipping like some fields with similar prospects.

The medical profession is also seeing a great deal of growth in the availability and quality of technology. A nurse that is willing to continue their education to master these new techniques is likely to see a higher than average RN salary because they will be more valuable in the field. Taking the time to work with more advanced technology will also improve your ability to be hired into specialized work environments, which in general tend to pay more than general medical facilities.