Nurse Salary: How Much Do Nurses Make

There are more than 3 million nursing professionals working in the United States, treating a rapidly aging countrywide population. As Baby Boomers age (as they are doing now), the demand for nursing professionals will grow stronger than ever. This is great news for those who are interested in pursuing a nursing career. The laws of economics state that stronger demand for a position/job, the higher the wages rise for that job in high demand.

Nurses are employed in many different health care settings and environments. These differing health care facilities include – 

  • Home healthcare agencies.
  • Dialysis centers.
  • Nursing homes.
  • Correctional facilities.
  • The Military.
  • Rehabilitation centers.
  • Outpatient facilities, among others. 

How Much Do Different Nurses Make?

Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) Salary

Technically, a Certified Nursing Assistant is considered the most basic level of a nursing professional. They provide care at a basic level in medical facilities and assisted living facilities. The only training required is the completion of a state-approved program that generally lasts a few weeks, and then the passing of the CNA exam

Recent data (2018) from the federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals the following salary/outlook stats for Certified Nurse Assistants - 

  • Annual Median Salary - $27,520 ($13.23 per hour)
  • Job Outlook through 2028 – 9%, which is faster than the average of all occupations in the country. 

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Salary

A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), which some state authorities refer to as a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN), works under the direction of a Registered Nurse or a doctor. Each state details which tasks an LPN is authorized to perform. Be certain to check with the licensing authority in the state where you intend to work. LPN’s are generally responsible for basic care and the monitoring of vitals and a patient’s health. 

To obtain final licensure, LPN candidates must pass the National Council Licensure Examination – Practical Nurse (NCLEX-PN). Recent data (2018) from the federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals the following salary/outlook stats for Licensed Practical Nurses - 

  • Annual Median Salary - $46,420 ($22.23 per hour)
  • Job Outlook through 2028 – 11%, which is faster than the average of all occupations in the country. 

Registered Nurse (RN) Salary

A Registered Nurse (RN) is a medical professional that has a) graduated from an accredited college level-nursing program, and b) passed the National Licensing exam. A Registered Nurse is the type of nurse most people think of when asked about nurses. 

A Registered Nurse is tasked with the responsibility of maintaining accurate/up-to-date patient’s medical charts, performing diagnostics, and supervising Licensed Practical Nurses and Certified Nurse Assistants (CNA). Registered Nurses often specialize to reach for nursing positions that offer higher salaries and more advanced responsibilities. Recent data (2018) from the federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals the following salary/outlook stats for Registered Nurses - 

  • Annual Median Salary - $71,730 ($34.48 per hour)
  • Job Outlook through 2028 – 12%, which is much faster than the average of all occupations in the country. 

There are several ways to earn a Registered Nurse certification. Of course, an aspiring Registered Nurse must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) after earning – 

  • A diploma from an accredited and approved nursing degree program.
  • An Associate’s degree in Nursing (ADN). 

Many Registered Nurses further their education by earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited program.  It is also a great idea because the nursing industry is slowly requiring all nurses to earn a baccalaureate-level nursing degree within a specified time. The registered nurse certification requirement may vary depending on the state. Degree candidates are advised to confirm the requirements from their state’s nursing board.  

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) Salaries

An Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) is a nursing professional who has completed a graduate degree in nursing by earning a Master of Science Nursing (MSN).

APRNs very often choose a specialty track like a Nurse Practitioner, a Nurse Midwife, a Nurse Educator or a Nurse Anesthetists. An APRN is authorized to perform all the duties expected of an RN but with more advanced tasked of patient referrals or diagnosing ailments, to name a few. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Practitioners, and Nurse-Midwives recent data reveals -

  • Annual Median Salary - $117,930
  • Job Outlook through 2028 – 26%, which is much faster than the average of all occupations in the country. 

Nurse Salaries

What are the Responsibilities of a Nursing Professional?

At every level, nursing professionals attend to patient needs in countless ways. A nurse's exact duties will depend upon their specialty or the type of facility in which they work. From an overall perspective, a nurse may be tasked with the following responsibilities - 

  • Caring for patients 
  • Assisting physicians in providing treatment to patients 
  • Monitoring, recording and reporting symptoms or changes to a patient’s condition. 
  • Maintaining accurate patient reports and medical histories, 
  • Administering medication, treating patients and observing med reactions or side effects.
  • Performing diagnostic tests
  • Supervising less skilled licensed or certified nurses
  • Preparing patients for examination and treatment
  • Advising patients and their families on various health conditions and any other duty that may be included in a registered nurse job description.

In addition to attending to a patient’s needs, nurses often hold positions of leadership as their education expands. 

Nursing Accreditation

Accreditation identifies higher education programs that meet industry-approved criteria.  Most industries maintain oversight-accreditation agencies to ensure quality education standards for future workers.

Accreditation is the process of assessing a school or degree program’s credibility and competency. The process of accreditation signifies a stamp of approval from a neutral, industry-sanctioned organization. It offers assurance to potential students that the program advertised is the same program and curriculum the degree candidate paid for. 

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) 

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) is a nationally approved nursing accreditation agency - recognized by the United States Secretary of Education.  CCNE’s mission is to serve the public by examining nursing programs against a pre-approved set of nursing standards. 

The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)

The United States Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) oversee the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) agency. 

Accreditation matters for those researching the nursing program that is a good fit. 

Nursing Salary Variations Across the Country

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

How Much Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) Make an Hour

States with the Highest LPN Employment

State Hourly Mean Salary  Yearly Mean Salary 
 Texas $22.59  $46,990
 California $27.02  $56,200
 Florida $21.34  $44,400
 New York $23.45  $48,770
 Ohio $20.88  $43,340

Top Paying States for LPN

State Hourly Mean Salary Yearly Mean Salary 
 Rhode Island $28.43  $59,130
 Massachusetts $28.36  $58,990
 Alaska $28.00  $58,250
 Nevada $27.47  $57,140
 Connecticut $27.39  $56,970

How Much Registered Nurses (RNs) Make an Hour

The top Paying States for RNs

State Hourly Mean Salary Annual Mean Salary 
 California $51.42  $106,950
 Hawaii $47.16  $98,080
 Washington, DC $44.40  $92,350
 Massachusetts $44.30  $92,140
 Oregon $43.79  $91,800

States with the Highest RN Employment

State Hourly Mean Salary Annual Mean Salary 
 California $51.42  $106,950
 Texas $35.04  $72,890
 New York $41.16  $85,610
 Florida $31.83  $66,210
 Pennsylvania $33.84  $70,390

How Much Nurse Practitioners Make an Hour

Top Paying States for Nurse Practitioners

State Hourly Mean Salary Annual Mean Salary 
 California $64.32  $133,780
 Alaska $59.08  $122,880
 Massachusetts $59.01  $122,740
 New Jersey $58.70  $122,100
 New York $58.16  $120,970

How Much Nurse Midwives Make an Hour

Top Paying States for Nurse Midwives 

State Hourly Mean Salary Annual Mean Salary 
 California $67.30  $139,990
 Massachusetts $57.40  $119,380
 Maryland $55.50  $115,440
 Arizona $55.24  $114,900
 New Jersey $54.80  $113,980

How Much Nurse Anesthetists Make an Hour

Top Paying States for Nurse Anesthetist

State Hourly Mean Salary Annual Mean Salary 
 Montana $118.45  $246,370
 California $102.03  $212,210
 Iowa $100.54  $209,130
 Oregon $98.91  $205,730
 Wisconsin $98.47  $204,820

The Nursing Industry’s Job Outlook

The demand for each of the nursing level professionals is quite impressive and offers great opportunity for those who are interested in pursuing a nursing career.  

The job outlook for a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN and LVN), a Registered Nurse and an Advanced Practiced Registered Nurse are noted below – 

The Certified Nursing Assistant

According to the federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for CNAs through the year 2028 is anticipated to grow at a 9% pace. This single-digit pace is considered faster than the average of all other occupations combined.  Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the creation of more than 137,000 Certified Nurse Assistant jobs through 2028. 

In 2018, there were more than 1,564,000 Certified Nurse Assistants employed in the United States.

The Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

According to the federal government's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for LPNs through the year 2028 is anticipated to grow at an 11% pace. This double-digit pace is considered much faster than the average of all other occupations combined.  Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the creation of more than 78,000 LPNs and LVNs jobs through 2028.

In 2018, there were more than 725,000 Licensed Practical Nurses employed in the United States.

The Registered Nurse (RN)

According to the federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for Registered Nurses through the year 2028 is anticipated to grow at a 12% pace. This double-digit pace is considered much faster than the average of all other occupations combined.  Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the creation of more than 370,000 Registered Nursing positions through 2028.  

In 2018, there were more than 3,000,000 Registered Nurses employed in the United States.

The APRNs – Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Midwives, & Nurse Anesthetists

According to the federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for APRNs through the year 2028 is expected to grow at an impressive pace of 26%. This remarkable double-digit pace is considered much, much faster than the average of all other occupations in the country, combined.  Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the creation of more than 60,000 APRN positions through the calendar year 2028. 

In 2018, there were more than 240,000 APRNs employed in the United States.

How Do Nursing Salaries Compare to Other Healthcare Professions?

The following jobs are often considered by people looking for a career in healthcare.

Healthcare Salaries

If you are considering becoming a Nurse, it may be helpful to understand how a Nurse's salary compares with other healthcare careers.  For more information on these related careers, check out the following helpful resources:

How Much Does a Phlebotomist Make?

How Much Does a Pharmacy Technician Make?

How Much Does a Medical Assistant Make?

EMT/Paramedic Salaries

How to Become a Nurse

How to Pass Your HESI Exam

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