How much money does an RN make per year or per hour in the United States? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average RN salary in the United States in 2020 was $80,010, and the average RN hourly wage was $38.47.
Keep in mind that these RN income numbers are only national averages, meaning they have taken all of the reported RN wage and salary data across the U.S., added them together, and then they divided by the total number of figures in their data set.
Some registered nurses will make more or less than these amounts, depending on factors such as their location, education, experience, industry, and so forth. I’m going to dig deeper and show you more salary information, including the averages for all the states in a moment.
Median RN Salary and Percentile Wage Estimates
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports the median RN salary, along with percentile wage estimates. The median number is the middle number of a sorted data set. The median RN salary in 2020 was $75,330, and the median RN hourly wage was $36.22.
Percentile Salary and Wage Estimates for Registered Nurses
Here are the reported percentile estimates. If you earned $53,410 per year or 25.68 per hour, you were in the 10th percentile, meaning 90% of the RN salaries in the U.S. were higher than that. That doesn’t mean you are getting robbed by your employer. Some states just pay less for various reasons, and in many places, you can live well on $53,410 (or less).
Also, most nurses do not enter the profession based on income projections, but rather, many nurses feel a deep sense of calling to enter the profession.
The 90th percentile income figures were $116,230 per year in 2020 or $55.88 per hour, meaning only 10% of RNs made a higher salary than those numbers.
Here are the percentile estimates for salary and hourly wage data:
- 10th percentile: 53, 410 per year / $25.68 per hour
- 25th percentile: $61,630 per year / $29.63 per hour
- 50th percentile: 75,330 per year / $36.22 per hour
- 75th percentile: 93,590 per year / $44.99 per hour
- 90th percentile: 116,230 per year / 55.88 per hour
Coronavirus Pandemic’s Effects on RN Salary
Some of you might wonder if the pandemic affected RN income averages. Here are the average RN salaries for the past five years, and I calculated the percentage increase from year to year. In 2018 and 2019, there was a little over 2.5% increase from the previous year, but 2020 saw a 3.29% increase from 2019. Therefore, it does appear that the pandemic may have helped push the salary average increase a bit higher in 2020 than in previous years.
However, there’s an important caveat. The data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is dated May, 2020. That’s only a couple of months after a worldwide pandemic was announced by W.H.O. We won’t see the full effects of the pandemic on RN salary data for another year or two, but it will be interesting to see what the numbers reveal when they are published.
RN Salary for All 50 States
How much money do registered nurses make in each of the 50 states (on average), including U.S. owned territories such as Guam and Puerto Rico? Here’s the data from May, 2020.
The state with the lowest average salary was Alabama, which paid registered nurses an average salary of $60,230 and an average hourly wage of $28.96, whereas the top paying state was California, which paid an average RN salary of $120,560 and an average hourly wage of $57.96. Again, these are only averages, and you can make more or less in each state.
Here’s how much money RNs make on average for all 50 states, including Guam and Puerto Rico territories. Again, RN income and local pay rates can still vary quite a bit.
|State||Average Hourly Wage||Average Salary|
|District of Columbia||$43.29||$90,050|
One thing that many people say is that they’re moving to California or Hawaii, as those two states pay registered nurses an average of over $100,000 per year. However, before you move you really have to do your homework. Some states have high taxes, housing, and cost of living (or natural disasters and crime), and you could actually make a higher salary but keep less of that salary as compared living in a lower paying state with a much lower cost of living (think Alabama or Tennessee).
Sometimes it makes sense to move, and sometimes it doesn’t. You’ve got to crunch the numbers to see if moving really makes sense.
RN Salary for Metropolitan Areas
Even though registered nurse salary figures can vary from state to state, you can also see a lot of variation of salary within the same state, depending on where you work.
The top paying metropolitan area for registered nurses was the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward area in California, which paid a whopping average salary of $149,200 and an average wage of $71.73. The lowest paying area in the U.S., as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was Joplin, MO, which paid an average salary of $48,210 and an average hourly wage of $23.18.
Highest and Lowest Paying Areas for RNs
Which cities or metropolitan areas pay registered nurses the most money? What about the least amount of money? Here are the highest and lowest paying areas in the United States, based on metropolitan or non-metropolitan survey data.
See full list of RN salaries by city: Here’s a full list of the cities that paid RNs the most money, based on the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s survey data.
Top Paying Industries for Registered Nurses
Which industry paid RNs the most money? As we look at the top paying industries for RNs, you have to keep in mind that not all registered nurses work in a hospital setting. The top paying industries for registered nurses was the “Business Support Services” industry, which paid RNs an average of $106,670 and an average wage of $51.28. However, out of nearly 3-4 million registered nurses in the United States, only a measly 560 worked in that industry!
The “Federal Executive Brach” of the government was the second top paying industry, paying RNs an average of $96,230 per year and an average wage of $46.26. However, they employed a fair amount of registered nurses: 86,860 RNs worked in that industry.
It’s also important to note that the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not include self-employed RNs in their income data.
Top Employment Industries for Registered Nurses
When we look at the average salary data for where most nurses tend to work, such as the “General Medical and Surgical Hospitals” industry, which employs some 1,729,200 RNs in the U.S., we see that the average salary was $81,680, with an average wage of $39.27.
The “Offices of Physicians” industry was the second for highest employment numbers. This industry employed an estimated 192,300 RNs and paid an average salary of $71,660 and an average wage of $34.45.
Keep reading to view more healthcare salaries.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics, May 2020 [www.bls.gov/]
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics, May 2020 OEWS Maps, Employment of healthcare occupations, by state, May 2020, accessed 08/25/2021, [https://www.bls.gov/]