RN salary averages revealed: how much money does a registered nurse make per year? What is an RN’s salary or average hourly wage? Do nurses make a good income? Let’s examine the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find out.
RN Salary Averages
Salaries continue to climb each year for registered nurses. In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is still projecting a 15% growth rate for RNs between years 2016-2026, which exceeds the average growth rate for all occupations. While the growth rate is down a couple of percentage points from 2015, the job outlook for registered nurses still looks great!
In 2017, RNs earned an average salary of $73,550 per year in the United States. The average hourly wage for a registered nurse was $35.36 per hour in 2017. To put things in perspective, consider this: In 2016, the median household income (meaning the income of all people within a household) was $59,039.
If you’re a registered nurse, you might be thinking to yourself, “I earned way more than that!” or “I didn’t earn anywhere near that!”
Why do some registered nurses earn higher than the salary averages, whereas other RNs earn less money than the averages listed?
The income numbers above are only averages, meaning all of the salaries for registered nurses were added together and divided by the total number of nurses to determine the average salary and wage. The exact amount you make can vary based on a number of factors, as you’ll learn below.
To give you an idea of how your salary compares to other registered nurses, it can be helpful to examine percentile estimates:
Based on the percentile estimates from the BLS above, if you earned $104,100 in 2017, you made more than 90% of the registered nurses in the U.S., and only 10% made more money than you did. If you earned $48,690, you earned more than 10% of registered nurses, and 90% made more than you did.
If you earned $33.65 per hour in 2017, you earned the median income for registered nurses, with 50% earning more and 50% earning less than you did.
Average Nurse Salary
Here is a graph comparing average nurse salary figures based on the different scopes of practice. These figures are based on 2015 statistics, but they still give you an idea of how different scopes of practice can impact your income. Keep in mind that with higher salaries, also comes additional school, tuition, and the opportunity costs of not being able to work during that time.
RN Salary Averages for all 50 States
Here are the RN salary averages for all 50 states in the United States as of 2017. These registered nurse income statistics are sorted from highest salary to lowest salary. Note: You might also want to see other nurse salaries and other healthcare salaries.
|Registered Nurse Salary Averages (2017)|
|State or Territory||RN Hourly Wage||RN Average Salary|
|District of Columbia||$43.32||$90,110.00|
Factors that Influence RN Salary
Before you get too worked up about the salary numbers above, consider these factors that can influence the salary and wage of a registered nurse:
- Location and Cost of Living: some states have a very high cost of living, and therefore, the wages and salaries are higher to help cover those high living costs. RNs living in California pulled in the highest average salary ($102,700), but California also has the second highest cost of living in the United States (second to Hawaii)! A salary of $38,000 per year might seem low to some people, but if you can buy a house for $120,000 and have low expenses and taxes, you’re doing pretty well. In contrast, $102,700 a year might sound like a dream in California, but according to realtor.com, their median home closing price was $510,000. Things like taxes (property, state, local), groceries, utilities, and other expenses can quickly reduce a high salary. After all, it’s not how much you make…it’s how much you keep.
- Industry: The type of industry in which the registered nurse works can also influence their salary. The top paying industry for registered nurses in 2017 was the “Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools” industry, where the average salary was $97,070, and the average wage was $46.67.
- Experience: RNs who have decades of experience will likely command higher salaries compared to new nurse graduates with zero experience.
- Position and Specialty: Registered nurses who work an entry-level nursing floor will generally make less money than a nurse manager who is over an entire hospital section.
- Shift and Incentive Pay: Because night shift isn’t very popular (people like to sleep at night), night shift nurses often earn a premium wage. RNs can also earn other incentive pay by participating in special programs or by seeking additional certifications.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2017 Edition, Registered Nurses, on the Internet at bls.gov.