How much does a registered nurse make?

A Registered Nurse’s salary is primarily based on education level, specialty, geographic location and years of experience. There is not one consistent salary for a nurse. In some states Registered Nurses can earn as little as $24,000 per annum, while in other states nurses earn well into the six digits. A nurse with many years of experience, graduate education, specialization in a rare area of study that lives in an area with a high cost of living can expect to earn a six digit salary at some point in their career.


The amount that a registered nurse makes may vary largely by the state in which they reside. For example, a registered nurse in California makes an average of $30 hourly when they begin their career and as much as $55 after some years of experience. Prospective nurses should keep in mind that states with a higher cost of living will usually pay more. However, this is not always the case, as Arizona and Texas round out states where nurses make the highest income. In the Midwest and some parts of the South, nurses can earn anywhere from $18-$28 per hour.

In addition to geographic location, the physical location where a nurse works can also increase their paycheck. Nurses who work in hospitals, Drs offices and more structured healthcare settings tend to earn more than their counterparts who may pursue a job in a nursing home or as a home healthcare aide.


In the first year of working in the nursing profession, some nurses can make as little as $30K per year. By the end of year four, there average may be closer to the $50K range. Nurses with many years of experience are often able to earn $100K per year after a couple decades of experience. Many nurses with experience also pursue additional education, which boosts income.


While beginning RNs (Registered Nurses) may start off with a similar level of pay whether they have a diploma, ADN or BSN, ultimately nurses who earn a BSN are able to pursue more advanced career opportunities, such as management and administrative roles that offer more income and responsibility in the long run.

Graduate level nurses with an APRN degree, such as Nurse Practitioners and Clinical Nurse Specialists will earn even more. Nurses beginning their career after pursuing education as an APRN will typically earn $10K more annually than RNs.


Certain nursing specialties offer considerably more pay than others. Usually the specialties that pay more carry a higher risk. For example, a nurse anesthetist is responsible for medicating a patient appropriately to stay under anesthesia during a surgical procedure. The job is complicated and carries a high risk. As a result, Nurse Anesthetists earn an average of $150,000 yearly, well over the average for a general RN.

Numerous factors play a role in a nurse’s ability to earn sufficient income. Prior to plotting the educational and career pathway, a nurse should consider the impact of their career on their financial future.