Nursing Salary Guide in 2021

Section 1: Introduction to Nursing Career & Salary

Nurses play an important role in the healthcare industry. Not only do they work hand in hand with doctors, but they also spend ample time with patients helping them take their medicine, cleaning them, and providing crucial support in recovery.

With the demand for healthcare services rising, employment opportunities for nurses have also risen. In particular, the demand for employees with nursing skills was projected to rise by 7% between 2019 and 2029. This is among the fastest growth rates for any occupation in the US.

Besides the promising job outlook, nursing is quite a rewarding field to serve in. With professional nursing skills, it is possible to make a difference in the community. Let us take a look at the guide for nurse salary

Nursing Salary

With no end of demand in sight, salaries for practicing nurses have been rising all along. And this trend is expected to remain so until 2026 and even beyond according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The latest data indicates that the average salary of a Registered Nurse (RN) in the US is $73,300. However, the median annual wages for these professionals vary from one industry to the next as shown below.

nurse salary guide registered nurse pay by industry graph
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

Based on the data appearing on the chart above, RNs who work in government hospitals take home an average of $78,390 while those who work for educational service institutions generally earn the least at an average of $61,850.

With advanced education, experience and a Master’s Degree in Nursing, nurses are eligible to work as either Nurse Anesthetists or Nurse Practitioners. In general, the pay for Nurse Anesthetists and Nurse Practitioner is higher than the one for Registered Nurses (RNs).

But once again, the pay for Nurse Anesthetists and Nurse Practitioners vary from one industry to the next as indicated on the chart below.

nurse salary guide anesthetists and practitioners pay salary by industry graph

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

Referring to the data appearing on the chart above, Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Anesthetists earn the best salaries at State, local, and private hospitals ($120,540) and the least when working for educational services ($104,310).

That said, Nurse Anesthetists earn more than Nurse Practitioners. The former pocket $167,950 while the latter take home $107,030 on average per year.

Section 2: RN Career Outlook & Salary by State

Registered nurses are healthcare professionals with a nursing license and are extensively trained in nursing. There are so many types of nurses but they are not always registered or certified. An RN has expansive medical knowledge and hands-on training.

What Do RNs Do?

First of all, registered nurses are not limited to working in hospital settings only. They can also work in homes, clinics, assisted living facilities, schools, and more.

So, what exactly do they do? Their duties often depend on the patients they work with and where they work.

However, they also assess patients’ conditions, record their medical histories and observe them. Registered nurses also administer medicines and treatments, teach patients how to manage their illnesses and help conduct diagnostic tests.

More importantly, they consult and work with doctors or other health specialists. Some RNs also oversee nursing assistants, home health aides, and licensed practical nurses. Last but not least, they monitor and operate medical equipment.

Education Requirements & Qualifications Needed

A high school diploma is one of the essential prerequisites for becoming an RN. Besides, coursework in mathematics, biology, English, and psychology is important.

Commonly, there are three main academic paths to becoming a registered nurse. One route is to obtain a diploma in nursing. Diploma program generally takes three years and are offered by hospitals.

One can also become an RN by obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN) or an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN). It takes two years to complete the ADN program. Once completed, you become eligible to take the registered nurse licensing examination.

Most aspiring nurses choose to pursue the BSN program after completing high school which takes four years. After completing any of the above programs, the next step is to pass the National Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

Career Outlook

With the baby boomer population retiring out of the workforce, the demand for RNs is only going to increase. The employment of RNs is projected to grow by 15% compared to other occupations between 2016 and 2026 according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

This growth will be as a result of increased rates of chronic conditions like obesity and diabetes. Demand for better healthcare services from the aging population will also see the demand for RNs increase.

Registered Nurse Salary Guide (By State)

State Average Rate (per hr) Salary (Annual)
Alabama (AL) $28.96 $60,230
Alaska (AK) $45.81 $95,270
Arizona (AZ) $38.64 $80,380
Arkansas (AR) $30.60 $63,630
California (CA) $57.96 $120,560
Colorado (CO) $37.43 $77,860
Connecticut (CT) $40.79 $84,850
Delaware (DE) $35.74 $74,330
Florida (FL) $33.42 $69,510
Georgia (GA) $34.38 $71,510
Hawaii (HI) $50.40 $104,830
Idaho (ID) $34.44 $71,640
Illinois (IL) $35.85 $74,560
Indiana (IN) $32.45 $67,490
Iowa (IA) $30.08 $62,570
Kansas (KS) $30.87 $64,200
Kentucky (KY) $31.12 $64,730
Louisiana (LA) $32.70 $68,010
Maine (ME) $34.16 $71,040
Maryland (MD) $39.23 $81,590
Massachusetts (MA) $46.27 $96,250
Michigan (MI) $35.57 $73,980
Minnesota (MN) $38.92 $80,960
Mississippi (MS) $29.45 $61,250
Missouri (MO) $31.68 $65,900
Montana (MT) $33.91 $70,530
Nebraska (NE) $33.41 $69,480
Nevada (NV) $43.15 $89,750
New Hampshire (NH) $36.52 $75,970
New Jersey (NJ) $41.21 $85,720
New Mexico (NM) $36.40 $75,700
New York (NY) $43.16 $89,760
North Carolina (NC) $33.15 $68,950
North Dakota (ND) $33.47 $69,630
Ohio (OH) $33.53 $69,750
Oklahoma (OK) $32.02 $66,600
Oregon (OR) $46.27 $96,230
Pennsylvania (PA) $35.66 $74,170
Rhode Island (RI) $39.81 $82,790
South Carolina (SC) $32.28 $67.140
South Dakota (SD) $29.31 $60,960
Tennessee (TN) $30.83 $64,120
Texas (TX) $36.92 $76,800
Utah (UT) $33.83 $70,370
Vermont (VT) $34.68 $72,140
Virginia (VA) $35.76 $74,380
Washington (WA) $43.90 $91,310
West Virginia (WV) $31.31 $65,130
Wisconsin (WI) $35.94 $74,760
Wyoming (WY) $34.90 $72,600

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics as of May 2020

(Based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary)

Section 3: Nurse Anesthetists Career Outlook & Salary by State

Also referred to as certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA), they are advanced practice nurses that administer anesthesia. They do this under the oversight of a dentist, anesthesiologist, podiatrist, surgeon and other qualified healthcare experts.

What Do CRNAs do?

For starters, they administer anesthesia for all types of conditions from the simplest to the most complex surgeries. In addition, CRNAs offer care before, during, and after anesthesia. They also examine patients’ medical histories for illnesses or allergies to ensure the safe provision of anesthesia. 

Additionally, it is their responsibility to discuss any side effects of the anesthesia with the patients. On top of that, a nurse anesthetist performs nerve blocks, epidural and spinal blocks. More importantly, they are taught to identify emergency cases and can initiate resuscitation.

Education Requirements & Qualifications Needed

For starters, nurse anesthetist programs often require applicants to have attained an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher especially in science courses. The science courses include physiology, chemistry, statistics, human anatomy, and microbiology.

On top of that, you’ll need to become an RN by pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree. In addition to this, you’re required to have at least one year of experience in an acute care setting. Next, you should pursue a master’s degree in nurse anesthesia program which will take you 24-36 months.

After graduating with a master’s degree, the next step is to take the national certification exam so you can begin your practice. Above all, you will have to acquire a valid RN license.

Career Outlook

According to the latest data from BLS, job opportunities for CRNAs are expected to grow by 31% between now and 2026. This is much faster than the expected average growth of most occupations. Therefore, this career holds great prospects for anyone who has what it takes to pursue the practice.

Apparently, the growth will occur mainly because of the increased emphasis on preventive healthcare. An increase in the aging population will also contribute greatly to the growth.

Nurse Anesthetist Salary Guide (By State)

State Average Rate (per hr) Salary (Annual)
Alabama (AL) $82.00 $170,560
Alaska (AK) (data not available)(data not available)
Arizona (AZ) $83.40 $173,460
Arkansas (AR) $80.30 $167,030
California (CA) $98.73 $205,360
Colorado (CO) $84.50 $175,760
Connecticut (CT) $104.50 $217,360
Delaware (DE) (data not available)(data not available)
Florida (FL) $84.98 $176,760
Georgia (GA) $86.36 $179,630
Hawaii (HI) $97.08 $201,930
Idaho (ID) $75.12 $156,520
Illinois (IL) $93.73 $194,950
Indiana (IN) $81.55 $169,620
Iowa (IA) $95.43 $198,480
Kansas (KS) $80.63 $167,700
Kentucky (KY) $78.70 $163,700
Louisiana (LA) $77.55 $161,310
Maine (ME) $95.64 $198,940
Maryland (MD) $87.88 $182,780
Massachusetts (MA) $94.18 $195,900
Michigan (MI) $96.09 $199,870
Minnesota (MN) $103.87 $216,050
Mississippi (MS) $83.92 $174,540
Missouri (MO) $91.16 $189,610
Montana (MT) $104.05 $216,420
Nebraska (NE) $85.04 $176,880
Nevada (NV) $107.54 $223,680
New Hampshire (NH) $94.99 $197,570
New Jersey (NJ) $99.76 $207,500
New Mexico (NM) $79.32 $164,980
New York (NY) $104.35 $217,050
North Carolina (NC) $92.71 $192,830
North Dakota (ND) $92.33 $192,050
Ohio (OH) $91,40 $190,120
Oklahoma (OK) $86.25 $179,410
Oregon (OR) $113.72 $236,540
Pennsylvania (PA) $88.99 $185,090
Rhode Island (RI) (data not available) (data not available)
South Carolina (SC) $89.35 $185,850
South Dakota (SD) $91.66 $190,660
Tennessee (TN) $82.22 $171,020
Texas (TX) $86.72 $180,380
Utah (UT) $61.12 $127,130
Vermont (VT) $91.24 $189,780
Virginia (VA) $86.15 $179,180
Washington (WA) $95.07 $197,740
West Virginia (WV) $90.11 $187,430
Wisconsin (WI) $111.31 $231,250
Wyoming (WY) $111.18 $161,603

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics as of May 2020

(Based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary)

Section 4: Nurse Practitioners Career Outlook & Salary by State

Nurse practitioners are advanced practice registered nurses who hold advanced degrees. They hold either a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP). Their role, however, greatly differs depending on the state where one practices.

For instance, some states require their NPs to work under direct supervision or in collaboration with a doctor. On the other hand, certain states permit them to work independently.

What Do NPs do?

The duties of nurse practitioners largely depend on an individual’s specialization as well as the state in which they practice. Nonetheless, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, NPs offer acute and specialty healthcare services.

Also, they are trained to diagnose and treat illnesses, order or perform diagnostic tests, and perform physical evaluations. They can also prescribe medication and create individualized treatment plans much as physicians do.

Education Requirements & Qualifications Needed

As an aspiring NP, you’re required to complete high school coursework in algebra, chemistry, and biology. It may also be important to take anatomy, statistics, and psychology if available.

Having completed high school, the next step is to become a registered nurse by pursuing a bachelor of science in nursing.  Next, you will need to get at least one year experience in your area of interest like oncology or acute care.

After becoming an RN, you are required to enroll in an MSN program. This program takes a minimum of two years to complete and is quite intensive. Last but not least, you will have to get an advanced practice nursing licensure and certification so you can start working as an NP.

Career Outlook

Overall, nursing is already a fairly stable career. However, becoming a nurse practitioner can provide you with even more job security. Because of the aging population, the need for primary healthcare is expected to greatly rise over the next couple of years.

The BLS projects that NP jobs will increase by a whopping 31% between now and 2026. Compare that to an increase of 15% for RNs, and an average of only 7% for all occupations in the country.

Nurse Practitioners Salary Guide (By State)

State Average Rate (per hr) Salary (Annual)
Alabama (AL) $47.98 $99,790
Alaska (AK) $53.01 $110,270
Arizona (AZ) $56.48 $117,480
Arkansas (AR) $51.06 $106,210
California (CA) $70.18 $145,970
Colorado (CO) $53.77 $109,760
Connecticut (CT) $56.15 $116,780
Delaware (DE) $53.96 $112,230
Florida (FL) $48.58 $101,060
Georgia (GA) $51.07 $106,220
Hawaii (HI) $57.11 $118,780
Idaho (ID) $54.76 $113,890
Illinois (IL) $53.87 $112,060
Indiana (IN) $52.86 $109,940
Iowa (IA) $51.88 $107,910
Kansas (KS) $50.25 $104,530
Kentucky (KY) $49.26 $102,460
Louisiana (LA) $53.79 $111,880
Maine (ME) $53.64 $111,580
Maryland (MD) $55.40 $115,240
Massachusetts (MA) $60.60 $126,050
Michigan (MI) $52.48 $109,150
Minnesota (MN) $57.16 $118,900
Mississippi (MS) $52.67 $109,550
Missouri (MO) $51.38 $106,870
Montana (MT) $54.99 $114,370
Nebraska (NE) $51.60 $119,890
Nevada (NV) $57.64 $112,540
New Hampshire (NH) $54.07 $112,460
New Jersey (NJ) $62.93 $130,890
New Mexico (NM) $56.28 $117,050
New York (NY) $60.79 $126,440
North Carolina (NC) $52.10 $108,370
North Dakota (ND) $53.40 $111,070
Ohio (OH) $50.78 $105,630
Oklahoma (OK) $54.21 $112,750
Oregon (OR) $57.02 $118,600
Pennsylvania (PA) $53.64 $111,560
Rhode Island (RI) $56.39 $117,300
South Carolina (SC) $48.65 $101,190
South Dakota (SD) $49.56 $103,080
Tennessee (TN) $47.78 $99,370
Texas (TX) $56.11 $116,700
Utah (UT) $54,59 $113,550
Vermont (VT) $52.06 $108,280
Virginia (VA) $52.72 $109,660
Washington (WA) $60.81 $126,480
West Virginia (WV) $50.59 $105,220
Wisconsin (WI) $54.34 $113,030
Wyoming (WY) $57.12 $118,810

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics as of May 2020

(Based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary)

Section 5 : Factors Affecting Salary & Summary

With job outlooks for the nursing career looking quite promising, there’s no doubt that this is one of the most stable careers in the country. However, not all nurses earn huge salaries. Here is a discussion of a number of factors that affect nursing salaries.

Level of Education

If you only have an Associate Degree, you’ll earn less than someone with a BSN working in the same institution. The more educated you are, the more you earn. And that explains why postgraduate degree holders who work as Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Anesthetics earn more than RNs. Case in point, nurse anesthetists in California take home an average of $133,780 as compared to RNs who pocket $106,950.

Experience

Just as it is the case with other professions, the more experienced you are as a nurse, the more you’re likely to earn. The seniority-type scale also tends to favor those who work for particular organizations longest.

Work Shift

Nurses who work during the “graveyard shift” i.e. 11pm to 7am are typically better paid than those who work during normal shifts. This, however, is not cast on stone. It’s just that generally, most employees tend to slightly vary their pay rates depending on the desirability of the work hours.

State

The state one lives in can affect their salary levels. It is important to keep in mind the fact that the cost of living varies from one state to the next. For example, RNs in California are paid an average of $51.42 per hour while their counterparts in South Dakota take home an average of $28.05.

Indeed, many of the highest paying states are also characterized by high costs of transportation, housing, and food. On the contrary, a vast majority of the low paying states are places where the costs of basic necessities are also generally low.

Metropolitan & Cities vs Nonmetropolitan Areas & Rural Areas

Nurses in metropolitan areas earn more due to the high cost of living in urban centers than in rural areas. For instance, nurses in the San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco metropolitan area in California earn an average hourly wage of $67.16.  That’s close to 72.8% higher than a nurse providing similar services in the best-paying non-metropolitan region of Mother Lode still within California.

We’ll help you decide!

Summary

If you are looking for a rewarding career that comes with lots of room for growth, consider training to become a nurse. Regardless of where you live or your preferred area of specialization, this career-field can provide you with plenty of advancement opportunities.

It’s our hope that our detailed data breakdown at the national, state, and industry levels will help you get a clearer picture of what this vast career line has in store for you both today and in years to come.

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