How much do Nurses Make?
For those looking to make a difference in the world by directly involving themselves in helping others, the field of medicine is a top choice – but not everyone has the temperament or resources to follow through and become a fully-fledged doctor.
Fortunately, there’s another career readily available in this field – that of nursing. While the common perception is that nurses serve as subordinated to doctors, this trend is changing – especially so in the US, given the shortage of doctors specializing in primary care and internal medicine.
Nurses in the US have a high chance of ending up as solo operators in independent practices, and their duties can range from hands-on interactions with patients and their families to doctoral level research, to facility management and training. In short, nurses have become just as vital as doctors in the medical field.
The path towards becoming a proper nurse practitioner is demanding in itself, though, so it is fully understandable for fresh high school graduates, and other individuals looking to enter this field, to wonder how much do nurses make.
This nursing salary guide has been written with the express intention to educate you on the financial prospects of the nursing profession, going from the nurse starting salary to a professional nurse practitioner salary.
What is the salary of a nurse in the US?
How much does a nurse make depends on the nursing qualification they hold:
Licensed Practical Nurse / Licensed Vocational Nurse salary
An LPN / LVN is the most basic nursing qualification you can go for and is acquired by gaining a state approved certification/diploma, and then clearing the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) exam.
An LPN is expected to work with both Registered Nurses (RNs) as well as doctors, and perform tasks such as observing patients, measuring their vitals, collecting samples of fluids, administering medicine, dressing their wounds, assisting them in general, and training their family regarding handling their condition.
The primary reason why most individuals go for an LPN qualification is that it enables them to get field experience while studying for the next qualification, something that is required (or preferred) by many of the best nursing graduate schools in the US.
How much does an LPN make?
The hourly pay rate for LPNs in the United States is $20.30 – going from hourly to salary per annum – this becomes $42,400. This is below the national average salary for $45,790 per annum, but considering this is just the first stepping stone in your nursing career, a low LPN salary shouldn’t deter you.
Connecticut pays the highest LPN / LVN salary among all states – at $53,560 a year.
Registered Nurse salary:
After becoming an LPN (or even directly after graduating high school, should you wish) aspiring nurse practitioners go for the RN qualification. To gain this qualification, you have to either enroll in a state-approved associate or bachelor’s degree program, or an approved vocational school (not preferred by graduate schools and nursing clinics these days). Next, you have to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to gain your license.
RNs’ duties involve keeping recordings, giving medicine to patients, consulting with other professionals, keeping an eye on patients, and educating the families of patients on their conditions. As an RN, you are required to be informed of medical developments, and also to help doctors and other healthcare specialists who are handling the patient.
How much does an RN make?
The average RN salary in the US is $67,930 a year, or $32.66 per hour. RNs working in California are the highest paid – the state has an average registered nurse salary of $94,120 a month.
Nurse practitioner salary:
A nurse practitioner qualification is what most aspiring professional nurses aim to achieve when they enter this discipline (although it isn’t the absolute top they can reach). Becoming a nurse practitioner requires you to gain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, and then a Master of Science in Nursing degree.
Note that most schools offering these degrees require you to have field experience before they enroll you – hence the reason for becoming an RN or LPN first. Alternately, you could enroll in a program that lets you gain access during the course of your education.
In any case, after having gained your MSN degree, you can acquire a license from a recognized national body such as the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, American Nurses Credentialing Center, or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.
How much does a nurse practitioner make?
As a nurse practitioner, you can expect to earn over $98,000 a year, more than twice the national average. If you choose to practice in Oregon, Alaska, or California, you can expect to be paid in six figures – over $110K.
How to maximize your salary prospects as a nurse
Know that becoming a Nurse Practitioner isn’t the bar for you in this discipline – many organizations recommend that you seek specialized training in the care of a particular subset of patients to increase your market value, and thus maximize your nurses salary.
Usually, this requires you to gain a specialty certification in the specialized nursing practice, and then a license as per the regulations of your state.
To illustrate the variation between various NP specializations, consider the base family nurse practitioner salary of around $87,630 per annum (waxing to $96,910 / year tops), as reported by a survey conducted by the AANP. In the same survey, the average neonatal nurse salary was reported at $107,500 per annum – but it went as high as $124,540 after factoring in additional reimbursements. The base pediatric nurse salary was $87,610, which maximized to $92,250 a year.
In short, specializing in the right patient category can have a considerable impact on your income prospects as a nurse practitioner, and is just as important a consideration as asking yourself how much do register nurses make or nurse practitioners make.
Now that you have an insight into the efforts you have to make in order to become a nurse practitioner, and the average nurse salary you stand to earn at various stages in this profession, you’ll agree that it is definitely a career path worth considering if you want to help your fellow human beings and get decent monetary recompense at the same time.