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Registered Nurse (RN) Salary Ultimate Guide

This ultimate guide to registered nurse (RN) pay covers everything you need to know about your potential salary as an RN, from RN minimum wage to the highest-paid RNs. Read on to find the answers to all your questions about RN income: How much do RNs make an hour, a week, monthly, and annually? How much do RNs make in every state? Will RN pay increase in 2023? Learn all this and more!

Highest-Paid RNs

Let’s start with the juiciest figures of all: average RN hourly, weekly, monthly, and annual rates in the highest-paying states and cities in the United States. 

Highest-Paying States for RNs

Keep your fingers crossed! You might find your state in the following list of the top ten highest-paying states in the US:

Rank State Hourly Rate Weekly Average Monthly Average Annual Average
1 California $59.62 $2,384.80 $10,333.33 $124,000
2 Hawaii $51.22 $2,048.80 $8,877.50 $106,530
3 Oregon $47.42 $1,896.80 $8,219.17 $98,630
4 District of Columbia $47.38 $1,895.20 $8,211.67 $98,540
5 Alaska $46.74 $1,869.60 $8,102.50 $97,230
6 Massachusetts $46.46 $1,858.40 $8,052.50 $96,630
7 Washington $45.84 $1,833.60 $7,945.83 $95,350
8 New York $44.86 $1,794.40 $7,776.67 $93,320
9 New Jersey $43.12 $1,724.80 $7,474.17 $89,690
10 Connecticut $42.56 $1,702.40 $7,400.00 $88,800

 Source: Table created based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Highest-Paying Cities for RNs

These are certainly impressive salaries, but wait until you see the list of the highest-paying metropolitan areas in the country! Spoiler alert: They are all in California.

Rank Metropolitan area Hourly rate Weekly Average Monthly Average Annual Average
1 San Jose, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara $74.63 $2,985.20 $12,935.83 $155,230
2 San Francisco, Oakland, Hayward $72.90 $2,916.00 $12,636.67 $151,640
3 Vallejo, Fairfield $70.37 $2,814.80 $12,196.67 $146,360
4 Santa Rosa $68.00 $2,720.00 $11,786.67 $141,440
5 Napa $67.15 $2,686.00 $11,640.00 $139,680
6 Santa Cruz, Watsonville $67.11 $2,684.40 $11,632.50 $139,590
7 Sacramento, Roseville, Arden, Arcade $65.14 $2,605.60 $11,290.83 $135,490
8 Salinas $62.75 $2,510.00 $10,876.67 $130,520
9 Modesto $61.41 $2,456.40 $10,644.17 $127,730
10 Hanford, Corcoran $60.00 $2,400.00 $10,399.17 $124,790

Source: Table created based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

RN Salary by State Adjusted to Cost of Living in 2022

Now, before you run off to Hawaii with images of a fat paycheck in your pocket and yearlong sunshine, take a look at this ranked list of the highest-paying states for RNs adjusted to cost of living. In other words, here is a ranked list of all fifty states showing where your RN salary stretches the farthest, giving you the highest quality of life. If you are wondering, “How much do RNs make in California, Texas, Florida, Arizona, Illinois, or any other state?” read on to discover the hourly and annual averages for RNs throughout the country.

Rank State Average RN annual salary Average RN hourly rate Cost of living as a % of US average RN pay adjusted to cost of living
1 California $124,000 $59.62 +39.8% $42.65
2 Texas $79,120 $38.04 -9.1% $41.85
3 Minnesota $84,030 $40.40 -3.2% $41.74
4 Georgia $75,380 $36.24 -12.2% $41.28
5 Illinois $78,260 $37.63 -8.6% $41.17
6 Nevada $88,800 $42.69 +5.4% $40.50
7 Washington $95,350 $45.84 +13.9% $40.25
8 New Mexico $77,590 $37.31 -6.4% $39.86
9 Michigan $75,930 $36.51 -8.4% $39.86
10 Oregon $98,630 $47.42 +20.6% $39.32
11 Wisconsin $76,850 $36.95 -5.2% $38.98
12 Wyoming $73,130 $35.16 -8.2% $38.30
13 Oklahoma $68,180 $32.78 -14.3% $38.25
14 Ohio $71,640 $34.44 -8% $37.43
15 Pennsylvania $76,000 $36.54 -2.1% $37.32
16 Indiana $68,890 $33.12 -11.1% $37.26
17 Kansas $66,560 $32.00 -13.6% $37.04
18 Colorado $80,670 $38.78 +5.1% $36.90
19 Alaska $97,230 $46.74 +26.7% $36.89
20 Missouri $67,790 $32.59 -11.4% $36.78
21 West Virginia $67,640 $32.52 -11.5% $36.75
22 Nebraska $69,850 $33.58 -8.5% $36.70
23 Arizona $81,600 $39.23 +6.9% $36.70
24 Connecticut $88,530 $42.56 +16.7% $36.47
25 Louisiana $70,380 $33.84 -7.2% $36.47
26 New Jersey $89,690 $43.12 +18.6% $36.36
27 North Carolina $71,200 $34.23 -5% $36.03
28 Rhode Island $85,270 $40.99 +13.8% $36.02
29 Delaware $77,760 $37.39 +3.9% $35.99
30 Tennessee $66,680 $32.06 -10.5% $35.82
31 Mississippi $63,130 $30.35 -15.1% $35.75
32 Virginia $76,680 $36.87 +3.2% $35.73
33 Idaho $73,640 $35.41 -0.3% $35.52
34 South Carolina $69,580 $33.45 -5.8% $35.51
35 North Dakota $71,200 $34.23 -3.3% $35.40
36 Arkansas $65,810 $31.64 -10.1% $35.19
37 Iowa $64,990 $31.25 -11% $35.11
38 Utah $72,790 $34.99 +2.4% $34.17
39 Alabama $61,920 $29.77 -12.5% $34.02
40 Kentucky $67,260 $32.34 -4.8% $33.97
41 Montana $73,610 $35.39 +4.8% $33.77
42 Florida $72,000 $34.62 +3% $33.61
43 New Hampshire $78,270 $37.63 +13.2% $33.24
44 New York $93,320 $44.86 +36.8% $32.79
45 Maryland $82,660 $39.74 +25.1% $31.77
46 Massachusetts $96,630 $46.46 +47.9% $31.41
47 South Dakota $60,540 $29.11 -6.2% $31.03
48 Vermont $75,160 $36.13 +16.7% $30.96
49 Maine $73,630 $35.40 +16.9% $30.28
50 Hawaii $106,530 $51.22 +89.9% $26.97


Source: Nursa’s Nurse Salary Guide: Understand How Much You Can Make as a Nurse

Highest-Paying Industries for RNs

The vast majority of RNs work in hospitals where they earn, on average, between $80,260 and $85,020 annually. That said, there are many other industries in which RNs receive significantly higher salaries. The following are the top ten highest-paying industries for RNs based on the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

Rank Industry Hourly Rate Annual Average
1 Nonscheduled air transportation $54.15 $112,630
2 Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing $50.61 $105,270
3 Merchant wholesalers, nondurable goods $48.67 $101,240
4 Federal executive branch (OEWS designation) $46.93 $97,600
5 Office administrative services $46.46 $96,630
6 Outpatient care centers $44.74 $93,070
7 General medical and surgical hospitals $40.88 $85,020
8 Specialty hospitals (except for psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals) $40.77 $84,800
9 Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals $38.59 $80,260
10 Home health care services $37.59 $78,190

Source: Table created based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Other Factors Influencing RN Income

Aside from the state of residence and industry of employment, many other factors influence RN salary. You probably expect the level of education, certifications, and years of work experience to influence RN pay, but did you know that gender, community type, and union membership can also significantly influence RN income? Read on to discover how all of these factors and others can influence your earnings as an RN: 

RN Education

Let’s start with RN education. If you have not yet started nursing school, you might not realize how many options you have to become an RN. Aspiring RNs can complete associate’s degrees in nursing (ADNs) or bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSNs). Although less common, RN diploma programs are also available through some hospitals. Additionally, RNs can pursue master’s or even doctoral degrees in nursing. Learn about accelerated nursing programs here. The following are average RN salaries by the level of education:

  • Doctoral degree: $99,000
  • Master’s degree: $96,000
  • Bachelor’s degree: $85,000
  • Associate’s degree: $84,000
  • RN diploma program: $82,000

Nursing Certifications

In addition to nursing programs, RNs can also pursue nursing certifications. The following are average RN salaries based on certification:

 

  • Certified RNs: $92,000
  • Noncertified RNs: $81,000

Years of Work Experience

As with all professions, RNs increase their salary by accruing professional experience. The following are average RN salaries by years of work experience:

  • Twenty-one years or longer: $91,000
  • Eleven to twenty years: $86,000
  • Six to ten years: $80,000
  • Five years or less: $71,000

Interestingly, work experience in health-related positions prior to RN licensure can also affect RN entry-level salary. A 2016 study found that BSN-educated RNs who had previously worked as health care managers, LPNs/LVNs, or nursing aides had higher starting wages than those without previous health-related work experience. In fact, they earned between $3,400 and $7,700 more per year than their less experienced counterparts. For ADN-educated RNs, a salary bump was only observed with previous LPN/LVN experience. Learn more about working as a nursing aide while studying to become an RN.

Community Type

As we have seen, location is one of the most significant factors affecting RN pay. However, even within the same state, average RN salaries can vary significantly based on the type of community. Here are average RN salaries by community type: 

  • Urban: $91,000 
  • Suburban: $88,000
  • Exurban: $84,000
  • Rural: $76,000

Supplemental Income

More than half of RNs pursue supplemental income in addition to their base salaries. Here are the ways that RNs supplement their income:

  • Worked extra shifts/overtime, weekends, and/or extra holidays: 33%
  • Acted as a preceptor: 12%
  • Worked “on call” shifts: 12%
  • Took on charge nurse responsibilities: 12%
  • Worked a second job or another income-producing activity: 10%
  • Taught classes: 7%
  • None, no supplemental income: 47%

Union Membership

Membership in a nurses’ union also significantly affects a registered nurse’s income. Here are average RN salaries based on union membership:

  • Union members: $93,000
  • Non-union RNs: $86,000

Gender

Although nursing is generally considered a women-dominated field, a 2022 survey indicates that male RNs earn more than female RNs. These are average RN salaries based on gender: 

  • Male RN average salary: $92,000
  • Female RN average salary: $87,000

Another 2022 study found an even wider pay gap between male ($90,000) and female ($76,000) RNs. It also offered some explanations for the variation:

  • 91% of male RNs work full time compared with 80% of female RNs
  • Male nurses are more likely than female nurses to work night shifts
  • Female RNs (31%) were less likely than male RNs (40%) to negotiate higher salaries either always or most of the time 

This last point, in particular, is one that female RNs should bear in mind when interviewing for their next nursing jobs. With nurses in such high demand and with many healthcare organizations committed to investing in their core nursing staff, all nurses should consider negotiating better salaries. 

RN Minimum Wage

The current Federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. However, the minimum wage varies by state. The current highest minimum wage in the United States is $16 per hour in the District of Columbia. 

That said, the minimum wage doesn’t apply to registered nurses since even the lowest-paid 10 percent of registered nurses in the United States earn approximately $28.58 per hour or $59,450 annually. In fact, even the lowest-paid 10 percent of registered nurses in the lowest-paying state for RNs (South Dakota) earn more (approximately $22.82 per hour) than those earning the highest minimum wage in the country ($16 per hour).

Will RN Pay Increase in 2023?

As long as nurses are in demand—and there is no end to the nursing shortage in sight—RNs are well-positioned to negotiate better salaries, benefits, and working conditions.

Based on the Nurse Salary Research Report 2022, here are some ways that healthcare leaders are trying to attract and retain nurses:

  • Higher salaries
  • More flexible work schedules
  • Sign-on bonuses and relocation packages
  • Loan forgiveness
  • Tuition assistance
  • Incentives for pursuing certifications and other career development opportunities
  • More attractive benefits, such as better retirement plans and child care discounts

This 2022 report found a $5,000 median RN salary increase since its 2020 report, indicating a rising salary trend. Furthermore, since 29 percent of survey respondents from the 2022 report were considering leaving the nursing profession compared to 11 percent of respondents from the 2020 report, it is safe to say that demand for RNs is also on the rise. 

Do RNs Make Good Money? Final Thoughts on RN Salary

As we have seen in this ultimate guide, RN salary is a complex issue affected by numerous and diverse factors, including residence, education, certifications, work experience, and union membership. Therefore, the best way to answer this question is to say that RNs can make good money if they follow the following steps:

Follow these steps, and you will be earning an enviable income in no time!

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