Hospice nursing is a challenging specialty, but it’s also an extraordinarily respected, valued, and meaningful one. Many hospice nurses report that it was their chosen specialty, as they wanted to help give patients the best quality of death possible instead of putting them through unnecessary measures to prolong a low quality of life.
It’s an incredible job, but before nurses make any career decisions, they must consider a few important questions. One of those questions is, “How much do hospice nurses make?”
In this post, we will discuss what you can expect to make on a hospice nurse’s salary and what factors may influence how much you can make as a hospice nurse.
How Much Do Hospice Nurses Make?
While there are several factors that heavily influence how much hospice nurses make, the average hospice nurse's salary is $78,450 annually in the United States. The average base salary is $77,811, and the average bonus is $638.
According to Comparably, hospice nursing salaries range from $14,915 to $396,222 annually, with a median salary of $71,976.
Which Factors Directly Influence Hospice Nursing Salaries?
There’s obviously a very wide gap between the lowest reported hospice nurse salary at $14,915 and even the average reported salary of $78,450. So which factors can influence how much you can make?
Let’s take a look.
1. Your Location
One of the biggest factors that directly influences how much you can make as a hospice nurse will be where you work. Different cities all have vastly different costs of living and standard pay rates, and this is reflected in your potential salary.
In San Francisco, where the cost of living is extremely high, for example, you can make an average of $118,036 annually as a hospice nurse, which is around 50% more than the average US salary.
Meanwhile, cities like Portland and Pheonix each average 4% less than the average hospice nurse salary in the US.
You may be able to earn more per hour by driving over one city to work and even more by relocating. It’s worth considering if you want to follow the money, but if you’re going to move, make sure you consider the cost of living in the new location. While that $118,000 sounds appealing, hospice nurses in San Francisco also have one of the highest costs of living in the entire country.
2. Your Experience
Have you been a nurse for two years or twenty? And have you ever worked specifically as a hospice nurse before or in a closely-related nursing specialty?
Nurses with more experience—both in general and in hospice work—are often going to be rewarded with higher pay. Keep in mind that many organizations that specialize in hospice may require two years of palliative care experience in order to hire you to provide in-home hospice care.
3. Your License & Certifications
The licenses you hold, the degrees you’ve completed, and the certifications you’ve earned all play a role in how much you can make.
For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are the median nursing salaries in the United States based on your nursing license:
- Licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) make a median salary of $48,070 annually.
- Registered nurses (RNs) make a median salary of $81,220 per year.
- Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) make a median salary of $123,780 annually.
Your education also matters. An RN with an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) may not make as much as an RN with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
Additional certifications can demonstrate skill proficiency and increase your earning potential. As a hospice nurse, you may want to consider becoming an Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse (ACHPN), which you can apply for after working 500 hours as a palliative care nurse in the past year.
4. Who You’re Working For
Are you working as a hospice nurse in a large hospital setting, in a hospital facility, or as a home health nurse for a hospice agency?
Each work environment may come with its own unique pay rates. In most cases, nurses that work in hospice in a hospital, long-term care, or palliative care facility will make higher pay rates than nurses working in home hospice care.
How Hospice Nurses Can Make More
Want to make more as a hospice nurse? Consider taking the following steps:
- Consider getting a higher-level license; this is the easiest and most sure-fire way to increase your salary quickly, though it requires completing an educational program and passing a licensing exam.
- Look for different job types to determine what pays most in your area. Different locations have different pay rates for each job type (and job facility), so do some research to see what works for you.
- Go where you’re needed. There’s still a nursing shortage; don’t be afraid to leverage your value by switching positions if you don’t feel like your current employer pays what they should.
- Consider PRN work. PRN work allows nurses to apply for individual shifts for different healthcare organizations, and in many cases, it pays a higher per-hour rate than staff nurses receive. You can do PRN work exclusively or in addition to a staff job elsewhere. Nursa can help you get started.
Want to make more as a hospice nurse with PRN work? Learn more about how Nursa works here!