Salary and Compensation for Nurses

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Nursing is a profession on the rise. Attributed to an aging baby boomer population and the fact that medical advances are helping Americans live longer, the profession is expanding at a brisk rate.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of registered nurses and licensed practical nurses is expected to grow at a combined 16% from 2019 - 2029. Despite the fact that this projected growth is much faster than the average increase for other occupations, there is a current and projected nursing shortage, which has been affected by the aging Baby Boomer generation requiring more healthcare and a deficit caused by the current pandemic. These scenarios project a favorable hiring market for nursing candidates over the next decade.

Job opportunities are not the only thing on the rise for nursing professionals. Salaries have been steadily increasing each year and are expected to continue to do so. If you are considering entering the nursing workforce, here is a breakdown of current nursing:

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses $47,480 per year
Registered Nurses $73,300 per year
Nurse anesthetists, Nurse Practitioners, and Nurse Midwives $115,000 per year
Nurse Instructors $83,160 per year
Nursing Assistants and Orderlies $29,640 per year

Current Nursing Salaries per hour:

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses $22.83 per hour
Registered Nurses $35.24 per hour
Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Practitioners, and Nurse Midwives $55.67 per hour
Nursing Instructors $39.98 per hour
Nursing Assistants and Orderlies $14.25 per hour

An important factor in determining what nursing career you wish to pursue is the anticipated growth rate over the next ten years. The good news is that every field in the nursing profession is experiencing rapid growth and is expected to continue to do so. Here are the anticipated growth rate numbers from 2019 to 2020:

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses 9% expected growth rate
Registered Nurses 7% expected growth rate
Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Practitioners, and Nurse Midwives 45% growth rate
Nursing Assistants and Orderlies 8% growth rate

If you are considering becoming an RN or a LPN/LVN, note which states offer the highest salary:

Licensed Practical Nurse / Licensed Vocational Nurse:
Alaska $63,850 per year / $30.70 per hour
Massachusetts $60,340 per year / $29.01 per hour
California $60,240 per year / $28.96 per hour
Rhode Island $59,860 per year / $28.78 per hour
Nevada $58,470 per year / $28.11 per hour
Registered Nurse:
California $113,240 per year / $54.44 per hour
Hawaii $104,060 per year / $50.03 per hour
District of Columbia $94,820 per year / $45.59 per hour
Massachusetts $93,160 per year / $44.79 per hour
Oregon $92,960 per year / $44.69 per hour

Requirements for Nursing Positions

When considering entering the nursing profession, it is important to note the educational requirements for different nursing positions. Varying personal factors — cost of an education, how quickly you want to begin your career, programs in proximity to you, career aspirations — will determine what type of position you wish to pursue. [Note: States and medical facilities vary in their educational and training requirements.]

  • Certified Nursing Assistant: In order to work as a CNA, a high school diploma or GED is required along with completion of a nursing training course or program.
  • Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurse: If you wish to become a LPN/LVN, a high school diploma or GED is required. You will also need to graduate from an accredited LPN program. Before becoming a practicing LPN/LVN you will also be required to take and pass the NCLEX-PN® exam.
  • Registered Nurse: In order to become a registered nurse, you will need to complete an accredited registered nurse program and earn your diploma in nursing, associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Before becoming a licensed clinician, you will also be required to take and pass the NCLEX-RN® exam.
  • Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Practitioners, and Nurse Midwives: Nurses wishing to operate in advanced practice must earn at least a master’s degree in their role of choice. They must also pass a national certification exam and become licensed in their state of practice.

The Pathway to Becoming a Registered Nurse: ADN or BSN

Registered nurses are by far the most commonly held position in the nursing profession with 3,096,700 among their ranks. In order to become a registered nurse, it is required to earn a nursing diploma, earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN), or a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). With ADN’s and BSN’s being the most popular modern avenues, let’s look at the differences in the two.

ADN-Level Registered Nurse

Earning an associate degree in nursing is a quicker way to becoming a registered nurse. The typical ADN takes 18 to 24 months to acquire. A nurse with an ADN is well-trained in technical skills but has not studied topics such as leadership, management, and nursing research. The advantages of becoming an ADN-level registered nurse are that it is less time consuming, less expensive, and you can get into the workforce quicker.

BSN-Level Registered Nurse

The average BSN program takes four years to complete. A nurse with a BSN has not only studied the technical aspects of nursing but has generally completed a more comprehensive course of study, including social sciences, research, management, leadership, nursing theory, and community health. A BSN-level registered nurse will also typically gain more clinical experiences during their educational process. The advantages of becoming a BSN-level registered nurse are higher salary, increased hiring opportunities, and better positioning for career advancement. 

If you are looking to start your nursing career as a licensed practical nurse or a registered nurse, you will be required to take and pass the NCLEX exam before becoming a licensed clinician. UWorld — an online learning tool with NCLEX-style questions, vivid illustrations, and concise but detailed rationales — is the industry leader in NCLEX prep. Click here to discover how we help individual students and nursing programs increase their chances for exam and clinical success. 

Sources:

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/licensed-practical-and-licensed-vocational-nurses.htm#tab-1

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm#tab-1

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm

https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes251072.htm#ind

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nursing-assistants.htm#tab-1

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