The largest sector in the entire health care industry is of registered nurses. The
Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, reports that there are more than 2.7 million
individuals employed in the said position as of the middle of 2011. Aside from these,
there are also the licensed practical nurses and the licensed vocational nurses, or
what we call the LPNs and the LVNs. They account for an additional 729,140 jobs.
The job is extremely physical, aside from the emotional and mental demands of
the job. Nurses work very long and unpredictable hours. The job requires the huge
responsibility of helping out patients and their relatives during their most trying
times and vulnerable moments. But on the other end of the spectrum, nurses are
also expected to complete seemingly mundane and routine tasks that are actually
important to keep the hospital operations running smoothly.
The market is extremely competitive, but it does pay well. Let us take a look now at
the salaries that nurses earn.
How Much Do Nurses Make?
The BLS recently came out with the following data as to the average wages of
Mean Salary – $69,880
Median Salary – $65,950
LPNs and LVNs, however, receive a substantially less figure.
LPNs and LVNs Salary – $41,170
The salary range is actually quite broad for the profession. The highest paid nurses
may get more than double than the least paid. To wit, the salaries may vary as such:
Top 10 Percent of Registered Nurses – $96,630
Bottom 10 Percent of Registered Nurses – $44,970
Of course, just like any other profession, a nurse’s experience counts a lot when it
comes to pay.
Average Salary of Nurses Through the Years
The demand for nurses has grown continuously for the past several years. This is a
result of an ageing population that would require more nursing care. Also, the rapid
advances in medical technology mean that more disorders can now be treated.
These treatments require the attention of not only the physician, but also of a nurse.
As a result, the average salary of nurses has been increasing progressively over the
last 10 years. To illustrate, the average salaries were:
2002 – $44,800
2004 – $54,020
2006 – $59,710
2008 – $65,220
2010 – $67,720
Compared to other health care practitioners, a nurse’s salary is not that bad. While
it may still be below the salaries of physical and occupational therapists, nurses still
earn more than double what paramedics and medical assistants are getting.
Kinds of Hospital
A nurse’s salary may vary depending on the kind of hospital where she works.
As may be expected, nurses in private hospitals earn more than those in public
hospitals. State public hospitals also pay higher than local public medical facilities.
Nurses in Private Hospitals – $70,330
Nurses in State Hospitals – $67,870
Nurses in Local Hospitals – $67,140
The same pattern holds true for LVNs and LPNs.
LPNs and LVNs in Private Hospitals – $41,740
LPNs and LVNs in State Hospitals – $41,290
LPNs and LVNs in Local Hospitals – $38,380
Salaries may also vary depending on the type of hospital where a nurse works.
Those in specialty hospitals tend to get paid a bit more than those in general medical
and surgical hospitals, as well as those in psychiatric and substance abuse medical
Nurses in Specialty Hospitals – $74,310
Nurses in General Medical and Surgical Hospitals – $69,810
Nurses in Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals – $66,250
Again, this pattern holds true for LPNs and LVNs.
One good way of earning a bit more is by specializing on a particular field. Nurses
also earn more as they move up the corporate ladder and attain more administrative
responsibilities. Those in large hospitals, or facilities with more than 10 operating
rooms, also get paid significantly higher than nurses in small medical centers. For
first assistants, the average pay are the following:
First Assistant in Small Facilities – $71,000
First Assistant in Facilities in Large Hospitals – $81,500
If the nurse gets promoted to a higher position, like supervisor, manager or team
leader, she can expect an improved salary.
Supervisors, Managers and Team Leaders in Small Facilities – $79,900
Supervisors, Managers and Team Leaders in Large Hospitals – $84,900
Years of experience, skills and even an advanced education, like a master’s degree,
may get a nurse a directorship role in the hospital.
The pay of pediatric nurses also varies depending on the area of the country she
works in. Certification also counts a lot.
Southeast – $29.30 per hour
Northeast – $32.02 per hour
Midwest – $32.47 per hour
Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes – $33.26 per hour
West – $56 per hour
The same holds true for neonatal nurses, with nurses in the West Coast enjoying a
substantially higher rate than the rest of the country.
Southeast – $54,456
Northeast – $71,723
Midwest – $57,333
Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes – $59,445
West – $85,935
Places that Offer the Best Salary for Registered Nurses
Considering from the above figures that nurses in the West Coast are paid a lot
more, it may be nice to see which particular areas reward the nurses the most.
San Jose – $116,150
Oakland – $100,900
San Francisco – $97,600
Salinas – $97,450
Napa – $97,090
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