Nursing Salary Ranges

Nurse salaries vary across the USA and can depend on several different factors. Salaries will fluctuate depending on the state in which you work, the level of education that you’ve obtained, your degree of specialty, the resources of the practice facility and the years of experience that you have under your belt. Nurse salaries can range from $25,000 – $100,000 or more a year. Below is a breakdown of the different nurse salaries always using the median annual salary.

Generalist Level Practice Nurses

There are three main types of generalist nurse practices, and they all have different education requirements and salaries. They are all categorized in the general field of nursing and are not considered specialized in any one field.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) – An LPN nurse has graduated from a two year nursing program and has passed the national NCLEX-PN exam along with any state board exams that are needed. The average annual salary for a LPN is $39,000.

Registered Nurse (RN) – An RN must have a four year degree in nursing, usually a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), has passed the national NCLEX-RN exam and any state board exams required. The average annual salary for a RN in the US is $52,000.

Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) – A CNL has completed master’s degree in science nursing. This degree takes approximately six years to complete and is the most advanced of the general nursing practices. The average CNL earns approximately $75,000 a year.

Advanced Practice Nurses

There are four main areas of focus within the advanced nurse practices. All require that the individual be at least an RN and have passed all state boards that are required. One specialty requires only a special certificate above being a RN, while the three others require a master’s degree.

Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) – A CNS requires a master’s degree and the average annual salary is approximately $ 75,000.

Nurse Midwife – A certified nurse midwife must obtain a minimum of a master’s degree in nursing and the average annual salary is approximately $80,000.

Nurse Practitioner (NP) – An NP requires a minimum of a master’s degree to practice. They earn on average $ 70,000 annually.

Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) – A CRNA must be a RN with at least one year of practicing experience as an RN and then must pass the board certification in the anesthesia specialty. This is one of the highest paid nursing specialties with an average annual income of $100,000 or more.

Nursing Specialties

There are hundreds of nursing specialties to choose from, all with the minimum educational requirement of an RN license, and then becoming certified in a specialty. From highest to lowest here are some average salaries for several specialties.

Average annual salary of $45,000 or less –nursing assistant, pharmacy technician, dialysis nurse and licensed vocational nurse.

Average annual salary of $65,000 – neonatal nurse, ICU nurse, operating room nurse, emergency room nurse, labor and delivery nurse, surgical nurse, Pacu and Picu nurses.

Average annual salary of $75,000 – RN home and health, orthopedic nurse, nurse manager, nurse researcher, clinical nurse, and pediatric nurse.

Average annual salary of $85,000 – NICU nurse, psychiatric nurse, nurse midwife, and director of nursing (DON).

Average annual salary of $95,000 – supervising RN

Average annual salary of $100,000 or more – nurse anesthetist and gerontology nurse.

Increasing Your Earning Potential

As mentioned above, there are several factors that will determine the average salary for any nursing position. Although your level of education may allow you to do a certain job, more education doesn’t always equal a higher salary. Also, in some states hospitals tend to have higher salaries while physicians tend to pay less, but this is not true for all states.

There are three ways to increase your earning potential as a nurse, the more years of experience that you have, the more specialized you become and whether or not you are willing to become a traveling nurse.


Learn More: Becoming an RN