How Much Does a Nurse Make?

best nursing salaryNursing is a popular field of study and, like most occupations in the medical field, nursing can be a well-paid position. There are many different nursing specialties and each pays a bit differently. There always seems to be a shortage of nurses, and it is estimated that by 2016, there will be a need for over a million nurses in the United States alone.

As with any job, there is a wide variety of variables that can affect an employee’s final salary. Typically, the more skilled the employee is in a certain field, the more money they can command and nursing is generally no exception to this rule.

General Considerations

The state in which you are registered or certified as a nurse has a huge impact on just how much you make in the field. Nurses in California, for example, tend to be paid the most while nurses working in South Carolina tend to have the lowest hourly pay rate. Generally speaking, nurses get paid more if they work on the West Coast or in Hawaii than if they are employed on the East Coast. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule but in general nursing professionals along the East Coast, especially in the south, see lower salaries than their West Coast counterparts.

Additionally, there are ways to boost your income even once you become a nurse. Continue to get an education and obtain more certifications. Doing so will increase your worth as a nurse and can definitely lead to higher pay rates. And, of course, the more experience you have, the higher the pay rate you will be able to command.

Additional income streams can be found for those that are certified as nurses beyond simply working in a clinical setting. Speaking engagements at industry specific conferences are one way an experienced nurse can bring in some additional money. There are also many medical journals and magazines for which articles can be written and publication can lead to a good amount of money. Many of these side jobs can also lead to a possible raise in one’s main nursing job as well.

Remember, though, that an education doesn’t come cheaply and many nursing students take out student loans to help pay for their schooling. It can take some time to pay these off after nursing school, generally it takes about five years to pay off these loans, but that can vary depending on how much your payments are and whether or not you pay just the minimum each month.

Being a nurse is not for everyone, with the often long and strange hours and stressful duties. Those that find that they enjoy nursing, however, often have a great degree of personal satisfaction; not only are they making great money but they are also helping out others by assisting physicians and other medical practitioners and that sense of pride is something that no price tag can be put on.

Long Term Care Nurse Manager

Responsible for planning and implementing nursing policies and procedures for long term care facilities, long term care nurse managers actually come in on the low end of the nursing pay scale with only nurse recruiters making less. The median national salary of a long term care nurse manager is close to $68,000* a year.

Nurse Practitioner

Overall, nurse practitioners are paid more than almost any other type of nurse, with the exception of certified nurse anesthetists. Of the various types of nurse practitioners, neonatal nurse practitioners are the best paid and a nursing home nurse practitioner has the lowest median annual salary.

On average, general practice nurse practitioners make an annual salary of about $91,000*. Emergency room nurse practitioners make a bit more, coming in at close to $95,000* per year. Neonatal nurse practitioners bring in close to $103,000*. Nursing home nurse practitioners pull down around $73,000* a year. Specialty care nurse practitioners make around $95,000* a year.

Nurse Recruiter

Nurse recruiters, those people who recruit newly-graduated or licensed nurses for various nursing positions make, on average, around $66,000* per year. This is on the lower end of the overall nursing salary range.

Certified Nurse Anesthetist

Before, during and after a surgical procedure, certified nurse anesthetists perform essential duties to help physicians, including keeping an eye on the patient’s condition as well as administering the anesthesia properly. Certified nurse anesthetists definitely hit the jackpot, making close to $158,000* annually though the job has strict requirements, including at least 2 years of experience in am acute care nursing setting.

Certified Nurse Midwife

Assistants to midwives, Certified nurse midwives help during the process of childbirth as well as with postpartum care. Certified nurse midwives make an average of around $93,000* per year.

Charge Nurse

Responsible for directing, planning and evaluating overall nursing care for a unit, charge nurses make around $72,000* a year. This position requires a lot of nursing experience and knowledge of all appropriate procedures and practices for the environment in which the charge nurse works.


While all nurses make at least a decent amount of money, there are definitely differences in the amount a nurse gets paid depending on what their particular duties are. Remember that the numbers above are only averages; pay can (and often is) higher or lower depending on the exact situation.

* Salary data used in this article was sourced from (US Bureau of Labor Statistics)