Registered Nurse Salary

What is a registered nurse?

Registered nurses coordinate and deliver patient care as well as provide support, advice and information about various health conditions and treatment plans. They often find employment in hospitals, doctor's offices and regional medical clinics but may work in other, less traditional settings, depending on their training and title. Registered nurses can choose to specialize in one or more specific areas, and their jobs may include the supervision of licensed practical/vocational nurses, nursing assistants or other clinical personnel.

What is a registered nurse's salary?

The median annual registered nurse salary figures were higher than the national average for all occupations in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov), with nurses in some specializations and certain geographical areas taking home better wages than others. An individual registered nurse salary can be above or below the national median for the profession, depending on factors such as training, experience, level of education and occupational demand versus workforce supply.

Job TitleBottom 10% Annual WageAnnual Median WageTop 10% Annual Wage
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses-U.S.$32,510$44,090$60,420
Registered Nurses-U.S.$47,120$68,450$102,990
Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Is it difficult to find a job as a registered nurse?

According to bls.gov career opportunities for registered nurses are expected to rise faster than the average for all occupations between 2012 and 2022. A number of possible reasons are given for the projected growth in the field, including rising admission rates at inpatient long-term care facilities, a generally aging U.S. population and higher diagnosis rates for arthritis, diabetes, obesity and other chronic conditions.

Job TitleProjected Job Growth Rate
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses-U.S.12.2%
Registered Nurses-U.S.14.8%
Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Is there room for advancement as a registered nurse?

Advancement for registered nurses is available through a few different channels. Some clinical facilities make it possible for long-standing registered nurses to move into roles of greater administrative responsibility without requiring them to earn further any academic degrees, while others may prefer management candidates who have earned a bachelor's or master's degree.

Registered nurses who return to school may also choose to stay in an academic setting and become nurse educators.

Positions as nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives or nurse practitioners -- known collectively as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) -- are also available for registered nurses who earn graduate degrees in one of the APRN specialties.

Do registered nurses need to be licensed or certified?

A registered nursing license is required in all U.S. states, territories and the District of Columbia. The State board of nursing in each area is responsible for determining the academic and practical requirements that must be met before the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses, or NCLEX-RN, can be taken.

Registered nurses may also choose to earn specialized certifications in their particular area of practice. These certifications, although not often mandatory, demonstrate dedication to an elevated standard of care and may be preferred by certain employers.

Registered Nurses, Occupational Employment and Wages, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012
Registered Nurses, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012
Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012
National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012

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