How Much Do Nurses Make?

It is more than reasonable to consider how much money you’ll be making before committing to a career path. Nursing is often regarded as a lucrative career with a high potential for growth, but many nursing students wonder, exactly how much do nurses make?
How much do nurses make
Sophia M.

  ·  

February 6, 2024

Table of Contents

The short answer is that it varies quite a bit depending on what state you live in, the type of facility you work for, and the specialty in which you work. Regardless of the variation in different nursing salaries, nursing overall consistently offers job security. Even the lower end of nursing jobs still provide a reasonable income and there will always be a high demand for nurses in the workforce. 

This article will give an overview of what nurses’ salaries look like in 2023, including some examples of how nursing specialties vary across different specialties and job settings. 

What is the Average Nurse Salary in the United States?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary of nurses in the United States is $89,010. The average hourly wage is $42.80. Nursing salaries vary significantly by state, mainly because the cost of living is so different in different parts of the country. 

What state has the highest nurse salary?

The states with the highest nursing salaries are listed below:

  • California. Average annual nurse salary, $133,340. Average hourly wage, $64.10.
  • Hawaii. Average annual nurse salary, $113, 220. Average hourly wage, $54.43.
  • Oregon. Average annual nurse salary, $106,610. Average hourly wage, $51.26.
  • Massachusetts. Average annual nurse salary, $104,150. Average hourly wage, $50.07.
  • Alaska. Average annual nurse salary, $103,310. Average hourly wage, $49.67. 

What is the Average Travel Nurse Salary?

One way to seriously increase your income as a registered nurse is becoming a travel nurse. Travel nurses serve to fill staffing shortages at different hospitals throughout the United States. Travel nurse contracts are usually around 13 weeks long. After your contract ends, you can either take on another travel nurse job or you may be able to extend your contract if you like where you are. 

Travel nurse pay is usually offered on a weekly basis. The average weekly salary of a travel nurse is $2,153 per week. This comes out to being about $111,956 per year, if you work as a travel nurse for the full year. 

How Nurse Salaries Vary Across Different Specialties

Salaries for nurses can differ based on the role and specialty. Specialized departments often require higher skill levels and more experience. For example, nurses who work in the intensive care unit (ICU) will need a higher skill set than those working in Med/Surg, since ICU patients are in much more critical condition. 

Also, some nursing specialties pay more in an attempt to fill staffing shortages. For example, psychiatric nursing is one of the highest-paying nurse specialties due to difficulty in recruiting nurses willing to work in potentially challenging environments.

Below, I’ve listed some salary ranges based on different nursing specialties, including:

  • Labor and delivery
  • Pediatrics
  • ICU
  • NICU
  • ER
  • OR
  • Oncology
  • Dialysis
  • Psychiatric nursing 

Labor and delivery nurse salary

Labor and delivery nurses work alongside obstetricians and midwives to help women safely deliver their babies. The average labor and delivery nurse salary in the United States is around $80,100. 

Pediatric nurse salary

Pediatric nurses work in a variety of different settings, including pediatric intensive care units, pediatric emergency departments, and pediatric medical/surgical units. The average pediatric nurse salary in the United States is $78,400 per year. 


ICU nurse salary

ICU nurses work in the intensive care unit, caring for critically ill patients. The average ICU nurse salary in the United States is $84,008. 


NICU nurse salary

NICU nurses work in the neonatal intensive care unit, caring for newborn babies who require close monitoring due to birth complications. The average NICU nurse salary in the United States is $75,126 per year. 


ER nurse salary

Emergency room nurses swoop in to help during emergency situations. These nurses make an average of $76,826 per year. 

OR nurse salary

OR nurses support patient care in a surgical setting, helping to support a team of doctors and other health care professionals during surgery. The average salary of an operating room nurse in the United States is $85,405. 


Oncology nurse salary

Oncology nurses work with cancer patients in a variety of settings, including in outpatient clinics and at the hospital. Oncology nurses in the United States make an average of $84,000 per year. 


Dialysis nurse salary

Dialysis nurses work with patients who have kidney failure to deliver dialysis treatments to help filter extra fluid and waste from the body when the kidneys aren’t able to. Dialysis nurses make an average of $87,023 per year. 

Psych nurse salary

Psych nurses work on psychiatric units of hospitals to help patients who are struggling with mental illness. This nursing specialty boasts a high salary, with some estimates averaging at $132,924 per year. However, many nurses find this to be a challenging field of work since psych nurses frequently deal with patients who have unpredictable behavior and may be dangerous at times. 

Every nursing specialty offers a different average salary. Your salary will also vary depending on the hospital where you work and your experience level. 

Non-Hospital Nursing Job Salaries

There are many different jobs for nurses outside of the hospital. If you are considering taking a less traditional nursing job and working outside of the hospital, it helps to know what type of salary to expect from these roles. Some non-hospital nursing salaries are listed below for the following jobs: 

  • Forensic nurse
  • School nurse
  • Home health nurse
  • Flight nurse
  • Hospice nurse
  • Nursing home nurse

Forensic nurse salary 

Forensic nurses work with victims of violent crimes to help with wound care and emotional support. They also sometimes assist in courtroom testimonies. The average salary of a forensic nurse in the United States is $62,263 per year. 

School nurse salary 

School nurses work in a school setting, addressing the health needs of sick students as well as  those who have disabilities or chronic diseases. The average salary of a school nurse in the United States is $55,149 per year. 

Home health nurse salary 

Home health nurses go to the homes of patients to provide them with care. Nurses in this role may help with simple daily tasks, such as bathing and using the bathroom and they will also check vital signs, draw blood when needed, and provide care to any wounds. Home health nurses make an average of $84,472 per year. 

Flight nurse salary

Flight nurses work on life flight helicopters to help stabilize patients when being transferred from an accident scene to the hospital. The average salary of flight nurses in the United States is $93,890 per year. 

Hospice nurse salary

Hospice nurses work with patients who are terminally ill, providing support at the end of their lives to help keep them comfortable. Hospice nurses make an average of $83,390 per year. 

Nursing home nurse salary

Nursing homes are a place where elderly patients who are unable to care for themselves live. Nurses who work in nursing homes make an average of $68,691 per year. 

What Nursing Job Pays the Most?

The highest paying nursing job is a CRNA, or a certified registered nurse anesthetist, averaging at about $211,836 per year. This field of nursing requires you to obtain a graduate degree which can take anywhere from 3 to 4 years. 

If you want to get the most out of your undergraduate degree, then becoming a travel nurse is a great way to increase your income without going back to school. Travel nurses tend to make a much higher salary than typical floor nurses (and you’re doing the same job). This job does require that you change jobs frequently and it allows you the opportunity to travel around the country. 

It’s Not All About the Money

While the expected income is an important factor to consider in career choices, it is important to keep in mind that money isn’t everything. When choosing the best nursing job for you, the salary should only be one of many factors that you consider. You want to choose a specialty that you actually enjoy, and that very well may be one of the lower-paying jobs.

For example, many nurses are recently leaving the bedside to do slower-paced work, such as working as a school nurse. School nurses make significantly less money than nurses who work in a hospital, but some nurses choose to take the pay cut in order to have a lower-stress work environment and a better work life balance. 

Final Thoughts

Regardless of the wide range of nursing incomes that exist across the United States, choosing a career in nursing is a financially secure choice. There will always be a demand for nurses and with so many different types of nursing jobs out there, you’ll always have the option to change it up if you decide that one job isn’t suiting you anymore. 

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