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The Average Salary of a Nurse

The average salary of a registered nurse is $67,490.

You may have heard that there is high demand for nurses these days. The nursing field is growing quickly and some experts are predicting a coming nurse shortage. But is the salary that nurses earn sufficient reward for the years of training and the difficulty of the job? We can’t answer that for you, but we can walk you through the average salary of a nurse and some of the places where nurses earn the highest wages. 

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The Average Salary of a Registered Nurse

Wondering what a registered nurse makes? According to statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 2015 median annual pay for registered nurses was $67,490. The BLS projects that the job outlook for registered nurses (the percent by which the field will grow between 2014 and 2024) is 16%. That’s a much faster growth rate than the average across all jobs the BLS examines (7%). The typical entry-level education for a registered nurse is a bachelor’s degree.

The top-paying state for registered nurses is California, where registered nurses earn an annual mean pay of $101,260. Other high-pay states for RNs are Hawaii, Massachusetts, Alaska and Oregon.

The top-paying metro area for registered nurses is the San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA metro area, where registered nurses earn a mean annual pay of  $133,650. Other high-paying metros are Vallejo-Fairfield, CA; Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, CA; San Rafael, CA and Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA.

Related Article: The Best Places to be a Nurse – 2016 Edition

The Average Salary of Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives and Nurse Practitioners

The Average Salary of a Nurse

The BLS combines its statistics for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners, who earned median annual pay of $104,740 per year in 2015.

The job outlook for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners is even higher than the job outlook for registered nurses at 31%. That means the field is projected to grow at twice the rate of the registered nurse field between 2014-2024. Again, the average job growth for all fields is 7%, so the field of nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners is growing much more rapidly than most other fields.

Being a nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife or nurse practitioner requires additional education and training. Unlike registered nurses, whose typical entry-level education is a bachelor’s degree, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners have a master’s degree at entry level.

Nurse Anesthetists

The top-paying state for nurse anesthetists is Montana, where the annual mean wage is $243,550. Other high-paying states for nurse anesthetists are New Hampshire, Wyoming, Wisconsin and California.

The top-paying metro area for nurse anesthetists is Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL, where the annual mean wage is $255,610. Other high-paying metro areas are San Diego-Carlsbad, CA; Providence-Warwick, RI-MA; San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA and Vallejo-Fairfield, CA.

Nurse Midwives

The top-paying state for nurse midwives is California, with an annual mean wage of $137,040. Other high-paying states are Iowa, Oregon, New Jersey and Minnesota.

The top-paying metro area for nurse midwives is Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, CA, with an annual mean wage of $150,730. Other high-paying metro areas are: San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA; Vallejo-Fairfield, CA and Worcester, MA-CT.

Nurse Practitioners

The top-paying state for nurse practitioners is California, where the mean annual wage is $120,930. Other high-paying states are Alaska, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Oregon.

The top-paying metro area for nurse practitioners is Columbus, IN, with a mean annual wage of $160,050. Other high-paying metro areas are Vallejo-Fairfield, CA; San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA; San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA  and Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, CA.

Related Article: The Best Cities for Healthcare Workers

The Average Salary of Postsecondary Nursing Instructors and Teachers

The median annual pay of postsecondary nursing instructors and teachers was $73,150 in 2015.

The top-paying state for postsecondary nursing instructors and teachers is California, where the annual mean wage is $99,520. Other high-paying states are New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Delaware.

The top-paying metro area for postsecondary nursing instructors and teachers is San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA, where the annual mean wage is $201,340. Other high-paying metro areas are Springfield, MA-CT; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA; Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA and Rochester, NY.

Bottom Line

The Average Salary of a Nurse

Nurses are currently in high demand and if the projected nursing shortage materializes, nurses should be able to command higher salaries, too. Being a nurse is a famously tough – and rewarding – professional path. Depending on where a nurse pursues that career path, his or her pay could vary greatly.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages, ©iStock.com/shapecharge

Amelia Josephson Amelia Josephson is a writer passionate about covering financial literacy topics. Her areas of expertise include retirement and home buying. Amelia's work has appeared across the web, including on AOL, CBS News and The Simple Dollar. She holds degrees from Columbia and Oxford. Originally from Alaska, Amelia now calls Brooklyn home.
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