It is generally agreed today that nurse is one of the best well-paid jobs in the world. However, have you ever thought of exactly how much do nurses make? To answer this question, let’s take a look at the average nurse salary and the factors that lead to the different rates among nurses. 

nclex nurse salary
How much do nurses make?

1. What is the nurse salary average?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average nurse salary is bordering on $77.600/year, which means $37.31/hour. Even so, this is not true for every nurse who works across the country. The number is up and down due to a lot of factors that contribute to what they earn.


2. What factors can affect nurse salary?

How much do nurses make? Let’s consider some aspects of the nursing field:


2.1. Nurse experience

Admittedly, most jobs are required you to start at a low rate first, and nurses are not an exception. A novice nurse is paid roughly $30 hourly. The more job year experience you have, the higher the nurse salary average you receive. There are some milestones in the nursing career that make the salary different.


>> Read more: CNA vs RN: Which One is Better for Nurses?


2.2. Nurse career types 

Additionally, the type of nurse that you are working with is a big factor that can affect your charge nurse salary. For example, an advanced nurse as an NP (Nurse practitioner) can get a higher rate than an entry-level LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse). 


RN nurse salary
an advanced nurse can get a higher rate 

From the chart above, we can see that the top 3 paid charge nurses are Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist – $181.04; Certified Nurse Midwife – $108.810 and General Nurse Practitioner – $118.84. If you want to be a gainful nurse, you can consider these 3 types of nurse careers.

>>See more: LPN vs RN: Who Earn Better?


2.3. Nurse education level 

Another contributor that impacts the average nurse salary is which degree or certificate you hold. They are totally different not only by their title but also by the learning duration and cost. For instance, archiving a PhD ( is required at least 7 years while a Diploma only takes 4 years. However, you should know that the title determines your salaries, the higher your education level, the higher the wage rate. You can look at the table below to see the difference in nurse salary average by education: 


Nurse education level Salary
Diploma $66,220
ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing) $71,091 
BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) $86,900
MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) between $96,000 and $100,000, 
DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) $102,600
PhD  $97,400


2.4. Nurse living state

Moreover, which state you are living in also affects your nurse salary. Based on the number of BLS Occupational Employment and Wages – Nursing Assistants, the top 5 highest paying states are:

  • California: $120,560
  • Hawaii: $104,830
  • Massachusetts: $96,250
  • Oregon: $96,230
  • Alaska: $95,270

 Lean on the living cost of each state that hospitals or governments will consider the rate of charge nurses, sometimes less than normal. If the city has a large population, the demand for housing and electricity bills is making the price up and leading to the higher income of charge nurse salary.


2.5. Nurse gender

It is stated that gender plays an important role in the nurse salary average. Men’s salary is 9% higher due to the working time. researched that the average nurse salary for men is about $80,000 while women’s rate is only $73,710. Male nurses are reported that their responsibility in the hospital is heavier and they often take longer work shifts. In addition, men seem to have better salary negotiation skills. It is a fun fact that  57 % of male always negotiate their rate, while female-only accounts for 34%.


3. What additional wage can nurses earn?

Besides the base salary, there is one more way that charge nurses can earn money, which is Additional Compensation. 96% of nurses confirmed that they do overtime, take a special shift and a bonus to gain more charge nurse salary.


nurse salary growth
96% of nurses confirmed that they do overtime


3.1. Overtime

Overtime is the most common way to get additional compensation to raise nurse salary. By expanding their normal daily and weekly schedule, which includes 36-40 hours/week, nurses can receive good pay. For overtime or holiday hours, most employers will pay time-and-a-half or double compensation. For each extra hour performed, a nurse earning $50 would earn $75 or $100 per hour.

One of the reasons why some nurses prefer to work on holidays like Christmas or Thanksgiving is because of this. They have the option to earn more money while working the same number of hours as they would normally.


3.2.  Special shifts

It’s also typical to get paid more for shift differentials. Only 24% of the nurses we spoke with if they received additional compensation for this. A shift differential is extra hourly pay for nurses who work shifts that are regarded as less desirable, such as mid-hours, graveyard shifts, or weekend shifts. A shift difference can range from $2 to $8 per hour, resulting in a large pay raise at the conclusion of the shift.

Some charge nurses who have worked the night shift for a long time are hesitant to convert to day shifts because they do not want to lose compensation by working non-differential day shift hours.


3.3. Bonus 

Bonuses were less prevalent, with only 11 percent of nurses reporting receiving them. Bonuses can be earned at the end of the year, or for other reasons such as accreditation, retention, picked-up shifts, specialties, performance, and even COVID-19. 

Nurse salary is vary based on many different contributors but as a nurse, you get what you deserve. We introduced you to 5 main factors that can make the average nurse salary different, which are experience, education level, career type, gender and state. We hope that after reading our article, you can determine which type of nurse is suited for you. As long as you are willing to work as a nurse, you will find your passion and increase your salary soon. You can start your nurse career by taking our NCLEX Practice Test now!