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How much money does a nurse earn?

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From the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Median annual wages of registered nurses were $62,450 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $51,640 and $76,570. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $43,410, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $92,240.

Determining where you might fit in within this range results from a variety of factors including an RN's overall experience, the school they attended or the state where you work (there are a lot of great answers on this below.) We've written an article that provides detailed information as well as useful visuals on the topic , see the related link for Career Numbers: How much do nurses earn? (below)

More advice from the nurses out there:
  • It depends on where and what type of nursing. A staff nurse starts off in the hospital making about $18,000 a year. As a traveler, you will make about $30,000 a year. I have seen people clear over $100,000 a year, but on average about $35,000-40,000.
  • You will earn more money if you job-hop every two years or so between companies/hospitals. Competitive raises rise much faster than annual merit raises (which are usually less than a dollar/hr). My sister-in-law chose to stay with one hospital over the past 15 years while I've moved around based on salaries (every 2-4 years). She makes $55,000/yr and I make $90,000/yr for the same work.
  • Hospitals are rarely loyal or offer more incentives to long-term employees. Furthermore, they rarely offer retirement benefits - other than matching your 401k benefits, which you can move with you from job to job. Find any long-term nurse and it's almost guaranteed that a new nurse working beside her (with less than 3 years' experience) is paid more per hour.
  • I am an RN in PA. I started out 9 years ago at 19.00/hr. I work in a nonprofit long-term care skilled nursing facility (SNIFF unit). This is my second place of employment as a nurse. This past year (2007) I grossed $83,000. I make 34/hr as a nurse manager. I work 9 days in a 2-week pay period, (72 hours) and work the last 8 in overtime after 8-hour shifts, for which I receive time and a half. In addition, I do an hour here or there for overtime - it adds up. I have 4 weeks' paid vacation, excellent health and dental, 8 sick days, 2 personal days/year. The LPN's at work make from 20-25/hr depending on experience. The RN's make 30-37/hr depending on the shift. These are the rates in this PA suburban area.
  • In California, on average, a CNA (nursing assistant) makes $9-14 per hour, more being made on night shift and with experience. An LVN gets paid approximately $20-30 per hour. The ones I know make $22-$25. An RN makes $30 plus per hour. The ones I know make about $35. This is at real hospitals, doing home health, there are always places where you can make less. But in CA I would say that this is average. (there are a lot of nurses in my family and I am going to be one.)
  • My wife is a nurse and she teaches nurses on review classes in passing the CGFNS and NCLEX. I remember a story from her where one of her students encountered this question from an immigration official at the US Embassy. This questions she says is usually asked by an immigration officer to try to find out if indeed the nurse knows how much she will be making if she goes to a certain state in the USA. So my wife always advises her students to always find out from their prospective employers the rate of salary they will be paid. Of course the basic salary for nurses differs from state to state. It is important that the applicant knows the prevailing rates in a certain state or job field.
  • I worked in payroll at a nursing home until July of this year; we started LPN's at $17 per hour with less than 1 year of experience, and RN's with less than 1 year of experience were started at $20 per hour. This is in the Cleveland area. Wages for nurses depend on the area and where you work (nursing facility, hospital, etc.). I think it also depends on where in a hospital a nurse works.
  • I started out as an RN with a B.S.N. in 2003 in Nashville, Tennessee. There was a sign on bonus (like 2500) for a yr, then started out at 18.50 with a 2.50 shift diff to work nights. I then moved to my home town (Corinth, MS) and became a hospice nurse and made 18.50 plus my gas mileage (which averaged anywhere from 4-5 dollars more an hour). Now I work weekends in Memphis, TN - I am what you call a full-time/ part time weekender. We get 3 weekend off a yr (and then some) and plenty of cash plus, I pay 120 dollars a month for good insurance and get 401k, and I make 40 dollars an hour. I work two twelves a wk and some hospice during the week - and that job's salaries has increased by a dollar - very good deal!!! I enjoy the fact that I am not employed by an agency but still make excellent money!
  • I've been an RN for 15 years. I have worked in ICU and ER settings in busy metropolitan hospitals. I worked for one employer for 14 years full time, while also working at other facilities part time. My best year I made $56,000. That may sound like a good income to some but consider that this is overall a very difficult, unappreciated and sometimes dangerous job. You have a heavy burden of responsibility and the lives of others are in your hands. One screw-up can ruin you for life. Imagine if you made an honest mistake, medicated a person (say a child or baby) with the wrong med or gave the wrong dose by accident. That patient dies. You get sued, reprimanded, dragged over the coals - while simultaneously experiencing the guilt and remorse for what you had done. You live with something like that for the rest of your life. Nurses are cussed, ridiculed and assaulted all while trying to save lives and make the world a better place. Hospitals are understaffed and nurses are given higher patient loads and more responsibility so that the hospital and doctors ($200k+/year) can profit more and more. Our benefits have been cut; our health insurance is some of the worse I have ever seen; and our retirement plan is an insult for a working professional. The average career span of a nurse is 7 years. The burnout rate is high and most every nurse I work with dreams of getting out of the profession - including myself.
  • In Boston many nurses make at least 80k.
  • I am a registered nurse (not a travel nurse) and I earned $78,000 last year in Florida with less than 2 years experience. But you have to consider the overtime and shift differentials. I averaged 60 hours per week. Any RN can reach as high as $100,000/year if they want to work overtime or have more than one job.
  • As a registered nurse in the ICU and ER setting I have earned over and close to $100,000 a year for over 10 years. It seems to depend on where in the country you work, your specialty, and overtime. I cannot believe one of the ER ICU nurses who has 15 years experience only made $56,000 in his or her best year. I made more than that coming out of college with no overtime as a first-year nurse. You are truly in need of a raise especially if you work in a major metropolitan hospital. Without overtime I make $79,500 a year. Better go talk to your nursing director because you are getting majorly screwed.

They earn enough to make a living
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