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How Much Does a Nurse Earn?

How much a nurse earns depends heavily on locality, education, specialization, and experience. Nursing is not a single role. Many forms of nursing encompass different levels of education and specialization. Nursing is about providing patient care. However, that care ranges from helping the patient with everyday needs to administering medications and helping with specific medical problems. With this wide range of roles, the salary levels also cover a wide range. If you look on job boards, you will see that contrast quickly.

Nurses earn more in certain locations. Large population centers often have a large demand for nurses. However, they may also have a larger pool of candidates from which to choose. That mean they may lower wages than other areas. Rural locations can have other problems. They may not have enough candidates to fill positions. They may also pay less than urban areas because of a lower cost of living. The differences by state can be quite dramatic. California pays an average of $85,340 each year for an RN. In contrast, Oklahoma averages $53,460.

Education plays a big role in how much you can make as a nurse. The reality is that a CNA will make less than an RN. An LPN will make less than an RN, but more than a CNA. An RN with an associate's degree will make less than an RN with a bachelor's degree. When you start adding master's degrees or post-baccalaureate certifications, the salary differences widen. The annual salary for a CNA in the US is around $29,000. The annual salary for an LPN is around $47,000. The annual salary for an RN is around $75,000.

Specialization makes a huge difference in salary levels. When you get to the RN level, specialization becomes a part of the equation. For example, a Certified Nurse Anesthetist can make over $150,000 each year in some locations. An RN working in a nursing home can make $60,000 or less. Other specializations offer salaries in between. A Certified Nurse Midwife can make $91,000 each year. A Nurse Practitioner can make $89,000 each year. A Neonatal nurse can make $74,000 each year. Of course, these areas of specialization require experience and additional education. This balance is something nurses have to find between their education hopes and their salary dreams.

When looking at how much a nurse can earn, you have to factor in experience also. A nurse with several years of experience will also make more than a new nurse right out of school.