How Much Does a Nurse Make a Year?

By Jacqueline DeMarco · February 12, 2024 · 4 minute read

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How Much Does a Nurse Make a Year?

Nursing can be a well-paying profession. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for a registered nurse (RN) is $81,220 per year or $39.05 per hour.

In fact, nursing can be a rewarding career path in more ways than one. Not only can these healthcare professionals provide for themselves financially, they also care for people during times of need.

To better understand what it’s like working as a nurse and what the earning potential is, keep reading.

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What Are Nurses?

An RN provides patients with care and support, and they offer education on health issues and conditions. Responsibilities can vary by workplace and specialty. For example, a geriatric nurse works with elderly patients and provides a different type of care than an oncology nurse, who supports patients with cancer.

Generally speaking, an RN’s tasks often include the following:

•   Evaluate the condition of patients.

•   Set up care plans for patients.

•   Consult and collaborate with doctors and other healthcare providers.

•   Operate and monitor medical equipment.

•   Document patients’ medical backgrounds and symptoms.

•   Administer medications and treatments.

•   Assist in conducting diagnostic tests and analyzing the results.

•   Educate patients and their families on managing illnesses or injuries.

•   Provide instructions for post-treatment care at home.

Nurses often work on a team made up of other nurses, physicians, and healthcare specialists. Some nurses may even supervise other RNs, nursing assistants, or home health aids. Because of how much collaboration and patient interaction is involved in nursing, this role may not be a great fit for introverts.

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How Much Do Starting Nurses Make?

On average, entry-level nurses earn around $80,321 a year or $39 per hour, according to ZipRecruiter. But keep in mind that amount represents a middle ground; incomes for nurses fresh out of school can run the gamut from $36,000 to $136,000.

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What Is the Average Salary for a Nurse?

Unlike some other healthcare professionals, nurses may be paid hourly or earn an annual salary. They can also make extra by working overtime, overnight, or on holidays. As mentioned, nurses who are paid by the hour earn a median rate of $39.05 or $81,220 per year.

It’s worth noting that where a nurse chooses to work can significantly affect how much they earn. When it comes to settings that pay the most money, the government comes out on top. Let’s take a look at the median annual wage for nurses across a variety of settings, per the BLS:

•   Government: $92,310

•   Hospitals: $82,250

•   Ambulatory healthcare services: $78,670

•   Nursing and residential care facilities: $75,410

•   Educational services: $65,450

Nurses also have the option to take travel assignments, which can be an attractive option for professionals seeking flexibility, short-term assignments, and competitive pay. Travel nurses can expect to earn anywhere from $81,000 to $128,00 a year.

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What Is the Average Salary by State for a Nurse?

The state a nurse chooses to work in can greatly influence how much they earn, as illustrated by the following table:


Average Annual Salary

Alabama $68,782
Alaska $78,193
Arizona $70,717
Arkansas $71,792
California $78,490
Colorado $90,700
Connecticut $69,698
Delaware $84,924
Florida $56,707
Georgia $64,076
Hawaii $75,614
Idaho $75,172
Illinois $84,135
Indiana $72,210
Iowa $69,236
Kansas $65,099
Kentucky $76,147
Louisiana $63,306
Maine $76,539
Maryland $82,211
Massachusetts $78,960
Michigan $75,056
Minnesota $72,508
Mississippi $69,141
Missouri $80,121
Montana $69,652
Nebraska $80,357
Nevada $73,935
New Hampshire $74,558
New Jersey $76,040
New Mexico $72,231
New York $83,627
North Carolina $77,842
North Dakota $77,045
Ohio $70,515
Oklahoma $77,820
Oregon $77,062
Pennsylvania $76,604
Rhode Island $71,379
South Carolina $79,483
South Dakota $72,815
Tennessee $67,322
Texas $74,746
Utah $67,313
Vermont $81,802
Virginia $83,556
Washington $91,445
West Virginia $59,162
Wisconsin $75,198
Wyoming $73,262

Source: ZipRecruiter

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Nurse Job Considerations for Pay and Benefits

Whether they’re paid by the hour or per year, a nurse can make a good living. And there are ways to supplement that income or create a flexible working schedule that supports a work-life balance. For instance, nurses can choose to work part-time, as many hospitals are short-staffed and need the extra help and expertise. There’s also travel nursing, which allows these healthcare professionals to pick up short-term assignments.

But if a full-time role with benefits is what you’re after, you may have little trouble finding one that fits. The BLS projects that between now and 2032, the number of RN jobs available in the field will grow 6%. And those on-staff positions can come with benefits like health insurance, retirement contribution matches, and tuition reimbursement.

Pros and Cons of Nurse Salary

Like any career path, working as an RN comes with a unique set of pros and cons that are worth keeping top of mind:

Pros Cons

•   High demand for nurses

•   Full-time work and benefits available

•   Flexible schedule may be an option depending on your employer

•   Physically and emotionally demanding job

•   Potential exposure to illnesses

•   May work nights, weekends, or holidays

•   Limited work-from-home options (aside from telehealth roles)

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The Takeaway

While the hours can be long and the work physically demanding, nurses have the potential to earn a lot of money. As they gain years of experience or enter more lucrative industries, these professionals can potentially earn a six-figure salary. Bottom line: If you’re passionate about health care and helping others, you may find that a career in nursing is professionally and financially rewarding.


What is the highest-paid RN job?

The type of nursing role an RN takes can affect how much they earn. Those looking to earn high incomes may want to pursue government nursing, which earns a median salary of $92,310. This is much higher than the $81,220 median salary for all RNs.

How much money does a RN make in California?

In the state of California, an RN can expect to earn an average of $78,490 per year, or an hourly rate of $37.74, per ZipRecruiter.

What state pays nurses the lowest?

Of all the 50 states, Florida pays its nurses the least, according to ZipRecruiter. Nurses there earn an average of $56,707 a year, and their average hourly wage is $27.26.

Photo credit: iStock/FG Trade

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