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Average Nurse Salaries (Based on Specialty)

*Original post released on 4/4/2023

The nursing profession is a relatively well-paid profession to be a part of. The field of nursing is also rewarding for many other reasons, aside from the salary, such as career flexibility, continuing educational opportunities, schedule flexibility, travel, etc. That being said, the financial draw is certainly worth talking about too. Overall, in the United States, the average yearly salary is about $82,750. Throughout the country, a nurse’s salary varies greatly based on a variety of factors which we’ll briefly touch on before breaking down each specialty’s salary. Now let’s dive in!

Like I said just a moment ago, there are a multitude of factors that affect the pay a nurse receives each year. For instance, the nurse’s level of education and overall experience greatly affect salary…especially if the nurse is a new grad. New grad nurses definitely will not start out making the average yearly salary for their specialty, and often times, there may even be a lower wage while they are on orientation status. Nurses can earn certifications in their respective specialties to boost their annual salaries. Shift type and hours worked per week can also affect pay, with night shifts and overtime accounting for higher wages earned. Location and cost of living are also two additional factors that can majorly impact the average yearly salary for a nurse. Additionally, the employer, any hazardous working conditions, union status, and even gender can affect pay. For example, in 2020, the Nurse Salary Research Report conducted a study which revealed that female nurses make $0.90 for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. That year, the average male nurse salary was $80,000 and for females it was $72,700.

Now that you understand just a few of the MANY factors that impact a nurse’s annual income, let’s break down salary estimates based on 2020 data for each specialty. (Numbers obtained from incrediblehealth.com, glassdoor.com, and salary.com)

  • Medical Surgical Nurse: $86,951 or about $42 per hour
  • Telemetry Nurse: $92,076 or about $44.30 per hour
  • Intensive Care Unit Nurse: $80,731 or about $38.80 per hour
  • Cardiovascular ICU Nurse: $94,052 or about $45.87 per hour
  • Neuro ICU Nurse: $95,778 or about $46.72 per hour
  • Emergency Room/Department Nurse: $92,071 or about $43.80 per hour
  • Pediatric Nurse: $85,630 or about $41 per hour
  • Neonatal ICU Nurse: $88,160 or about $42 per hour
  • Labor & Delivery Nurse: $90,541 or about $44 per hour
  • Postpartum Nurse: $76,651 or about $37.40 per hour
  • Operating Room/Surgical Nurse: $117,188 or about $57.16 per hour
  • Travel Nurse: $98,021 or about $47 per hour
  • Cath Lab Nurse: $142,553 or about $69.54 per hour

If you work in one of these specialties and want to comment on the accuracy of these wages, I’d love to hear if that’s similar to what you’re earning, the education/experience you have, and your state! Here in west Texas, as a contract ICU nurse, I earn about $40 per hour which is right about on track for the reported national average salary for nurses in my specialty. I have my Bachelor’s degree, am certified as a CCRN-CMC, and have 4 years of ICU experience. Let’s get a discussion going about the insane variability in nursing salaries! Remember that the salary you earn does not define your worth as a nursing professional. At the end of the day, your patients don’t care about the wage you earn; what matters to them is the care you’ve provided. BUT, that doesn’t mean fair wages and safe staffing, among other issues, don’t need to be addressed for nurses across the country…however, that’s a discussion for another article. Until next time, happy studying!

Andra Alyse

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