Salaries of Nurses

It is not easy to get an exact figure of the salaries nurses earned in the United States as there are too many factors influencing the outcome of the final figure. A good place to start, however, is with the average registered nurse salary, since there are an estimated 2.6 million RNs in the United States. The average starting salary for an RN is $39,000. As an individual gains experience and improves in performance, this figure will indefinitely increase. Note that this is only a ballpark figure, since other factors such as payment schemes, the amount of time the nurses spend with their patients, certification levels, and education levels also contribute to salary disparities within the nursing profession. Salary figures are also affected by work locations as nurses do not necessarily work in hospitals or clinics only. In 2004, the median yearly income for registered nurses was $52,330, or $4,360 per month. At the lower end of the range, some nurses earn $37,300 whereas at the higher end of the range, the number stands at $74,760. This huge discrepancy in nurses’ salaries is due to the different working environments. For starters, education levels and experience play a crucial role in career advancement, which ultimately affects income. A nurse with a bachelor’s degree from a nursing program will have to take the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX, before he/she can become a registered nurse. According to a survey conducted by the Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses (AORN), staff nurses or registered nurses earned an average of $57,600 in 2005. Salary.com’s survey results show a figure very close to this — $57,856. Additionally, staff nurses who work in the infection control department earn an average of $60,892, while a transplant coordinator earns an even higher income of $65,512. Clearly, the more demanding the job specialty is, the higher the pay. Experts estimate that registered nurses receive an average yearly salary increase of $660. After a few years as a registered nurse, those with a higher level of competence may advance into a position as head nurse of the unit, marking an increase in annual income. In an emergency room, a head nurse can earn up to $78,372 per year whereas those in charge of intensive care average $83,900. Compared to registered nurses who spend more than 85% of their working hours in direct contact with patients, head nurses will only have direct contact 36% of the time. Head nurses are also able to advance onto positions as assistant directors, directors, and medical facility vice presidents. Thus, it is possible for a nursing director to obtain a yearly income of $102,200 through administration work of a nursing home, hospital or any other medical facility. The job usually requires an advanced degree and a registered license in nursing. As nurses better equip themselves with certifications, a master’s degree, or a doctoral degree, the ceiling on their annual income be elevated. Nurses with a master’s degree can advance in one of the four following fields — midwifery, clinical nurse specialist, nurse practitioner, and nurse anesthetist. Clinical nurse specialists require five years experience and leadership qualities to evaluate healthcare facilities on behalf of patients. This group earns an average of $73,350 a year with a maximum level of over $78,000. On the other hand, an advanced practice nurse in midwifery is capable of earning more than $81,000 a year with top earnings stated at the $87,100 level. The nurse practitioner has an income level between the two, at $78,283 with the highest earners raking in $84,000 per year. Lastly, a certified nurse anesthetist can earn up to $127,213 per year whilst those holding a chief nurse anesthetist position can raise that income level by an additional $30,000. With a master’s degree in an area of specialty, a person with approximately 15 years of service can be appointed as head of nursing. This position is considered as a top-level profession and on average yields a yearly income of $163,113. Again, it must be emphasized that the exact figure of salaries for nurses cannot be elucidated from these statistics alone. As these are all numbers collected from survey feedbacks there will bound to be discrepancies caused by several factors, for example payment schemes, work environment, and geographic location. Although nurses are known to work on call, the compensation for their sacrificed time may come in different packages. Certain medical facilities reimburse overtime by paying a high hourly rate, while others compensate the time by increasing time-off. If the reimbursement comes as an hourly pay, the pay rate will differ from one specialty to another. At other times, the rates are conditional. Nurses may acquire their hourly pay by the number of beds (as a yardstick to the amount of work they do) that they had worked on.

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