When searching for a nursing job, many nurses will look for a combination of priorities, including the salary. Multiple factors may influence varying salaries for nurses across the country and in different healthcare settings.
One of the most direct impacts to salary is the level of education the nurse has achieved or the position requires. Nurses with a BSN typically have a higher salary than nurses with an LPN. Additionally, Advanced Practice Nurses, who have Master’s Degrees, typically have a higher salary to compensate for the additional education required. This includes Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs), Nurse Practitioners (NPs), and Certified Nurse Midwives.
The geographic region or state can also impact salary, but this is tricky as it requires factoring in the different costs of living. For example, California usually tops the list of the highest nursing salary, but this state also has a higher cost of living. Other states that usually offer high salaries include Hawaii, Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, and Oregon, while states in the Southeast typically have lower salaries.
Nursing Roles and Specialties
Within a hospital, the salary tends to be relatively consistent from one unit to another, but some specialty areas, such as pediatrics, may have a slightly higher salary. Outside of the hospital, salaries may be slightly higher in outpatient clinics or ambulatory surgery centers. However, positions in doctors’ offices and nursing homes typically pay less.
Finally, flexibility in location or shifts can also boost salary. Travel nurses tend to have a higher hourly wage compared to staff nurses in the same role. But as a travel nurse, there is less stability in when and where jobs are available. It may require moving at the end of a contract, which may range from 3 to 12 months. Further, willingness to work less desired shifts, such as the night shift, and/or taking “on-call” shifts may increase the hourly wage.