Blog » Does It ‘Pay’ To Be a Nurse?

Does It ‘Pay’ To Be a Nurse?

Created Oct 25 2016, 08:00 PM by Lippincott Solutions
  • APN
  • advanced practice nurse
  • CNS
  • LPN
  • nurse salary
  • RN
  • nurse practitioner
  • nurse anesthestist
  • clinical nurse specialist
  • nursing compensation
  • nursing

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Are you getting paid what you’re worth?  With the economy gradually improving since the recession, it’s a better time than ever to be a nurse.

In 2015 Medscape conducted a nationwide salary survey of 8,256 participants, consisting of licensed practical/vocational nurses (LPNs/LVNs), registered nurses (RNs), and advanced practice nurses (APNs). APNs include nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse midwives, and nurse anesthetists.

In the survey, the average annual gross salary (before taxes) for an RNs is $79,000. LPNs/LVNs make the least with $46,000.

Nurse Salary by Position

Average annual gross salaries for the following nursing positions:

  • APN Nurse Anesthetist - $170,000
  • APN Nurse Practitioner - $102,000
  • APN Nurse Midwife - $99,000
  • APN Clinical Nurse Specialist - $95,000
  • Registered Nurse (RN) - $79,000
  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN/LVN) - $46,000

With an average salary more than double that of a traditional RN, APN Nurse Anesthetists earn the most. The hard work pays off for those who decide to go that route, making a whopping $170,000 per year on average.

It's not surprising that APNs in general are more satisfied with their compensation than RNs and LPN/LVNs, and that the higher the compensation among specific APN specialties, the higher the satisfaction levels.

Three quarters (73%) of nurse anesthetists are the most content with their salary, substantially more so than all respondent groups. Among APNs, clinical nurse specialists are the lowest paid and least satisfied (54%) with their compensation. It's interesting to note that the satisfaction levels of APN nurse specialists and RNs are nearly the same (54% and 53%, respectively), even though RNs  make $16,000 less than clinical nurse specialists. 

Gender and Other Roles

As in far too many professions, a gender disparity favors men. Medscape's survey results found that male nurses receive higher salaries than their female peers, with similar differences among all nursing groups: APNs and RNs (men making 9% more than women) and LPN/LVNs (men making 6% more). 

For APNs, males made an average of $109,000 to $100,000 for women. Male RNs average salary is $85,000 compared to $78,000 for women. And LPN/LVNs who are men make slightly more than women: $49,000 to $46,000.

Geographically, Among full-time RNs, those who live in the West make the most ($105,000), followed by RNs in the Northeast ($87,000). RNs who live in the North Central and the Southeast are at the bottom in compensation ($69,000 and $74,000, respectively).

Work Setting and Education

Medscape reported that RNs working as contract workers (including those who worked for agencies or were travel nurses) make the most, at $95,000, whereas those in the government (which included the military) make $93,000. Hospitals, where the majority (61%) of RNs work, were third (at $83,000 for inpatient care) and fourth (at $79,000 for outpatient settings) in compensation levels.

APNs who work in the government, including the military, make the most ($106,000), but are followed very closely by those doing inpatient work in hospitals ($105,000).

Both RNs and APNs working in school settings make the least on average, $63,000 and $84,000, respectively.

As you would expect, a higher level of education brings a higher salary. Among all respondents, those with a doctoral degree make an average of $96,000, master's degree make $87,000, bachelor's degree make $79,000. There was no difference in average between an associate's degree and an RN diploma -- both average $73,000.

How does your salary line up with these findings? Leave us a comment!