Nurse Salary and Compensation

Written by NS StaffJune 30, 2011
Nurse Salary

Nursing salaries across the country are rising, and the salaries for nurses should continue to increase with the continued shortage of nurses. Salaries vary widely across the country. Major metropolitan areas such as San Francisco, CA and New York, NY have a higher cost of living than Pocatello, ID or Lakeland, FL.

The nurse salary survey results found here and on other sites are averaged across the whole nation, so please use the numbers as a starting point only.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that in May 2004 the "median annual earnings of registered nurses were $52,330... The middle 50 percent earned between $43,370 and $63,360. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $37,000, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $74,760."

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also found the May 2004 median annual earnings for registered nurses in specific places of employment:

* Medical and surgical hospitals: $53,450
* Home health care services: $48,990
* Physicians offices: $48,250
* Nursing care facilities: $48,220

Registered nurses (RNs) who specialize as neonatal nurses or perioperative nurses (surgical nurses) often take home higher earnings than general nurses. For example, the average national surgical nurse salary in 2004 was $53,450. A starting neonatal nurse salary can be as high as $48,000 because this nursing specialty is relatively new, and caregivers are actively recruiting qualified registered nurses to work with newborns. shows nursing salaries broken down by metropolitan region and job specialty. For instance, the median earnings for nurse practitioners in Oakland, California fall between $83,082 and $97,483. The latest figures from show that registered nurses (RNs) earn an average of $65,000 in New York City; $59,000 in Dallas; and $55,000 in Baltimore.

There are also differences between the types of nursing salaries depending on the specialty and function. cites a median U.S. school nurse salary of between $32,510 and $51,367 (with the top 10% earning more than $61,000 annually). LPNs and LVNs can earn up to $35,000 annually in their first four years on the job; with five years of experience, the average LPN salary jumps to $41,500.

In the end, salary statistics are just numbers. Start from those numbers, but also read articles at and HotJobs about how to negotiate for the salary that you want. You may be willing to take less because you only want to work four days a week, or maybe you may want to negotiate for special vacation days.

You can read more about nursing salaries at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Learn More About Your Future Career as a Nurse:

Nursing Career Summary
Salary & Compensation
Day in the Life of…
Job Outlook
Typical Career Path
Medical Assisting as a Pathway to Nursing 
Profile of a Nurse
Nursing as Compared to Doctoring
Blood and Needles

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