Nursing in the U.S.: How Much Does It Pay, and What Factors Have an Impact on Salaries?

Written by: Ailen Faiad
Last Updated by Rocio Somoza: February 2, 2023
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nursing in the U.S.

The United States is known as the “land of opportunity,” and in the nursing field, this statement is very much true. Nursing students and professionals looking for better pay and career opportunities often search online for “nursing how much does it pay,” and today we’ll answer this question. 

According to the National Nursing Workforce, nurses from Latin America and around the world find in the U.S. an average annual compensation of more than $70,000, which allows them in many cases to increase their income by more than double compared to nurses in their home countries. In addition, the U.S. offers a wide variety of options in terms of specialization.

However, there are many variables that determine a nurse’s salary, such as work experience and the state in which they live. In this article, we will talk about how much nurses earn in the United States and what factors influence their salaries.

Nurses: How Much Do They Earn?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the United States, the average annual salary for a nurse is $65,690. Also, a nurse earns an average of $38.47 per hour, which means that for a working day (8 hours) they earn approximately $308.

Nurses in the state of California earn the most, an average of $106,950, followed by Hawaii at $95,610 and Massachusetts at $92,140. On the other hand, nurses in Mississippi and West Virginia have an annual average of around $47,000.

Nurses with more experience and in specialized areas, such as surgical nursing, earn more than nurses in other fields.

Nursing in the U.S.

Variations

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2021 National Employment and Occupational Wage Estimates, how much nurses earn depends on the specific type of nurse they are and the type of license that they hold. Earnings can range from the lowest range at around $33,000 per year to $202,500 per year.

Most Popular Nursing Positions

These are some of the most popular nursing positions in the U.S., along with their respective activities and estimated incomes. Note an increase in annual income as the positions advance.

Nursing Assistants

Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are typically entry-level positions within a medical corps. These individuals must have CNA certifications, which vary by state, but generally require graduation from a CNA school and passing a state exam. The average annual salary for nursing assistants is $33,250. Nursing assistants focus on helping patients with comfort and daily needs.

Licensed Nurses

These workers are known as licensed practical and vocational nurses (LPN/LVNs). They are responsible for basic medical care, such as checking blood pressure, monitoring vital signs, monitoring patients’ needs, and assisting doctors. The average annual salary for licensed practical and vocational nurses is $51,850.

Registered Nurses

Registered nurses (RNs) have the ability to see patients in a variety of medical or community environments, such as hospitals, nursing homes, doctors’ offices, and homes. RNs (or Registered nurses) earn $82,750, on average. They work directly with doctors and may prepare patients for tests and dispense medications.

Midwife nurses

By degree of specialization, midwife nurses (CNMs) focus on gynecological, prenatal, and post-pregnancy care. The average annual salary for midwife nurses is $114,210. They monitor maternal health and fetal growth and may create birth and postpartum plans for their patients. They also handle routine health concerns during pregnancy, perform physical exams and tests, and deliver babies.

Nurse Practitioners

Nurse practitioners (NPs) have extensive medical skills, to the extent that they can take patients into consideration and can even serve as primary care providers without a doctor. As well, nurse practitioners have an average annual salary of $118,040. Their other responsibilities include prescribing treatments, ordering tests, and diagnosing patients.

Nurse Anesthetists

Almost like a doctor, nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) have the appropriate training to be authorized to administer and monitor patients who receive anesthesia. For this specialized medical degree and its importance, nurse anesthetists earn an average of $202,470 per year. Registered nurses with bachelor’s degrees can become nurse anesthetists by earning their master’s degree and passing a national certification exam and obtaining a state license.

Earnings by Experience and Location

We have noticed that interested parties searching for “nursing how much are they paid” on Google are limited to finding an approximate number. So, here you will find how much a nurse in the USA earns by years of experience and city:

BY YEARS OF EXPERIENCE

Less than 1 year $72,816 per year
From 1 to 2 years $78,271 per year
From 3 to 5 years $82,154 per year
From 6 to 9 years $85,117 per year
More than 10 years $95,170 per year
nursing in the U.S.

BY CITY

Chicago, IL$88,290
Las Vegas, NV$87,784
Houston, TX$82,619
Phoenix, AZ$82,241
Dallas, TX$76,982
Miami, FL$75,121
New York, NY$74,263

Training Required to Practice Nursing

There are three levels of nursing education:

1: The basic level is the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), which requires three years of schooling. 

2: The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a four-year degree. 80% of employers require at least this level of education.

3: The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) requires six years of study and is a degree that together with the license allows you to apply as an Advanced Practice Nurse, the most common, Anesthesiologist, midwife, and specialized practice.

Factors That Influence Salary

Experience in the field plays an important role in determining a nurse’s salary. Nurses with more years in the industry tend to earn more than those just starting out in the field. In addition, the place where they work also influences their salary. Nurses in hospitals and clinics in metropolitan areas may earn more than the ones working in primary care facilities in rural areas.

As mentioned, the state in which one works also affects a nurse’s salary, mostly due to the cost of living among the states. Cost of living (and thus nurses’ salaries) tend to be higher on the West Coast and East Coast, and lower in the South and the lesser-populated Midwest states. In addition, some companies offer better pay and benefits than others.


In summary, a nurse’s salary in the United States depends largely on their experience in the field, where they work, and the company they work for.


 

What You Need to Practice Nursing in the U.S.

To become a nurse in the United States, you need a degree in nursing and a license in the state where you work. Nursing graduates can acquire licensure through nursing exams and can also choose to complete advanced nursing programs to earn a nursing degree specializing in a field such as surgical nursing or critical care nursing.

Being a nurse in the United States may also require skills in technology and emergency medical management, as well as the ability to work under pressure in an ever-changing environment. Nurses must keep their medical skills and knowledge up to date through ongoing educational programs and must also meet licensing requirements in their state of employment.

Examinations

There are two types of licenses, for which two exams can be taken:

In order to practice, you must pass the NCLEX-RN exam. The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is a national licensing examination for nurses in the United States and Canada since 1982 and 2015, respectively. 

To pass the Nursing Examination, National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), the candidate requests initial documentation in a state or territory and then passes the Examination. A minimum score of 70% is required. To take this exam it is necessary to travel to the state in which you are planning to work, take the exam, and then leave the U.S. to wait for the results.

Working Visa

The H-1C visa is a non-immigrant working visa that allows foreign citizens to enter the United States to work temporarily as a registered nurse in areas where there is a shortage of health care professionals. Localized shortage areas in the United States for nursing jobs are determined by the Department of Labor. All applicants for the nursing visa must be licensed.

Those applying for this visa should be aware of the limitation on the number of H-1C visas that are granted in each fiscal year, and in recent years have been exhausted before the beginning of the next fiscal year. In addition, they should also be aware of a six-year limitation on the length of time they can hold the visa, and the companies they work for must file an application on their behalf.

Nursing in the U.S.

Documentation and Procedures

Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, must be filed by a U.S. hospital employer who has received a notice of approval for H-1C Nonimmigrant Nurse Certification from the Department of Labor.

The applicant must submit to the U.S. Consulate in his/her country of residence: a copy of Form I-797 (Notice of Employer Approval), passport valid for more than 6 months after the expiration of the visa, Form DS-156 (Nonimmigrant Visa Application), and, for men between the ages of 16 and 45, Form DS-157, Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application.

Advantages of Working as a Nurse in the United States

– Salaries and benefits in nursing are generally higher compared to other countries. 

– There is a high demand for nursing in the U.S.. This means there are a variety of job options in different areas and in different parts of the country. 

– There are opportunities for nurses specializing in various areas of nursing. It includes surgical nursing, critical care nursing, and pediatric nursing. 

– Nursing in the United States is highly valued in the medical community. It allows you to take an active role in patient care in collaboration with doctors. 

Disadvantages of Working as a Nurse in the U.S.

– It is costly and can be complicated to obtain a nursing license and visa in the U.S. 

– Nurses in the U.S. often work in stressful environments with long shifts, which can be exhausting in the long run. 

– There is a high demand for nursing in the U.S., which also means a high level of competition in the job market.

Conclusion

Working as a nurse in the United States can be a great opportunity for nurses with proper licenses and visas. However, it is important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of nursing in the U.S. before making the decision to work in the country. Nurses in the U.S. can earn high salaries and play an active role in patient care. But they also face high demand in the job market and stressful work environments.