It is a universally accepted truth that nurses are a vital part of the healthcare system. They are the ones that help care for patients, administer medication, and provide emotional support to the patients and their families.
However, to ensure that nurses work effectively, collaborate with the rest of the staff, and provide high-quality nursing care, there needs to be a leader that supervises the rest of the nursing staff and ensures that everything runs smoothly. The charge nurse is a key figure in providing this leadership, bridging the gap between nursing competencies and managerial responsibilities.
Below, we dive deeper into what the position entails, the average charge nurse salary, and other benefits of the job.
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What Exactly Is a Charge Nurse?
A charge nurse is a registered nurse (RN) who is responsible for patient care and leadership. In addition to providing direct patient care, they supervise and coordinate the activities of the nursing staff on a specific unit during their shift. They also help create schedules, make effective nurse-patient assignments, deal with admissions and discharges, manage medications, and so on.
Essentially, charge nurses are just like typical nurses but with additional responsibilities related to leadership. Therefore, they mainly have two goals—to help patients and support other nurses.
Charge Nurse Salary & Job Outlook
Charge nursing is a rewarding profession that offers both financial stability and job security. This role is in high demand and will continue to be so—according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of registered nurses is expected to grow by 6% throughout this decade.
Additionally, on average, charge nurses in the United States earn $116,543. The salary ranges from $83K to $165K a year, depending on different factors, including location and experience.
Charge nurse salary by state
The salary of a charge nurse varies depending on the state they work in. To get an idea of the median wages in different states, refer to the map below. It displays the average salary for RN charge nurses in all 50 states.
Charge nurse salary by years of experience
Charge nurses can expect their salaries to increase as they gain more experience in their field. According to recent data, a charge nurse’s salary can range from $80K to over $100K based on years of experience. Here are the expected salaries for charge nurses at different levels of experience:
How To Increase Your Salary as a Charge Nurse
You could be doing the same job for less money because you work in a different state or hospital. So, when possible, consider changing your location or work environment.
Secondly, as is the case with a majority of careers, furthering your education can lead to an increase in salary. According to data from the BLS, postgraduate degrees are associated with higher wages and lower unemployment rates:
Lastly, certifications and experience can be a big help too. They help demonstrate your level of clinical and managerial competence to employers. Various professional nursing organizations offer certifications that help you grow into your role and position.
Should You Become a Charge Nurse?
There are mixed opinions about whether leaders are born or made. However, your interest in leadership and the qualities associated with it play a huge role in determining if you should pursue a career as a charge nurse. Because you will be in charge of guiding others, leadership, problem-solving, critical thinking, and a strong clinical background are just some of the skills you must possess to succeed in this role.
In the end, it all comes down to how willing and ready you are to put in the work. Any career is attainable as long as you work hard and stay focused.
Benefits of being a charge nurse
We have already established two crucial benefits to becoming a charge nurse—high salaries and a promising job outlook. However, in addition to being a lucrative career, this type of nursing is also emotionally and professionally fulfilling. Some other benefits include:
- Developing your leadership skills
- Opportunity to advance into higher managerial roles
- Simultaneously gaining management and patient-care experience
- Ability to help improve staff efficiency
What’s the Bottom Line?
Healthcare professionals have been and continue to be crucial to our society. Nurses, as a vital part of that group, need leaders that understand their role and can help them grow in the field. Charge nurses fit well into that position.
If you are interested in pursuing a lucrative and fulfilling career—the position of charge nurse might be your calling. But if you’re still exploring different nursing career paths and the salaries they offer, click here and find the career that suits you best.
Nurse Luke is a CRNA who specializes in Nursing content and still enjoys a very busy career with Locum, Per Diem and Travel nursing in the greater midwest. He has over 25 years of experience in the healthcare field and received his CRNA masters degree from the Mayo Clinic School of Healthcare. He is passionate about helping nurses explore the options of becoming a travel nurse as well as spending time with his Family.