Registered Nurse Salary: How Much Do Nurses Make in 2023?

The salary of a registered nurse (RN) is a critical factor to consider for those interested in pursuing this career. The average pay for RNs can vary based on several factors, such as experience, education, work setting, and location. 

Understanding the key factors that affect RNs’ salaries is crucial for making informed decisions about career choices and salary negotiations. In this article, we will explore the average pay for RNs in the United States, along with the key factors that impact their salaries.

Whether you are considering a career in nursing or are already an RN looking to advance your career and increase your earning potential, this article will provide valuable insight and information to help you make informed decisions about your career path.

How Much Does a Registered Nurse Make?

RNs play a vital role in the healthcare industry, providing compassionate care and expertise to patients. If you’re considering a career in nursing, you’ll be pleased to know that the RN salary is quite promising. 

Hourly: On an hourly basis, RNs can earn anywhere from $30 to $85, depending on factors such as experience, location, and specialization. 

Annually: Looking at the bigger picture, RNs can anticipate an annual income ranging from $82,000 to $184,000, making it a financially rewarding and fulfilling profession. So, if you have a passion for helping others and desire a stable and rewarding career, nursing might be the perfect fit for you.

Registered nurse salary by state

Several factors can contribute to the differences in pay for registered nurses in different states. One major factor is the cost of living in each state. States with higher living costs, such as California and Massachusetts, may offer higher RN salaries to attract and retain healthcare professionals. 

Another factor is the demand for RNs in each state. States with higher demand for healthcare services may offer higher salaries to ensure an adequate supply of healthcare professionals. Finally, state-specific regulations and policies, such as state-mandated staffing ratios, can influence RNs’ wages in each state.

Take a look at the salaries of registered nurses across various states:

Best paying cities for registered nurses

Nursing professionals are in high demand across the United States, and their salaries often vary significantly based on geographic location. The latest data reveals Chowchilla, CA, as one of the best-paying cities for RNs, with an annual salary averaging an impressive $137,085. 

Similarly, Barrow, AK, boasts a notable yearly average salary of $131,136 for RNs. Redwood City, CA, is another lucrative option for nursing professionals, with an average annual salary of $120,675. 

On the opposite coast, Calais, ME, offers competitive compensation, with nurses earning an average of $113,242 annually. Lastly, the renowned Napa Valley, CA, presents opportunities for RNs to thrive, with an average annual salary of $112,533.

Registered nurse salary by years of experience


While RNs’ salaries vary based on location and industry, gaining experience can also lead to higher earning potential. RNs with more experience tend to earn higher wages. According to Indeed, RNs with less than one year of experience earn a median annual salary of $83,698. In contrast, those with ten years of experience (or more) earn a median yearly salary of $109,392

As RNs gain experience, they may also have opportunities to advance into management or leadership roles, which can offer even higher wages. Additionally, RNs specializing in anesthesia, critical care, or neonatal care may earn higher salaries due to the additional skills and training required for these roles.

Registered nurse salary by work setting

Registered nurses work in various settings, and their salaries can vary significantly depending on where they work. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2021, registered nurses working in the top industries earned median annual wages as listed below:


What Is a Registered Nurse?

Registered nurses are healthcare professionals who have completed a nursing program and obtained a nursing license from the state’s board of nursing. RNs are responsible for providing patient care, collaborating with other healthcare professionals, and advocating for their patient’s well-being. They work in various settings, including hospitals, clinics, schools, and patient’s homes.

RNs perform a wide range of duties, including administering medication, monitoring vital signs, performing diagnostic tests, developing care plans, and educating patients and their families. They are also responsible for accurately documenting patient information and communicating with other healthcare professionals to ensure their patients receive the best possible care.

RNs must have strong communication skills, critical thinking skills, and the ability to work well under pressure. They must be compassionate, empathetic, and able to handle emotionally charged situations. 

Overall, registered nurses are essential to the healthcare system, and their crucial role ensures that patients receive healthcare services of the highest quality.

How To Increase Your Salary as a Registered Nurse

There are several ways to increase your salary as a registered nurse:

  1. Pursue additional education: You can increase your earning potential as a registered nurse by pursuing further education, such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing. Employers typically pay higher salaries to nurses with advanced degrees.
  2. Specialize: You can also increase your salary by specializing in a particular area of nursing, such as pediatrics, critical care, or oncology. Specializing requires additional education and training, but it can lead to higher-paying jobs and opportunities for advancement.
  3. Seek out higher-paying positions: Nurses can also increase their salary by seeking positions such as nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, or nurse manager.
  4. Gain experience: As you gain experience as a nurse, you can become more valuable to employers, leading to higher salaries. Consider taking on leadership roles or obtaining certifications to demonstrate your expertise.
  5. Negotiate: When starting a new job or negotiating a salary increase, it’s important to research industry standards and come prepared with data to support your request. Be confident in your skills and the value you bring to the organization.

Overall, increasing your salary as a registered nurse requires a combination of education, experience, and negotiation skills. By pursuing additional education, specializing, seeking out higher-paying positions, gaining experience, and negotiating effectively, you can increase your earning potential and achieve greater financial stability.

Should You Become a Registered Nurse?

If you have a passion for helping others, a strong desire to make a difference in people’s lives, and a knack for science and critical thinking, becoming a registered nurse can be a fulfilling career choice. RNs work in various healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and schools, and they play a vital role in providing direct patient care, administering medications, and monitoring vital signs. 

However, nursing is not for everyone, and it requires a significant commitment of time and energy to complete the necessary education and training. It’s important to weigh the benefits and challenges of becoming an RN carefully, as well as consider factors such as job prospects, salary expectations, and work-life balance, before making a decision. 

Another thing to consider is choosing the best educational path. When considering a career as an RN, you may also consider pursuing an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). The main difference between an RN and an ADN lies in their educational paths. While both paths can lead to becoming an RN, choosing between an RN and an ADN should be based on one’s long-term career goals, financial considerations, and time constraints. 

Lastly, if you are ready to go beyond RN duties and responsibilities, you can consider other options, such as becoming a Nurse Practitioner (NP). In considering the advancement from an RN to an NP, it’s essential to understand the key differences between the roles in responsibilities, autonomy, and scope of practice.

So, all things considered, if you have a genuine interest in nursing and a desire to serve others, it can be a rewarding and fulfilling career path.

How To Become a Registered Nurse

If you are wondering how to become a registered nurse (RN), the first step is to complete the prerequisites for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program. These prerequisites include courses in anatomy, biology, chemistry, and physiology. 

After finishing the chosen nursing degree program, candidates must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to obtain their RN license. State licensure is then required to practice as an RN. 

Seeking advanced training or certifications in specialized areas of nursing is optional but can be rewarding. Finally, graduates can explore various job opportunities and find employment in different healthcare settings and specialty areas.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Understanding the average pay and key factors that affect the salary of a registered nurse is essential for making informed decisions about career choices and negotiating salaries. Experience, education, work setting, and location can significantly impact RNs’ wages. 

Pursuing advanced education and training, specializing in a particular area, and seeking opportunities for professional development can lead to higher wages and career advancement. Additionally, working in high-paying work settings, such as government or specialty hospitals, can also result in higher salaries. 

Overall, a career in nursing can be rewarding and fulfilling, both professionally and financially, and understanding the factors that impact RNs’ salaries can help individuals make informed decisions about their career paths and earning potential.

Want to learn more about the highest- and lowest-paying nursing specialties? Check out our nursing salary and career guides by clicking here.


What degree or educational requirements does a registered nurse need?

Aspiring registered nurses have three options for their education:

  • Earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing
  • Completing an associate’s degree in nursing
  • Obtaining a diploma from an approved nursing program

The educational curriculum typically includes essential subjects like anatomy, physiology, microbiology, psychology, and social and behavioral sciences. Bachelor’s degree programs usually span four years, while associate’s degree and diploma programs generally take two to three years to finish. Each program also incorporates practical training under supervision.

Do BSN nurses make more than ASN nurses? 

A BSN is a higher educational credential than an ASN and requires approximately four years. Therefore, the latter may have a significantly higher salary. More precisely, an ASN nurse makes around $99,133, whereas a BSN nurse can reach up to $108,402 annually. 

What type of RN gets paid the most?

RN salaries depend on several factors, such as their level of education, specialization, location, experience, and the type of healthcare facility they work in. Generally, advanced practice nurses and those with specialized certifications tend to earn higher salaries than entry-level RNs. As such, the highest-paying nursing jobs include: 

  • Emergency Medicine Nurse Practitioner
    • Salary range: $127,000-$400,000 per year
  • Pain Management Nurse
    • Salary range: $363,000-$400,000 per year
  • Gastroenterology Nurse Practitioner
    • Salary range: $99,500-$400,000 per year
  • Surgical Nurse Practitioner
    • Salary range: $90,000-$376,000 per year
  • CRNA
    • Salary range: $195,500-$335,000 per year
  • ENT Nurse
    • Salary range: $56,000-$316,000 per year
  • Critical Care Nurse Practitioner
    • Salary range: $120,000-$247,000 per year
  • Internal Medicine Nurse Practitioner
    • Salary range: $118,000-$214,000 per year
  • Chief Nursing Executive
    • Salary range: $96,000-$200,000 per year
  • Cardiology Nurse Practitioner
    • Salary range: $117,000-$190,000 per year
  • Nurse Practitioner Hospitalist
    • Salary range: $123,000-$175,000 per year
  • Chief Nursing Officer
    • Salary range: $114,500-$173,500 per year
  • Interventional Radiology RN
    • Salary range: $129,000-$170,000 per year
  • Pediatric RN
    • Salary range: $89,500-$165,000 per year

Are registered nurses in demand?

The employment outlook for RNs looks promising, with a projected 6% growth from 2021 to 2031, which aligns with the average growth rate for all occupations. Over the decade, an estimated 203,200 job openings for RNs are expected each year. These openings will mainly arise from the necessity to replace nurses who switch to other careers or leave the workforce, often due to retirement.

What state needs nurses the most?

By 2030, California, Texas, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Alaska are predicted to experience the most significant nursing shortages. The projected shortage is particularly severe in California, with a deficit of 44,500 nurses. Texas follows as the second state with the largest nursing shortage, needing approximately 15,900 nurses to meet its demands by 2030. New Jersey, South Carolina, and Alaska will also face considerable shortages, requiring 11,400, 10,400, and 5,400 nurses by the same year.

What are the best schools offering nursing programs?

If you’re looking to pursue a nursing program, several top-notch schools across the United States can provide excellent education and training in this field. Based on the NCLEX pass rate, the most notable institutions are:

  • CSU Long Beach-California
  • LeTourneau University-Texas
  • PA College of Health Sciences-Pennsylvania
  • Kennesaw State University-Georgia
  • Keiser University at Ft. Meyers and Lincoln Memorial University Caylor School of Nursing-Florida
  • The College of New Jersey-New Jersey 

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