How Much Money Does a Registered Nurse Make an Hour?

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Are you considering a career as a registered nurse? One of the crucial factors to consider is the earning potential in this field. Understanding how much money registered nurses make per hour is essential for financial planning and decision-making. In this article, we will explore the various factors that influence the hourly earnings of registered nurses, provide average wage statistics, discuss regional variances, and answer frequently asked questions. So, let’s dive in and explore the world of registered nurse salaries!

Factors Affecting Hourly Earnings of Registered Nurses

Several factors contribute to the wide range of hourly earnings among registered nurses. Let’s take a closer look at these factors:

Education and Experience Level

Education plays a significant role in determining the earning potential of registered nurses. Those with advanced degrees or specialized certifications tend to earn higher wages. Additionally, experience level is a crucial factor. As a nurse gains more experience, their hourly wage typically increases.

Location and Cost of Living

Geographical location and the cost of living in that area have a substantial impact on nurse salaries. Generally, cities with a higher cost of living offer higher wages to compensate for the increased expenses. In contrast, areas with a lower cost of living may have lower hourly rates. It’s important to consider the regional variances when assessing potential earnings.

Type of Healthcare Facility

The type of healthcare facility where a registered nurse works can influence their hourly earnings. Hospitals, for example, often offer higher wages compared to clinics or long-term care facilities. Specialized facilities, such as research institutions or high-demand areas like emergency rooms, may also provide higher salaries.

Specializations and Certifications

Registered nurses with specialized skills or certifications often earn higher wages. Areas such as critical care, neonatal care, or psychiatric nursing may offer increased hourly rates due to the specialized knowledge required. Obtaining additional certifications can open doors to higher-paying opportunities within the nursing field.

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Shift Differentials and Overtime Opportunities

Registered nurses who work night shifts, weekends, or holidays may receive shift differentials, which can increase their hourly earnings. Additionally, overtime opportunities can contribute significantly to a nurse’s overall income. Some healthcare facilities offer premium pay rates for overtime hours worked.

Union Membership and Collective Bargaining

Union membership can provide registered nurses with collective bargaining power to negotiate better wages and benefits. Nurses who are part of unions often have higher hourly rates and improved work conditions. Unionized nurses can advocate for fair wages through collective bargaining agreements.

Average Hourly Earnings of Registered Nurses

Now that we have explored the factors influencing registered nurse salaries, let’s delve into the average hourly earnings for this profession.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national average hourly wage for registered nurses is $36.22 as of May 2020[^1^]. However, it’s important to note that this figure can vary significantly based on factors such as location, experience, and education level.

Comparing nursing salaries with other healthcare professions, registered nurses generally earn higher wages than licensed practical nurses (LPNs) or certified nursing assistants (CNAs). However, physicians and nurse practitioners tend to have higher earning potential due to their advanced education and specialized roles.

Disparities Based on Geographical Location

Geographical location plays a crucial role in determining registered nurse salaries. For example, states with higher costs of living, such as California or New York, typically offer higher hourly wages to registered nurses. In contrast, states with lower costs of living, like Mississippi or Arkansas, may have lower average hourly rates. It’s essential to research and consider regional variations when evaluating earning potential in different areas.

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Regional Variances in Hourly Earnings

To gain a more comprehensive understanding of registered nurse salaries, it’s important to examine regional variances. Let’s explore the differences in hourly earnings across various states or regions.

Highest and Lowest Paying States for Registered Nurses

California consistently ranks among the highest-paying states for registered nurses, with an average hourly wage of $54.44[^1^]. Other states known for higher wages include Hawaii, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Alaska. On the other hand, states such as South Dakota, Mississippi, Iowa, and Arkansas tend to have lower average hourly rates for registered nurses[^1^]. These regional differences reflect the varying costs of living and demand for healthcare services in different parts of the country.

FAQs: How Much Money Does a Registered Nurse Make an Hour?

What is the average hourly wage for registered nurses?

The national average hourly wage for registered nurses is $36.22[^1^]. However, it’s important to remember that this figure can vary based on factors like location, education, and experience.

How does education affect hourly earnings?

Higher levels of education, such as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), can positively impact a registered nurse’s hourly earnings. Advanced degrees can lead to specialized roles and increased responsibilities, often accompanied by higher wages.

Do registered nurses receive benefits in addition to their hourly wage?

Yes, registered nurses typically receive benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, and educational reimbursement. These additional benefits contribute to the overall compensation package and should be considered when evaluating the total value of a nursing position.

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Are there any opportunities for overtime pay?

Yes, registered nurses often have opportunities for overtime pay. Overtime rates are typically higher than regular hourly rates and can significantly increase a nurse’s earnings. Many healthcare facilities offer overtime opportunities due to staffing needs or seasonal fluctuations.

Which states offer the highest hourly wages for registered nurses?

States like California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Alaska are known for offering higher hourly wages to registered nurses[^1^]. These states have higher costs of living and often require a higher compensation rate to attract and retain qualified nursing professionals.

How can one negotiate a higher hourly wage as a registered nurse?

Negotiating a higher hourly wage as a registered nurse can be influenced by various factors. Some strategies include emphasizing advanced education, highlighting relevant experience, showcasing specialized certifications, and demonstrating a commitment to ongoing professional development. Additionally, joining a nursing union or professional organization can provide collective bargaining power to negotiate better wages and benefits.


Understanding how much money registered nurses make per hour is essential for aspiring nurses and those already in the profession. The hourly earnings of registered nurses can be influenced by factors such as education, experience level, location, type of healthcare facility, specializations, and certifications. It’s crucial to consider regional variances and the cost of living when assessing earning potential. By being aware of these factors and staying informed about the current trends in nursing salaries, you can make informed decisions about your career path and financial goals. Remember, nursing offers not only a rewarding profession but also the potential for a competitive hourly wage.

[^1^]: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, Registered Nurses

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