Understanding How Nurses are Compensated in the US

The healthcare system is one of the few industries that have remained grounded and relevant during these tough economic times. The rising need for care for the older population and those living with chronic illnesses has increased the demand for health providers such as nurses.

Nursing gives you a sense of fulfillment and, most of the time, is a source of joy and motivation. However, if you want to learn how to become a registered nurse, it is of essence to self-assess and understand whether you are getting into that career with the right motives. As a guide to your evaluation, like yourself, if you have the needed qualities such as empathy, patience, and good communication skills that every nurse needs.

While self-assessment is essential, it goes without doubt that you are curious about the compensation you get for your hard work. Well, there is no stable income for all nurses across the health care system. Different factors influence what you earn as a nurse, and some of them include your level of education, practice setting, experience and experience in administrative roles. The following information gives you a better understanding of each factor determining how much you will earn as a nurse.

Factors that determine your salary

Work setting

Nurses offer services in different places, including doctor’s offices, outpatient care settings, hospitals and sometimes homes. The location you work in dictates your compensation at the end of the day. For example, a nurse working in a clinic may not earn as much as one working in a 24-hour hospital. The workload of these two nurses varies. Caring for patients in a clinic may not have much work as a nurse working in a large hospital facility with hundreds of patients.

Different work environments have varying needs and demands that determine how much a nurse will get paid. Besides salary, you can choose your work setting based on the hours you are willing to sacrifice for work, the conditions, and the patient population you desire to help.

Educational level

Your education level is a significant factor that determines your annual salary as a nurse. Although individuals with an associate’s degree can practice nursing, the rate at which employers are absorbing such in their facilities has declined. Today, those with a degree have the upper hand over those with diplomas and associate’s degrees.

Expect to start with a decent salary if you have a degree in nursing besides the vast opportunities the program gives you to advance your education and attain senior roles in the healthcare system. Getting a job can be difficult for registered nurses at the associate’s level, and the compensation is lesser.

The shift in employers’ requirements makes it better to obtain a degree than associates and diploma. However, this is not the end for those who have completed their associates degree. Some learning institutions allow you to earn a bachelor’s degree using your initial coursework. Understand that the undergraduate level is not the end of it. Even after obtaining your degree, you can advance your studies by completing a master’s program. This way, you can have senior positions like nurse practitioners who had an annual average salary of $115,800 in 2019.

Specialty

One of the significant benefits of nursing is you can specialize in your area of interest. Although this generally requires some additional training and higher education level, it pays off in multiple ways.

You can now focus your skills on one niche you are passionate about, such as pediatric nursing, which involves dealing with children. As such, you derive more joy from working and less frustration since you love what you do. Second, you gain more insight into your interests and unlock new career opportunities such as oncology nurse, a travel nurse and critical care nurse.

Specialized nurses are also highly compensated compared to general nurses. Besides excellent compensation, some employers offer tuition reimbursement for their nurses, which allows them to incur little or no costs at all as they advance their careers.

A registered nurse in the United States earns a median salary of $56,516 per year, a significant figure for a start. However, you can advance your career to make you more marketable and also increase your earnings.

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