How Much Do Nurses Make per Hour?

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Have you ever wondered how much nurses make per hour? Understanding nurse salaries is crucial, whether you’re considering a career in nursing or simply curious about the earning potential of these dedicated healthcare professionals. In this article, we will delve into the factors that influence nurse wages and provide an overview of the average hourly rates for nurses across different specialties.

Nurse Salary Overview

Average Hourly Wages for Registered Nurses

When it comes to nurse salaries, the figures can vary based on several factors. According to recent data, the average hourly wage for registered nurses in the United States is around $35 per hour. However, it’s important to note that this is just an average, and actual salaries can range from as low as $25 per hour to as high as $48 per hour.

Comparison of Nurse Salaries in Different Specialties

Nursing offers a wide range of specialties, each with its own unique demands and skill sets. Consequently, nurse salaries can differ significantly depending on the field of specialization. For instance, nurses working in critical care, anesthesiology, or specialized areas like neonatal or psychiatric nursing tend to earn higher hourly rates compared to those in general medical-surgical settings. Specialized skills and certifications often command higher wages due to the increased level of expertise required.

Factors Affecting Nurse Salaries

Several key factors play a role in determining how much nurses make per hour. Let’s explore these factors in more detail:

Education and Experience Level

As with many professions, education and experience have a significant impact on nurse salaries. Nurses with advanced degrees, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), usually earn higher wages than those with only a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). Additionally, nurses with several years of experience tend to command higher hourly rates as their expertise and skills develop over time.

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Geographic Location and Cost of Living

Where a nurse practices can greatly affect their earning potential. Salaries can vary significantly from one state to another due to differences in the cost of living and demand for nursing services. For example, nurses working in metropolitan areas or states with higher costs of living, such as California or New York, tend to earn higher salaries compared to those in more rural or less densely populated regions.

Work Setting and Employer Type

The work setting and type of employer also impact nurse salaries. While hospitals are the primary employers of nurses, other healthcare facilities, such as outpatient clinics, long-term care facilities, and home healthcare agencies, may offer different compensation packages. Furthermore, nurses working in government or educational institutions may have unique salary structures compared to those in private healthcare settings.

Additional Certifications and Specialized Skills

Nurses who acquire additional certifications or possess specialized skills often earn higher hourly rates. These certifications can range from advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) or pediatric advanced life support (PALS) to specialized training in areas like wound care, oncology, or critical care. Demonstrating expertise in specific areas of nursing not only enhances patient care but also provides nurses with opportunities for career advancement and increased earning potential.

Nurse Salaries by Region

Nurse salaries can vary significantly depending on the region in which they practice. Let’s explore some examples of the highest and lowest paying states for nurses in the United States:

Highest Paying States for Nurses

  1. California: With a high cost of living and a high demand for nurses, California consistently ranks among the highest paying states for nurses. Nurses in cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles often earn salaries well above the national average.

  2. Massachusetts: Known for its prestigious healthcare institutions, Massachusetts offers competitive wages for nurses. The demand for highly skilled nurses in this state contributes to the higher earning potential.

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Lowest Paying States for Nurses

  1. West Virginia: Nurses in West Virginia tend to have lower salaries compared to the national average. Factors such as the state’s lower cost of living and less competitive job markets contribute to the lower wages.

  2. Mississippi: Mississippi is another state where nurse salaries are relatively lower compared to the national average. Despite this, the state offers its own advantages, such as a lower cost of living and a strong sense of community.

Regional Disparities and Their Impact on Salaries

It’s important to note that regional disparities in nurse salaries can be influenced by a variety of factors, such as local economies, healthcare infrastructure, and population density. Nurses considering relocation or exploring job opportunities in different regions should carefully research the cost of living, demand for nursing services, and average salaries specific to their desired location.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the average hourly wage for entry-level nurses?

Entry-level nurses typically earn slightly lower wages compared to experienced nurses. On average, entry-level nurses can expect to earn around $25 to $30 per hour. However, keep in mind that salaries can vary depending on the factors mentioned earlier, such as location and work setting.

Do specialized nurses earn higher hourly rates?

Yes, specialized nurses often earn higher hourly rates due to the additional education, certifications, and skills required for their respective specialties. These specialized areas demand a higher level of expertise, which is reflected in the compensation.

How does the cost of living affect nurse salaries?

The cost of living directly influences nurse salaries, especially in regions with higher living expenses. Nurses working in areas with a high cost of living can anticipate higher wages to compensate for the increased expenses associated with housing, transportation, and other necessities.

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Are there any additional benefits or perks besides wages?

In addition to their wages, nurses often receive a comprehensive benefits package. This may include health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, tuition reimbursement, and opportunities for professional development. These extra benefits contribute to the overall value of a nurse’s compensation.


In conclusion, understanding how much nurses make per hour involves considering various factors such as education, experience, location, work setting, and specialized skills. The average hourly wage for registered nurses is approximately $35 per hour, but this can differ based on factors such as specialty and geographic location. It is important for nurses to research and consider these factors when evaluating potential salaries. By doing so, nurses can make informed decisions about their careers and ensure they are fairly compensated for their dedication and expertise in providing quality healthcare.

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