Use our salary survey to benefit your bottom line

Salary is a top issue for most RNs, particularly when it comes to benchmarking to peers.

A recent Yahoo finance article says U.S. nurses earn an average salary that is more than double the global average but, as a nurse, you are probably more concerned about your personal earnings and wage potential over the course of your career, than with what nurses make on the other side of the globe. A good way to ensure you’re making what your education and experience dictate is by keeping up on salary news.

Salary surveys give you the numbers you need to hear

Salary surveys and articles are a benefit to both nurses who want to ensure they’re earning a fair wage and for employers who want to remain competitive while recruiting and retaining top talent.

Surveys also can pose a lot of questions as individuals interpret and apply the data to their own situations. You may ask yourself, “Why does my salary seem lower than average? Should I start looking for a new job?” And employers may find they need to re-evaluate their pay scale, if they realize their salary rates are no longer competitive.

Our 2018 Nursing Salary Research Report gives RNs and their employers the information they need to take a hard look at wage scales and determine if the numbers add up for everyone.

A look at the survey sample

We conducted the salary and benefits survey in 2017. About 4,520 nurses (Female = 4,126 and men = 394) completed the survey.

The overall sample is representative of each state’s percentage of RNs when compared to the U.S. workforce. For instance, California’s 330,000 nurses represent 10% of the U.S. nursing workforce. Similarly, 10% of the survey’s nurse respondents live and work in California. Therefore, they were equally represented in the survey as they are within the U.S. nursing workforce.

Overall, the total length of time as an RN is 19 years with a mode of 5 years. Women in the survey have been RNs for 19 years compared to men who averaged 15 years. The overall average age of RNs in this sample is 48 years.

The average primary salary overall for this sample is $73,663. The mode is $60,000.

Men in this survey do make more than women, $79,688 compared to $73,090. There is a statistically significant difference between men’s (M = 79,688; SD = 37,421) and women’s (M= 73,090, SD = 48,003) salaries that is not explained by hours worked, education, years of experience or frequency of negotiating skills.

Approximately 85% of the RN respondents work full-time, 11% work part-time and 4% work per diem. Men who took the survey tended to work more hours than women on average (40 compared to 39).

A total of 377 nurses (8% total) work a second position (with registry or as a float) with an additional average second salary of about $23,600. Women made more ($24,064) than men ($20,371) on average in those positions.

How education panned out in the survey

All participants were asked if they held a professional certification such as PCCN or CCRN. Overall, 40% of RNs responded that they are professionally certified.

Participants were asked if they were considering pursuing higher education, certification or training to boost their salary potential with an overall response of 56% for men saying yes compared to only 49% of women. When controlling for education and number of hours worked, a significant relationship was noted between men’s and women’s salaries being certified.

Salary was further divided by education level as reported by participants.


In the six months prior to taking the survey, approximately 9% of men and 9% of women stated they received a reduction in their salaries. Reasons varied, with “other” being the largest reason. Other was a free text box within the survey.

The most common “other” reason was because of change in position, change in job or change in company/employer.

The next highest number of responses written in “Other” indicated the hospital reduced base pay, increase in low census, or increase healthcare insurance costs to employees.

Big takeaways from the survey include:

  1. Men continue to make more money than women as RNs.
  2. Education and certification do positively correlate with higher salaries in both genders.
  3. A high number of RNs were planning on pursuing higher education, training or certification to increase income.

So, if you were thinking about return on investment, education and certification do make a difference!

Now that you have these numbers in hand, take a good, hard look at what you bring to the professional table, including your experience, education and aspirations.

You may find that your employer is doing right by you, in terms of your bottom line. Or you may find there is work to be done, either on your side or your employer’s side, to bring your salary up to par with your colleagues.

Either way, it’s good to know, isn’t it?

Download our 2018 Nursing Salary Research Report today to find out how your salary compares to your colleagues.

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