Registered Nurse Salary

Registered nurses are professionals who work daily with handicapped or ill patients. These nurses provide care, support and treatment to their patients and their families. Nurses play an important role in the lives of those they care for. Patience, compassion and a attention to detail are the most important skills a nurse may contribute to their job. The diverse opportunities, attractive salary and guarantee of a recession-proof job are more attractive features of this profession.

Salary Overview

According to projections from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average wages for registered nurses was $62,450 in 2008. The lowest 10% were earning less than $43,410 and the highest 10% earned salaries higher than $92,240 per year. Of that group, those who worked in employment agencies earned the highest wages, followed by hospital workers, nurses in physician offices, home health nurses and lastly nursing care or convalescent facilities.*

*According to the BLS,

Nurses who have recently graduated will likely be paid lower salaries upon entering the nursing field. Salary raises are usually included yearly or more often in large facilities and hospitals. Agencies tend to pay the highest wages, since nurses must continually jump from one unfamiliar facility or home to another. Travel agencies also pay for hotel rooms, meals, mileage and gas when a nurse must travel.

Job Description and Outlook

The job of an RN will usually require a large amount of bending, stretching, lifting, walking and sitting, depending on the position chosen. Nurses who work in convalescent or nursing care facilities must continually check on and monitor patients. They are responsible for providing medications, treatments and various other physician-ordered procedures when necessary. Usually an RN is in charge of one or more LPNs and several CNAs or MAs. Being the charge nurse, there is a great deal of responsibility for personal actions, as well as others’ actions and work. In hospitals, nurses also have a great deal of responsibility for monitoring the conditions of their patients. In all medical facility settings, RNs are also responsible for formulating a plan of care for their patients.

Nurses who work in schools or are employed directly by homes for the mentally handicapped will often work as a health nurse. Providing emergency first aid, vaccinations and teaching preventative care methods to students and residents is part of their responsibilities. Nurses employed in home care settings will travel to a patient’s home and administer medications and personal care. Most home care patients are elderly individuals who need light assistance, but some patients are also terminally ill. RNs who work with the terminally ill must provide support and work in accordance with other health care team members to communicate the patient’s needs and desires. Working with the dying and their families is one of the most challenging professions; nurses who enter this career field must have unlimited patience, understanding and strength. When employed by a physician’s office, RNs are responsible for answering phones, billing, filing, office duties and greeting patients. Many nurses also perform routine procedures, such as vaccinations, taking vital signs and explaining treatment plans and medication directions to patients.

Training and Education Requirements

RNs must complete either an Associate in Nursing or Bachelor in Nursing degree. The most popular route is to earn an Associate’s degree first; some nurses may later decide to pursue a higher degree. A program for an Associate degree lasts about 2 years for full-time students. Applied Science classes, Algebra, Psychology and various other prerequisites are required. Once a student has completed these, classes about Disease and Illness, Pharmacology, Medical Terminology, Dosage Calculations and numerous other classes related to the nursing profession are taken.

Nurses who choose to pursue a Bachelor degree will find that the classes are similar to those in an Associate program. Several elective classes may be chosen; for these, students usually pick classes related to the specific field they wish to enter. For example, a nurse entering the field of pediatrics would likely choose Child Psychology and other classes related to children specifically. More advanced science and math classes are also required in this program.


Once a student has completed either an Associate or Bachelor degree program, the NCLEX-RN exam must be taken. This is a state test that will determine whether or not a nurse receives a license. Most nursing students pass the exam and are then issued their RN license. Each state requires RNs to renew their licenses every few years. States have their own licensing divisions that determine the fees and time frames for license renewal.

Professional Associations

There are numerous professional associations that RNs may join. Some associations, such as the American Nurses Association, require a high membership fee. Each state has its own established nursing association also. Another popular association is the Professional Nurses Association. Numerous other associations related to specific fields, such as obstetrics or geriatrics, also exist. By joining a professional association for nurses, RNs will be connected to other professionals and receive updates about valuable information relating to the nursing field or their specific area of concentration. Most associations are fee-based, but are worth it for the advantages offered.

Most popular careers in Health:

  • Medical Assistant
  • Medical Billing and Coding
  • Medical Transcriptionist
  • Pharmacy Technician
  • Health Administration
  • Medical Sonographer
  • Dental Assistant

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