Nurses can make nearly 16% more working for the government

Nurse pay varies significantly based on where you work.

What is $99,840? It’s 63% more than the average Georgia salary, $3,000 more than locals need to live comfortably, and it’s what nurses can make if they work for the government. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, in May 2023, that’s what registered nurses were taking home — significantly more than in other sectors.

Georgia nurses averaged $90,000 salaries last year, about 46% more than the average local. The bureau’s report, however, revealed nurse pay varies significantly based on where you work.

Nurses working in education, for instance, averaged the lowest pay among their colleagues: $71,550. Those working in nursing and residential care facilities made the next most at $79,280. Ambulatory health care services paid $81,230 salaries, with hospitals averaging $88,430 in pay for the second highest spot.

When working for the government, nurses made 16% more than their average Georgia colleague and $28,290 more than those working in educational services.

The average wages don’t quite tell the whole story, as the gap between the lowest and highest 10% of nurse pay is nearly enough for another entire nurse salary. The lowest paid pros earned $63,720, with the highest earning $132,680. That’s a $68,960 gap — just $2,590 shy of what nurses are making in education services.

Those with more experience on the job and more certifications can often anticipate making above-average pay. Those expecting wages closer to the industry averages, however, may discover a significant difference in quality of life based on which sector they work in.

According to a recent study, Georgia workers hoping to live comfortably based on the 50/30/20 budget rule need to make $96,886 in 2024. Not only does the average Georgia nurse salary come short of that budget, but so do the average salaries for the four lowest paying sectors: hospitals, ambulatory care, residential care and education.

That’s why nurses looking to live comfortably in the Peach State may want to consider working for the U.S. government.