What’s your work worth? Nurse salary data released

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Here’s some good news about this demanding profession: Nurse salaries in 2020 are up in two of six regions of the country compared to 2018, and salaries stayed the same or decreased in the four others, according to a recent Salary Research Report issued by Nurse.com.

The same survey also revealed that 2020 stress is getting to nurses, with 11% of respondents saying they were considering leaving the field. The top three reasons given were too much stress; the pandemic and employers’ disregard for safety; and work-life balance.

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If you’re trying to grow your nurse career, you’re probably already aware of shifts in the health care workforce in recent months, many of them revolving around the pandemic outbreak. Demand for acute care nurses is on the rise, for example, while some nursing jobs in isolated areas or smaller work settings have cut hours or seen facilities shuttered.

But what about nurse pay? Many jobs in the field, like nurse practitioner, are still among the fastest-growing career categories that also pay well, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And nurse salaries in general are healthy and sometimes even highly desirable in these days of high unemployment, Nurse.com found.

The online education company and career resource conducted its online survey amidst the pandemic, from February through May 2020, so the numbers are up to date.

It gathered data from 7,431 registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and advanced practice registered nurses, with all 50 states represented. The number of respondents was balanced the same way as the distribution of nursing jobs per state. California accounted for 10% of all nurses hired nationwide and 10% of the respondents, for example.

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Here are some key findings about nurse pay from the research, along with the implications for nurses who want to get paid top dollar within their job descriptions:

Average primary salary overall: $75,293

Two regions had substantial nurse salary increases. American Hospital Association Region 3, which includes Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia raised its average to $72,000 from $66,435 in 2018. Region 6 nurse salary also climbed, reaching $64,480 in 2020 from $62,634 in 2018. That Midwestern region includes Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

All the other states maintained the same average between 2018 and 2020 or declined by just a few dollars.

Men are still making more money than women as RNs. This is despite “males reporting less education and being less likely to be certified,” Nurse.com noted.

For all RNs, the average was $73,000 primary salary and $15,000 secondary. For women RNs, the average primary salary came out to $72,703. Those primary averages were around 10% higher for male nurses, who reported $80,000. And males reported almost 50% more secondary salary on average, $22,000 compared to $14,000 for women.

The males reported working one more hour per week on average than females (38 versus 37), but the “differences do not equate to differences seen in salaries,” Nurse.com said.

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Asking for more money gets results. “For RNs, APRNs and LPNs/LVNs, there is a small correlation between higher primary salary and negotiating salary,” Nurse.com reported. “Participants who are more likely to negotiate salary also are more likely to be paid more.”

Given that seven percent more men press for salary increases than women, according to data from the American Association of University Women, this discrepancy could also be part of the reason male nurses tend to make more than their female counterparts.

Bonuses would help. Nurses would like to get more bonuses than they’re currently receiving, according to the report. Asked for the benefit they want that they don’t already have, the top answer was bonuses, given by 32% of RNs, 28% of APRNs and 31% of LPNs.

Plenty of nurses are planning to leave. When Nurse.com asked respondents to give a simple “yes” or “no” about their intention to move on from the profession, around 11% of the total said yes. More LPNs and LVNs said they were considering leaving, 12% compared to 11% for RNs and 6% for APRNs.

The top five reasons that prompted the intent to leave nursing:

1. Too stressful; Low job satisfaction

2. Pandemic, particularly an employer’s disregard for nurse safety

3. Work-life balance

4. Earlier retirement

5. Pay, staffing, workload