Registered nurses perform vital health care duties, helping medical patients overcome a variety of injuries and illnesses. Because of the importance of their duties, and high demand for their services, RNs make much higher-than-average salaries.
Registered Nurse Salary Range
The CareerBuilder salary calculator lists an average yearly salary of $74,317 for registered nurses, while the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the average a little lower, at $68,910 a year as of 2013. Both figures are well above the 2012 average of $34,750 a year for all occupations in the U.S. The BLS reports that the lowest 10 percent of RNs earn an annual average of $45,630, while the top 10 percent earn $96,320. Registered nurses with a bachelor's degree may have better job prospects than those with an associate’s degree in nursing or a diploma from an approved nursing program. Some RNs choose to upgrade to a master's degree in nursing.
Top Regional and Industry Salaries
Among the states, California offers the highest wages for registered nurses, with a total of 252,940 nurses earning an annual mean of $96,980 as of 2013. Hawaii ranked second at $85,380, followed by Massachusetts at $83,720, Alaska at $83,640 and Oregon at $80,440. The top two paying industries that employ a significant number of RNs are the federal executive branch, which pays registered nurses an average of $79,190 per year; and outpatient care centers, which pay an average of $74,100 annually.