Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and nurses work in the health care field, but there are few similarities between their educational requirements, job tasks or salaries. Nurses could be registered nurses, RNs; advanced practice registered nurses, APRNs; or licensed practical nurses, LPNs, each with different salaries.
Education, Licensing and Certification Basics
Licensed practical nurses provide direct patient care under the supervision of an RN or doctor and have a postsecondary certificate. RNs could have one of three entry-level degrees -- an associate degree, a nursing diploma or a bachelor’s degree. They plan and coordinate nursing care. APRNs are RNs who have a master’s degree or doctorate and are authorized to perform physician functions. SLPs must have a minimum of a master’s degree, and treat swallowing and communication disorders. Nurses at any level must be licensed in all states, and SLPs must be licensed in most states. Certification is available for RNs and SLPs. Certification is required for APRNs in most states.
Salary and Work Setting
The primary work setting for LPNs in 2012 was skilled nursing facilities, according to the BLS, where the mean hourly wage was $20.95. The most common work setting for SLPs is in elementary and secondary schools, with a mean hourly wage of $31.94. Most RNs work in general medical and surgical hospitals, for a mean hourly wage of $33.41. Nurse practitioners and nurse midwives work primarily in physicians’ offices, where the mean hourly salaries were $43.76 and $44.95, respectively, in 2012. Nurse anesthetists, the highest-paid members of the group, earned $71.95 an hour; most work in physicians’ offices.
LPNs, SLPs and RNs
Connecticut was the top-paying state for LPNs, with a mean hourly wage of $25.75. LPNs in southeast Alaska made $26.57 and those in the metropolitan San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City area of California earned $29.11. The District of Columbia beat out the 50 states, with a mean salary of $41.45 for SLPs. Central Indiana was the top-paying rural area for SLPs at $44.24, and Sherman-Dennison, Texas, was the top-paying metropolitan area at $48.81. California offered the best wages for RNs, with a mean hourly salary of $45.25.
Advanced Practice is Top-Rated
APRNs out-earned all other nurses and SLPs in 2012, according to the BLS. Nurse midwives did the best in the state of Minnesota, where the mean hourly salary was $55.97, and in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale area of California, with an hourly mean salary of $62.39. For NPs, the top-paying state was Alaska, at $53.89. The best-paying rural area was eastern New Mexico, at $56.28, and the best-paying metropolitan area was San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara in California, where the mean hourly salary was $60.31. Nurse anesthetists in Wyoming had the highest mean hourly wage of all states at $103.71. The top-paying metropolitan area was Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, North Carolina, where the mean hourly salary was $97.43. Nurse anesthetists in west central Illinois earned a mean hourly salary of $105.06.