Hospitals rely on trauma nurses to treat patients in emergency rooms or intensive care units after car accidents, natural disasters, shootings or accidental poisonings. Trauma nurses work at much quicker paces and under more pressure than other nurses, as patients' lives are stake. If you want to become a trauma nurse, you must earn a bachelor's degree. In return, you can expect to earn a starting salary averaging between $50,000 and $60,000 annually.
Salary and Qualifications
The average starting salary for a trauma nurse was $54,000 as of 2013, according to the job site Indeed. This salary is commensurate with those the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported for the bottom 25 percent of registered nurses in May 2012 -- less than $53,670 annually. To become a trauma nurse, you need at least a bachelor's degree in nursing and one or more years of experience working in the ER or ICU. You also must have a nursing license through your state. Other key qualifications for the job are an attention to detail, compassion and physical stamina and organizational, critical-thinking and communication skills.
In 2013, average starting salaries for trauma nurses varied the most within the West region, according to Indeed, where they earned the lowest salaries of $35,000 in Hawaii and highest of $58,000 in California. Those in the Northeast made $46,000 to $65,000 per year in Maine and New York, respectively. If you worked as a trauma nurse in Louisiana or Washington, D.C., you'd earn $46,000 or $64,000, respectively, which were the lowest and highest salaries in the South. In the Midwest, you'd make the most in Illinois or the least in Nebraska or South Dakota at $59,000 or $40,000, respectively.
A trauma nurse may earn a higher starting salary working for different employers, especially those that pay registered nurses more. For example, registered nurses' salaries were considerably higher at colleges and universities, according to 2012 BLS data -- $74,540 annually. Trauma nurses at colleges and universities work at their medical centers or teach other trauma nurses. Registered nurses also earned above-average salaries of $69,490 at general medical and surgical hospitals -- versus the industry average of $67,930 for all registered nurses. You also may earn a higher starting salary as a trauma nurse at a university or general medical and surgical hospital. You'd also likely earn more at a larger hospital, which would generate higher revenues to better support your higher salary.
The BLS projects a 26 percent increase in employment for registered nurses, including trauma nurses, which is faster than the 14 percent growth rate for all occupations. Technological advances in equipment will enable hospitals to service more patients, which may increase jobs for trauma nurses. Increases in an aging American population also should create more jobs for these nurses, as seniors are more likely to need hospital services. You may find the most job opportunities as a trauma nurse at outpatient centers.