Doctors are often the first professionals thought of for medical care, but the health care industry is made up of many different professions, prominent among them being nurses and med techs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics divides those careers into four major categories: registered nurses, licensed practical and vocational nurses, medical technologists, and medical technicians. Salaries vary among them based on education and responsibilities.
According to a May 2009 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses received the highest pay of the four mentioned professions, with a mean annual wage of $31.99 per hour, or $66,530 a year, Over half of the 2.5 million RNs worked in general medical and surgical hospitals, where they earned an average of $32.57 per hour, or $67,740 per year. Doctors’ offices were the second biggest employers, with 8 percent of all positions, and mean wages at $32.35 per hour, or $67,290 per year.
Licensed Practical and Vocational Nurses
LPNs and LVNs undergo training for a year before working at their jobs, and may sometimes be supervised by a registered nurse in taking care of the sick, injured or disabled. They earned a mean $19.66 per hour, or $40,900 per year, as of 2009. Over a quarter of them worked for nursing care facilities, where they made a mean wage of $20.34 per hour, or $42,320 per year. Just over a fifth earned their living at general medical and surgical hospitals, with means at $19.22 per hour, or $39,980 per year.
Medical technologists are responsible for running complex tests to diagnose, treat and prevent medical conditions. Nationally, they made a mean wage of $26.74 per hour, or $55,620 per year, according to the bureau's report. As with RNs, technologists primarily worked for general medical and surgical hospitals, which had almost 60 percent of the total 166,860 jobs. Mean pay here was $27.12 per hour, or $56,400 per year. Medical and diagnostic labs ran second for employment with 14 percent of the jobs, and compensation at a mean of $26.42 per hour, or $54,960 per year.
Medical technicians get their training with either an associate degree from a junior college or certificate from a hospital or technical school. They handle less complex testing than technologists do, following detailed instructions under the supervision of technologists. The bureau report found that they made a mean wage of $18.20 per hour, or $37,860 per year, the lowest of all four occupations. About 45 percent worked for general medical and surgical hospitals, with mean wages of $18.66 per hour, or $38,820 per year, for that industry segment. Fourteen percent had positions at medical and diagnostic labs, with means at $17.11 per hour, or $35,590 per year.