Registered nurses, sometimes referred to as RNs, are health care professionals who provide hands-on care to patients, emotional support and health care instructions to family members and caregivers, and health care education to their local communities. RNs represent the largest employment component in the U.S. health care system, with approximately 2.6 million jobs. Registered nurses are typically well compensated for their services, but pay rates can be affected by numerous factors including their level of experience.
The annual pay rate for registered nurses ranged widely from less than $43,970 to more than $93,700 as of May 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median annual income for registered nurses of all experience levels across the United States was $63,750. Factors that may affect a registered nurse's pay rate include experience, education, specialty and credentials, type of employment and geographic location.
NurseDegreeGuide.com places the average starting salary for registered nurses in the United States at approximately $39,000 per year. A first year RN's average pay rate can range from $19.57 per hour to $25.10 per hour, according to PayScale.com. PayScale.com's estimates translate to approximately $40,700 to $52,200 per year for RNs working a standard 40 -hour work week.
General medical and surgical hospitals provide the greatest number of jobs for registered nurses in the United States. The median annual wage for registered nurses working in hospital environments was $67,740 as of May 2009, according to the BLS. The federal executive branch of government, medical equipment manufacturers, civic organizations and medical supply companies offered fewer job opportunities for registered nurses, but paid the highest median wages at more than $77,000 per year.
Location can have a significant impact on the amount of wages paid to registered nurses. The state of California had more jobs and paid higher rates to registered nurses of all the states as of May 2009, according to the BLS. RNs working in California earned a median annual wage of more than $85,000 while those working in Mississippi earned a median annual wage of less than $58,000.