Nursing is widely considered to be a high-growth field during the next several decades. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show more than three million nurses currently work in the U.S. healthcare system, with demand expected to increase in coming years. Wages for entry-level nursing jobs can vary based on a number of factors, including education, level of licensure, geographical area, the type of organization, and previous work experience.
Licensed Practical Nurses
Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) or Vocational Nurses have the least amount of training required to be a licensed nurse. LPNs typically have 1-2 years of training before taking a nursing license exam. According to 2012 statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, LPNs earned a mean annual wage of $42,400. The lowest 10 percent of LPNs, a range that would include entry-level nurses, earned $30,970 per year, while the top bracket earned more than $57,000. The median annual wage for all LPNs is $41,540. LPNs working in physician’s offices typically earn the lowest pay. Those working in home health, skilled nursing facilities, or assisted living facilities earn the highest pay.
Registered Nurses (RNs) have additional experience beyond LPNs, and are able to perform many more functions. RNs have at least two years of education before taking a nursing license examination, though many have three years of training or even a bachelor’s degree. The additional training and responsibility for RNs results in considerably higher pay.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2012 mean annual wage for RNs was $69,110. The lowest-paid 10 percent of RNs, which would include entry-level Registered Nurses, still earned $44,970 per year. The highest income bracket for RNs exceeded $96,000 per year. The median wage for all RNs is $65,950. RNs working in outpatient care centers, physician’s offices, and specialty centers earned the highest wages. The lowest wages were paid to those working in nursing facilities.
Salaries for entry-level nursing jobs varies between regions and employers. California, Massachusetts, Nevada, Hawaii, and Alaska are among the highest-paying states for nurses. Nursing salaries also vary considerably between types of employer. Nurses in certain specialties also typically earn more than those without specialties.
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