Salary survey: Nurses report slight dip in take-home pay


If take-home pay is a high priority for female nurses, they may want to head to California to work in an inpatient setting within a hospital. Still, even there, where nurses report some of the highest incomes in the nation, they may discover that their male colleagues earn between 6 percent and 9 percent more, according to a new salary survey.

While only 8 percent of registered nurses and licensed practical nurses who responded to the survey were men, the difference between salaries earned by male and female nurses is in keeping with a gender pay disparity in nursing. Male nurses--both RNs and LPNs--also reported that they worked significantly more overtime and took on additional duties, according to the Medscape RN/LPN Salary Report 2016.

Some additional findings from the survey, which includes responses from 4,056 RNs and 1,688 LPNs:

There was a small dip in average take-home pay for nurses. The average salary for an RN in 2015 was $78,000, which is $1,000 less than 2014. It’s the same story for LPNs, whose average salary went down from $46,000 to $43,000. One reason for the decrease is the reality that many nurses are now in their late 40s and they’re hitting salary caps, according to one survey respondent. Indeed, the report noted that almost half of the RN respondents were in the 55- to 64-years age group.

For the best salaries, head west. Nurses reported the highest ($98,000) annual earnings in the West, which includes California, Alaska, and Hawaii. The lowest average full-time annual incomes were reported in the North Central region of the United States ($70,000), according to the survey. 

Nearly half of RNs are salaried. Fifty-three percent of RNs and 83 percent of LPNs are paid hourly ( $37 per hour and $21 per hour, respectively, if full-time). This is in line with recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which reports the [median hourly rate of pay across the United States in 2015 was $32.45 for RNs and $20.76 for LPNs.

But that means 47 percent of RNs are currently salaried employees. This is likely in keeping with the trend of nurses embracing roles that require a regular 9-to-5, Monday through Friday schedule.

Nurses who want a salary boost should go back to school. Nurses stand to increase their annual full-time salary by 11 percent once they attain a BSN. Securing an MSN degree translated to a 9 percent salary increase, while getting a doctorate was associated with a 5 percent salary increase.