How much money do Registered Nurses (RNs) usually start out making after graduating from school?

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All states require that nurses be licensed by a regulatory board and hopeful nurses cannot attain that licensure without the appropriate schooling, which is at least an associate’s degree in most states. A bachelor’s degree in nursing won’t earn you any special acclaim when it comes to licensure, but it will set you up for a more administrative career in nursing, which can pay off financially in the long run. It will also give you a leg up in the job market over nurses who only have an associate’s degree. Likewise, nurses with bachelor’s degrees can expect to be paid a bit more than their associate’s-earning counterparts.

Working in high level care, such as cardiac or neonatal intensive care units in hospitals, will earn you a higher paycheck, too. Whereas, working in nursing homes or home health care settings won’t pay as much. In addition, the fastest way for many nurses to earn bigger bucks is to take on overtime at work—assuming they already work full time. The bottom line though, is that a wide variety of factors go into computing how much someone will make when they set out to start their nursing career. The best assurance they can get that it will earn them what they want is to get a solid education at an accredited school and keep their GPA high. The nursing field is very competitive and despite the job being in demand, if your grades aren’t up to snuff come graduation time, employers will overlook you for someone else with better marks.

A new nurse working with no experience in the field can expect to make around $17 to $50 an hour depending on the level of care they provide and the state they’re working in. Nursing is an understaffed field nationwide, but just as it is with any other career field, states with lower cost of living factors and more poverty are less likely to pay as much. For example, a registered nurse working in Iowa may make as little as $52,000 a year while an RN with the same education and work experience who is employed in California may make close to $95,000 annually. That being said, these figures can take some time to achieve. Starting out right after graduation, and depending on the factors discussed above, a new RN can expect to earn between $28,000 and $50,000 a year.

Cite this page: Danielle Bosley, "How much money do Registered Nurses (RNs) usually start out making after graduating from school?," in, April 5, 2016, (accessed August 11, 2022).