Nursing Ranks, Employment Growing

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media , September 24, 2010

The average annual earnings for RNs employed full-time in 2008 were $66,973—rising 15.9% since the 2004 average of $57,785. While annual earnings are adjusted for inflation to 1980 dollars, earnings in 2008 increased only 1.7% from average inflation-adjusted 2004 earnings. The highest earnings were reported by nurse anesthetists (NAs), who averaged $135,776 per year. Staff nurses on average earned $61,706 per year.

Registered nurses with graduate degrees earned an average of at least $20,000 more than did RNs with other levels of education. In 2008, 29.3% of RNs reported they were extremely satisfied, while 51.8% reported being moderately satisfied with their principal nursing position. This compares with 2004 rates of satisfaction of 27.5% and 50.5%, respectively.

Only 11.1% were dissatisfied with their education in 2008, as compared with 13.8 in 2004. The highest rates of being moderately or extremely satisfied were reported by registered nurses working in academic education programs (86.6%), while the lowest rate of being either moderately or extremely satisfied was reported by nurses in nursing homes/extended care (74.5).

In 2008, an estimated 158,348 nurses had preparations as nurse practitioners (NPs). NPs represent the largest group of advanced practiced registered nurses (APRNs). About 35% of NPs were under 45 years old. Nearly 85% of NPs reported that they held a master's degree and 3.9% reported holding a doctorate degree. Of all NPs, 10.3% also were prepared as clinical.

Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at
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