The Nursing Salary Survey Results are In!

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ADVANCE presents a sneak peek at the 2018 Nurse Salary Survey data!

At ADVANCE, we spent the first several months this year compiling salary information from throughout the nursing profession based on your responses. This is a high level look and part one in a series of articles revealing and discussing the results.

The 2018 ADVANCE Salary Survey for Nursing yielded thousands of interesting statistical results. Some were expected (higher salaries near urban centers, educational level playing a large role in determination of salary) while others were more surprising. This article will provide an overview of those results. Stay tuned throughout the balance of 2018, as we delve deeper into specific areas discussed in this summary overview.

Lastly, keep in mind that with electronic surveys, we cannot control which questions people do/do not answer, nor how thoroughly they answer. This likely explains most, if not all, statistical discrepancies. For example, 79 percent of our approximately 22,000 respondents said they were employed full time, which would be around 17,600 people. However, other results are based on only 12–13K full-time responses.

Over 22,000 nursing professionals (22,017 to be precise) responded this year. Here is a summary of our findings.

West, Northeast lead the way in average full-time salaries

Home to three of the four highest-paying states in our survey (Arizona, California, and Nevada), the West region led the way for highest average full-time salary.

In all, six states plus the District of Columbia reported average full-time salaries in the low-six figures. While at least a couple of those results may be slightly skewed by a relatively low number of respondents, that certainly isn’t the case with California, the nation’s most populous state and the origin of almost 1,500 ADVANCE Salary Survey respondents.

The Golden State boasted the highest average full-time salary this year at just over $106,000. In all, the West region’s average full-time salary came in at about $102,000. Following closely behind was the affluent Northeast region (made up of the six New England states) at just under $95,000.

Job Titles and Average Salaries

When cross-referencing frequency of responses and highest salaries, nurse practitioners had 2018’s most impressive results.

In other words, while there were job titles with higher average salaries than nurse practitioners, none of them presented the same quantity of responses we got from NPs (1,675 total responses, more than 7.5% of our total survey participants. This was the second-most popular response to the “what is your job title?” question, behind “staff nurse.”)

On average, NPs reported full-time salaries of just under $115,000—the third-highest of all job titles. Staff nurses, who comprised 28.5% of the total survey responses, reported average full-time salaries of $73,287.

If you’re curious, the highest-paying job title for 2018 belonged to nurse anesthetists, who reported an average salary just over $150,000. With only 60 total responses, however, the result likely requires a larger sample size before assigning too great of a statistical significance. Midwives reported the second-highest average salary at $115,000 under similar circumstances (only 20 total responses.)

It Pays to Specialize

Perhaps the most meaningful and statistically significant response we received this year was related to specialization within a particular area of nursing.

Of our 12,817 full-time respondents, almost 5,000 (39%) reported that they held at least one specialty certification. The following statistics are based on the top-20 most popular specialties where each specialty discussed had at least 200 responses; and in some cases, far more.

Among these top-20 areas of nursing, the average full-time salaries of respondents with specialty certifications were about 23 percent higher than those without certifications. The most popular area of specialty, Med/Surg, received 877 responses. As with most specialties, about 30 percent of respondents reported holding a certification in the area. On average, their salaries were about 17 percent higher ($84,922 vs. $72,779.)

The following is a list of the five greatest discrepancies between full-time salaries for specialty-certified vs. non-specialty-certified nurses within the top 20. Included are the total number of respondents, the percentage reporting specialty certifications, and the salary discrepancy:

Salary Survey Results - Nurse Discrepancies

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By far, inpatient facilities were the most popular work setting for our full-time respondents—almost 45 percent of answers came from people working in such settings. Impressively, despite the extremely high volume of answers, inpatient nurses still cracked the top 10 for overall average salaries ($83,431 average salary, 10th out of 28 possible settings.)

Nurses working in a pharmaceutical setting reported by far the highest average salary ($128,571) but this only represents a total of 14 respondents. Of those settings that received more than 1 percent of total responses, urgent care (207 responses) presented the highest average salary for full-time employees at $94,058.

Education Level

13,889 full-time respondents answered our education level question, with a baccalaureate (or bachelor’s) degree the most popular answer for highest level of education (37 percent of responses).

Interestingly, master’s degree was the answer for 3,125 respondents, rapidly approaching the number who reported an associate’s degree (3,588 respondents). Not surprisingly, the level of education corresponded strongly with salary levels, as demonstrated below.

  • Doctoral degree: 478 respondents, average salary of $113,347
  • Master’s degree: 3,125 respondents, average salary of $105,664
  • Bachelor’s degree: 5,148 respondents, average salary of $81,323
  • Associate’s degree: 3,588 respondents, average salary of $75,117
  • Licensed vocational or practical nurse: 1,550 respondents, average salary of $52,406

Clearly, it pays to pursue higher education in the field of nursing.

These are just a few of the results we received from our 22,000-plus respondents. Be sure to check back over the coming months for more in-depth, detailed results… and feel free to contact us if there’s a particular area you’d like us to explore!

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Rob Senior
Rob Senior

Rob has 15 years of experience writing and editing for healthcare. He previously worked for ADVANCE from 2002 to 2012.

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