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LAST SPRING, we surveyed nurses nationwide about their salaries and benefits and compared the results to a similar survey conducted in 2006 (see "Nursing2006 Salary Survey" in the October issue of Nursing2006). We found that overall salaries increased nearly 22% from 2006 to 2011, well above the standard inflation rate (11%) for that period. In general, trends among nursing segments surveyed in 2011 mirrored those in 2006.


Overall, employers offered fewer benefits in 2011 compared to 2006, with the exception of services that promote better education and specialization: Tuition reimbursement was available to about 64% of respondents in both 2006 and 2011; certification fee reimbursement increased by 10% in 2011.


The following graphs illustrate other key findings. For a discussion of study limitations and a profile of the typical respondent, see About this study.


About this study

The Nursing2011 salary survey was published in three issues of Nursing2011 (January, February, and March) and posted online. The sample was a convenience nonprobability sample. Not all respondents answered all questions, and numbers have been rounded.


This survey has several limitations. The response rate was 44% lower in 2011 (N=621) than in 2006 (N=1,107), but in both years there was considerable sample error due to the large nurse universe (an estimate of the total nurse population). Consequently, data can't be generalized to the entire nursing population for either study. In addition, responses were disproportionately high for nurses making $65,000 or more, artificially inflating the overall average for all respondents.


Because the raw data lacked key splits (such as RN versus LPN), data are reported on total respondents unless otherwise noted.


A typical respondent to this survey fits this profile:


* RN (88%)


* female (94%)


* has been in nursing for more than 15 years (63%)


* is a staff nurse (58%) working in a hospital (53%)


* works full time (83%)


* is compensated by the hour (73%)


* received a 0% to 2% pay increase at last salary review (73%)


* works in a facility that offers tuition reimbursement (64%)


* works in a facility without Magnet(R) status (89%)


* does not belong to a union (84%)


* is not certified in a specialty (62%).