RESULTS FROM over 1,700 respondents to Nursing2004's annual salary survey revealed many positive trends, including increases in nurses' annual salaries. Among all participants, the average annual income was $54,574, up from $49,643 in 2003.
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Among respondents nationally, RNs' average hourly base rates increased from $18.49 in 2003 to $19.33 in 2004. In contrast, LPN/LVNs' rates remained almost static, rising only 13 cents, from $13.45 to $13.58, and unlicensed assistive personnel's mean hourly starting rate dropped from $9.43 in 2003 to $9.23.
What factors affect salaries? Take a look at the key results that follow to see what respondents had to say.
Experience and years in a position make a difference
When you compare years of experience and the average reported annual salary, you'll find that the "value" of experience translates into dollars, as respondents with over 15 years' experience averaged $59,536. That's significantly more than the $40,906 reported by respondents who'd been working 5 or fewer years.
Sex is significant
Overall, male respondents continued to report earning significantly more than female respondents: $59,844 versus $53,942, although both saw increases averaging about 9% over last year's figures. Some salary differences reflect factors other than sex that may account for higher salaries among male respondents, including facility size, work setting, certification, and management position.
Education adds up
At all educational levels, nurses reported higher average full-time annual salaries than reported by participants in last year's survey. For example, on average, RNs with an MSN reported earning $68,183; RNs with a BSN, $56,924; RNs with an associate degree, $51,090; and diploma RNs, $55,190, according to our respondents.
Work settings factor in
Hospital salaries continue to rise: On average, respondents working full time in hospitals earned $58,326, compared with $52,443 in 2003. Salaries varied across clinical settings.
Hospital type and size matter
Respondents working in Veterans Affairs or university hospitals, a facility with a lot of beds, or a facility in an urban area report the highest average full-time annual salaries.