Registered nurses provide nursing care to patients in hospitals, doctor's offices and other health care settings. The term registered nurse refers to a nurse who has obtained either an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing and has passed the national licensing examination, the NCLEX-RN. Registered nurses are usually paid by the hour and earned average wages of $67,720 per year in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Starting hourly wages for registered nurses, however, differ somewhat from the national average.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly rate of pay for registered nurses was $32.56, as of May of 2010. However, PayScale, Inc. notes that the average hourly rate of pay for first-year nurses ranged between $19.62 and $25.11 per hour, as of May 2011. Compared to the pay of other nurses with more experience, pay does not rise much beyond this starting range until after the end of the fifth year when the average salary range rises to $23.80 to $31.66 per year.
Placing the hourly starting pay for registered nurses within the larger context of nursing pay nationwide sheds some light on pay in the nursing profession. The starting hourly range of $19.62 to $25.11 falls within the lower 25 percent of all nurses nationwide who earned an average hourly rate of $25.47 in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most nurses earned between $25.47 and $37.99, according to the bureau.
The top-paying states for registered nursing pay were California, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Alaska and Maryland, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Average pay in these states was considerably higher than the average starting pay for registered nurses. The bureau indicates that these states paid nursing candidates an average hourly range of $36.76 to $42.06 in 2010, a rate nearly 1.5 to twice as much for the pay of nurses at the lower end of the starting pay scale at $19.62 per hour.
Registered nurses often make different rates of pay based on who they work for, in addition to where they work. This has an impact on the overall starting pay for registered nurses, as some facilities tend to pay more than others do. For instance, nurses who worked in nursing care facilities made closer to the starting range of pay for registered nurses at $28.84 per hour, while those working in hospitals earned an average of $32.99 in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.