Salaries of Correctional Nurses

Salaries for correctional nurses can vary by facility, geographic location and experience.
Salaries for correctional nurses can vary by facility, geographic location and experience. (Image: Images)

Whether it’s work at a federal prison, a state penitentiary or a halfway house, correctional nurses provide a range of healthcare services to inmates. They work with other physicians and nurses to help evaluate, diagnose and treat patients who have everything from the flu to terminal diseases, like cancer and AIDS. Because of the potentially volatile nature of the job, correctional nurses must also have a responsible nature to deal with prisoners.

Federal Prison Salary

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, salaries for registered nurses working in a federal prison start at the GS-9 level, or $41,563, as of June 2011. With at least two years of masters-level education, or a year of specialized experience equivalent to a GS-7 level, the salary for a correctional nurse progresses to a GS-10 level or $45,771 a year.

Local Prison Salary

California Prison Health Care Services lists the salary for correctional nurses at adult and juvenile detention centers as $7,285 to $8,431 a month, except for registered nurses at San Quentin State Prison and Salinas Valley State Prison who earn between $8,030 and $9,296 per month. According to the New York State Department of Corrections, registered nurses can earn up to $74,000 a year depending on experience, shift and facility location.

Salary by Facility Level

Sometimes the salary of a correctional nurse increases according to the type of facility she works at. The South Carolina Department of Corrections offers registered nurses who work at Level I facilities $42,973 a year. Those who work in a moderate security Level II prison earn a 2 percent incentive on top of that base salary. Correctional nurses in Level III facilities, with more violent offenders, earn a 3 percent salary incentive.


Besides the financial compensation, facilities may also provide benefits packages to their correctional nurses. The North Carolina Department of Corrections offers a disability income plan, supplemental retirement benefits, at least 94 annual leave hours a year, 12 sick days a year, health insurance, tuition assistance and shift premium pay.

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