Registered Nurse

Average Registered Nurse Salary Nationwide


Overview and Basic Information


Registered nurses (RNs) help take care of sick folks in hospitals, physician’s offices, homes and other facilities. They work as part of a team with doctors, other nurses and healthcare professionals. Their job is to serve as part of a healthcare team and:

  • monitor health conditions

  • plan long-term care needs

  • administer medicine

  • use medical equipment

  • perform minor medical operations

  • advise patients and their families on illness, care and continued care after a hospital stay

  • Provide emotional support

Registered nurse jobs can vary a lot depending on where they work. An RN who works in an emergency room will have a very different job than one who works at an elementary school.

Example registered nurse job description

We’re looking for a registered nurse to join our clinic staff. Your duties will include patient care, creating and maintaining medical records, administering medication, recording vital signs and reporting symptoms and changes in patients' conditions.

A Bachelor’s degree in nursing and a state license are required for consideration. You will also need to have training in basic life support CPR and Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) certification. A professional, friendly attitude and effective communication skills are important for success.

Typical duties include:

  • Take medical histories and maintain accurate health care records

  • Create care plans to support patients' health

  • Administer intravenous and non-intravenous medications

  • Prescribe assistive medical devices and treatments

  • Record vital signs and other patient medical information

  • Order medical diagnostic tests

  • Monitor, report and record symptoms or changes in patient conditions


  • Bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing

  • Successful completion of the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)

  • Current state license

  • American Heart Association BLS/CPR

  • ACLS certification

  • Ability to effectively communicate with patients, family members, doctors and clinic staff

  • Basic computer skills

  • Professional, friendly attitude

  • Critical thinking skills

Common questions about registered nurse jobs

How much does a registered nurse make?

The average registered nurse makes about $35 an hour or about $71,000 a year. Nurses who work at a hospital typically make more money than a nurse working at a clinic. But…hospitals are 24/7 facilities, so you might have to work evenings, weekends and holidays.

What are the education requirements?

Registered nurses must have one of the following:

  • Bachelor of Science in nursing

  • Associate’s degree in nursing

  • Diploma from an accredited nursing program

In addition, a license is required in every state. It can be obtained by passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Depending on the state, there may be other requirements.

Career paths for registered nurses

Most registered nurses start their careers as staff nurses in hospitals or other healthcare settings. Just like any other job, once they get experience, they can move up the career ladder.

A nurse can advance to become head nurse and then to a director of nursing at a hospital or clinic. But some nurses decide to move into the business side of healthcare where they manage a care facility.

RNs can become nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives or nurse practitioners, which are types of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). APRN positions require a master’s degree, and many have a doctoral degree. APRNs can provide primary and specialty care, and in many states, they’re allowed to prescribe medication.

Other nurses might decide to teach at a medical school or become a researcher at a university. Those jobs typically require a Ph.D.

The future of registered nurses

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 12% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. Baby Boomers make up the largest segment of the U.S. population and they’re getting up there in years, which makes them need more medical care.

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