How Much Can You Earn with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing?
Whether you’re just starting to look at nursing schools or you’re currently working with an associate’s degree, earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a smart choice for advancing your career. While you can still find nursing jobs with an associate’s degree, more employers than ever are only hiring nurses who hold a BSN. In fact, it’s predicted that the majority of RNs will soon be expected to have this level of degree, with some states even enacting legislation that requires it.
If you’re considering earning your BSN, you might be wondering what kind of impact it could have on your career. In this guide, learn about the various career paths available and what kind of salary the degree could help you earn.
Jobs for Nurses with BSN Degrees
Earning a BSN is a great way to begin or advance your career as a registered nurse (RN). With this level of education, you’ll be eligible for more roles and might have access to higher salaries than you would with an associate’s degree. You might be able to take on leadership roles and supervise other nurses with less advanced degrees. As an RN who’s earned a BSN, you can also handle tasks such as helping with surgeries, performing lab work, and educating patients.
As a BSN-level RN, you can find work in a number of different healthcare settings.
Some of the most common employers for RNs include:
- General, specialty, or psychiatric hospitals: RNs in hospitals treat patients with a broad range of conditions. You might work in an operating room, intensive care unit, emergency room, or a unit dedicated to specific concerns such as cardiac or pediatric health. You’ll monitor, assess, and treat the patients assigned to you, and you’ll work with physicians and other medical staff to provide care.
- Physicians’ offices: In a physician’s office, RNs treat less acute medical conditions. RNs in offices might give injections, provide patient education, and prep patients to see the doctor. In some offices, RNs also take phone calls from patients and advise them on if their health concern requires a doctor’s appointment, emergency room visit, or at-home care.
- Skilled nursing facilities: Skilled nursing facilities care for patients with long-term needs such as dementia or chronic heart failure. RNs in this setting manage entry-level certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs), while providing medications, therapies, and other treatments to the patients in their care.
Non-traditional RN career options
While most RN careers are in medical facilities and involve direct patient care, your choices aren’t limited to these roles. There are multiple career options for RNs that many people aren’t familiar with.
- Forensic nursing: Forensic nurses use their skills to provide medical services to patients within the criminal justice system. You might be employed to care for incarcerated patients, examine victims of recent crimes, or analyze cases of suspected abuse.
- Home health nursing: As a home health nurse, you’ll visit patients in their private home and provide the treatments, monitoring, and medications that they need. Home health nurses help to keep patients out of nursing facilities and allow them to maintain some independence in the comfort of their own home.
- Legal nurse consulting: If you’re interested in both nursing and the law, working as a legal nurse consultant might be the perfect fit. You’ll use your medical knowledge and apply it to legal cases, taking on tasks such as examining medical records to lawyers or testifying about victim’s injuries to a court.
- Nursing informatics: Nursing informatics is a unique specialty that doesn’t involve direct patient care. Instead, you work with the systems and technology that hospitals and other medical facilities use and find ways to improve them in order to streamline processes and promote better patient outcomes.
- Occupational health nursing: Companies might sometimes hire an occupational health nurse to provide services to their employees. In this role, you might introduce company initiatives, administer health screenings, or make recommendations for policies that can improve wellness in and out of the workplace.
- Parish nursing: If you have close ties with a community of faith, working as a parish nurse could bring together 2 of the most important parts of your life. Parish nurses work within a church to counsel members who are dealing with health issues, oversee support groups, or organize church- and community-wide wellness events.
- Public health nursing: As a public health nurse, you’ll work with local populations to promote better health and well-being through services and education. You might set up health screenings in public settings or work to address issues that are specific to your community, such as a virus outbreak or drug epidemic.
- School nursing: Working as an employee of a school or school district, you’ll be responsible for the health needs of the students during the day. You’ll also work with teachers, parents, and school administrators to develop health programs for the school community.
- Travel nursing: If you’re interested in seeing new parts of the world as you work, you might consider becoming a travel nurse. Working on short-term assignments that typically last 8–26 weeks, travel nurses move around the country—or the globe—to fill nursing roles where needed.
Your wages as an RN will depend on your location, employer, years of experience, and any specialty you might have. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that RNs in general earn an average annual wage of $73,550, or $35.36 an hour.
Nurse salary by workplace
Your workplace can affect your salary in number of ways. Not only are average rates higher with some types of employers, but some may have more opportunity for advancement, leading to higher pay.
|Employer||Average Annual Salary|
|Outpatient Care Centers||$75,680|
|Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals||$71,290|
|Home Health Services||$70,230|
|Skilled Nursing Facilities||$65,710|
Nurse salary by state and city
The state and city where you work can also have a huge impact on your earning potential. Top-paying states include Hawaii, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Alaska, though it’s California where nurses can really make the most money. Not only does the state report the highest average salary—$102,700 a year—but all 10 of the country’s top-paying metropolitan areas are found in California as well. These include:
- San Francisco
- San Jose
- Santa Cruz
- Santa Rosa
Nurse Demand & Job Growth
With an aging baby boomer population and the rise of chronic conditions like diabetes, the U.S. demand for nurses is expected to grow by 15% through 2026. The BLS predicts there will be a 438,100 new nursing jobs over the previous 10 years, and that’s only for RNs. CNAs and LPNs are expected to add another 262,000 new jobs.
Where are nurses in the most demand?
While opportunities for nurses will continue to grow across nationwide, this is also dependent on the state. A recent study conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services predicts that by 2030, some states will have a surplus of RNs while others will have a severe shortage. Those with the highest projected need for nurses include:
- New Jersey
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
Ready to Get Started?
Earning a BSN can put you on the path toward a rewarding career in nursing and offer you opportunities for advancement, both in your role and in what you earn. Whether you’re just starting your nursing education or you’re a current RN pursuing a higher degree, use the Find Schools button to explore programs that meet your individual needs.