There are two main educational paths that will result in Registered Nurse status. You can either pursue a Bachelor’s Degree right off the bat or you can enroll in an Associate Degree nursing program and start practicing as an RN as soon as you pass the NCLEX-RN. However, having a BSN is increasingly becoming the gold standard in the nursing field, it being associated with more job opportunities, greater benefits, and higher pay.
Regardless of the track you’re considering – BSN or RN-to-BSN – you may find yourself wondering: is pursuing a more advanced nursing education really worth it? Will the paycheck truthfully reflect the money, time and energy I invested in getting the degree?
Let’s find out.
How much does a BSN make starting out?
The BSN starting salaries can be an argument in themselves for advancing your education. The annual entry-level salary for BSN Registered Nurses is $47,127, or around $22.66 hourly. Bear in mind that this figure (as reported by ZipRecruiter, a major online job search platform in March 2021) is just an approximation; the starting off wages of an RN with a Bachelor’s Nurse can vary significantly depending on location, employer, or industry. Generally, at the beginning of their nursing career, BSN RNs can expect to earn between $33,500 and $51,000 yearly.
The best way to interpret these nursing starting salaries is to see how they compare on a larger scale. The average base salary for all entry level positions in the United States is $40,153 per year. That puts BSN starting salaries almost $7,000 higher than the national average. The entry level wages for Registered Nurses with a Bachelor’s Degree can increase even further based on previous experience as an RN. So, if you are pursuing an RN-to-BSN degree after having already gained experience as a Registered Nurse, in a BSN position you are likely to be better remunerated than your counterparts who just graduated.
Is It Better to Have a BSN or RN?
To become a Registered Nurse you must pass the NCLEX-RN exam and earn your RN license. Obtaining an RN diploma or an Associate’s Degree in Nursing are still viable options for an RN career. However, these paths are losing ground as BSN is quickly becoming the benchmark for pursuing a nursing career.
The reasons why a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing is strongly recommended for aspiring professionals are manifold and multifaceted, with the quality of care being at the forefront. Studies have shown that higher levels of education are associated with better nursing outcomes, lower mortality rates, and fewer medication errors. That’s at least part of why major institutions, such as the Institute of Medicine, are strongly encouraging nurses to pursue BSN degrees.
For many employers, having completed a BSN is a requirement. For instance, Magnet hospitals already require that all Nurse Managers and Nurse Leaders they employ hold a BSN degree. To achieve Magnet status, hospitals must have clear plans on how to reach the IOM recommendation of an RN workforce constituted of at least 80% BSN graduates.
If you want to pursue a more out-of-the-box nursing career, such as working as a flight nurse or an Active Duty U.S. Armed Forces RN, a BSN will be the minimum requirement.
According to an annual survey conducted by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), in 2020 over 41% of hospitals were already requiring their new hires to have a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, while 82% of employers expressed a strong preference for BSN graduates.
One Medscape 2020 survey also indicated that 53% of RNs reported having a BSN degree, while the percentage of Registered Nurses with an Associate’s Degree was 24%. This shows that pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing will give you a competitive edge in the field, helping you secure the nursing position you are interested in.
Pragmatically speaking, it is better to have a BSN than an ADN; it offers higher job security, a wider pool of career opportunities, and higher pay.
RN vs. BSN Salary: Do Registered Nurses with a Bachelor’s Degree Get Paid More Than ADN RNs?
We’ve already tackled the issue of whether it’s better to have a BSN than a RN, and we have shown that as far as quality of care and employment opportunities are concerned, a BSN provides a great advantage. But what about salaries? Do BSN RNs make more money than ADN RNs? What is the salary difference between these two nursing paths? It turns out there is indeed a difference – as salaries tend to go up when the educational level goes up.
This affirmation is corroborated by the 2020 Medscape survey which also found that nurses’ earnings jump predictably with each step higher in education. Registered Nurses with an ADN qualification make around $76,000 annually. RNs who have their Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing Degree earn on average $80,000. This means the RN versus BSN salary difference is around $4,000 yearly.
The years of experience you have can also impact your earnings significantly. Early-career nurses – nurses with less than 5 years of experience – had reported earnings of around $68,000 while RNs with 10 or more years of experience make a median wage of $80,000.
What Is the Average BSN Nurse Salary by State?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the average salary for a Registered Nurse is $77,460. While the BLS does not differentiate between RN and BSN salaries, it is well known that the more advanced one’s education is, the higher the salaries they can secure. Following this train of thought, BSN nurses’ salaries are higher than their ADN counterparts’.
And that logic stands its ground. The average salary for BSN nurses in the United States is $79,623. The difference between RN and BSN salaries is higher than $2,000. This figure is very close to the one illustrated in the 2020 Medscape LPN/RN Compensation Report. Medscape surveys Registered Nurses annually about their earnings and satisfaction with their chosen profession. In 2020, the findings pinpointed that the average salary for BSN Nurses was around $80,000.
Still, a BSN Nurse’s earning potential can differ considerably based on where they practice. That’s why we used ZipRecruiter data to look at BSN salary trends in every state. This way you can easily figure out how much you can make in accordance with your location. Below you will find a list of all the 50 states and their corresponding wages for BSN nurses. We have also included the average RN salary (ADN salaries included), as reported by ZipRecruiter (for consistency purposes). Thus, you can see your earning potential with and without a BSN, making it easier to compare the financial benefits of each academic path.
|State||Average BSN Salary||Average Hourly BSN Salary||Average RN Salary*||Average Hourly RN Salary*|
Top Paying States for BSN Nurses
For BSN Nurses, Washington tops the list of highest paying states, offering its BSN RNs salaries up to $93,770. Closely following are New York, New Hampshire, California, and Vermont. In New York, the BSN RN salary is around $87,500, while in New Hampshire, Nurses with a Bachelor’s Degree earn wages of approximately $84,750. In California, in addition to all the sunshine, BSN-trained RNs earn $83,471 annually. And Vermont comes in fifth among the states where nurses are compensated best. Here, the average BSN pay evens out to a little over $80,000, which is more than $3,000 above the national mean wage for RNs.
Not all states are equal and not all salaries fit in the same bracket. In North Carolina, Missouri, and Illinois, BSN graduates earn slightly lower wages. In NC the median income for RNs is $58,250, while in the other two states, nurses with advanced degrees can expect paychecks of around $63,562 and $63,634 respectively.
What are the highest paid BSN Nurses?
While the average salary for BSN Nurses is $79,623, there are some nursing specialties accessible with a Bachelor’s Degree that offer significantly higher salaries.
When it comes to BSN salaries, Informatics Nurses top our list. For their crucial role in healthcare, they earn wages that can surpass $102,000. Their role revolves around technology, so it’s a great career opportunity for aspiring nurses who don’t want to give up on their passion for computers. Nurse Informaticists bridge the gap between the nursing workforce and the IT staff in an effort to improve the quality of healthcare and reduce costs.
ICU Nurses also earn reasonably high salaries for a BSN specialty. Their line of work is inextricably linked to the Intensive Care Unit, where the patients are in extremely critical conditions, either ventilated, intubated, or in need of life-saving medication. Their wages add up to $101,374, significantly higher than the average BSN salary.
Among BSN-trained professionals, Travel Nurses have a high earning potential, as well. They can generally choose the location where they want to practice, and they do so based on need, preference, and earning potential, which can be as high as $99,200.
Operating Room Registered Nurses work with patients right before they undergo surgery and, when necessary, they help the surgeon during medical procedures, ensuring the OR environment is as secure and sterile as possible. The BSN salary of OR RNs is, on average, $89,325.
Oncology Nurses have a very specialized role – they treat and care for patients who are diagnosed with cancer. It’s a sensitive area of practice but also a quite lucrative one. Oncology Registered Nurses get paid around $87,340 yearly.
Discover more of the highest paying BSN career options.
Become a BSN Registered Nurse at Nightingale College by enrolling in our online RN-to-BSN and unlock your high earning potential.
Are You Ready to Increase Your Earnings With a BSN Degree?
BSN Nurses are instrumental in the healthcare industry. Their expertise, care, and skills help save lives on a daily basis. There’s also incredibly high demand for them as the nursing shortage continues to cripple the nation. BSN Registered Nurses earn rather higher salaries compared to their non-BSN counterparts, and more and more employers are showing a preference for BSN graduates.
Taking all this into consideration, it’s well worth it to pursue a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. Of course, everyone has their own timeline. For some, pursuing a BSN degree is more manageable. Others would find the need to start working as soon as possible more pressing, so they might choose the ADN path. Regardless of when (and if) you choose to pursue a more advanced degree, one thing is crystal clear: a BSN will surely put you on the path to a high-paying nursing career. Are you ready to earn more money with your degree?
Enroll in Nightingale College’s BSN Program and see for yourself the huge impact obtaining this degree can have on your earning potential.
Are you a Registered Nurse who’s ready for new challenges and higher financial rewards? Our RN-to-BSN is just what you need. Let this degree open more doors for you.