Working as an Emergency Nurse is undeniably one of the most challenging journeys you can embark on as a Registered Nurse. You never know what disease, condition or underlying health issue the person that just entered the ER might have. A terrible car crash, a work injury or any other kind of trauma – every day in the Emergency Department brings new challenges that put the ER Nurses’ professionalism, training, and stamina to the test.
That’s why ER Nursing requires rigorous training and an extensive knowledge base – all achievable by advancing your education. Pursuing a BSN is not only the surest way to become a better ER Nurse; it’s also the best way to ensure that your salary prospects improve significantly, as well.
If the stressful working environment does not scare you off, and your mind and heart are set on working in the ER, there is only one more issue you must consider. How much exactly does this career pay? Is it worth it becoming an ER Nurse and even more so, is it worth it pursuing a BSN for a career in the Emergency Room?
This may be the professional journey that will change your life – and save many others. Read on to find out if it might appeal to you.
How to Become an ER Nurse?
There’s not one single way to become an Emergency Room Nurse. In order to start working in the ER, the aspiring nurse must enroll in an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), or in a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN). Upon completion of the degree, the aspiring nurse must pass the NCLEX-RN, which leads to them receiving the Registered Nurse (RN) designation. One of the prerequisites for working in the ER environment is becoming an RN first.
Some hospitals will hire ADN-trained nurses in this position, but admittedly most healthcare institutions give preference to Registered Nurses who have graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree.
That is due to the fact that BSN RNs are typically linked with better patient outcomes. Their extended length of study leads to better trained, more knowledgeable nurses who are an invaluable asset in any Emergency Room.
According to an annual survey conducted by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), in 2020, over 41% of hospitals and other healthcare settings required that their new hires, ER Nurses included, have a completed Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. The same survey shows that an overwhelming majority, over 82% of employers in the healthcare industry, show a strong preference for BSN graduates.
That’s why pursuing a BSN is one of the best ways to start paving the way for a career in the ER. But what exactly does that mean? Find out in the next section.
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What Do Emergency Room Nurses Do?
Emergency Room Nurses mainly work in the emergency department in hospitals or clinics attending to patients in need of urgent care. Urgent need for medical attention can encompass everything – food poisoning, severe allergic reactions, shootings, car crashes, etc. – there’s no knowing what underlying problem the person coming through the ER doors has. Being an ER nurse is not everybody’s cup of tea. The job requires long hours of staying on your feet, lots of stress, a varying schedule, and it demands both physical and emotional strength.
An ER Nurse’s job description is, for sure, complex and demanding. Some of the duties include:
- An important responsibility with which ER RNs are entrusted is triaging. Essentially, this means that ER Nurses assign the degree of urgency for each patient’s condition. This way, the more critical patients go first.
- They take vital signs and record the patients’ symptoms.
- ER Nurses can also administer medication.
- They assist doctors with medical procedures.
- They often serve as the link between the patient, the doctors and the patient’s family.
In order to successfully complete all the aforementioned tasks and many others that may arise during any given shift, ER Nurses must be well trained. But advanced education, while a big plus, is not enough on its own.
Registered Nurses working in the emergency department must think on their feet. They need to remain calm under pressure and act quickly and efficiently in the most tense situations. Communication skills are essential – ER Nurses have to brief doctors and other members of the medical team on a patient’s condition; at the same time, they are often the ones keeping the family informed. Empathy and compassion are two other pillars on which lies success in this profession.
Does this sound like you? A career in ER Nursing might be the best fit for you! Our RN-to-BSN program will give you the knowledge and training needed for a successful career in the Emergency Department.
How Much Do ER RNs Actually Make?
So, you have the skillset down to the dot and you understand completely what working in the ER requires. You have your heart set on this career track. It’s time to take a closer look at your earning potential, as salary can often be a “make or break” factor in choosing a career.
Wondering how much you can expect to earn as a Registered Nurse working in the ER? Look no further. Using ZipRecruiter, one of the most important recruitment platforms on the online job boards’ market, we have gathered timely and accurate information regarding the wages of Emergency Room Nurses.
According to ZipRecruiter data, the average yearly salary for ER Nurses is $78,868. That is only slightly lower than the median salary for Registered Nurses reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Per the BLS, in 2020, RNs earned, on average, $80,010. Hence, Zip Recruiter data is generally consistent with official statistics.
When it comes to the highest salaries, the states in the lead are Massachusetts, Hawaii, Rhode Island, North Dakota, and Alaska. In Massachusetts, the mean salary for ER RNs is $95,375. Hawaii is not too far behind. There, wages round up to $95,100. In Rhode Island, you can easily make a living out of an ER salary – working in the Emergency Department will bring in a paycheck of about $91,746. With a yearly compensation of $90,078, ER RNs working in North Dakota fare quite well. Alaska is fifth on the list of the best-paying states for this occupation – $89,670.
On the flip side, the states where Emergency Room Nurses earn the least money are Iowa, Alabama, North Carolina, New Mexico, and Florida. Iowa offers salaries in the range of $70,134. In Alabama, North Carolina and New Mexico, ER RNs earn on average, $69,147, $69,041, $69,005 respectively. The state with the lowest salary is Florida. Here, Registered Nurses are paid wages around $66,733.
If the state where you live wasn’t listed in either the top or the bottom salary-wise, don’t worry. Below, you will find a list of all 50 states and the average salary for ER Nurses in each of them:
ER Nurse Salary by State*
|State||Annual Salary||Hourly Wage|
*Data gathered using ZipRecruiter, October 2021
ER Nurse vs ICU Nurse: Duties and Salary Prospects
ER Nurses and ICU Nurses are both specialties of Registered Nurses, yet the differences between these two career tracks are considerable. ER Nurses work with patients who come directly to the Emergency Department of a healthcare institution. On the other hand, ICU Nurses are responsible for treating patients who require acute care in the Intensive Care Unit – a far more structured and controlled environment.
The ER and ICU are very different beasts. In the Emergency Unit, there’s often chaos, lots of running around, and a lack of organization. You never know what kind of injury or trauma will walk through the ER doors next. In the ICU, tasks are a lot more meticulously planned. There’s organization, planning, and tremendous attention to detail.
Both professions are important and rewarding and which one is a better fit for you is mostly related to your personality type. Certainly, both of them are fairly well compensated. While ER RNs earn, on average, $78,868, ICU Nurses have a mean salary of $91,986.
Find out how much ICU RNs earn in every state.
ER Nurses Job Growth Opportunities
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t offer job outlook projections for emergency nursing specifically, it does share official data regarding Registered Nurses’ expected employment levels. And since ER nurses are, by definition, Registered Nurses, the same statistics apply. Hence, from 2020 to 2030, employment of RNs is projected to grow by 7%, which is faster than other occupations. Emergency Room nurses with a BSN degree are likely to have great job prospects during this decade.
Enroll in Nightingale College’s RN-to-BSN program and take advantage of the great job prospects. Start your career as an ER Nurse in as few as 12 months!
Become an ER Nurse: Increase Your Earning Potential While Increasing the Quality of Urgent Care
All things considered, now is a great time to advance your education and pursue a career in Emergency Nursing. The demand for RNs is already high and will only continue to grow. Salaries are competitive and moreover, the work you do literally may save someone’s life – what can be more rewarding than that? But at the same time, make sure you take into account all aspects of an ER career. It is a stressful and challenging work environment. You may be subject to burnout and stable schedules can be uncommon. In the end, it’s up to you to decide if the benefits outweigh the hardships.
We can only guarantee one thing: the more you advance your education and the more experience you get in the field, the higher your chances of securing a well-paid position, with better benefits and tailored more accurately to your needs and wants.
Become a BSN trained ER Nurse. The future looks bright – for you and for the healthcare industry.
Do you see yourself working in Emergency Units? Does the unpredictability and dynamism of the job entice you? Follow your dream of becoming an ER Nurse. The online RN-to-BSN program from Nightingale College is just what you need. Enroll today and take charge of your professional future!