ICU Nurses are Registered Nurses responsible for assisting and treating patients who are in extremely critical conditions – patients who suffer from dangerous and potentially life-threatening symptoms or complications. It is a demanding career track, yet as challenging as it is, it is equal parts rewarding. Unquestionably, the job demands long hours, stressful work conditions, and the intensive care unit is bound to take its toll on a nurse’s physical and emotional wellbeing. But for ICU Nurses, saving lives is part of their daily routine.
Given the complex environment of critical care nursing, it is imperative that ICU Nurses be highly trained, and pursuing a BSN Degree is the best way to obtain this training. Of course, when weighing the benefits of advancing your education, one factor that may tip the scales is your earning potential. Generally, you can expect that getting your BSN degree will give your paycheck a significant bump.
And that is exactly the case for ICU nurses. Earning a Bachelor’s degree and subsequently pursuing a job on the Intensive Care floor will reward you both professionally and financially.
Keep on reading to find out more about what it takes to become an ICU RN; what exactly this job implies, and more importantly, how much you can expect to earn by embracing this career.
ICU Nursing: How to Get There & What to Expect
In order to become an Intensive Care Unit Nurse, you must first become a Registered Nurse. There are two ways of accomplishing this: either by getting your Associate’s Degree in Nursing or by pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree. Passing the NCLEX exam is the next step. Furthermore, you are likely to need at least two years of work experience before you can actually start working on the ICU floor.
Nowadays, most employers give strong preference to BSN-educated nurses. Typically, RNs with a Bachelor’s degree are linked with better patient outcomes (which is a big concern, especially when it comes to critical patients). Choosing BSN versus ADN trained nurses falls in line with recommendations coming from the Institute of Medicine, which has been strongly advocating for an 80% BSN educated nursing workforce by 2020.
Discover more reasons why getting your BSN is a wise choice even if you’re already working as a Registered Nurse.
While the goal of ensuring that 80% of the RNs working across the country have a BSN under their belt hasn’t yet been achieved, it’s clear that getting your Bachelor’s might soon become an actual requirement for RN practice. Especially if you are considering a career in ICU nursing, advancing your education to get a Bachelor’s Degree is an inspired decision.
Enroll in the RN-to-BSN program offered by Nightingale College and advance your nursing skills. Become an ICU Nurse in as few as 12 months!
By definition, Critical Care Nurses work in the intensive care unit in a healthcare facility. They help treat patients who find themselves in extremely dangerous situations, from accidents to life-threatening diseases. The patients they look after are often intubated, ventilated, or their life might depend on certain medications being administered like clockwork.
Therefore, ICU Nurses must have a specialized technical skill set, must be knowledgeable, empathetic, but also, extremely attentive to detail, fast thinkers, and great communicators. It’s a very extensive skill set that makes a good Critical Care RN. Other duties include
- Monitoring patients
- Assessing their medical situation (which can worsen at any given moment) and making fast and effective decisions
- Attentively and accurately documenting patient care, medication intake, symptoms, etc.
- Providing comfort and preventing suffering (to the best of one’s ability).
Thus, an ICU Nurse’s job description is as far-reaching as it is sensitive. For sure, it’s not an easy job, but at least it’s a well-paid one.
How Much Do ICU Nurses Actually Earn?
Let’s take a closer look at how much you can expect to earn as an Intensive Care Nurse. Data regarding annual and hourly wages was gathered using the job platform ZipRecruiter. Since ZipRecruiter is a recruitment platform, the data is not only up to date but also in accordance with market reality.
Per ZipRecruiter data, the average salary of an ICU Nurse is $91,986. That is considerably above the mean salary for Registered Nurses. In 2020, the Bureau of Labour Statistics indicated that RNs earn a mean yearly salary of $80,010. However, due to the more specialized skill set and the slightly more complex duties Critical Care Nurses must fulfill, the higher salary they receive is righteously earned.
Want to know more about Registered Nurse Salaries across the US? Read our complete guide on RN Salary and find all the answers.
The highest paying states for ICU Nurses are New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Wyoming, and Maine. In New York, RNs working in intensive care can expect to earn up to $114,270. New Hampshire offers wages around $110,770, while in Vermont, an ICU Nurse’s earning potential can be as high as $104,700.
On the other side, among the states which pay the least are Michigan, Illinois, Texas, Missouri, and North Carolina. In North Carolina, Critical Care Nurses take home an average salary of $74,700. The wages for this specialty in Missouri round up to $80,220, while ICU Nurses working in Texas earn around $81,050 annually.
If you are interested in checking your earning potential but the state in which you live is neither in the top nor the bottom on the average salary scale, do not worry. We’ve got you covered. Below you will find a list of all 50 states listed in alphabetical order and their respective annual and hourly wages for ICU Registered Nurses.
ICU Nurse Salaries in Every State*
|State||Annual Salary||Hourly Salary|
*Data was gathered from ZipRecruiter in October 2021.
Embrace a career as an ICU Nurse! Read more about our RN-to-BSN program.
Critical Care Nurses’ Job Outlook
While there isn’t any official data available with regards to the job outlook for ICU Nurses specifically, it’s safe to assume that it falls at least in the same ballpark as for Registered Nurses. Therefore, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of Registered Nurses is expected to grow steadily by 7% from 2020 to 2030. ICU Nursing, as a specialty of Registered Nursing, can be expected to grow at a similar rate.
To sum it up, it’s crystal clear that Registered Nurses with a BSN degree will be in high demand in the next decade. If you are considering a career switch towards ICU nursing, now is a great time to pursue your dream.
Great career opportunities, a competitive salary, and the unshakeable and invaluable feeling that you are making a difference in someone’s life when they most critically need the care – all that comes along with a career as an Intensive Care Nurse.
Enroll in Nightingale College’s RN-to-BSN degree and start your path towards becoming an ICU Registered Nurse today. The future awaits.