The average salary for a Registered Nurse is $81,220, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as of May 2022. Although the BLS does not actually differentiate between salaries for RNs who also have their Bachelor’s and those who have an associate’s or become a nurse through a diploma program, in most cases, there is more earning potential for BSN-prepared nurses.
But just how much can you expect to make if you have a BSN as a nurse? Let’s find out.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s (AACN) most recent 2022 report found that the number of BSN-prepared nurses is at an all-time high of 71.7% of all RNs. Most nurses, roughly 51.5%, now enter the workforce with a BSN or entry-level master’s degree. According to a 2022 survey by Medscape, there was a pretty big difference in pay between RNs who had their Bachelor’s degrees and those who did not.
RN vs BSN Salary
- RNs with Bachelors: $85K per year
- RNs with Associates: $84K per year
- RNs with Diplomas: $82K per year
In general, if you’re an RN who also holds a BSN, you can expect to make more as a staff nurse. This isn’t always the case, of course, and it varies by facility, but because many hospitals and healthcare facilities are prioritizing hiring BSN-prepared nurses, they may offer higher salaries and/or sign-on bonuses and incentives for new employees.
Not all jobs for nurses with a BSN are created equal. Some of the highest paying positions for RNs with their BSNs include:
Pharmaceutical RN – $93,230
Pharmaceutical RNs earn an average salary of $93,230. This might include positions such as pharmaceutical reps, consultants, or nurses working on the development of new medications.
Nurse Informatics – $83,780
Nurse Informaticists earn an average salary of $83,780. In this role, RNs analyze and work with electronic medical records systems.
Nurse Case Managers – $78,023
Nurse case managers earn an average salary of $78,023. In this role, RNs are responsible for coordinating many aspects of patient care, such as coordinating services and supplies they may need upon discharge and follow-up appointments.
Nurse Administrators – $64,000 to $135,000
The average salary for nurse administrators varies according to payscale but can be anywhere from $64,000 to $135,000 per year but the average annual salary is reported as $90,577. Nurse administrators oversee and supervise specific areas of a hospital. In some cases, you may need to earn your Master’s for this role.
>> Related: Nurse Administrator Career Guide
There are many factors that can affect how much you will make as a BSN-prepared nurse, from what state you work in, to what specialty area you choose. According to the BLS, RNs of all types earn the most in the following areas. Average annual salaries for top-paying industries for RNs include,
Wholesale Trade Agents and Brokers: $112,480
Pharmaceutical industry: $110,270
Nonscheduled Air Transportation: $109,160
Employment Services: $109,050
Merchant Wholesalers, Nondurable Goods: $107,360
Outpatient care centers: $97,200
In most of the aforementioned sectors, there is only a very small percentage of employed RNs. For example, according to the BLS, only 5% of RNs work for the government.
Increase Your BSN Salary Potential With Advanced Certifications
As an RN with a BSN degree, you also have the opportunity to pursue advanced certification in specialty fields that you work in, which can drive up your salary even higher.
For example, if you’re a NICU nurse, you could earn your American Association of Critical-Care Nurses CCRN-Neonatal certification or if you are a wound care nurse you can earn your Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Certification. Any type of specialty certification will increase your earning potential, this includes advancing your education.
Highest Paying States for Nurses with a BSN
Lastly, what state you work in will affect your salary. The BLS lists the following states as paying the highest salaries to RNs,
The BLS also does not track salaries of self-employed nurses who hold their BSN, so there may be many other fields you could explore with your BSN as an entrepreneur as well, from consulting to medical writing to supplementing with a side job, like resume writing for other healthcare professionals.
|STATE||ANNUAL MEAN WAGE|
|District of Columbia||$92,800|
If you’re trying to decide if you should pursue your BSN or stick with an associate’s program, there is no one right answer for everyone–maybe you have a family and need to get your RN as quickly as possible to begin working, or maybe you’re limited on time or funds right now.
What we can say, however, is that getting your BSN, whether you choose a BSN program right from the get-go or work towards it over time, opens up more opportunities for your career, including the ability to earn more money. Considering the fact that, in some cases, getting your RN with an associate’s can take almost the same time as a BSN (depending on waitlists, prerequisites and program length), it may be worth you looking into getting your BSN right away.
If that’s not an option for you, however, advancing your education with a BSN is almost always worth it, and will open more doors for you to pursue your passions as a nurse, better serve your patients, and earn more money with your degree.