According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses brought home an average annual salary of $67,930 in 2012. However, RNs who have only an associate degree in nursing, or ADN, tend to make less than those who have a bachelor's of science in nursing, or BSN. Nurses with a bachelor's or master's degree are able to compete for administrative jobs that nurses with an ADN are usually excluded from.
According to a salary survey conducted by ADVANCE For Nurses in 2012, registered nurses who held an associate degree earned the least in the Midwest, reporting an average annual salary of $55,863. That compares to $59,232 for those who held a BSN degree and $77,090 for RNs who held a master's of science in nursing.
According to ADVANCE, registered nurses with an ADN made an average of $58,562 in the South as of 2012. They earned an average of $3,394 less per year than nurses who held a BSN, and an average of $18,808 less per year than those who held an MSN.
The Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes Regions
Registered nurses with a two-year associate degree working in the Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes regions of the United States brought home an average of $59,074 in 2012, according to ADVANCE. By comparison, those who held a BSN earned an average of $69,253, and RNs with an MSN reported a mean annual salary of $81,546.
RNs with an associate degree who worked in the Northeast reported an average annual salary of $64,598 in 2012, more than those in most regions of the country. However, they still earned less than RNs with higher degrees. RNs in the Northeast with a BSN averaged $72,665 a year, while those who held an MSN earned an average of $85,974 per year.
Registered nurses with ADN degrees reported the highest average salaries in the West. As of 2012, they averaged $71,469 per year. Nurses who held a BSN averaged $75,973 a year. Registered nurses with a master's of science in nursing earned even more, an average of $87,933 per year.
2018 Salary Information for Registered Nurses
Registered nurses earned a median annual salary of $71,730 in May 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, registered nurses earned a 10th percentile salary of $56,190, meaning 90 percent earned more than this amount. The 90th percentile salary is $83,770, meaning 10 percent earn more. In 2018, 3,059,800 people were employed in the U.S. as registered nurses.