What is the Starting Salary for a Nurse in 2022?

Brandi Glass
5 min read
Female Nurse Standing Outside

Nursing is a rewarding career in which you will make a difference in the quality of life of thousands of people. What’s more, it offers stability, plenty of opportunities for career progression and good wages.

Whether you’re considering becoming a registered nurse or you’re preparing to graduate and apply for nursing jobs, keep reading. We’ll look at the average starting salary for nurses in the US in 2022, along with the factors that affect what you might earn. Plus, we’ll share several tips on how you can negotiate a higher starting salary.

What is the Starting Salary for a Nurse?

According to employer-reported data gathered by salary.com, as of 2022 the average salary for a newly graduated registered nurse in the US is $65,955 a year. The majority of new nurses will earn between $59,168 and $75,399, although the best-paid 10% will earn more than $84,000.

Bonuses slightly boost average salaries, but the impact is minimal. The average starter salary rises by less than $100 to $66,014, while the highest 10% of earners see an increase of roughly $200.

Registered nurses don’t typically receive bonuses, although there are exceptions. The most common ones are sign-on and referral bonuses, while travel nurses can receive completion bonuses. In 2022, many hiring bonuses are unusually high as a result of nurse shortages caused by COVID-19.

What Factors Affect a Nurse’s Starting Salary?

Although the average newly trained registered nurse will make slightly over $65,000 a year, there is a lot of variation in nurses’ starting salaries. Let’s explore the factors that affect how much a newly trained nurse can hope to earn:


Depending on where you work, your salary can vary dramatically. This is in part due to higher costs of living, but it’s also caused by local supply and demand for qualified nurses.

For example, in Aberdeen, South Dakota, the average salary for a newly graduated travel nurse is $53,754 a year. Meanwhile, in New York City, it’s $79,344 a year with higher earners netting six-figure salaries.

Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean registered nurses in New York City have a significantly better quality of life than nurses in Aberdeen. Higher rents, commuting costs, and more can affect the purchasing power of a nurse’s salary.


There is limited reliable data around average salaries for different specialties, but there’s also no denying that they can have an impact on how much a nurse can earn. Again, this is in part due to supply and demand.

Travel Nurse

While permanent nursing positions offer stability and a routine, you can also significantly increase your income by working as a travel nurse instead.

A travel nurse takes on temporary nursing contracts across the country to help facilities meet supply and demand. Their per-day wages are significantly higher, although they may incur more expenses and have more unpaid time off between contracts.

Travel nurse salaries sky-rocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, reaching a height of $10,000 a week. As of June 2022, however, they have dropped to an average of $2,750 a week. If a travel nurse worked every week of the year, this would add up to an annual salary of $143,000.

These figures include both new graduates and experienced travel nurses, so they can’t be compared directly to the rest of the salary data we’re using. However, it’s undeniable that travel nurses earn higher salaries compared to their fellow permanent nurses.

Salary Negotiations

It might be intimidating, but negotiating your salary pays off. And with the majority of employers willing to negotiate starter salaries, there is no reason not to ask for a higher rate.

In fact, negotiating a higher starting salary can add up to significant pay rises over the years, as your pay is increased as a percentage on an annual basis.

How to Negotiate a Higher Nurse Starting Salary

Before you enter into salary negotiations, it’s important to do your research. Find out how much registered nurses typically earn in your region and for your specialism. This knowledge will empower you to ask for the salary you want.

You should also think carefully about your aim. Make sure you know what salary you would like to earn and what your lower limit would be. Consider how working conditions, commute time and benefits might affect that. Would you be willing to accept a lower salary at a healthcare facility you could walk to in 15 minutes? Alternatively, how much more would you want to be paid if you had to drive an hour?

The next step is to practice making your case. Is it a convincing argument? If not, you need to better communicate your value or reconsider your target starting salary.

Finally, try not to begin salary negotiations until a job offer is already being discussed. Stay calm and make sure you emphasize that you are excited about the role.

You can read more salary negotiation tips and suggested phrasing in our guide to asking for a higher salary.

Salary Growth Potential for Nurses

A newly trained registered nurse will earn slightly over $65,000 a year on average, but there’s potential for significantly higher wages as you gain more experience and successfully negotiate raises.

Indeed uses self-reported data from anonymous nurses to estimate the average nurse salary in 2022. Based on nearly 13,000 reported salaries, it calculates that the median base salary is $83,156 before overtime payments.

For nurses with more than 10 years of experience, that rises to $93,344. Meanwhile, there are numerous job listings on the website that advertise six-figure salaries.

Kickfire Your Salary Negotiations with a Strong Resume

Successfully negotiating your starting salary can drastically improve your lifetime earnings. To do that, you’ll need to justify your worth — and that starts with some thorough interview preparation and a professional resume.

Your resume should underscore that you’re the ideal fit for the role by emphasizing your strengths, experiences and education. What’s more, it needs to be customized to the healthcare facility and specialism in question, attractively presented and machine-readable.

Crafting a strong resume from scratch can be tricky, but with a good template, you’ll find it easy to highlight your value. Here at Rocket Resume, we have a huge range of nursing resume templates. Hundreds of them are appropriate for newly qualified nurses.

What’s more, our resume builder will walk you through selecting the ideal structure and layout based on your background and qualifications. It will even suggest recruiter-approved phrasing to describe your skills and student placements.

You can create your machine-readable, fully customized nurse resume in just 10 minutes. Do it now so you can start salary negotiations with confidence.