ADN Nursing Salary: Overview and FAQ

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Written by Ann Real, BSN, RN Content Writer, IntelyCare
A nurse thinks about his ADN nursing salary.

So, you’re thinking about becoming a registered nurse by completing an associate degree in nursing (ADN) program? That’s a great choice! One of the key things you’re probably curious about is how much you can make as an ADN graduate. Well, you’re in the right place because we’re going to talk about the dollars and cents — the ADN nursing salary.

In this article, we’ll discuss what you can expect in terms of income, both at the start of your career and as you gain experience, while also addressing some common questions that might be on your mind.

ADN Salary

The average annual RN salary is $94,480, or $45.42 per hour. However, these numbers represent the whole nursing field, not just an ADN salary.

When it comes to ADN nursing, salaries are between $65,000 and $69,000 annually in the U.S. This falls on the lower end of the salary range for nurses with the same levels of experience.

ADN vs. BSN Salary: Key Differences

When comparing ADN vs. BSN salary ranges, it becomes clear that BSN-prepared nurses often command higher wages due to their advanced education. You might be curious, though — what makes ADN nurses different from their BSN counterparts?

Well, both ADN and BSN nurses can hold the title of RN, but the key difference lies in their education. ADN programs are shorter, typically spanning just two years, and focus on the essentials for entry-level clinical roles.

In contrast, BSN programs take about four years, similar to other bachelor’s degrees, and provide a more comprehensive education. This extended education better prepares BSN nurses to work in leadership, management, and specialized areas like critical care and public health.

Here is the list of key salary-related advantages to obtaining a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree:

  • Higher earning potential: BSN-prepared nurses often earn higher salaries and have a better competitive advantage in the job market.
  • Advancement opportunities: BSN nurses are better positioned for career advancement, including leadership and management roles.
  • Specialization: BSN degrees prepare nurses for specialized fields, such as critical care, neonatal nursing, or public health.
  • Credentialing: Some healthcare institutions and states are increasingly requiring or encouraging nurses to obtain a BSN.
  • Improved job security: BSN nurses often have more job security, as they are equipped to work in various healthcare settings.
  • Career growth: With a BSN, nurses have more options for further education and specialization, such as pursuing a master of science in nursing (MSN) or doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree, which can lead to even higher-paying roles.

Are the differences in 2-year vs. 4-year nursing degree salary levels significant enough to justify the longer educational path? That’s a personal call. For some people it works, while others think it’s not worth the extra effort. Regardless, it’s crucial to look into the distinctions and make a choice based on your own needs and goals.

What Factors Influence ADN Nursing Salary?

Not interested in pursuing a BSN degree? No worries. With the nationwide nursing shortage, ADN graduates can expect excellent job prospects, and there are ways to boost your ADN nurse salary. Here are some factors that determine your salary as an ADN:

  • Experience: ADN nurses with more years of experience typically earn higher salaries.
  • Location:RN salaries can vary significantly from one region or state to another, with metropolitan areas often offering higher pay due to higher living costs.
  • Type of healthcare facility: Specific healthcare settings pay higher wages. Hospitals, for instance, may pay more than nursing homes or clinics.
  • Specialization: ADN nurses who specialize in a particular area, such as critical care, labor and delivery, or oncology, may earn higher salaries.
  • Certifications: Nurses with specialized certifications are often in demand and compensated accordingly.
  • Shift and hours: Working night shifts, weekends, or overtime can lead to increased earnings through shift differentials or overtime pay.
  • Union membership: Unionized nurses often have negotiated contracts that establish salary levels and benefits, which can lead to higher compensation.

ADN Nursing Salary By State

Researching ADN salary by state is important to make informed decisions about where to start your nursing career. Here are top paying states for RNs:

When comparing ADN salary by state, it’s important to note that the cost of living plays a significant role in determining a nurse’s actual income. Here are the states with the lowest cost of living in the United States, where you may be able to take home more money.

You can also expect some variance in salary depending on your specific job setting. For example, nurses in specialty hospitals earn an average of $98,220 per year. In contrast, the average nurse salary in home health care is $87,430.

ADN Nursing Salary: FAQ

Can I become an RN with an ADN degree?

Yes, you can become an RN with an ADN degree. An ADN program provides the education and training necessary to become an RN and pass the NCLEX-RN exam, which is the licensure exam required to practice as a registered nurse in the U.S.

How does the average ADN nursing salary compare to that of other nursing roles?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), here are the salary ranges for different types of nurses:

  • CNAs: $39,610
  • LPNs: $60,790
  • RNs: $94,480
  • NPs: $128,490

What Is the typical ADN nursing salary per hour?

The average hourly rate for a registered nurse is $45.42 an hour. However, ADN nurse salaries generally fall within the lower range of RN salaries. It’s important to note that your exact salary largely depends on your experience level and facility where you work.

What are the steps to becoming an ADN nurse?

To become an ADN nurse, enroll in an ADN program, which takes about two to three years. Complete your coursework and clinical training, then pass the NCLEX-RN exam to get your nursing license. After that, start your career in hospitals or clinics, and you can explore further nursing specializations as you go.

What are the steps to upgrade from an ADN to a BSN?

To upgrade from an ADN to a BSN, you can enroll in an RN to BSN program, offered at many universities or colleges. Many programs allow you to transfer credits from your ADN, reducing the time required for you to complete BSN coursework. Upon graduation, you’ll earn your BSN degree, potentially expanding your career prospects and earning potential.

Start an ADN Nursing Career Today

If you’re interested in pursuing a career as an ADN nurse, we’re here to help you achieve your target ADN nursing salary. Begin your search for nursing jobs and kick-start your journey toward your desired nursing career.