Between the unexpected onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing nationwide nursing shortage, wages for these high-demand healthcare workers are on the rise. According to the Wall Street Journal, “A study of 60,000 nurses’ salaries by Premier, a company that analyzes healthcare data, found that the average annual U.S. nursing salary rose 4% during the first nine months of 2021 to $81,376.” Incorporate perks, benefits and sign-on bonuses, which can average $15,000, and that number is inflated even more.  

With burnout and the Great Resignation further exacerbating turnover, healthcare organizations are now implementing new hiring strategies aimed at facilitating retention by investing in culture, support and technology. As a result, there’s a myriad of opportunities just waiting for nurses to tap into. Here’s a look at what to expect navigating the nursing field this year.

Education And Certification Requirements

In the U.S., RNs are expected, at minimum, to possess an associate’s degree from an accredited nursing program and pass the NCLEX licensing program. Many hospitals and healthcare facilities are also seeking candidates that hold a BSN or MSN (Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing; Master’s of Science in Nursing). 

Your experience and credentials will ultimately play a key role in dictating the level of salary offers you can expect to receive. And while compensation is a large component of the decision-making process, factoring in elements like career pathing, professional development and corporate culture are also crucial pieces of the equation. 

According to UniversityHQ, aligning yourself with one of the following national organizations for nurses can open the doorway for benefits, resources and networking opportunities – increasing your access to potential new job opportunities while enhancing overall career satisfaction.

  • American Nurses Association (ANA)
  • Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA)
  • American College of Nurse Practitioners (ACNP)
  • National Nurse in Business Association (NNBA)
  • American Medical Association (AMA)
  • Society for Nurses in Advanced Practice (SNAP)
  • National Association of Licensed Practical Nurses (NALPN)

What Does The Average Annual Salary Look Like For Nurses?

Geographic location, among other factors, will have a direct impact on compensation offerings. However, California, Hawaii, Washington DC, Massachusetts and Oregon possess some of the highest average annual nursing salaries. 

Across the entire U.S., the average entry-level salary for a nursing position is around $55,000. You can expect this amount to increase depending on your experience level and specialty area. Some specialties aren’t available to candidates without several years of experience as an RN. So it is likely that where you begin your career, won’t be where you stay through your tenure as a nurse. It’s worth exploring the different pathways and salaries associated with various specialties in order to make informed plans for the future of your career.

Below are just a few examples of the top nursing specialties and associated salaries according to For a more comprehensive list, check out this article from

  • Frontline Care for ICU Patients: Critical Care Nurses make an average of $70,643/year
  • One of the Fastest Growing Specialties for Nurses: Dialysis Nurses make an average of $76,124/year
  • For Expert Nurses with years of Experience: Nurse Anesthetists make an average of $163,687/year
  • Consider a Nurse Leadership Role: Chief Nursing Officers make an average of $134,944/year

If you’re a job seeker looking to be matched with the right nursing position that aligns with your priorities and supports your skills and passions, look to Polaris Placement for career guidance, valuable insights and expert support services to assist you in the process. Contact our team today to learn more about our open opportunities.