ER Nurses are high-earners in the nursing profession. Given their job's fast-paced, stressful nature, these nursing specialists are always on the front lines of medical care and emergency treatment.
They confront people during some of their worst and scariest moments, providing immediate and sometimes life-saving care paired with emotional and psychological support.
For those that are considering becoming an ER Nurse in the United States, this guide can help you learn what to expect in terms of payment, depending on where you live. We will also cover how to become an ER Nurse and start earning as quickly as possible.
Recommended Reading - What is an ER Nurse?
A note about our data. We use the median of the data gathered from The BLS at data.bls.gov and other salary data sources such as Salary.com, Indeed.com and Zippia.com. We believe that this is the best average to follow, rather than the mean or mode. The mean will find the average of all salaries in each state; the mode will favor the most frequently reported salaries. However, the median will find the middle. All data in this report will favor the middle salary from all ranges, which means 50% will fall below and 50% will be above the salary data reported below. On another note, we have removed data from Puerto Rico, Guam, and The Virgin Islands from the data we have sourced as we have focused on the 50 US States plus The District Of Colombia.
ER Nurse Salaries In The United States
Salaries for nurses in the US vary greatly by location, including state and healthcare facilities. Nursing credentials also play a large role in how much a nurse earns throughout their career.
Nurses who specialize in a particular field, like emergency room care, can qualify for jobs at local hospitals that earn them more than an RN working the hospital floor or in a healthcare clinic.
ER Nurses work specifically in emergency rooms, providing emergency medical care and life-saving treatments to patients in crisis. Their additional training prepares them to handle the high-stress, high-risk situations that they are often likely to face as they receive gravely ill or injured patients.
Being an ER Nurse is not for the faint of heart. Working in an ER can be stressful, especially if you choose to work in a trauma center, critical care, or a hospital that cares for many fatalities.
However, you can still be an amazing nurse and not want to work specifically in the ER. Consider the impact that this line of work may have on your life and mental health before committing to this career path.
How Much Does An ER Nurse Make In A Year?
According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021), the average registered nurse in the United States earns $77,600 per year.
Using different income websites, we reviewed ER Nurse salaries by state and found that the average national income is $78,451.61. This income places an ER Nurse’s average pay slightly above the average RN’s salary.
How Much Does An ER Nurse Make In An Hour?
An ER Nurse can make between $34 to $58 an hour. If you take your skills on the road as a travel nurse, you may qualify for even more per hour. Some traveling ER Nurses can make $3,000 to $7,000 per week. During the height of COVID, some nurses were earning $10,000 or more weekly.
ER Nurse Salary by State
The following breakdown of ER Nurse salaries was updated in February 2022. This data comes from Zippia.
Hourly median wage
Annual median wage
Compared To National Average
District of Columbia
Factors that Affect How Much an ER Nurse Makes
Education and experience are the two largest factors that influence how much an ER Nurse earns. Location is another important element to consider as you apply for jobs.
While the salary may be perfect for where you currently live, it might not be the same if you relocate.
In areas with a lower cost of living and less active ERs, the demand for ER Nurses could be lower. As a result, they may earn slightly less than emergency room nurses working in more expensive, high-demand parts of the country.
Every year you work as a nurse, your potential earnings increase. You may earn slightly below the national average during your first four years. This entry-level to early career phase is when you are considered a new nurse, still learning the ropes and gaining the experience to treat more patients.
Between 5 to 8 years on the job, most ER Nurses earn more than the national average due to pay raises. You may also find that even starting a new job with your experience level qualifies you for a higher starting salary.
Generally, nurses who work in busier, metropolitan hospitals earn more than those in suburban or rural areas. The salary is generally higher due to both an increased need for their services and a higher cost of living in cities.
Because they have more education and specialized skills, ER Nurses tend to qualify for a higher income throughout the country.
How Quickly Can You Become An ER Nurse And Start Earning?
Every ER Nurse must start their career by earning an Associate of Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). The BSN program takes four years to complete, while the associate’s degree takes two.
Although you can become an RN with an associate’s degree, most states require you to earn a bachelor’s within ten years of being licensed.
You can complete this online while working your regular shifts in most states.
After your undergraduate studies, you must pass the NCLEX-RN exam. This exam is required in every state for nursing graduates to earn their licenses.
You can then earn certification to become a Certified Emergency Nurse or CEN. The Board of Certification issues the CEN exam for Emergency Nursing. Although the Board suggests at least two years’ minimum experience, it is not required.
All in all, expect a minimum of 2 years of study before becoming an ER Nurse. Realistically, however, you will likely spend 4 to 6 years studying and earning experience. The type of degree you earn will play the largest role in how long it takes for you to become a nurse.
Recommended Reading - How to become an ER Nurse in the USA
ER Nurse Salary FAQs
Here are some frequently asked questions to explore about an ER Nurse’s salary.
Am I Being Paid Fairly As An ER Nurse?
ER Nurses generally get paid higher than standard nurses, like RNs or med-surg nurses. Their specialization qualifies them for a higher base salary, which you should consider when applying to jobs or examining your current income.
The average ER Nurse is paid at least $76,000 per year, but many earn between $80,000 to over $100,000, depending on their experience level.
Nurses are some of the hardest working, most self-sacrificing professionals globally. They may feel bad voicing concerns over their salary as they enter the field for the patients, not the pay. However, the time, skills, and commitment are valuable and deserve fair pay.
Are ER Nurses Paid Mostly Hourly Or Annually?
While some ER Nurses may earn a salary, most are paid hourly. They usually work 12-hour shifts in the emergency room 3 to 4 days a week.
This on-off cycle of several days helps ER Nurses destress, recover their energy, and maintain a work-life balance.
The exact hourly amount will vary, but it’s most common to be offered hourly pay with overtime as a nurse and a salary in administrative positions.
Do ER Nurses Get Paid Overtime?
ER Nurses are entitled to overtime if they work over 40 hours per week. Usually, they’ll be paid hourly for overtime, and this hourly pay will be the base hourly pay + half. So, if their salary entitles to roughly $45 an hour, the overtime rate would be $67.50 per hour.
Be aware that you also have the right to decline over time as an ER Nurse. It is not even legal for employers to mandate overtime for nurses in many states.
Except in cases of declared emergency, 15 states in the United States ban all employers from requiring any nurse to work beyond their schedule. Labor Law 167 protects RNs from being overworked and forced to complete over time, regardless of any pay benefits their employer offers.
Do ER Nurses Get Paid More Privately Or In Hospitals?
ER Nurses will see their highest earnings in hospitals as they are trained to work in emergency room settings. While they could use their skills to offer private healthcare services, the best ER Nursing jobs will be in hospital settings.
What States Pay ER Nurses The Most Per Hour?
The states with the highest ER Nurse salaries are:
California – $104,067.00
Washington, D.C. – $99,612.00
Hawaii – $122,402.00
Massachusetts – $92,561.00
New York – $95,521.00
In every state; we suggest comparing several jobs at different hospitals to get an idea of the average hourly wage. This process will give you the greatest chance of finding the best-paying position.
Likewise, consider relocating for nursing jobs in high-paying areas. Bear in mind that higher-paying states also tend to have higher living costs, which could mean you do not earn anymore.
This cost of living means a nurse earning six figures in New York City may ultimately be faring about the same financially as one who makes $75,000 in a more affordable area.
Can You Live Off An ER Nurse's Salary In The Us?
The average ER Nurse salary of $78,451 is larger than the average 2022 US salary of $53,490. The cost of living in your particular area will affect how well you can live on your nursing income.
During periods of high demand, ER Nurses may qualify to earn even more. Hospitals experiencing staffing shortages, for example, tend to offer higher starting salaries. Consider weighing the pros and cons before transitioning to another hospital or taking on more hours.
ER Nurses wanting to save more, may consider relocating to an area with a lower cost of living. Those that are still earning around the national average would be able to save even more and build wealth more quickly.