A Flight Nurse, or transport nurse, cares for patients while they’re being airlifted via helicopter or plane. They are experts in emergency, trauma, and critical care, often providing life-sustaining treatment mid-air.
Some nurses feel called to care for people during the most critical moments of their lives. While not for the faint of heart, this line of work can be gratifying if you can meet the demands and deal with the stress it can cause.
As such, it’s essential to understand the responsibilities of a Flight Nurse and the different scenarios you might find yourself in when in this role.
Flight Nurses must always keep a level head and work under pressure and high demands. Often, people’s lives are in their hands until they reach a hospital or critical care center.
They are skilled in basic and advanced life support (BLS and ALS, respectively) and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
In addition to treating patients, Flight Nurses perform routine daily checks of their aircraft. They maintain the aircraft's interior and ensure it is sanitized and all necessary medical supplies and equipment are accounted for.
To be a Flight Nurse, you have to think quickly and critically, problem-solve rapidly, and handle large amounts of stress or pressure. You may also be exposed to people in highly critical situations, so being able to maintain composure is crucial.
If you’re interested in becoming a Flight Nurse, read on to learn more about how much these intensive care experts earn and how you can start your career.
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.
Flight Nurse Salaries in the United States
Flight Nurses are unique in that they tend to work unpredictable hours. While other nurses may often be on-call, Flight Nurses never really know when they’ll be called. They must be ready to work at a moment’s notice, and their hours can range from early morning to the middle of the night.
For this reason, even if you love the excitement of this type of nursing, you need to make sure that it fits in with your current lifestyle.
Whenever help is needed, they are there. Currently, there is no comprehensive data on Flight Nurse salaries in the U.S. So; we rely on emergency room and trauma care nurse salaries to determine the national average.
Based on our findings, the average salary a Flight Nurse can expect to earn is $89,579.22.
How Much Does A Flight Nurse Make A Year?
The average Flight Nurse will earn around $90,000 per year, though some may earn more depending on years of experience, location, and additional certifications.
If you’ve worked as a Flight Nurse for years and hold certifications in ICU and trauma care, you will likely have a higher salary than coworkers with less experience or credentials.
Where you live also influences how much you earn. Two nurses with similar experience and certifications can have varying salaries based on their state.
Nurses living in more costly states might not feel the same as a nurse residing in a state where living costs are low.
How Much Does A Flight Nurse Make An Hour?
The average Flight Nurse earns $42.07 an hour, which is higher than the average emergency room nurse’s pay of $36.17 (Zippa, February 2022).
The higher pay is due to the Flight Nurse’s specialized trauma and emergency care training.
Flight Nurse Salary by State
We gathered the latest data from Indeed to see how much emergency room nurses make by state. The reason we used emergency room data is due to the fact there are not currently widespread statistics about Flight Nurses’ earnings.
Through additional research, we concluded that the average Flight Nurse salary in the United States is $89,579.22, or $43.07 an hour.
Check out the table below for greater detail on each state’s average annual salary and hourly rate for Flight Nurses.
This data was last updated on April 29, 2022.
Hourly mean wage
Annual mean wage
Compared To National Average
District of Columbia
Factors That Affect How Much a Flight Nurse Makes
Experience and location are the biggest factors that influence how much any nurse earns, including Flight Nurses. If you want to increase your earning potential, you can consider getting additional qualifications.
Hard work and dedication to your job and living in a state with opportunities for Flight Nurses will help you maximize your career growth potential.
How Quickly Can You Become A Flight Nurse And Start Earning?
Flight Nurses must work for three to five years in ICU before becoming a Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN) through the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN).
Your journey to becoming a Flight Nurse will start by earning your RN license. To become a registered nurse, you must earn an associate’s degree (ADN) or bachelor’s of science (BSN).
Many undergraduate programs throughout the U.S. can help you become a licensed nurse in two to four years.
After you’ve passed the national licensing exam, NCLEX, you can apply for jobs in emergency care. ER nurses can then take on additional training to qualify as ICU nurses.
The most common ICU nurse certification is the CCRN, or critical care registered nurse. This certification requires two to five years of direct nursing experience treating acutely ill or critically ill patients at an accredited U.S. or Canadian healthcare facility.
Once you have enough experience, you can earn your CFRN certification and begin applying for Flight Nurse jobs in your state or desired state.
Career path for Flight Nurses:
Graduate from an accredited nursing school with an ADN or BSN.
Pass the NCLEX exam, and become a registered nurse in your state.
Start working in the ER/ICU in your state to gain three to five years of experience.
Become a CCRN to expand your critical care job opportunities.
Become a Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN)
Recommended Reading - How to Become a Flight Nurse in the USA
Flight Nurse Salary vs. Other Nursing Professions
Flight Nurses earn slightly above average in all nursing professions. Here’s how their salary compares to similar nursing jobs.
Average Flight Nurse salary: $89,579.22
ICU nurse: $84,281.06
Emergency room nurse: $78,451.61
Scrub nurse: $73,366.94
Triage nurse: $69,283.65
Flight Nurse Salary FAQs
Am I Being Paid Fairly As A Flight Nurse?
As a Flight Nurse, you should be paid more than the typical registered nurse in your state. Being a Flight Nurse requires additional training, experience, and qualifications than being an RN; you are eligible for a higher salary and hourly rate than an RN with no additional credentials or certifications.
Compare your salary/hourly wage to the national average and the average in your state. If you find that your salary is under the norm, it may be helpful to put together this information and present it to your employer.
Are Flight Nurses Paid Mostly Hourly Or Annually?
Flight Nurses, like ER nurses, are mostly paid hourly. This pay structure is in place because their hours vary, and they don’t tend to work set schedules.
If you ever become a chief Flight Nurse or take on an administrative role, your benefits may change to reflect the status of your position. This change can also come with an offer of a full-time salary.
Do Flight Nurses Get Paid Overtime?
Flight Nurses are entitled to overtime. The average ER nurse earns $12,750 per year in overtime (Indeed, 2022). All nurses are protected under the U.S. Department of Labor’s overtime provisions. These include overtime pay for any work beyond the 40-hour workweek.
Do Flight Nurses Get Paid More Privately Or In Hospitals?
Flight Nurses work for hospitals and emergency care centers, so this is where all of their paid opportunities will be. Flight Nurses are specialists who handle the critical transport period for patients who are gravely injured or in critical condition.
What State Pays Flight Nurses The Most Per Hour?
Flight Nurses earn 20% higher than the national average in New York, with an average hourly rate of $51.71 per hour.
Flight Nurses also earn more in:
Connecticut: $48.83 (13% above national average)
California: $48.62 (13% above national average)
Massachusetts: $48.43 (12% above national average)
District of Columbia: $47.85 (11% above national average)
Can You Live Off a Flight Nurses Salary in the USA?
Flight Nurses earn above the average American worker’s salary of $58,260. You should be able to live comfortably on the average Flight Nurse salary, and depending on where you live; this could be $90,000 to over $105,000 per year.
If you wonder how to get an idea of whether a salary will work for you, add up your total monthly expenses, and compare this to your estimated monthly earnings after taxes and social security deductions.
This process can give you a good idea of how much you would need to earn per month to live well on your nursing income. In some cases, relocating to a state with a lower cost of living can also be beneficial, even if you’re earning slightly less than you did in your previous state.
Because salaries are often higher in more expensive states, relocating can help you save more when you’re earning less than you did before.