Oncology nurse escorting patient in the hospital

No one is ever prepared for a cancer diagnosis, and the process of treatment, chemotherapy, and adjusting to life as a cancer patient can be overwhelming. Oncology nurses are there every step of the way to support their patients and their families.

Oncology nurses assess vitals, update patients’ records, draw blood, take lab samples, and administer chemotherapy to cancer patients of all ages. They assist oncologists (cancer doctors) during exams and procedures and counsel patients and their families on various cancer treatment options.

Being an oncology nurse is a challenging but rewarding experience. You are standing by people during the most difficult period of their life, offering hope and strength along with unwavering care and support. You become an integral part of a patient’s care team and can even become like family to the patients you care for. 

If you decide to become an oncology nurse, you can expect a median annual salary of $80,517.45 in the United States. This figure reflects the midpoint for all salaries in America for Registered Nurses, including oncology nurses. 

What does an oncology nurse do?

Oncology nurses treat patients with many cancer in a variety of healthcare settings. They can work at an oncologist’s office or in hospitals or cancer centers to deliver round-the-clock treatment. 

It takes a special person to be an oncology nurse. An oncology nurse is more than just a caregiver; they are an invaluable part of their patients’ support system, always standing by and championing their recovery. They’re heroes, cheerleaders, and leaders. No matter how bad a patient's day is, their oncology nurse is there for them to boost them up and let them know they are never alone. 

Oncology nurses have seen people beat impossible odds. They are always willing to provide a smile and hope for their patients, but they’ll also support them and be present during the most difficult periods of their lives.

Oncology nurses perform all the roles of regular registered nurses but also provide specialized chemotherapy treatments and oncology care.

How much does an oncology nurse make a year? 

Oncology nurses earn an average of $80,517.45 annually. Zippa.com reports that salaries for oncology nurses range between $50,000 to over $120,000. The top 10% of oncology nurses earn over $120,000, and the 10% with the smallest income earn $50,000.

The average starting salary for an oncology nurse is around $50,000. With experience, you can qualify for higher-paying positions. 

How much does an oncology nurse make an hour?

A typical oncology nurse’s hourly wage is $38.71. Hourly wages throughout the country range from $29.74 in Alabama to $56.02 in California.

Oncology nurse salary by state

You can use the table below to compare your state’s average oncology nurse pay with the national average. Please note that salaries in each state still have their own highs and lows; our data reflects the average earnings for oncology nurses in each location.

Our method helps you establish a baseline for pay, so you can identify the best-paying job opportunities near you and set fair compensation expectations. 

State

Hourly median wage

Annual median wage

Compared To National Average

Alabama

$30.74

$63,945.00

-21%

Alaska

$37.45

$77,904.00

-3%

Arizona

$39.02

$81,154.00

1%

Arkansas

$34.53

$71,812.00

-11%

California

$56.02

$116,514.00

45%

Colorado

$34.01

$70,751.00

-12%

Connecticut

$54.16

$112,647.00

40%

Delaware

$33.39

$69,459.00

-14%

District of Columbia

$41.65

$86,641.00

8%

Florida

$30.90

$64,273.00

-20%

Georgia

$36.07

$75,020.00

-7%

Hawaii

$50.67

$105,395.00

31%

Idaho

$34.60

$71,958.00

-11%

Illinois

$41.73

$86,789.00

8%

Indiana

$32.14

$66,846.00

-17%

Iowa

$29.74

$61,862.00

-23%

Kansas

$34.00

$70,729.00

-12%

Kentucky

$34.36

$71,474.00

-11%

Louisiana

$41.54

$86,405.00

7%

Maine

$36.76

$76,455.00

-5%

Maryland

$49.45

$102,854.00

28%

Massachusetts

$55.31

$115,038.00

43%

Michigan

$45.26

$94,137.00

17%

Minnesota

$42.25

$87,888.00

9%

Mississippi

$35.42

$73,671.00

-9%

Missouri

$29.91

$62,207.00

-23%

Montana

$33.25

$69,158.00

-14%

Nebraska

$31.60

$65,723.00

-18%

Nevada

$38.85

$80,818.00

0%

New Hampshire

$38.35

$79,774.00

-1%

New Jersey

$53.74

$111,785.00

39%

New Mexico

$36.50

$75,929.00

-6%

New York

$49.63

$103,225.00

28%

North Carolina

$35.90

$74,677.00

-7%

North Dakota

$35.21

$73,244.00

-9%

Ohio

$35.96

$74,801.00

-7%

Oklahoma

$32.45

$67,495.00

-16%

Oregon

$44.24

$92,025.00

14%

Pennsylvania

$36.53

$75,983.00

-6%

Rhode Island

$42.82

$89,060.00

11%

South Carolina

$33.98

$70,672.00

-12%

South Dakota

$31.68

$65,895.00

-18%

Tennessee

$36.71

$76,347.00

-5%

Texas

$35.47

$73,786.00

-8%

Utah

$33.60

$69,890.00

-13%

Vermont

$42.61

$88,629.00

10%

Virginia

$33.09

$68,833.00

-15%

Washington

$41.99

$87,337.00

8%

West Virginia

$39.51

$82,181.00

2%

Wisconsin

$43.47

$90,411.00

12%

Wyoming

$36.00

$74,884.00

-7%

National Average

$38.71

$80,517.45

Factors that affect how much an oncology nurse makes

Your salary as an oncology nurse depends on several circumstances. These are the most common factors that influence your earnings:

1) Education and years of experience

An oncology nurse must have an ADN (associate degree in nursing) or a BSN (bachelor of science in nursing). They need to pursue certification in an oncological specialty. It’s important to note that oncology nurses have very specific training that supersedes the standard training of a registered nurse.

Oncology nurses with 10 to 20 years’ experience will earn the most, while entry-level nurses with under 5 years’ experience can expect their salaries to increase with time.

Graduate degrees can qualify nurses even more, especially if they pursue advanced certifications. 

2) Work environment

Oncology nurses mostly work in hospitals, though many also work in outpatient centers, oncologists’ offices, and long-term care facilities. Depending on the situation, they might visit a patient’s home as well. Pay scales will vary by employer and location based on demand and competition. 

You will find higher paying salaries when there is a greater need for oncology nurses. It’s a good idea to compare job listings in different workplaces when exploring your options. 

3) Oncology nurse certification

There are several types of oncology nursing certifications you can earn through the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation. These are:

  • Oncology Certified Nursing (OCN)

  • Certified Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurse (CPHON)

  • Certified Breast Cancer Nurse (CBCN)

  • Blood and Marrow Transplant Certified Nurse (BMTCN)

If you earn a master’s degree or doctorate degree, you can become an advanced oncology certified nurse practitioner (AOCNP).

How quickly can you become an oncology nurse and start earning?

It takes between four and six years’ to earn your education credentials and become an oncology nurse. You will also have to meet certification requirements for your specialty. A certified oncology nurse (OCN) must have at least two years’ experience in clinical nursing, as well as a minimum of 10 contact hours in continuing oncology education or an academic elective oncology course within the last three years.

Oncology nurse salary vs other nursing professions

Oncology nurses earn over $20,000 more than the national median salary for all nurses ($67,662.51). See how oncology nurses’ salaries compare to other titles below. 

Average oncology nurse salary: $80,517.45

  • Registered Nurse: $76,944.90

  • ICU Nurse: $84,281.06

  • Surgical Nurse: $76,757.41

  • Pediatrics Nurse: $69,473.96

Oncology nurse salary FAQ

Am I being paid fairly as an oncology nurse? 

Compare your salary to your state’s average. Are you being paid close to this amount? If your compensation falls below the state average, then you should collect as much data as you can and present it to your employer for further review. 

Are oncology nurses mostly paid hourly or annually?

Oncology nurses can be paid hourly or annually, depending on where they work and their schedule. Most floor nurses in hospitals are paid hourly, but there are oncology nurses who receive salaries in both hospitals and private healthcare practices. 

Do oncology nurses get paid overtime?

Yes, an oncology nurse is entitled to overtime pay if they are protected under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Also, most states have nursing laws in place that protect nurses from being exploited and underpaid.

Do oncology nurses get paid more privately or in hospitals?

Salaries vary by location, so you should compare private healthcare practices with hospitals in your state. Some states have hospitals with renowned cancer centers, and nurses working for these facilities will likely be paid higher than their peers.

What state pays oncology nurses the most per hour? 

California pays oncology nurses 45% higher than the rest of the United States. See how much oncology nurses make in the top paying states below.

State

Median Hourly Wage

Annual Median Salary

California

$56.02

$116,514

Massachusetts

$56.02

$115,038

Connecticut

$54.16

$112,647

New Jersey

$53.74

$111,785

Hawaii

$50.67

$105,395

Can you live off of an oncology nurse’s salary in the USA?

Find out how much an oncology nurse’s salary can afford based on your state’s cost-of-living index. This measurement determines how expensive a state is, or how affordable it is, by how much it exceeds or falls below the norm index of 100.

States like Hawaii, New York, and California are more expensive, so living comfortably as an oncology nurse can be more difficult here. However, urban areas can sometimes offer higher salaries. Keep in mind that the median annual salary in each state will be relative to its cost-of-living index.

View the cost of living index to learn more

Position

State

costIndex

Position

State

Median Avg Nursing Salary

1

Hawaii

193.3

1

California

$84,997.78

2

New York

148.2

2

Washington

$80,067.11

3

California

142.2

3

Oregon

$79,598.00

4

Massachusetts

135

4

Alaska

$77,079.00

5

Oregon

130.1

5

Connecticut

$76,783.89

6

Alaska

127.1

6

Massachusetts

$75,788.44

7

Maryland

124

7

New York

$75,587.89

8

Connecticut

121.6

8

New Jersey

$75,395.67

9

Rhode Island

117.2

9

District of Columbia

$72,408.78

10

Vermont

117

10

Rhode Island

$72,072.78

11

New Jersey

115.2

11

New Hampshire

$70,314.33

12

Maine

115

12

North Dakota

$69,891.22

13

Washington

111.6

13

Minnesota

$69,718.67

14

New Hampshire

109.9

14

Nevada

$69,611.00

15

Delaware

107.9

15

Maryland

$69,379.89

16

Nevada

106.3

16

Michigan

$69,267.89

17

Colorado

105.3

17

Hawaii

$68,994.22

18

Arizona

103.2

18

Pennsylvania

$68,947.00

19

Pennsylvania

102.5

19

Vermont

$68,873.00

20

Idaho

102.1

20

Maine

$67,826.33

21

Virginia

101.8

21

Arizona

$67,388.56

22

South Dakota

101

22

Wisconsin

$67,343.78

23

Montana

100.7

23

Delaware

$67,080.67

24

Florida

100.3

24

Colorado

$66,904.67

25

Minnesota

100

25

Illinois

$66,509.56

26

Utah

99

26

Utah

$66,147.78

27

North Dakota

98.2

27

New Mexico

$65,823.22

28

Wisconsin

96.4

28

Texas

$64,157.00

29

North Carolina

95.7

29

Ohio

$64,145.00

30

Illinois

94.3

30

Wyoming

$62,866.33

31

Wyoming

94.3

31

Idaho

$62,811.56

32

Nebraska

93.7

32

Iowa

$62,781.56

33

South Carolina

93.6

33

North Carolina

$62,711.56

34

Kentucky

93.1

34

Indiana

$62,346.56

35

Louisiana

93

35

Montana

$62,307.22

36

Texas

92.1

36

Kentucky

$61,509.67

37

Michigan

91.3

37

Georgia

$61,484.67

38

Ohio

91.3

38

Oklahoma

$61,016.78

39

New Mexico

91

39

Mississippi

$60,965.22

40

Arkansas

90.9

40

West Virginia

$60,443.89

41

Indiana

90.6

41

Missouri

$60,281.67

42

West Virginia

90.5

42

Kansas

$59,949.00

43

Iowa

89.9

43

South Dakota

$59,887.56

44

Missouri

89.8

44

Nebraska

$59,798.11

45

Tennessee

89

45

Florida

$59,653.67

46

Georgia

88.8

46

Arkansas

$58,544.11

47

Alabama

87.9

47

South Carolina

$58,357.33

48

Oklahoma

87.9

48

Louisiana

$58,290.56

49

Kansas

86.5

49

Tennessee

$57,799.00

50

Mississippi

83.3

50

Virginia

$57,044.25

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.

Registerd Nurse Median Salary