PRN nurse standing folding arms

Pro re nata (PRN) means “as the need arises” in Latin, and PRN nurses work wherever and whenever needed. Being a PRN nurse gives you much flexibility, where you work more like a freelance nurse than a typical R.N.

If you want to pursue nursing part-time, becoming a PRN nurse could be an excellent fit for your lifestyle. 

According to our research, the average PRN salary in the U.S. is $51,102.24. However, income varies by state based on demand. 

What do PRN nurses do?

PRN nurses work when needed, so their exact job duties can vary. For example, some work on-call during certain hours for a specific hospital, while others get assignments through a nurse staffing agency. 

Rather than work a set schedule, PRN nurses can be a part of a hospital’s staffing reserve. Whenever a nurse calls out, or there is a staff shortage, the hospital will call in PRN nurses to care for patients.

While they have the same credentials as a registered nurse, PRN nurses aren’t permanent employees. They work part-time, but even then, their hours can be sporadic. This schedule grants more flexibility to nurses with other commitments or those who want to continue their nursing careers with less rigid hours. 

Recommended Reading - What is a PRN Nurse?

How much does a PRN nurse make a year?

We compiled the latest data from Zippia (July 2022) in every state to find a national average. We found that the average PRN nurse makes $51,102.24 annually in the United States. 

Other salary-reporting sites report slightly different averages:

How much does a PRN nurse make an hour?

PRN nurses can expect to make $42.29 on average. In the United States, the hourly pay for a PRN nurse ranges between $34.11 and $55.55. 

PRN nurse salary by state

Curious how much PRN nurses make where you live? Here is a breakdown of PRN nurse salaries by state, including their typical base salary and hourly wages. 

You’ll also notice a percentage on the right of the chart — this tells you how much a state pays above or below the national average PRN nurse salary of $51,102.24. 


Hourly median wage

Annual median wage

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National Average



Factors that affect how much a PRN nurse makes

Unlike other nurses, availability plays a much more significant role in the PRN nurse's salary. Because they work on an as-needed basis, their earnings can change monthly depending on hospitals' needs in their area. 

Generally, being a PRN nurse can provide steady work, but the hours each week will vary. For example, you may have four 12-hour shifts one week, then nothing the next. It all depends on the healthcare demands in your area and how many nurses are employed by local hospitals.

States with nursing staffing shortages will likely call on PRNs more regularly. If you want a regular full-time schedule, you might consider working as a standard RN instead. 

PRNs can also have their earnings affected by education and certifications. Specialists in fields like emergency care, critical care, and perioperative nursing can earn much more when available on-demand.

How quickly can you become a PRN nurse and start earning?

Nurses need a minimum of two years of experience before they can work on a PRN basis. You'll have to complete your nursing education first, which takes two to four years, depending on the degree you pursue.

Associate's degrees take less time, so you can start nursing sooner with a two-year ADN program. If you plan on advancing your nursing career more in the future, earning a four-year BSN is a better option.

You'll perform clinicals as a nursing student throughout your education. Then, once you're finished your degree, you'll have to pass the national certifying exam for nurses in the U.S., the NCLEX.

After passing the exam and getting your R.N. license through your state's nursing board, you can start working on staff at a hospital. After you gain enough experience, you can apply for PRN nursing jobs in your area.

So, overall, expect to spend at least four years and no more than six years becoming a PRN nurse.

PRN nurse salary vs. other nursing professions

If you're interested in PRN Nursing, you might wonder if there's a trade-off between more flexible hours and income. Here's how the average PRN nurse's earnings compare to similar roles in nursing.

Average PRN nurse salary: $51,102.24

  • Registered nurse (full-time): $76,944.90

  • Travel nurse: $87,958.51

  • ER nurse:$78,451.61 

  • Triage nurse: $69,283.65

PRN nurse Salary FAQs

Am I being paid fairly as a PRN nurse?

Nursing salaries should reflect the national average plus your experience and education. If you have several years of nursing experience, you should qualify for higher average pay than a newer nurse. 

Pay also varies by state and location. Even some hospitals in the same region can have differing wages for PRN nurses. Ask other nurses you know, and investigate your state's national average and average PRN Salary.

Are PRN nurses paid mostly hourly or annually?

PRN nurses receive hourly pay because they do not have a set work schedule. They are also not generally qualified for employee benefits, like health insurance or retirement plans.

While this pay structure works for nurses who only work part-time, it can be a complication for those looking to rely on their PRN income full-time.

PRN nursing is different from part-time nursing; part-time nurses are still part of a staff, but they are only called in when needed, similar to a substitute teacher.

Do PRN nurses get paid overtime?

A PRN nurse can qualify for overtime if they work at the same hospital for over 40 hours a week, but they aren't given overtime pay as part of their employment package. Most PRN nurses arrive at a moment's notice, and their shifts might not be consecutive enough to qualify them for overtime pay.

However, you may qualify for higher hourly pay if you are called in last-minute, on the weekends, overnight, or on holidays.

Do PRN nurses get paid more privately or in hospitals?

PRN nurses work for hospitals, and most will find their best employment options in hospital settings. Many nurses use PRN income as a side-gig, offering to take on additional shifts to supplement their income. PRN nurses can also find work in urgent care centers, rehab centers, and doctor offices. 

What state pays PRN nurses the most per hour?

Connecticut has the highest PRN salary, with an average annual income of $70,648 per hour, or $53.28 per hour. This figure is 38% higher than the national average.

Comparably, PRNs in San Francisco, CA, earn the highest salary with an average of $96,279 per year, which is 51% higher than their reported national average of $63,704.

Can you live off a PRN Salary in the U.S.? 

The median annual salary of a PRN nurse of $51,102.20 comes to $4,258.51 per month before taxes and other deductions. However, because hours are not fixed or guaranteed, a PRN nurse's pay can fluctuate each month. Understanding this before becoming a PRN nurse will also help you plan for your financial future.

The cost of living in your state will affect how comfortable you can live on a PRN salary. Consider housing, transportation, student loans, and other bills as you calculate your budget.

A note about our data. We use the median of the data gathered from The BLS at and other salary data sources such as, and 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