Do the time
By far, the most important factor in determining an RN’s salary is—and will continue to be—experience. PayScale’s 2011 data indicate that an RN with less than one year of experience typically earns between $15.84 and $29.37 an hour, while an RN with 20 (or more) years of experience typically earns between $23.03 and $43.07. That’s a significant difference, and it strongly indicates that no matter what discipline you’re in and no matter what certifications you have, it’s racking up those years of experience that has the most clout in terms of boosting you up the salary grid.
If you’re finding it difficult to put your salary in perspective because of all of these factors that come into play, you might want to stop thinking about actual dollar figures. Are you enjoying a good standard of living while putting some money aside for the future? If not, maybe a specialty certification will give your salary a boost as you’re accumulating more years of experience. Keep your eye on trends so that you know what specialty certifications you should pursue.
Note: The 2012-13 Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the BLS, will be released in March 2012. It will contain comprehensive data on projected salaries for nurses in the 2012-13 period. If you want to be the smarty pants nurse on your unit, you can subscribe to updates regarding the release.