“We saw modest wage increases in the nursing profession in 2011,” says Fort, “but the most significant increases were in acute care settings in hospitals.”
Fort explains that this was the case because acute care settings (intensive care units, coronary care units, neonatal intensive care units, emergency departments, etc.) are generally components of large hospitals, which are in turn components of large healthcare organizations, which have relatively high operating budgets. These institutions have well-developed hierarchies of staff, so there are more opportunities for nurses to move into management positions and director roles. There’s essentially more room for career advancement and a greater potential for earning high salaries.
In California, which has some of the highest nursing salaries in the country, an acute care nurse with some experience can expect to earn in the neighbourhood of $80,000. With 20 to 30 years of experience, as well as advanced certification in acute care, and holding a position as a manager or director, it’s not uncommon for an acute care nurse to earn in the neighborhood of $100,000.