Nursing is one of the few well-paying, predominantly female professions. Male nurses make up only about 13% of the nursing workforce. So you might be surprised to learn that the average male RN salary is $6,000 a year higher than that of a female RN.
In this article, we’ll look at the earning statistics for male and female nurses, some possible reasons for the disparity, and some tips for how all nurses can increase their earning potential, regardless of gender.
Nursing Salary Statistics
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were 2,982,280 Registered Nurses employed in the United States as of May 2019 (the most recent report at the time of this writing).
According to the BLS, here is how the median weekly earnings of those nurses break down:
- Male RN Salary: $1,256
- Female RN Salary: $1,217
As mentioned briefly above, over the course of a year, a male nurse will make about $6,000 more on average than a female nurse. This might not sound like a huge gap at first, but over the course of a 20 to 30-year nursing career this can add up to a significant amount of money.
Why Do Male RNs Make More Money?
There is no definite answer to why a male RN’s salary is higher, but several theories have been proposed:
In a survey of nurses, male nurses reported that they negotiated their salaries 10% more often than female nurses.
A 2017 Medscape RN/LPN Compensation Report found that some differences in the ways that male nurses work might account for the pay gap. Here are some of those differences:
- Male nurses were more likely to work overtime hours than female nurses.
- Males were more likely to work at inpatient hospitals, which pay more than outpatient settings.
- Male RNs were more likely than female RNs to work in urban areas, which typically pay more than more rural areas due to the cost of living.
- Male nurses take more on-call and high-differential shifts.
Another theory doesn’t have to do with wages at all. The Job Network has suggested that male nurses end up with higher salaries because they are more available to work overtime. Their partners are more likely to cover domestic and childcare duties.
How All Nurses Can Increase Their Salaries
A Nurse.com survey found that while 43% of male nurses “most of the time or always” negotiate, only 34% of women do so.
Here are some tips for negotiating your salary:
- Researching salaries ahead of time so you know what is realistic for your area
- Allowing the workplace to make the first offer
- Asking for slightly more than you want at first, but know the lowest amount you can accept
- Consider the whole compensation package (benefits, vacation time, and so on) because these can add significant value
Take On More Responsibility
If you enjoy your current workplace but still want to increase your salary, try moving up the corporate ladder. Shift leader, charge nurse, or nurse manager positions usually all come with a bump up in earnings. Many facilities prefer to hire from within for these positions so you will already have an advantage.
Pursue Advanced Education or Certification
Male RNs with specialty certifications earned a salary of only $1,252 higher than certified female nurses. Specialty certification can narrow the pay gap considerably.
If you are open to continuing your education, advanced practice nurses like Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, Mental Health Nurse Practitioners, Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, and Family Nurse Practitioners make the most money out of all nurses.
Explore Different Areas of Practice
Salaries between specialties vary greatly. If a larger salary is your goal, try exploring different specialties to see if they are a good fit.
Some of the highest-paying RN specialties include Cardiac Electrophysiology Lab Nurse, Catheterization Lab Nurse, Pain Management Nurse, and PICU Nurse.
Explore Different Locations
Wages can vary dramatically between regions. If relocating is an option for you, look at higher-paying regions of the country to increase your salary.
A 2018 Medscape survey demonstrated that nurses in the Pacific region (California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii) earned significantly more than nurses in the East South Central region (Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Alabama), which is the difference of $102,000 versus $69,000 annually.
Free Male RN Salary Calculator
If you want to figure out how much you can potentially make as a male RN or female RN, or to see what nurses are making in your area and around the country, check out Incredible Health’s Nurse Salary Estimator.