How Much Do Ambulatory Care Nurses Make?

NurseJournal Staff
Updated January 11, 2023
Read about ambulatory care nurse career outlook and earning potential to see if this fast-paced and important role is right for you.
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Ambulatory care nurses provide nursing care for patients in outpatient settings. They can work in hospitals, physicians’ offices, clinics, and surgical centers. Ambulatory registered nurse (RN) responsibilities include administering tests and medication, updating health records, assisting during same-day surgeries, providing wound care, and patient education.

Explore typical ambulatory surgery nurse salary ranges, states with the highest ambulatory RN salaries, and ways to increase your salary, such as becoming a clinical nurse leader.

Average Salary for Ambulatory Care Nurses

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not report earnings for ambulatory care nurses specifically, average salaries may be similar to those of RNs working in outpatient care centers. Nurses working in this setting reported an average annual salary of $89,300.

Average Annual Salary

Source: BLS, 2020

Average Hourly Wage

Source: BLS, 2020

* Among RNs working in outpatient care centers

Highest-Paying States for Ambulatory Care Nurses

When researching salary data for ambulatory care nurses, consider the highest-paying states for all nurses. In California, registered nurses earn an average $120,560. Hawaii nurses earn the second highest average annual salary of $104,830, followed by Massachusetts, with an average annual earning of $96,250.

Oregon nurse salaries are the fourth highest at $96,230, and Alaska is fifth, paying an average $95,270, according to the BLS.

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How Do Ambulatory Care Nurse Salaries Compare to Other Nurses?

The average outpatient RN salary is $89,300 and ambulatory surgery nurse salaries are generally in the same range. Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) earn an annual median $117,670, according to the BLS, but they must have at least a master of science in nursing (MSN). Nurse anesthetists earn the highest median salaries at $183,580.

Nursing salaries for those without an RN license are lower. Nursing assistants earn a median $30,830 per year, below the median $41,490 for all earners. Licensed practical nurses earn a median $48,820.

3 Ways to Increase Pay as an Ambulatory Care Nurse

You can increase your salary as an ambulatory RN through earning certification or an advanced degree. You can also become a travel nurse and work where demand and ambulatory nurse salaries are highest.

1. Become a Certified Ambulatory Care Nurse

Ambulatory RNs can earn board certification in ambulatory care. You must have at least 2,000 hours experience in the last three years as an ambulatory RN, the equivalent of two years of experience as an RN, and at least 30 hours of continuing education in the last three years. If you meet these criteria, you can take the certification examination.

2. Pursue Higher Education

If you have an associate degree in nursing, you can earn your bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree through an RN-to-BSN program. If you already hold a BSN, you can earn an MSN.

While both help you increase your ambulatory surgery nurse salary, the MSN can prepare you to become an advanced practice nurse.

3. Consider Travel Nursing

Travel nurses can go to where the demand and salaries are highest. Travel nurses are in great demand because of nursing shortages. They are also typically easier to hire than full-time staff. Because of the higher stress of travel and adjusting to new workplaces where the demand is high, travel nursing can pay very well.

Frequently Asked Questions About Ambulatory Care Nurse Salaries

What career advancement opportunities are available for ambulatory care nurses?

Ambulatory RNs can earn board certification or become APRNs, such as clinical nurse leaders or nurse practitioners. Many, but not all, employers require or strongly prefer a BSN or an MSN for managerial or other higher-level positions.

You do not need a BSN to earn certification as an ambulatory RN.

Where do ambulatory care nurses work?

Ambulatory care nurses can work in many outpatient settings, such as independent or hospital-affiliated physicians’ offices, same-day surgical centers, urgent care facilities, and health clinics. They may also work in other settings, such as military bases and worksites, especially sites with a high number of employees.

What is the starting salary for an ambulatory care nurse?

The BLS doesn’t separate ambulatory RN salaries from other RN salaries in its nursing salary data. However, as a new nurse, you can expect to earn about $59,580 as per February 2022 data from Payscale. If you have a BSN or work in an area with a high demand for nurses, you may earn more.

Do outpatient nurses make less?

Nurses who work in outpatient care centers earn an average annual salary of $89,300, which is more than those in other workplaces. For example, nurses working in general medical and surgical hospitals earn an average $81,680.

Ambulatory surgery nurse salaries vary based on experience, education, certification, and geography.

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