How Much Do Critical Care Transport Nurses Make?

Daniel Bal
Updated January 3, 2023
Review the earning potential of a critical care transport nurse, the highest-paying states, and ways to increase pay through certification, education, and specialization.
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Nurses and paramedic care for patient being transported on a stretcherCredit: Tempura / E+ / Getty Images

Critical care transport nurses (CCTNs) safely transport patients with acute conditions to the appropriate medical facility on the ground or through the air. CCTNs work in a fast-paced environment where no two days are the same, making the role an exciting alternative to working in a healthcare facility.

This guide explores salary expectations for CCTNs and ways these professionals can increase their pay throughout their careers.

Average Salary for Critical Care Transport Nurses

While data is not available for transport nurses specifically, Payscale data from November 2022 reports that all critical care nurses (CCNs) earn a yearly salary of $74,820. On average, entry-level CCNs earn $61,040 annually, while experienced nurses (20+ years) earn an average salary of $89,650. In comparison, general RNs earn an average salary of $69,010.

CCTN earnings vary by location, with certain states offering higher salaries. Outside of choosing a high-paying state to work in, CCTNs can also increase their wages by pursuing certification, earning an advanced degree, or focusing on a specialty.

Average Annual Salary

Source: Payscale, November 2022

Average Hourly Wage

Source: Payscale, November 2022

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The Highest-Paying States for Critical Care Transport Nurses

While state-specific CCTN salary data is unavailable for the role, CCTNs can expect wages that reflect the earnings for RNs overall. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the top five highest-paying states for RNs include California ($124,000), Hawaii ($106,530), Oregon ($98,630), Washington, D.C. ($98,540), and Alaska ($97,230).

One factor contributing to the higher salaries in these locations is their cost of living. Hawaii and Washington, D.C. are the two most expensive areas to live in the country, with California, Alaska, and Oregon following close behind. These locations typically provide higher salaries to offset the increased living costs.

4 Ways to Increase Pay as a Critical Care Transport Nurse

Ways for CCTNs to increase their salary include both academic to professional options. Pursuing certification, earning a higher degree, or focusing on a specialty can help nurses in the role who are looking for a higher wage.

  1. 1

    Consider Pursuing Certifications

    The Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN) offers a certification exam for CCTNs. To be eligible, nurses must hold an unrestricted RN license. The BCEN also recommends two years of clinical experience; however, it is not a requirement. Earning certification provides nurses with increased job opportunities that offer higher earning potential.
  2. 2

    Increase Your Education Level

    Like any other RN, CCTNs must have at least an associate degree in nursing (ADN). Some employers prefer to hire nurses with a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) due to their increased knowledge and training. RNs with an ADN earn approximately $73,000 annually, while those with a BSN earn around $89,000.
  3. 3

    Pursue a Critical Care Transport Specialty

    CCTNs who choose a specialty, such as pediatrics or flight transport, may be able to increase their salary because of their specialized knowledge and training. RNs who focus on pediatric critical care average $81,460 per year, while working as flight nurses can earn them $96,000.
  4. 4

    Become a Critical Care Transport Travel Nurse

    By becoming a travel nurse, CCTNs can increase their average salary while also being selective in the work they accept. On average, travel nurses earn $80,970 per year, which is a little less than $5,000 more than the CCTN salary.

Frequently Asked Questions About Critical Care Transport Nurse Salaries

Can CCT nurses intubate?

Yes, CCTNs have the training necessary to perform medical procedures, such as intubations and tracheostomies. Most RNs who work specifically in emergency care are trained to carry out these procedures.

What is a critical care transport nurse?

Transport nursing consists of providing medical care to patients being transported to a medical facility, which would typically be a hospital. Most of the work they perform is in emergency medicine; therefore, they provide life-saving medical interventions.

What is the salary range for critical care transport nurses?

According to PayScale data from November 2022, the base salary of a CCTN can range from $58,000 to $121,000, with average yearly earnings of $75,370.

Can a nurse work for an airline?

CCTNs can work for an airline. To do so, they must become certified flight registered nurses. To be eligible to sit for the exam offered by the BCEN, nurses must have a valid RN license and a recommended two years of clinical experience.

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