How Much Do ER Nurses Make?

Jessica Bryant
Updated July 3, 2023
    ER nurse salaries vary based on many factors. We’ve analyzed salary data for this critical profession by geographic region and several other categories.
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    Nurse and doctor checking a computer in the emergency roomCredit: FS Productions / Tetra images / Getty Images
    • As of May 2023, ER nurses in the U.S. earn an average salary of $83,503 a year.
    • ER nurses in Vermont, Massachusetts, and Arizona have the highest average earnings, exceeding $100,000 a year.
    • Though average ER nurse pay is higher than average for all occupations in the U.S., the average pay for other nursing specialties can exceed $255,000 a year.

    The demand for emergency room (ER) nurses across the U.S. continues to rise. And with it, so is average pay.

    Since 2001, the nation has experienced a nursing shortage that was only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic that began in 2020. During the pandemic, at least 100,000 registered nurses (RNs) left the profession, and more than 800,000 reported in a survey that they planned to leave by 2027.

    In 2022, nearly 51% of RNs reported feeling emotionally drained at least a few times a week. A larger percentage (57%) reported feeling exhausted or “used up” at the end of the work day.

    In the face of these significant strains and a dwindling nursing workforce, it’s no surprise that demand — and pay — for ER nurses is on the rise. Though nursing has often been considered a lucrative career path, it’s even more so now, with some of today’s nurses making upward of $100,000 a year.

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    How Much Do ER Nurses Make?

    As of May 2023, the average annual salary for ER nurses across the U.S. was $83,503, according to data from ZipRecruiter, based on reported salaries from employer job postings and third-party data sources. Currently, ER nurses can typically earn anywhere from $53,000-$102,500 a year.

    Pay for these nurses can vary greatly by location and level of experience.

    In South Carolina, for example, the average annual salary for ER nurses is less than $63,000. At peak, these nurses can expect to earn about $122,200 a year. But on the lower end, annual pay for ER nurses in South Carolina is $43,500, which is a difference of over $70,000.

    Conversely, ER nurses working in Vermont, Massachusetts, and Arizona have the highest average annual pay of more than $101,000 a year. In these states, annual pay for ER nurses can reach over $150,000 — nearly 80% higher than the national average.

    Just like in other jobs in and out of nursing, experience plays a key role in ER nurse salaries. According to data from Payscale, an experienced ER nurse with 20 years of experience or more has an average hourly base rate of 40% higher than an ER nurse with a year or less in the field.

    What Makes Pay For ER Nurses Different?

    Salaries for ER nurses are often higher than those in other specialties due to the expertise and urgency required of the role.

    Nurses who work in emergency rooms are responsible for assessing and treating patients’ illnesses in critical situations.

    Their responsibilities can vary from performing triage and monitoring vital signs to administering medical treatments all under urgent circumstances.

    Though pay for ER nurses is high, other nursing specialties yield even higher earnings.

    As of May 2023, certified registered nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, and intensive care unit nurses have average salaries exceeding $120,000 a year.

    Why ER Nurses Continue to Demand Higher Pay

    Though salaries for ER nurses are currently higher than ever, staffing shortages are leaving significant pressure on those in the field. According to the 2022 National Nursing Workforce Survey, about 45% of working nurses said they feel burnt out at least a few times a week or every day. Over 29% of nurses also said they feel at the end of their rope at least once a week.

    As feelings of burnout and stress persist among today’s nurses, the hours nurses must spend working to make up for staffing shortages have only increased. About 19% reported in 2022 that they worked more than 40 hours each week. Just one year prior, only 14.5% of nurses said the same.

    What many ER nurses — and nurses across specialties — want now is for their pay to match the significant challenges and increased workload they face in the wake of shortages and other hurdles to their industry.

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