How Much Do Geriatric Nurses Make?

Jody Dugan, RN, BSN
Updated January 11, 2023
Due to the aging population, demand grows for geriatric nurses. This specialized field of nursing benefits from higher salaries and greater job opportunities.
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Cheerful female nurse holding hand of senior woman sitting at retirement homeCredit: Maskot / DigitalVision / Getty Images

The demand for geriatric nurses is on the rise as the population ages. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the 65-and-over population has grown by more than one-third over the last decade. The baby boomer generation, combined with improved healthcare, plays a significant role in this growth, creating greater job opportunities in gerontology.

Other benefits to a geriatric nursing career include developing extensive knowledge of complex medical conditions, comorbidities, and polypharmacy; building a strong relationship with the patients in long-term care facilities; serving as an advocate; and choosing from a variety of healthcare settings.

Average Salary for Geriatric Nurses

According to Payscale, the average annual salary for a registered nurse (RN) with geriatric skills is $69,212, with an average hourly wage of $30.11. However, there are many factors that affect RN compensation, including education level, certifications, practice setting, years of experience, and additional proficiencies.

Geriatric nursing is a healthcare specialty concentrating on caring for elderly patients. The geriatric nurse salary is higher than the standard RN average salary of $67,440.

Average Annual Salary

Source: Payscale, as of February 2022

Average Hourly Wage

Source: Payscale, as of February 2022

Highest Paying States for Geriatric Nurses

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not detail salary information for specialized nursing, such as geriatric nurses. However, top states for the highest-ranking salaries for nurses with this area of expertise may be similar to those of general RNs. The highest paying state for a general RN is California. Hawaii, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Alaska are the other states ranking in the top five.

California’s statewide nursing shortage has triggered additional job options and opportunities for professional growth. It has also compelled the state to offer the most lucrative salaries and a strict nurse-patient ratio regulation that offers a more favorable work environment.

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How Do Geriatric Nurse Salaries Compare to Other Nurses?

Geriatric nurses earn higher salaries than nurses in the psychiatric, home health, and pediatric fields. Yet, intravenous (IV) infusion nurses and acute care nurses earn higher incomes than the focused field of geriatric nursing.

3 Ways to Increase Pay as a Geriatric Nurse

There are many ways for geriatric nurses to increase their salary. Three specific ways to enhance income include:

1. Gain Experience or Training in Related Specialties

Acquiring specialized clinical training in geriatrics can develop your skills and establish your value. This is appealing to an employer. In addition to the clinical setting and education, there are other avenues to expand your industry knowledge as an aspiring geriatric nurse. Nurses considering advancing their expertise in geriatrics may consider exploring opportunities in shadowing a geriatric nurse, internship/mentorship, volunteering, or working in the field.

Some related specialty certifications that may be advantageous include pain management, hospice nursing, oncology, home health, and psychiatric/mental health.

2. Become a Certified Gerontology Nurse (GERO-BC)

A Gerontological Nursing Certification (GERO-BC) is offered through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Obtaining a GERO-BC validates your specialized knowledge and skill set.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Current, active RN license
  • Two years of clinical experience as a full-time registered nurse
  • Minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical practice in gerontological nursing within the last three years
  • Complete 30 hours of continuing education in gerontological nursing within the last three years

3. Become an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP-BC)

An adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner (AGPCNP) is an NP who specializes in treating patients from adolescence to the geriatric years.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers competency-based examinations for NPs called the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner board certification (AGPCNP-BC) exam and the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certification (AGACNP-BC) exam.

Frequently Asked Questions About Geriatric Nurse Salaries

Are geriatric nurses in demand?

Geriatric nurses are in great demand due to the growing elderly population. These numbers are projected to increase. Seniors comprise most of the hospitalizations, ambulatory care appointments, and home care visits in the healthcare industry. This rise in older patients and evolving healthcare offers many job opportunities for geriatric nursing.

Is it worth it to become a geriatric nurse?

While some nurses may find this specialty both mentally and physically challenging, there are also many great benefits to becoming a geriatric nurse. It is a rewarding career that offers a competitive salary, stability, the opportunity for advancement, and plentiful job prospects.

Do geriatric nurses with a BSN earn more?

Geriatric nurses with a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) earn more than those who hold an associate degree in nursing (ADN). According to Payscale, nurses with an ADN earn an average of $72,000 a year. Nurses who hold a BSN earn an average of $88,000 annually.

Can you become a geriatric nurse online?

With our developing education system, a geriatric nurse has the option to complete their degree on campus or online. Online schools offer accredited undergraduate programs and graduate courses.

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