How Much Does an Oncology Nurse Make?

NurseJournal Staff
Updated June 27, 2022
Want to become an oncology nurse? Find out average salaries by state and a few tips on how to make even more.
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Want to advocate for patients who have cancer? Oncology nurses form close bonds with their patients and receive strong compensation for their work. This guide explores state oncology nurse pay and how nurses can boost their pay.

Average Salary for Oncology Nurses

How much does an oncology nurse make? Oncology nurses earn an annual median salary above what RNs make. Payscale data from June 2022 indicates that registered nurses make an average annual salary of $68,620, or $31.24 an hour, while oncology nurses earn an average wage of $34.29 an hour, or $76,650 a year.

Nursing offers continual career advancements, along with opportunities for education, greater responsibilities, work experience, and credentials. Oncology nurse salaries also vary by location.

Average Annual Salary
Source:Payscale, June 2022

Average Annual Salary
Source:Payscale, June 2022

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The Highest-Paying States for Oncology Nurses

Location determines how much oncology nurses make. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not track oncology nurse salary information by state, state-specific data for all RNs offers insight into which states pay the highest salaries.

The states with the highest annual pay for registered nurses are:

Highest-Paying States
StateAverage Salary
Washington, D.C.$98,540

Source:U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

How Do Oncology Nurse Salaries Compare to Other RN Specialties?

After gaining experience as an RN, many individuals pursue nursing specialties. Top-earning nursing specialties, such as certified registered nurse anesthetists, require professionals to possess advanced degrees. Becoming a certified nurse also requires each candidate to complete clinical hours and pass a certification exam.

Oncology nurses can earn more than other nursing specialties that do not require graduate degrees, such as critical care nurses, who make an average salary of $75,370.

4 Ways to Increase Pay As a Oncology Nurse

Oncology nurses can increase their earnings throughout their careers. These four ways can lead to stronger oncology nurse salaries.

  1. 1

    Consider Pursuing Certifications

    Certifications demonstrate that a nurse has expertise in a specific area of the field, such as oncology, pediatric hematology, breast care, or blood marrow transplant. Becoming a certified nurse requires work experience through clinical hours and a passing score on a certification exam. Already have your RN license? Get certified and make more money.

  2. 2

    Increase Education Level

    Higher degrees typically equate to increased earnings across most industries. According to the Social Security Administration, men who hold bachelor’s degrees earn about $900,000 more than high school graduates across their lifetimes, while women earn $630,000 more. Men who earn graduate degrees make $1.5 million more in their lifetime, and women earn $1.1 million more.

  3. 3

    Gain Experience in Administrative Roles

    Executive-level nurses work in office settings and do not have direct patient care duties. Nurse administrators often complete supervised administrative experience while earning MSN degrees. Graduate students can often gain practicum experience by taking concentrations in specialty areas like oncology.

  4. 4

    Switch Practice Setting

    Nursing offers various pay levels, depending on the setting. RNs make the most in government, earning an annual median salary of $85,970. Hospitals, ambulatory healthcare services, nursing and residential care facilities, and educational services pay RNs in the range of $61,780-$78,070 a year.

Frequently Asked Questions About Oncology Nurse Salaries

question-mark-circleWhat does an oncology nurse do?

Oncology nurses provide cancer prevention and treatment care. These healthcare professionals also deliver diagnoses while collaborating with physicians and nurse practitioners. Helping terminally ill patients at hospitals, cancer treatment clinics, and hospices requires compassion and the ability to handle stressful situations. Additionally, nurses who administer chemotherapies and biotherapies must possess chemo-bio certification.

question-mark-circleHow much does an oncology nurse make?

As of June 2022, Payscale data indicates that oncology nurses make an annual average salary of $76,650, or $34.29 an hour. They can earn more by earning higher degrees or gaining executive-level experience. Advanced oncology, certified nurse, and certified pediatric oncology nurse certifications can also help nurses to advance in their careers.

question-mark-circleIs being an oncology nurse hard?

Yes — working as an oncology nurse can be physically and emotionally draining. Oncology nurses handle complicated cases. Studies indicate that oncology nurses have high levels of workplace stress. Despite the drawbacks, oncology nursing also provides many rewards, allowing nurses to develop lasting relationships with patients and their families.

question-mark-circleWhat registered nursing specialties earn the highest salaries?

Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) earn a median annual pay of $123,780. These advanced healthcare professionals must hold master of science in nursing (MSN) or doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degrees. APRNs earn strong median annual salaries, including nurse anesthetists ($195,610), nurse practitioners ($120,680), and nurse midwives ($112,830).

States usually require national certification to become an APRN. Nurses may receive board certification from the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists or the American Midwifery Certification Board.

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