How Much Do Palliative Care Nurses Make?

NurseJournal Staff
Updated July 13, 2022
Palliative care nurses are in demand and earn competitive salaries. Use this guide to learn what states pay more and four ways to raise your salary potential.
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Nurses who work in palliative care provide extra compassion to patients with long-term chronic illnesses who may be facing potential end-of-life situations. The National Institute on Aging differentiates nurses who provide hospice care and palliative care.

Hospice patients are at the end of life, with care focusing on comfort and quality of life. Palliative care is specialized for individuals with serious illnesses who are receiving treatments to cure their conditions. Palliative nursing helps patients understand their conditions and improve their quality of life.

RNs interested in palliative nursing can find current salary prospects and ways to increase their salary potential with this guide.

Average Salary for Palliative Nurses

Multiple different health professionals serve on a palliative care team. A palliative care nurse must be a licensed RN with a special interest in creating a comfortable environment for the patient and supporting friends and family through the grieving process.

According to Payscale data from July 2022, the average palliative care nurse’s salary is $76,500 per year and $31.03 per hour. Note that these figures reflect fewer than 50 respondents. A palliative care nurse may possess an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree. While the starting salaries may be similar, a BSN-prepared nurse has greater potential for a higher salary.

Payscale data indicates an average annual RN salary of $68,620, while individuals with BSNs earn an average of $89,000. Several other factors can affect compensation, including certifications, experience, and practice setting.

Average Annual Salary
Source:Payscale, July 2022

Average Hourly Wage
Source:Payscale, July 2022

Note: These figures reflect fewer than 50 respondents.

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The Highest-Paying States for Palliative Nurses

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not track state salary data specifically for palliative nurses, the agency’s research on pay for all RNs offers some insight into overall earnings. California and New York are among the top five states for RN salaries. These states are also among the most expensive states to live in.

Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania rank much lower at 16th, 27th, and 30th for their cost-of-living figures, respectively. However, these three states also have relatively high rates of chronic diseases, which puts palliative nurses in high demand.

Highest-Paying States
StateAverage Salary
New York$93,320

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

4 Ways to Increase Pay As a Palliative Nurse

There are several ways to increase a palliative care nurse’s salary. These professionals can negotiate higher salaries by earning certification, pursuing advanced education, and gaining experience.

  1. 1


    On average, BSN-prepared nurses earn more than ADN nurses. Likewise, a nurse with a master of science in nursing or doctor of nursing practice degree can pursue work as a palliative care nurse practitioner at an increased compensation level. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for an APRN is $120,680 per year or $58.02 per hour.

  2. 2


    Advanced certification for APRNs is available through the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center. To earn the advanced certified hospice and palliative nurse certification, an APRN must have graduated from an accredited program, provide transcripts, and have worked 500 hours in the past 12 months or 1,000 hours in the past 24 months to qualify.

  3. 3

    Experience in Management or Administration

    In addition to higher earning potential, management and administrative roles often are less physically demanding. APRNs and RNs can consider executive certification programs through the American Organization for Nursing Leadership and American Nurses Credentialing Center.

  4. 4

    Practice Setting

    There are several ways to change your practice setting that can affect palliative care nursing salary potential. Consider moving to a higher-paying state with a lower cost of living, which allows your salary to stretch further.

    These nurses can also pursue travel nurse roles. Placements often last 13 weeks and typically pay more than permanent positions. You may also consider moving from an outpatient or in-home setting to an inpatient setting.

Frequently Asked Questions About Palliative Nurse Salaries

question-mark-circleWhat are the roles and responsibilities of a palliative care nurse?

A nurse’s role in palliative care supports the holistic needs of patients and their families. One of the benefits is the ability to improve the patient’s physical and emotional symptoms and advocate for policy change. Skilled and empathetic communication skills are necessary to provide excellent care during transitions for the patient and family.

question-mark-circleWhat skills does a palliative care nurse need?

To deliver a high level of quality care, palliative care nurses must have strong communication skills. These professionals must connect with their patients and families to offer emotional and physical support. Palliative care nurses must be skilled at assessment and recommendations that address symptoms and pain management. They empower their patients in making difficult decisions while managing conflicts.

question-mark-circleWhat is the difference between hospice and palliative care?

Hospice care nurses care for patients at the end of life. Patients in hospice care are no longer receiving treatment for their conditions as they prepare to die. Patients in palliative care receive treatment for serious health conditions that may require significant changes to their lifestyle or living arrangements. Palliative care nurses assist patients and families to make decisions that improve the patient’s quality of life.

question-mark-circleWhere do palliative care nurses work?

Palliative care nurses work in acute healthcare settings, clinics, residential care facilities, or home care settings. These professionals adapt their care to meet patients’ and families’ physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs.

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