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Arkansas offers registered nurses growing job opportunities, an affordable cost of living, and an appealing quality of life in a beautiful region of the country. The state projects a 13.5% increase in the employment of RNs from 2018-2028 — well above the 9% national rate for the profession from 2020-2030.
Explore this guide to learn more about what factors affect RN salary in Arkansas and how RN compensation compares to other nursing roles.
- Average Arkansas RN Salary: $65,810 (Ranks 47th among all states)
- Hourly Arkansas RN Salary: $31.64
- Projected Arkansas RN Employment Growth (2018-2028): 13.5%
Source: BLS, Projections Central
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Average RN Salaries in Arkansas
If you are considering working as an RN in Arkansas, it helps to know how much these professionals earn in the state in relation to the cost of living, career prospects, and quality of life. The average annual RN salary in Arkansas is $65,810, which amounts to an hourly wage of $31.64. Although Arkansas's average RN salary ranks significantly below the national average of $82,750, the state offers an affordable cost of living, inexpensive housing, and lower taxes.
Compensation levels in Arkansas also vary by employer, geographic location, and experience. RN salaries in the state range from $47,510 for the lowest 10th percentile to $79,440 for those in the 90th percentile. RN positions in the urban centers of Little Rock, Fayetteville, and Pine Bluff pay more than other areas in the state.
Other considerations offset the comparatively lower RN wages in Arkansas. The state boasts four Magnet hospitals. The Magnet designation, awarded by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, recognizes healthcare facilities for their best nursing practices, quality patient care outcomes, and strong nurse salaries.
Because Arkansas is a Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) state, graduates from Arkansas-based nursing schools qualify for multistate licensure to practice in all 39 NLC member states without worrying about additional application and renewal requirements or fees.
The demand for RNs in Arkansas will continue through the decade, fueled in part by the healthcare needs of the state's aging population, expected nurse retirements, and projected nursing shortages, especially in rural areas. Because many rural counties in Arkansas have been designated medically underserved areas, the state offers student loan forgiveness programs for nurses who choose to work in those locations.
|Percentile||Average Annual RN Salary||Average Hourly RN Salary|
Arkansas RN Salary, Adjusted for Cost of Living
While RN salaries in Arkansas have remained lower than in most other states, its affordable cost of living makes it easier to provide for personal needs and family obligations.
The cost of living index provides a good measure of how much you must spend to achieve a certain standard of living. The index adjusts salary based on regional price parity (RPP) and the cost of essentials, including housing, food, utilities, medical care, and transportation. A score of 100 represents the national average.
The $61,530 median annual registered nurse salary in Arkansas falls about $16,000 below the national median for all RNs. However, the state's 89.2 cost of living index ranks 10.8% lower than the U.S. average. Arkansas ranks 43rd for adjusted RN salary among all 50 states.
When adjusted for cost of living, RNs in Arkansas earn an average salary of $72,917, which translates to more buying power for food, housing, transportation, education, and other necessities.
- Average RN Salary Adjusted for Cost of Living: $72,917 (Ranks 43rd among all states)
- Cost of Living Index (RPP): 89.2 (11.8% less than the U.S. average)
Highest-Paying Cities for RNs in Arkansas
Over the past decade, Arkansas's population has transitioned from largely rural to more urban, resulting in a growth of employment opportunities for RNs in the state's largest cities.
Of the five top-paying cities for RNs in Arkansas listed in this table, the Little Rock, Fayetteville, and Pine Bluff metro areas offer average RN salaries at or above the state average of $65,810. RNs in Little Rock, the state capital and largest city, make the most at an average annual salary of $69,660.
Little Rock and Conway are home to three Magnet hospitals, The Arkansas Children's Hospital, the CHI St. Vincent Infirmary, and the Conway Regional Medical Center. Compared to other healthcare employers, these Magnet hospitals provide RNs with higher salaries, increased job satisfaction, and more opportunities for professional development.
Nationally ranked Arkansas Children's, one of the largest pediatric healthcare facilities in the country and a major employer of registered nurses in the state, features a nursing residency program for newly-graduated RNs.
|City||Average RN Salary|
|Little Rock — North Little Rock — Conway, AR||$69,660|
|Fayetteville — Springdale — Rogers, AR — MO||$67,370|
|Pine Bluff, AR||$65,190|
|Fort Smith, AR — OK||$63,770|
Average Salaries for Other Nursing Roles in Arkansas
Education plays an important role in determining a nurse's earning power. Nursing assistants and LPN/LVNs make considerably less than RNs with either a two-year associate degree or a four-year bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). While RNs can enter the field with associate degrees, many employers prefer to hire RNs with BSNs.
Earning a BSN can boost career and salary prospects. A bachelor's-level education also provides the necessary background for graduate studies leading to advanced practice nursing roles. In Arkansas, the highest-paid nurses have earned a master of science in nursing (MSN) or doctoral degrees, which allows individuals to pursue in-demand specialized roles as nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, and nurse anesthetists.
- Nursing Assistants: $27,840
- LPN/LVNs: $40,040
- Nurse Practitioners: $107,080
- Nurse Anesthetists: $151,940
Methodology and Sources
Registered nursing salary data by state is collected from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics program, released on March 31, 2022. Data reflects RN salaries as of May 2021. The highest-paying cities and states for RNs are ranked by average annual salary.
Cost-of-living data is collected from the U.S Bureau of Economic Analysis real personal income for states and metropolitan areas, released on December 14, 2021. RN salary adjusted for cost of living is calculated by multiplying each state's RN salary by its regional price parity (RPP). RPP measures differences in the cost of goods and services in a region compared to national prices.
Projected employment growth data by state is collected from Projections Central.
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