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Kentuckians often describe their state as a mix of "southern charm and northern industry." More than 40,000 registered nurses (RNs) work in Kentucky, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). If you are considering working as a nurse in Kentucky, or you already work in the state, this guide to registered nurse (RN) salaries in Kentucky can help you negotiate the income you deserve.
Keep reading for more on cities where RN salaries in Kentucky are highest, cost-of-living considerations, and what other nursing jobs pay.
- Average Kentucky RN Salary: $67,260 (Ranks 44th among all states)
- Hourly Kentucky RN Salary: $32.34
- Projected Kentucky RN Employment Growth (2018-2028): 13.1%
Source: BLS, Projections Central
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Average RN Salaries in Kentucky
Half of all RN salaries in Kentucky are between $59,640 and $77,030. The average annual RN salary in Kentucky is $67,260, compared to $48,170 for all jobs, according to the BLS. While this brings RN salaries in Kentucky well above the state average, these figures are still lower than the national median RN salary of $77,600.
The average hourly RN salary in Kentucky is $30.04, with 80% of Kentucky RNs earning between $23.08 and $39.62 an hour.
Although RN salaries in Kentucky are lower than national rates, the cost of living is also lower, which means salaries stretch further than in other states.
|Percentile||Average Annual RN Salary||Average Hourly RN Salary|
Kentucky RN Salary, Adjusted for Cost of Living
The cost-of-living index for Kentucky is 89.8, compared to the national index of 100. RN salary in Kentucky has 10.2% more spending power than the U.S. average. The cost of living is based on comparing prices for goods and services in a particular region to national averages. These calculations include food, housing, education, healthcare, transportation, and typical discretionary spending, such as entertainment.
Adjusted for the cost of living, the average RN salary in Kentucky is worth $74,120. However, this data still ranks Kentucky 40th among all states.
- Average RN Salary Adjusted for Cost of Living: $74,120 (Ranks 40th among all states)
- Cost of Living Index (RPP): 89.8 (10.2% less than the U.S. average)
Highest-Paying Cities for RNs in Kentucky
RN salaries in Kentucky are substantially higher in the major metropolitan areas. In Louisville, the average RN salary is more than 10% higher than the state median salary. Louisville is one of the oldest cities in the Midwest and home to several hospitals, including the University of Louisville Hospitals. While the Elizabethtown-Fort Knox area's biggest economic driver is the local military, it is also home to Baptist Health Hardin, one of the largest hospital systems in the state.
If you love horses and racing, Lexington is nicknamed "the horse capital of the world." Owensboro hosts a metro population of approximately 115,000, and the largest employer is Owensboro Health. Its barbecue and bluegrass festivals are famous. According to County Office, Bowling Green is ranked 66th of 1,258 cities in hospitals per square mile and 78th in hospitals per capita.
|City||Average RN Salary|
|Louisville/Jefferson County, KY — IN||$70,010|
|Elizabethtown — Fort Knox, KY||$67,560|
|Lexington — Fayette, KY||$66,950|
|Bowling Green, KY||$61,560|
Average Salaries for Other Nursing Roles in Kentucky
While RN salaries in Kentucky are higher than the average salary, they are still lower than RN salaries in most other states, even adjusted for the lower cost of living. If you are interested in increasing your earning potential, consider earning a graduate degree and becoming an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). The average salary for nurse anesthetists is almost twice the median RN salary in Kentucky.
Becoming a nurse anesthetist requires a doctor of nursing practice (DNP). Nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists earn 40% more than the median RN salary in Kentucky. These roles require a master of science in nursing (MSN).
- Nursing Assistants: $29,290
- LPN/LVNs: $47,140
- Nurse Midwives: $109,560
- Nurse Practitioners: $106,080
- Nurse Anesthetists: $180,330
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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