ER Nurse Salary and Career Opportunities

Salary Overview

ER nursing is a special challenge because most emergency patients arrive without a diagnosis and sometimes without even an indication of the problem.  ER nurses must work quickly during exams and be comfortable using advanced equipment to monitor and treat patients.  While a majority work in hospital emergency departments, some are employed by urgent care facilities.  Military nurses might be deployed to areas of armed conflict.

ER nurses are registered nurses (RNs).  Demand for all types of RNs is expected to grow 19 percent between 2012 and 2022, or faster than average for U.S. occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) .  The median yearly compensation for an RN is $65,470, according to BLS.  However, the yearly compensation for ER nurses ranges from $45,152 to $89,393, PayScale reports.

ER nurses with specialty licenses make even more. Click here to find exciting ER nurse positions.

Paths to Increase ER Nurse Salary

The road to becoming an ER nurse begins with earning an RN designation.  Initial steps include earning an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, according to the Campaign for Nursing’s Future .  Graduates who pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) are eligible to begin work as RNs.

A new nurse is most likely to an ER nursing job at a facility that has a formal internship or orientation program aimed at non-ER nurses who want to enter that specialty, the Emergency Nurses Association indicates.  An important career step is earning the Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) credential.  Eligibility to take this exam requires two years of experience in emergency nursing.

Certifications are also available for flight emergency nursing (CFRN), pediatric emergency nursing (CPEN) and critical care ground transport (CTRN) nursing.  Re-certification is required every four years by passing an exam or completing continuing education hours.

Nurses can further their careers by becoming ER nurse practitioners.  The ENP-BC is a certification awarded by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.  Candidates must have at least a master’s degree in certain nursing areas and at least two years’ full-time experience as a nurse practitioner in the past three years, including 2,000 hours in emergency care. They must also complete continuing education hours and other requirements.

Moving into nursing management or education is also a way to increase salary.  These positions require a master’s or, in some cases, a doctorate in nursing.  Fortunately, most employers provide financial help for at least some graduate training or for continuing education requirements related to employment.

Some professionals prefer to work as travel or per diem nurses.  Often employers offer relocation and housing expense assistance.

To see current ER nurse positions, click here.

Related Specialties

  • Industrial nurses work for employers such as power plants and construction companies.  Many were formerly employed by hospital emergency departments.  These nurses might be responsible for treating the injuries of hundreds of workers who use massive machinery.  Industrial nurses often save their employers time that would have been required to transport an employee for treatment. Check out industrial nurse opportunities here .

Further Your Career

Due to the robust demand for nurses, candidates who have an interest and aptitude for ER nursing can expect to find plenty of jobs available.  They also have a number of ways to progress in their careers and increase their salaries in the process.  At least one national and a number of state ER nursing associations exist and post job opportunities.  As a result, this is an ideal time to consider becoming an ER nurse.

Find the best nursing jobs in for all specialties in your area.

Vonda J. Sines is a freelance writer based in the Washington, DC area. She specializes in health/medical, career, and pet topics and writes extensively about Crohn's disease. Her work has been published at EverydayHealth, Lifescript, womansday.com, Yahoo! Health, Catholic Digest, Angie's List Health, and on many more sites.

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