INDUSTRY
August 19, 2021

Male Nurses Earn $5,000 More Per Year Than Female Nurses, Study Finds

Male Nurses Earn $5,000 More Per Year Than Female Nurses, Study Finds
Kathleen Gaines
By: Kathleen Gaines MSN, RN, BA, CBC

Three thousand registered nurses across America were surveyed earlier this year by Nurse.Org in order to shed some light on salaries. Based on the assumption that the average salary for nurses in 2020 was $75,330 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, what we found is going to shock you. 

The reality is - there is a VERY large disparity in salaries for nurses not only based on location, experience, and specialty but also on gender. In 2021, it’s baffling to think that gender would play a role in determining a salary; however, the sad truth is it does. And according to our findings, it matters more than it should. Review the full results of the survey here. 

Gender Pay Inequality in Nursing

While Nurse.org’s study found a variety of reasons affecting nurses' pay, it also confirmed gender inequality. 

Of the male nurses that responded to the survey, it was found they earned an average of $2.73 per hour more than their female counterparts. 

  • Male RNs reported average hourly pay of $38.61
  • Female RNs earned an average salary of $35.88 per hour

History of Pay Differences Based on Gender

In 1938, Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act, which established minimum wage and overtime pay for employees. In 1963, Congress amended Section 6 of the Fair Labor Standards Act and called the amendment the Equal Pay Act. This act called for employers to not discriminate based on gender if two individuals have equal abilities

Why the Pay Difference?

Even though nursing is a predominantly female profession, the 12% male nursing workforce continues to see higher wages despite equal education, equal skills, and equal certifications. Some possible explanations for the pay difference may be, 

  • Men are more likely to negotiate with employers
  • Women are more likely to work part-time to care for family and children
  • Women are more likely to work in primary care and long term care which are less paying specialties
  • Men change jobs more often than women leading to more negotiating power

5 Tips to Increase Your Pay

While some things such as experience and gender are not exactly something that can be changed, there are some ways to maximize your salary.  Nurses are in the position to increase their salaries because of the high demand throughout the country. 

  1. Work Night Shift and/or Weekends - Working night shift and/or weekends is the easiest and quickest way to increase your earning potential. Oftentimes, shift differentials for these shifts can be up to 20%. While these shifts are often undesirable for life-work balance, they do come with some perks. Increasing your overall income, by working at night or on weekends is generally a relatively easy way to earn a little extra in each paycheck.
  2. Work in Critical Care Areas - Some hospitals offer incentives to nurses working in critical care settings such as the intensive care unit, emergency room, and cardiac care unit. It’s important to inquire with your manager and HR before accepting or transferring to a position in one of these units.
  3. Earn Your Certification - Obtaining an advanced certification such as a CCRN or RNC can help increase your earning potential. Some hospitals will offer additional compensation per hour while others will offer a one-time bonus. The best part about earning an advanced certification, your hospital may offer review classes and pay for the certification exam after passing.
  4. Negotiate Your Salary Before Accepting a Position - Nurses are in demand. High demand. It’s important to remember that hospitals are a business. They are in a business to make money. Hospital recruiters generally will offer a lower starting salary but there is always room to negotiate. Having another offer will help with the negotiation, especially if the offer is higher. Leverage the offer to help you land the job you want with the pay you deserve.
  5. Pursue Higher Education - According to PayScale, the average hourly salary for an RN is $29.62, and $32.20 for nurses with a BSN. The first step to increasing your worth is earning a bachelor’s degree. The Institute of Medicine reported on the future of nursing in 2010, making a strong recommendation that 80 percent of the nursing workforce have a BSN by 2020. At the time of the report’s release, only 50 percent of the nursing workforce had a BSN. 

What Can Nurses Do To Fight For Equal Pay?

  • Nurses must SPEAK UP! Without speaking up things will not change for current nurses and the future of nursing. You are more powerful than you think.
  • Compare your salary to your peers - Don’t be scared to openly discuss your salary with your co-workers. Knowing what your co-workers make may be surprising but can also help you ask for a raise.
  • Join your local nursing organization - Your input can help change the nursing profession for the better.  While change can be slow, it can happen but won’t happen without advocating for not only equal pay but also better benefits including sick time, child care, and family leave time. 

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