How Much Do OR Nurses Make?

7 Min Read Published October 3, 2023
How Much Do OR Nurses Make?

How Much Does an OR Nurse Make? 

According to, the average OR nurse salary is $82,800 or $40 per hour, but that number may not be telling the whole story. These in-demand, highly skilled professionals can command a wide range of pay levels based on where they work, their level of education, their years of experience, and more. 

Different surveys reflect those variables: for example,  reports that OR nurses earn an average salary of $159,525, and indicates a number in the middle of those two, at $111,062, with a range that can go as low as $46,500 and as high as $222,500. 

OR Nurse Salary by State  

Where you work also plays a big role in how much you can earn as an OR nurse. 


Annual Salary 

Hourly Wage 

New York 



New Hampshire 

































New Jersey 









Rhode Island 












West Virginia 



North Dakota 



























South Dakota 









New Mexico 












South Carolina 







































North Carolina 




OR Nurse Salary by Years of Experience 

 According to, the compensation you’ll be paid as an OR nurse increases dramatically with additional experience.  

  • Less than one year of experience: $80,556 per year 
  • One to two years of experience: $82,078 per year 
  • Three to five years of experience: $84,924 per year 
  • Six to nine years of experience: $86,616 per year 
  • More than ten years of experience: $91,432 per year

OR Nurse Salary by Work Setting 

 Unlike many other nursing specialties, OR nurses have particular and unique skills that place them exclusively in settings where surgeries take place. This is most often hospital-based inpatient and outpatient surgical areas and recovery areas, but can also include standalone surgery centers and even specially equipped physicians’ offices. 

 Registered nurse salaries can vary based on their work setting. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has identified the following range of average salaries related to environments where operating room nurses might work: 

  • General medical and surgical hospitals - $90,600
  • Physicians’ offices - $79,810
  • Outpatient care centers - $97,200


How Operating Room Nurses Can Increase Their Salaries  

 Operating room nurses can boost their salaries in a number of ways.

Increased Education

Nurses can boost their salaries and advance their careers by pursuing further education. This can be as small a step as completing a certification course that adds to your current skill set, or as large as pursuing an MSN degree and becoming an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) or even a Doctor in Nursing Practice degree. 

Facilities offer higher salaries and more opportunities to move into management positions to nurses with these advanced degrees and often provide tuition reimbursement to staff members who choose this option.  


Skilled, qualified nurses are in short supply and in high demand, and that is even more true for nurses with experience in specialty areas like the operating room. This gives nurses with experience and operating room skills a significant advantage when it comes to negotiating a higher salary at the time that they’re hired. 

Even facilities that are restricted in the salary that they offer can have the flexibility to offer more generous benefits, signing or referral bonuses,  a raise, or a promotion. Though asking for more money can be intimidating, your skills are needed and have value.  

Seek a Different Practice Setting

Each work setting has its own unique advantages. While many OR nurses prefer the hustle and bustle of a large hospital, others prefer the smaller, more controlled, and predictable environment of an outpatient surgicenter. In many cases, a switch to a different setting can mean a jump in salary. 


Not everybody can just pick up and take on an OR nurse assignment somewhere far from home. But those who can find that the pay is great. 

Travel nurses are paid generous hourly rates along with the opportunity to take on shift differentials and overtime. Add to that the fact that furnished housing and health insurance are generally included, and some companies even offer referral bonuses and other additional perks. 

Per Diem 

OR nurses who take on per diem shifts are rewarded with higher hourly rates in exchange for their availability. Being paid by the day means you probably won’t get benefits, and a fair amount of flexibility is required. But if you have the time, you can pick up a significant amount of additional income.  


OR nurses can sign on for contract positions that pay higher hourly rates than is typically paid for salaried positions. These contracts represent commitments for a finite period of time, though nurses who take them on are often invited to extend their stay. 

Unlike per diem positions, nurses who work on contract generally have a set schedule. 


Though not everybody can take on more work than they are already committed to, overtime hours, defined as more than forty hours a week, are paid at a rate of one-and-a-half times normal wages, and some facilities offer higher multipliers.   

Shift Differential 

Staffing overnight hours, holidays, and weekends is so challenging that managers pay higher wages to those who are willing to volunteer for them. If you want to bump up your earnings, sign on for these less desirable shifts. 


Facilities of all types offer bonuses to recruit and retain staff. Whether offered as incentives or awards, bonuses can make a big difference in the amount you take home each year. 

Hazard Pay 

OR nurses who are willing to work under stressful or dangerous conditions are compensated for the risk or challenge they assume. 

Is it Worth It to Become an OR Nurse?

 With an average annual salary of $82,800, becoming an OR nurse seems like an excellent career choice. But it’s important to remember that the path to the nursing profession can come with a hefty price tag, depending on your degree path. 

  • Associate’s degree programs typically cost under $10,000, 
  • BSN programs can cost as much as $200,000. 

While ADN programs are more affordable, most hospitals expect incoming registered nurses to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and some are even requiring new hires to have Master of Science in Nursing degrees.  

To make sure that your educational costs are worth your earnings potential, be strategic in the selection of your nursing program. As long as you choose an accredited program, you will receive an education that will fully prepare you for your career, but your loans will be lower with an affordable in-state, public university program than what you’ll have to pay back if you choose a private school. 

Emergency Room Nurse 

 According to, emergency room nurses in the United States earn a median salary of $75,668. However, emergency room nurse salaries can range from as low as $60,470 to as high as $91,879.  

Cardiac Care Nurse 

 According to, cardiac care nurses in the United States earn a median salary of $73,888. However, cardiac care nurse salaries can range from as low as $65,536 to as high as $83,338.  

Labor and Delivery Nurse 

 According to, labor and delivery nurses in the United States earn a median salary of $77,600. However, labor and delivery salaries can range from as low as $64,227 to as high as $97,278.  

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist 

 According to, nurse anesthetists in the United States earn a median salary of $202,514. However, midwife salaries can range from as low as $175,076 to as high as $233,973.  


  •  Are OR nurses in demand? 

    • According to the AORN, there is a critical national shortage of operating room nurses, and demand is expected to grow as more experienced OR nurses approach retirement.  
  • Is OR nursing a difficult nursing specialty? 

    • Surgical nurses are highly skilled, and gaining the skills and experience needed requires time and experience.  
  •  How much do OR nurses make? 

    • The average national salary for an OR nurse is $82,800. 
  •  What state pays the most for OR nurses? 

    • The state of New York pays OR nurses an average annual salary of $128,567. This is the highest in the nation. 
  •  What are an OR nurse’s responsibilities in the OR? 

    • Operating room nurses are responsible for assisting surgeons during surgical procedures.
Terri Heimann Oppenheimer
Terri Heimann Oppenheimer Contributor

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is a freelance writer and editor who is driven by details. She loves to dive into research, ensuring that the information she provides educates, engages and illuminates. Before starting her own business she spent years working in advertising and raising three kids. Today she lives in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, where her she and her husband enjoy travel, the Jersey Shore, and spoiling their grandchildren.

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