How Much Does a Nurse Administrator Make?
Nurse administrator salaries vary by location, employer, credentials and experience level. They generally earn more than registered nurses, which aligns with their additional education and training. In this role, you can potentially earn a six-figure annual salary.
A nurse administrator is a manager in the healthcare industry. They are registered nurses who have earned an additional degree and gone through more training for a leadership role. They manage staffs of nurses and nurse assistants by hiring, training, supervising, scheduling, ensuring adherence to policies and safety standards, and more.
General Nurse Administrator Salary Statistics
Several organizations and companies collect salary data for healthcare careers, so the facts about income can seem a little varied. However, these statistics provide a reasonable estimate of what you can expect in this career.
One of the most important agencies for collecting career information in the U.S. is the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS does not include nurse administration as a separate career but lumps it together with similar jobs under the Medical and Health Services Managers category.
According to the BLS, individuals in this career field earned a median income of $101,340 per year and $48.72 per hour in May 2021. This information includes workers throughout the U.S. and provides a good overview of salaries by career.
The BLS also reports that the lowest 10% of earners in health services management made less than $60,780 in May 2021. The top 10% of earners earned over $205,620. There is a lot of variety in salaries depending on various factors.
Private companies poll workers to determine how much people in particular fields earn. They also separate out more careers, such as nurse administration. Payscale.com places the median salary for nurse administrators at $90,395 per year, while Salary.com lists it as $97,850 per year.
The discrepancies between these amounts and the BLS report could indicate that nurse administrators earn less than other health services managers. However, the difference is not large. Here are some other facts about nurse administrators from these sites:
- Most salaries reported by nurse administrators range between $88,462 and $108,460.
- Nurse administrators with minimal experience earn about $27.92 per hour.
- Nurse administrators report receiving numerous benefits, including 401K contributions, disability insurance, healthcare, a retirement pension, and paid time off.
- Many nurse administrators have base salaries and receive annual bonuses of between $12,000 and $15,000.
- Nurse administrators with extra education, certifications, and years of experience earn higher salaries.
Salaries by State and City
Another important consideration is how salaries for nurse administrators vary by region, state, and metropolitan area. In general, areas with higher costs of living have higher salaries. According to the BLS, these are the top paying states and their average salaries:
- New York – $155,430 per year and $74.73 per hour
- District of Columbia – $151,370 per year and $72.78 per hour
- Massachusetts – $140,270 per year and $67.44 per hour
- Washington – $138,580 per year and $66.62 per hour
- New Jersey – $136,580 per year and $65.66 per hour
Metropolitan areas in the U.S. with the highest salaries for nurse administrators are:
- San Jose, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara, CA – $162,110 per year and $77.94 per hour
- Vallejo and Fairfield, CA – $157,340 per year and $75.64 per hour
- New York, Newark, and New Jersey, NY, NJ, and PA – $156,370 per year and $75.18 per hour
- California and Lexington Park, MD – $150,900 per year and $72.55 per hour
- San Francisco, Oakland, and Hayward, CA – $150,250 per year and $72.24 per hour
Large cities and populated areas have higher salaries than rural regions because of cost-of-living differences. The nonmetropolitan areas with the highest salaries are:
- North Texas Region of Texas nonmetropolitan area – $99,810 per year and $47.98 per hour
- North Northeastern Ohio nonmetropolitan area – $93,950 per year and $45.17 per hour
- Kansas nonmetropolitan area – $90,210 per year and $43.37 per hour
- Northeast Mississippi nonmetropolitan area – $89,780 per year and $43.17 per hour
- Central Kentucky nonmetropolitan area – $86,301 per year and $41.49 per hour
Salaries Vary by Employer Type
As with any career, salary can vary significantly from one position to another. For nurse administrators, where you work matters. The most common employers are hospitals, doctors’ offices, nursing homes and other residential facilities, government agencies and facilities and outpatient medical centers.
According to the BLS, health service managers like nurse administrators earn the most in hospitals, including private, state, and local facilities. The median annual salary for a manager in a hospital is $119,450. This is followed by government positions, with a median salary of $117,000.
Median salaries drop significantly from there. Health services managers in outpatient facilities and physician offices earn around $98,000 to $99,000. Nursing and residential home managers make a median salary of $83,550.
Are Nurse Administrators in Demand?
Wherever nurse administrators are in high demand, they can command higher salaries. The good news for people in this career is that they are in demand nearly everywhere. The number of positions for nurse administrators is growing strongly.
The BLS reports 28% job growth for all health services managers from 2021 to 2031. This is much faster than average job growth and accounts for all states. Compared to other management jobs (7% growth), demand is high, and growth is significant for health managers.
This immense increase in the number of positions in healthcare management reflects a growth in the healthcare industry overall. As the population ages, people need more healthcare and qualified care providers. Hospitals and other employers increasingly rely on nurse administrators to manage nursing staffs and improve patient care.
The 28% nationwide growth in positions for healthcare managers amounts to 56,000 new jobs each year. The states with the most health services managers working right now are California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Massachusetts. The top metropolitan areas for employment are:
- New York, Newark, and Jersey City, NY, NJ, and PA
- Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Anaheim, CA
- Boston, Cambridge, and Nashua, MA and NH
- Chicago, Naperville, and Elgin, IL, IN, and WI
- Dallas, Forth Worth, and Arlington, TX
How to Earn More as a Nurse Administrator
If you are interested in becoming a nurse administrator, you can do several things to ensure your salary is on the higher end of the scale. Some things you cannot control, such as years of experience, and others you might struggle to change, like location.
You can, however, earn additional degrees and certifications and add specialized training. All these can land you a higher-paying job, for instance, managing a more extensive staff of nurses.
No single degree is required to work as a nurse administrator as long as you are already a practicing nurse. At a minimum, you should have a master’s degree in nursing, health administration, nurse leadership, or a similar field. To earn more, you can also choose to get a business degree or a higher one, such as a Ph.D.
Additional training in information technology can also help you earn more. Hospitals and medical centers are using electronic health records now and need employees to manage these systems.
Another option to increase your earning potential is to earn a certification. Again, there are no specific requirements, as this is not a regulated career. Some employers might require you to have a certification, but you can also potentially earn more with credentials that prove your skills and training.
The American Nurses Credentialing Center offers a Nurse Executive Certification, which is a good starting point. This certification is designed for leaders in charge of just one staff group. You can go on to earn the Nurse Executive Advanced Certification, which is for nurse administrators leading larger or multiple groups.
The American Organization for Nursing Leadership’s Certified in Executive Nursing Practice credential is another option that is recognized in most of the healthcare industry.
Examples of Job Listings with Salaries
Sometimes, it takes real data to understand your earning potential in a particular career. These are just a few examples from around the country. They are nurse administrator job listings that show employers, salary ranges offered, and location:
- Assistant Practice Administrator, AdvantageCare Physicians, New York City, NY, $58,000 to $80,000 per year
- Hospital Nursing Services Consultant, New York State Department of Health, New York City, NY, $113,366 to $133,418 per year
- Branch Administrator, Caring People Home Healthcare, Charlestown, MA, $70,000 to $80,000 per year
- Clinical Nurse Coordinator, Riverside Medical Group, Boston, MA, $70,000 to $100,000 per year
- Assistant Nurse Executive, California Correctional Health Care Services, Vacaville, CA, $183,660 to $239,136 per year
- Nursing Director, Administration, Los Angeles County Department of Human Resources, Los Angeles, CA, $145,815 to $226,772 per year
Nursing administrators do important work, but they also earn a great living. Consider this field if you are a nurse interested in a more challenging role or haven’t started a career yet. Although it requires a decent investment in education, the payoff can be big and the job highly rewarding and meaningful.