Where does the public get the idea that nurses make a ton of money?

  1. Why is it that many laypeople think nurses make a ton of money? It's kind of annoying that just about every other time I say to someone what I do professionally, they say "oh, there's a lot of money in nursing because of the shortage" or "oh, my aunt Sally is a nurse- she works for XYZ medical center and makes, like, $90,000 a year." I'm not venting because I expected there to be a lot of money when I got out of school (I just recently graduated); I worked as a CNA and know that many nurses don't make nearly as much as the public thinks they do. Hence, I certainly didn't get into nursing for the money- I chose to be a nurse because I thought it would be a great way to help others while working with people who value learning and intellectual challenges. But seriously, I don't take home much more than other people who are in the helping or public service professions. It just blows my mind when people I've met who are in business/law/finance talk so casually about how they're expecting $10-20,000 performance bonuses or how much vacation time they have coming up. I'm sure they work 60-70 hours/week for their salaries and are scared fudgeless about the prospect of layoffs. However, it's still mind-boggling how people who don't help others in their daily work lives get away with that much cash. So here's to hoping that enough future nursing students who want to quit their investment banking jobs do their homework and go to nursing school for the right reasons (not just the money). And here's to hoping that we as nurses can further educate the public about what we do and the fact that many of us don't get paid a lot for doing it.
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  2. 114 Comments

  3. by   newway
    the pay for a two degree is pretty good and some in specialties do make 90,000 a year. no offense but I hate the term " right reason" the right reason for you may not be the right reason for me.
    Last edit by newway on Jun 21, '10
  4. by   lifelearningrn
    You can make a decent living for having received an associate's degree in nursing. I think a lot of people see it that way. Investment bankers and other big companies that pay well likely require entry at an MBA level.. and even then may start off making similar to that of a nurse. My husband is working on his MBA and my sister makes more money than he does as an ADN.

    I'm not saying nurses roll in the dough or anything.. but it's not chump change either.
  5. by   blondy2061h
    With some OT, I make about $70k per year. For a 20-something year old nearly fresh out of college, I DO consider that good money. My peers are making maybe $30k per year.
  6. by   morphed
    Quote from newway
    the pay for a two degree is pretty good and some in specialties do make 90,000 a year. no offense but I hate the term " right reason" the right reason for you may not be the right reason for me.
    Agreed! I also think it's irresponsible to NOT take into account how much money you could possibly make when you graduate. By the way, if someone got into nursing because they thought they'd enjoy it and make pretty good money--then good for them!
  7. by   Momfirstalways
    Nurses do make good money. I am a nurse and a teacher. As a teacher I was forced to pay for my Mater's Degree to maintain certification. With a Master's in Teaching I make less than a brand new grad out of nursing school with an ADN. And then I got layed off. I worked twice as hard as a kindergarten teacher and look forward to returning to nursing so I don't have to hear well atleast you get your summers off. Not true always taking classes, preping for next class and doing required professinal development. Nursing will be refreshing!
  8. by   dudette10
    We could spend all day talking about how this or that particular profession should make more (or less) money based on subjective opinions about the relative importance of the work.

    Everyone likes to put some professions on a pedestal because of the direct benefit seen. We have to remember, though, the economy is synergistic, and every position plays a part in giving us the lifestyle that we can enjoy in the U.S. For example, nurses provide direct patient care to heal people, but if the hospital didn't also have those people in accounting making sure the hospital gets paid, where would you be?
  9. by   classicdame
    we do make a lot of money compared to others with only a 2 year educational background. Many nurses make $90-$100,000 year by training and getting education and experience in critical areas. Some elect not to practice in those areas so are effectively choosing to earn less. However, most plumbers and electricians earn as much or more with less formal education. So it is all relevant.

    I think part of the comments is due to the perceptions that people feel they pay too much for medical care. If only the nurses would accept less pay the hospitals would SURELY charge less, right???
  10. by   Conqueror+
    I actually see why they feel that way. Even as an LPN at the ripe old age of 20 I was making 20+ dollars an hour in 1994. Nowadays I earn almost twice the "average" pay for the US and I haven't even completed my RN yet. At my highest as an LPN I pulled in 80k/yr (worked like a dog those 3 years) but I was able to earn that with 1 year of nursing education. DH has a four year degree and couldn't earn nearly that. Which is why he returned to nursing school shortly after we met. Oh and I have never been without a job unless I was taking a break. Nursing has its flaws but the perks outweigh the flaws to me.
    Last edit by Conqueror+ on Jun 21, '10 : Reason: sp
  11. by   fungez
    Quote from Pageantnurse
    Even as an LPN at the ripe old age of 20 I was making 20+ dollars an hour in 1994. Nowadays I earn almost twice the "average" pay for the US and I haven't even completed my RN yet. At my highest as an LPN I pulled in 80k/yr (worked like a dog those 3 years) but I was able to earn that with 1 year of nursing education. DH has a four year degree and couldn't earn nearly that. Which is why he returned to nursing school shortly after we met. Oh and I have never been without a job unless I was taking a break. Nursing has its flaws but the perks outweigh the flaws to me.
    Holy cannolli, where do you work?


    When I was nursing school everyone talked about how much money they'd soon be making. They must have working for min. wage prior to make GN salaries look good. I graduated in 1991 making 12.01/hr (can't forget that penny.) According to my inflation calculator that's 18.84 today. Granted, this was in Wichita KS but that still wasn't a lot of money, even there.
  12. by   happy2learn
    Quote from edogs334
    However, it's still mind-boggling how people who don't help others in their daily work lives get away with that much cash. .
    I agree with this, but also consider that many millionaires and rich people do not have the emotional satisfaction that nurses can have. The joy I get from making a patient smile is not worth any amount of money.

    However, nurses do make quite a bit, especially when many have an Associates degree.

    The ideas the public get are from commercials from the for-profit schools.
  13. by   guiltysins
    You have to think about it like this. In most of the business careers, you don't start at the top, you have to work your way up and in nursing, you can start with a good salary. For example, I have never had a job, but when I get out of school with my BSN, I will be making around 75K as a base salary without any experience. My sister on the other hand is going into human resources and the starting salary for something entry level is about 40K. Also she is expected to get a master's in a few years, and that might even be required for entry level work. In nursing, it's not required you get a master's degree to move up on the RN scale and people only get it if they want to be an NP, educator or management.

    So from my perspective, to make 75K at 22 years old without any prior job experience at all is something that I consider good and I'm proud of. Sure I'm going to work hard for that but its still considered a lot to my friends who are new grads in other professions who don't nearly start off in that level.
  14. by   1stloveistobeanurse
    What I dont understand is this, What is wrong with making a decent living?

    I am currently in the accounting and finance industry, and I am back in school for nursing. Why the salary for me to cross over into a new profession is not bad, the earning potential that I will have once I gain some years of experience is great, I want to do more meaningful work that will help people who are ill, the opportunities are endless in nursing, I can retire and still work part time and make decent money, or I can even teach.

    Now think about it, how competive is nursing? that is right, very very very. Every nurse I know bust there butt to be where they are and you are right you should be respected and compensated for it.

    I think part of the problem is that nursing has alway been a women job until recently when male nurses became involved. Women carry this since the end of time we are looked at as making a ton of cash not because we earn that right or that opportunity, but because some part of society look and say truth be told that is allot of cash for a women to be making.

    Please let's stand up for ourselves it dosnt matter if you are a male nurse or a female nurse. Nursing is an important responsibility, and you should make as much as you are required to sacrifice for it.

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