Pay scales: ADN versus BSN

Nurses General Nursing


Hi everyone:

I'm a pre-nursing student and have a couple of questions...

I keep hearing that BSN RN's make more than ADN RN's. Is this true in the real world? And, do salary ranges change depending on what you specialize in? For example, does a ICU RN earn more or less than a L&D RN? I want to specialize in what feels right to me, not what pays the most, but I'm considering my options of course.

Also, I want to become a travel nurse after I get some experience under my belt. I realize there are countless companies to work for all over the country. How does one decide which company to chose? They all seem to offer the same benefits, housing, travel reimbursement, etc.

I look forward to hearing your replys!

Jenna in Oregon

Pre-nursing Portland State

Specializes in Surgical.

Well... I guess it would depend on what type of job you want ultimately. If you're looking to be a nurse manager, then ya, a BSN might make some difference in getting the job and/or what you make.

But as for "real" nursing - in a facility or clinic, on the floor, or in the operating room....... it been my experience that the BSN doesn't make a dang bit of difference.

Maybe different facilities do it differently - but everywhere I've ever worked (and thats been a few places since hubby is military and we move...) the pay for RN vs BSN with the like experience is the same.

The only thing that seems to make a difference is certification. Like where I work now if you are CNOR then you get .50/hr more. But BSN? doesnt matter.


1,711 Posts

The differential for either BSN or specialty is negligible at best most places if it exists at all (up to $1 per hour). Do what best suits your situation. Pursue the specialty that makes you happy. If you want to be an L&D nurse, the extra dollar an hour you might get for being an ICU nurse (if you even get it) is not worth not doing what interests you. You will burn out quickly that way.

Do not worry about the travel nurse market right now. It has changed immensely over the past 3 years and it will continue to change while you are in school and gaining the necessary (minimum 1 year) experience. New companies crop up and others fold on a weekly basis. It is almost impossible to keep up with them - so those are brain cells you don't need to strain just yet. :)


6,011 Posts


Oh my! Here is but just ONE of the discussions that have taken place over the years.

Here is another

Not to give you a short answer but maybe there is a pay diff/maybe not.

Word of mouth seems good to find out about travel companies. Experience first though because they expect you to hit the ground running. There's a travel nurse forum here.

Tweety, BSN, RN

33,525 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac.

You're not going to notice a difference in pay in new grads. Since both ADNs and BSNs are RNs passing the same NCLEX exam and beginning doing the same job the pay isn't much different. Here BSN's get .50/hr. more.

The BSN is an investment in the future. I always say go for the BSN if that's an option. Good luck!


115 Posts

I'm an Associate Nurse . If it is an option for you get the BSN. The choices available to you in the future will be limited with the Associates.You set yourself up to be the "goto" person on the ward with the most experience and no chance to advance . I have had oportunities pass by and go to nurses with less experience, they did had the required BSN. Don't see this as a rant. This is the way it is. I chose to stop with the associates most of my peers chose BSN.

FYI if you work for the federal govt (DOD,VA ect..) the BSN will get a higher pay grade.

I don't get my nose out of joint with the ADN vs BSN. Anyone who has worked for awhile will tell the truth. An experienced competent coworker is who you want to work with.

And yes I am working on my BSN

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