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2021 North Carolina Registered Nurse Salary + Job Outlook

Working as a registered nurse in NC is a rewarding choice that pays well and offers outstanding job security. The average annual registered nurse salary in North Carolina is $64,850, which is significantly lower than the national average, but you can enjoy an excellent occupational outlook with growth anticipated to top 10% over the course of the next five years. Below, you can learn more about this specific career choice and the factors that may influence your salary and job outlook.

How Many Registered Nurses are Currently Employed in NC?


What is the Salary of an RN in North Carolina?

Starting Salary

The average starting RN pay in North Carolina is $50,075 a year, or roughly $24.08 an hour, and while this is much lower than the state’s average, it represents entry-level income for RNs who have only recently obtained their licensure.

Type Average Salary
Hourly $24.08
Monthly $4,173
Annual $50,075

Average Salary

The average registered nurse income in NC overall is $64,850, or about $31.18 an hour for RNs working full time. This is the average salary among all RNs in the state regardless of their experience.

Type Average Salary
Hourly $31.18
Monthly $5,404
Annual $64,850
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Estimated Total Annual Compensation (Salary + Benefits)

The RN salary in North Carolina is not the only compensation you can expect to receive; you will also receive benefits such as paid leave, insurance, and retirement and savings plans, among others. These are valued at an average of $26,400, bringing total annual compensation for NC’s registered nurses to roughly $91,250.

Component Amount
Paid Leave$6,394
Supplemental Pay$2,923
Retirement and Savings$3,471
Legally Required$6,850
Total Benefits$26,400
Average Annual Salary$64,850
Total Compensation$91,250
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Percentile Wage Estimates of all RN Workers in NC & Factors That Play a Role

Half the RNs in NC earn anywhere from $54,020 to $75,400, which is a huge salary range. For the most part, these salaries are affected by factors like your experience, the city in which you work, your employer, and even the role you play in your workplace. About 10% of all RNs in the state earn less than $46,130, and this figure represents those who have very little experience and who work in poorer, more rural parts of the state. Another 10% of the RNs in NC earn more than $86,650 a year, which is a testament to their experience and roles – likely managers and shift leaders.

Percent of RN's Number of RN's Annual Salary
10%10,250Under $46,130
15%15,375$46,130 - $54,020
25%25,625$54,020 - $62,940
25%25,625$62,940 - $75,400
15%15,375$75,400 - $86,650
10%10,250Above $86,650
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Salary Trend (2013-2018)

Between the years of 2013 and 2018, the RN average salary in NC grew by 8.03% overall from $59,290 a year to $64,850 a year. This salary growth can be attributed to North Carolina’s push to hire better qualified and more highly educated RNs and their efforts to offer more competitive salaries to attract them.

Year Annual Salary Growth
Number %
Overall Growth in Last Five Years$5,5608.03%
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Salary Projection (2018-2023)

The same factors that drove salary growth in the previous five years will continue to push salaries forward between 2018 and 2023. Within the next five years, you can expect an average 9.55% salary growth, starting with $64,850 a year in 2018 and topping out at $71,040 by 2023. RNs are also seeking baccalaureate education at a higher rate, due in part to the Institute of Medicine’s push to have 80% of all RNs educated at the BSN level by 2020, and higher degrees command higher salaries.

Year Annual Salary Growth
Number %
Overall Growth in Next Five Years$6,1909.55%
(Source: Compiled using data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

North Carolina BSN Degree Holders vs ADN Degree Holders – Who Earns More?

A BSN provides more knowledge and skills, which means you can take on more responsibility and receive fair compensation. On average, you can earn $5,550 more with a BSN than with an ADN

ADN BSN How Much More Does an RN with BSN Earn
(Source: Compiled using data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

North Carolina RN vs National RN

The national average salary for RNs is $75,510, which is much higher than North Carolina’s annual average of $64,850. When compared to many other states, North Carolina is not as affluent, and this means patients pay less for the services they receive. This translates directly into lower salaries for healthcare professionals across the board.

Type New York United States Difference
Number %

Average Hourly Wage

$31.18$36.30- $5.12- 14.10%

Average Annual Salary

$64,850$75,510- $10,660- 14.12%
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

RN Salary vs All Occupations in NC

TypeNorth CarolinaNorth Carolina All Occupations Difference
Number %

Average Hourly Wage

$31.18$22.69+ $8.49+ 37.42%

Average Annual Salary

$64,850$47,200+ $17,650+ 37.39%
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

RN Salary vs All Nursing Occupations in NC

$0 $40,000 $80,000 $120,000 $160,000 $200,000 (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018) Nursing Asstant Licensed Practical Nurse Registered Nurse Nursing Instructor Nurse Practitioner Nurse Midwive Nurse Anesthetist $25,570 $44,610 $64,850 $68,710 $104,100 $106,570 $178,250

RN Salary vs Similar Healthcare Occupations in NC

$0 $20,000 $40,000 $60,000 $80,000 $100,000 $120,000 (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018) Medical Assistant Emergency Medical Technicia & Paramedic Social Worker Registered Nurse Cardiovascular Technologist and Technician Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Dental Hygienist Occupational Therapist Physician Assistant $32,710 $36,200 $57,310 $64,850 $66,320 $66,850 $69,500 $84,390 $104,680

RN Employment & Pay in Different Healthcare Facilities of NC

If you choose to work as a registered nurse in North Carolina, you will have the best opportunities to find employment in one of the states 120 or more hospitals. There are currently 58,980 RNs working in hospitals across the state earning $66,760 a year. You can earn a comparative salary if you choose to work in an outpatient care center like 4,920 other RNs in NC, but your employment opportunities will be far more limited.

Industry Employment Hourly Salary Annual Salary



Physician's Offices


Home Health Care


Nursing Care Facilities


Outpatient Care Centers

(Source: Compiled using data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Registered Nurse Salary in 10 Major Cities of North Carolina

1) Charlotte

Charlotte, North Carolina is one of the state’s most highly populated cities. It is home to just over 859,000 people who are being served by many of the area’s best hospitals. RNs in Charlotte earn $64,170 on average, and the vast majority are employed by hospitals. Some of the biggest employers in the city include Carolinas Medical Center – Mercy, WakeMed Children’s Hospital, and Carolinas ContinueCARE Hospital. Many RNs work for large clinics and outpatient facilities such as the Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center, and still others work in nursing homes across the city.

Year Annual Salary Growth
Number %
2014$59,260- $60- 0.10%

2) Raleigh

There are 1.21 million people living in the Raleigh metro area, and because of the dense population here, numerous hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes exist to provide them with healthcare. RNs in Raleigh earn $64,860 a year, and most of them work in large hospitals like Duke Raleigh Hospital, UNC REX Hospital, and the WakeMed Raleigh Campus. Some RNs work at the Raleigh Hill Clinic.

Year Annual Salary Growth
Number %

3) Greensboro

RNs in the city of Greensboro, NC serve a population of 290,222 people. They earn an average of $66,710, and the majority work in the city’s hospitals. These include Kindred Hospital, the Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital, and Cone Health Wesley Long Hospital, among others. Some RNs work in nursing homes like Morningview at Irving Park, Starmount Health and Rehabilitation Center, and Greenhaven Health and Rehab, as well.

Year Annual Salary Growth
Number %

4) Durham

Durham is the third highest-paying city for RNs across the state of North Carolina with an average annual salary of $67,030 a year. This is due in part to Duke University and its corresponding medical center, which is at the very heart of the area and involved in cutting-edge research and technology. RNs work in places like Duke University Hospital, Select Specialty Hospital, and Duke Regional Hospital, among others. Some work in the local VA Health Care System and at Lenox Baker Children’s Hospital, as well.

Year Annual Salary Growth
Number %
2015$65,380- $1,780- 2.65%
2018$67,030- $330- 0.49%

5) Winston-Salem

Winston-Salem boasts a population of just under 245,000 people and offers several high-rated hospitals, outpatient clinics, and long-term nursing care facilities to its residents. RNs here earn about $69,070 a year, and they work in places like Novant Health Medical Park Hospital, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, and Select Specialty Hospitals. Some RNs work at clinics like Cedar Creek Family Medicine, and still others work in nursing and rehabilitation centers such as Oak Forest or the Brookridge Retirement Community.

Year Annual Salary Growth
Number %
2015$60,000-$1,000- 1.64%

6) Fayetteville

Fayetteville, North Carolina has a population of just under 210,000 people and employs a large-number-of RNs in hospitals such as Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, Highsmith-Rainey Specialty Hospital, and Health Pavilion North Express. Some RNs in Fayetteville work in large clinics like the Fayetteville VA Medical Center and in urgent care centers like Cape Fear Valley Express Care. If you choose to work in Fayetteville, you will earn an average salary of $69,990 – the highest in the state.

Year Annual Salary Growth
Number %

7) Wilmington

RNs who work in Wilmington, NC earn an average annual salary of $61,600. Most work in one of the city’s hospitals, which include New Hanover Regional Medical Center and NHRMC Orthopedic Hospital, among others. The city’s population of a little over 119,000 calls for several outpatient clinics, too, and places like the Nunnelee Pediatric Specialty Clinic the Downtown Med Center offer RNs plenty of employment, as well.

Year Annual Salary Growth
Number %

8) High Point

High Point, North Carolina has a population of a little over 111,000 and offers its residents several local hospitals and medical centers for their care. These facilities employ most of the city’s registered nurses, and they include High Point Regional Hospital and Cornerstone Health Care, among others. As an RN working in High Point, you can earn an average annual salary of $66,710.

Year Annual Salary Growth
Number %

9) Greenville

Greenville is a small but popular North Carolina city thanks to its short distance to Virginia Beach, and despite a population of just 92,000, some of the state’s best hospitals can be found here. RNs earn $64,380 a year and the majority work in hospitals like Vidant Medical Center and Greenville Hospital, but many also work for local clinics, which include the ECU Physicians Family Medical Center.

Year Annual Salary Growth
Number %
2015$59,610- $3,520- 5.58%

10) Concord

Concord, North Carolina is about the same size as Greenville with a population of roughly 92,000 people, and it also provides care through two main local hospitals – NorthEast Hospital and Children’s Hospital – which employ most of the city’s RNs. There are several highly rated nursing and rehabilitation centers in Concord, which also employ many RNs locally. These include Carepoint, Five Oaks Manor, and Brookdale Concord Parkway, among others. If you work in Concord, you will earn an average annual salary of $64,170.

Year Annual Salary Growth
Number %

Which North Carolina Cities are Paying Registered Nurses the Most?

Durham, North Carolina is home to some of the state’s best and most prestigious hospitals thanks to Duke University Medical Center, and for this reason, it is a very lucrative city for RNs. In order for employers in this area to ensure they attract the best and most talented nurses, they pay an average salary in the state at $67,030 a year. Cities like Chapel Hill, Winston-Salem, Fayetteville, and Greensboro also pay salaries higher than the state average; this is due in part to their affluent neighborhoods and top-notch hospitals and care facilities.

It is important to note, however, that smaller and more rural towns will pay you far less as an RN. Places like Morgantown, Lenoir, and Hickory – much smaller and less affluent than Durham and Chapel Hill – will pay an average annual salary of only $59,890.

Rank City Hourly Annual
Range Average Range Average
1 Fayetteville $22.31 - $45.38 $33.65 $46,400 - $94,380 $69,990
2 Winston-Salem $24.85 - $45.08 $33.21 $51,680 - $93,760 $69,070
3 Durham $23.28 - $45.13 $32.23 $48,410 - $93,870 $67,030
4 Chapel Hill $23.28 - $45.13 $32.23 $48,410 - $93,870 $67,030
5 Greensboro $22.33 - $45.08 $32.07 $46,440 - $93,770 $66,710
6 High Point $22.33 - $45.08 $32.07 $46,440 - $93,770 $66,710
7 Asheville $22.52 - $43.43 $31.47 $46,840 - $90,340 $65,460
8 Raleigh $22.00 - $39.77 $31.18 $45,760 - $82,730 $64,860
9 Greenville $22.68 - $39.00 $30.95 $47,180 - $81,110 $64,380
10 Charlotte $21.86 - $39.82 $30.85 $45,470 - $82,820 $64,170
11 Concord $21.86 - $39.82 $30.85 $45,470 - $82,820 $64,170
12 Gastonia $21.86 - $39.82 $30.85 $45,470 - $82,820 $64,170
13 Jacksonville $22.03 - $41.07 $30.78 $45,820 - $85,420 $64,030
14 Wilmington $21.32 - $38.73 $29.62 $44,350 - $80,550 $61,600
15 Rocky Mount $22.24 - $37.98 $29.45 $46,260 - $79,010 $61,260
16 New Bern $19.81 - $38.78 $29.06 $41,200 - $80,670 $60,430
17 Hickory $22.09 - $36.88 $28.79 $45,960 - $76,710 $59,890
18 Lenoir $22.09 - $36.88 $28.79 $45,960 - $76,710 $59,890
19 Morganton $22.09 - $36.88 $28.79 $45,960 - $76,710 $59,890
(Source: In House Research Team & U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2019)

Employment Trend (2013-2018)

Year Employment Growth
Number %
Overall Growth in Last Five Years14,15015.08%
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

RN Job Outlook in North Carolina (2018-2023)

The employment of registered nurses in North Carolina is expected to grow significantly between 2018 and 2023. Growth of anywhere from 1.87% to 2.07% a year will result in total growth during this timeframe of 10.15%. This is significantly higher than the expected job growth across all industries at the national level, which is between 6% and 7%.

Several factors will drive the growth of the RN occupation across NC, but of these, expanded access to affordable healthcare is the most important. As more people seek treatment for their illnesses and injuries, RNs will play a crucial role in providing and managing that care in hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices, and various other healthcare settings, as well.

Year Employment Growth
Number %
Overall Growth in Next Five Years10,40010.15%
(Source: Compiled using data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Projected Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement) in North Carolina

Year New Jobs Replacement Jobs Annual Job Openings (New + Replacement)
(Source: Compiled using data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Which North Carolina Metro Areas are Hiring the Highest Number of RNs?

When you decide to look for a job as an RN in NC, you will have far better luck – and more opportunities – if you choose to start your search in the state’s most populated metros. In fact, 22,450 RNs work in the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia metro area alone, followed by another 12,090 in the Durham-Chapel Hill area. Areas with larger and denser populations in NC must be able to provide adequate local healthcare, so wherever there are more people, there will also be more hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and other facilities. Another important consideration is Duke University, which is located in Durham and employs a vast majority of the area’s RNs to help support the doctors and staff caring for patients at Duke Medical Center. Medical schools are some of the biggest employers of RNs regionally.

Rank Metro Area # Employed
1 Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia 22,450
2 Durham-Chapel Hill 12,090
3 Raleigh 11,840
4 Winston-Salem 10,400
5 Greensboro-High Point 6,550
6 Asheville 6,320
7 Greenville 3,930
8 Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton 3,280
9 Fayetteville 3,200
10 Wilmington 3,160
11 Rocky Mount 1,220
12 New Bern 1,020
13 Jacksonville 750
(Source: In-House Research)