RN vs. BSN Salary - How Much More Does a BSN Nurse Make?

Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN

Are you considering a career as a registered nurse? If so, you likely have several questions about which path of study will be best for you. Many prospective nurses know they want to become a registered nurse but are not sure which degree will be most beneficial for them. Because the salary of a registered nurse varies depending on the degree, in this article, we will discuss and compare the RN vs BSN salary.

Registered Nurse (ADN) vs. Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Nurse: What Do They Do?

Degree options for both an associate degree and a bachelor's degree in nursing prepares nurses for entry-level nursing roles. ADN and BSN nurses share the following tasks:

• Administer medications
• Monitor patient symptoms and update patient charts
• Educate patients and caregivers about medical conditions and treatments
• Work as part of the healthcare team

Associate degree registered nurses (ADN) can work in the same setting as BSN nurses but may have different roles. Typically, associate degree RNs handle a range of essential tasks such as performing assessments, taking health histories, giving medications, and performing or helping with tests, and assisting physicians with examinations. They may also pursue careers in specialty areas such as pediatrics, geriatrics, or women's health.

While BSN nurses may perform the same duties as ADN nurses, they are also trained to perform more complex jobs. BSN nurses can hold administrative positions or pursue specialties such as nurse research, case management, and nursing education, as well.

Entry-Level RN vs. BSN Salary

The entry-level salary difference between BSN and RN (ADN) nurses is similar, with only about a five-thousand-dollar difference in annual salary. These numbers may vary depending on the type of healthcare setting a nurse works in and whether they have any specialty certifications. Associate degree RNs typically earn an average of just above $49,000 annually, and BSN nurses may begin their careers with a yearly salary of around $54,000.

OccupationEntry-Level Salary
RN (ADN)$49,810
BSN Nurse$53,980

Hourly BSN vs. RN Salary

The hourly pay rate of RNs vs. BSNs varies. Some of the determining factors include years of experience, type of work experience, geographical area, type of healthcare setting, and the shift (day, evening, night) the nurse works. The hourly salary for the newly licensed associate and bachelor's degree nurses is generally similar. However, as BSN nurses gain experience and move up the ranks in position, there may be a significant difference in hourly pay. While the average hourly wage for ADN nurses begins at about $35.63, and BSN nurses are around $38.62, BSN nurses can see increases in hourly pay rates faster than those with an associate degree. In fact, some BSN nurses may earn hourly wages of $45 or more.

OccupationAverage Hourly Pay
RN (ADN)$35.63
BSN Nurse$38.62

Average Annual Salary of Registered Nurse vs. BSN Nurse

Nurses with both associate degrees and bachelor's degrees can expect to earn a considerable income. ADN nurse salaries average a little over $74,000 annually, while BSN nurses can earn more than $80,000 each year.

Additionally, nurses who work in hospitals or nursing care facilities such as assisted living or long-term care facilities typically work different shifts. Many facilities offer shift differential pay for nurses who work evenings, nights, weekends, or holidays. Some nurses may also be required to take calls, which means they must be available to work odd hours and go see patients with short notice. In these cases, nurses usually earn on-call pay incentives.

OccupationAverage Annual Salary
RN (ADN)$74,120
BSN Nurse$80,320

Experience-Wise BSN vs. RN Salary

The difference between RN and BSN salary is often influenced by the years of work experience the nurse has. As you can see from the chart below, registered nurses with an associate degree and a bachelor's degree may have an hourly pay rate with as little as $2/hour difference. However, with increased years of experience, the gap between the salaries of registered nurses with different degrees becomes more evident.

Associate degree nurses have a salary range from $49,810 at the beginning of their careers to over $106,000 with twenty or more years of experience. BSN nurses typically begin their careers with an annual salary of about $53,000 and may make over $115,000 annually (or more) with twenty plus years' experience.

Occupation Level of Experience Hourly Monthly Annual
RN (ADN) Starting (Entry-Level) $23.95 $4,150 $49,810
1-4 Years of Experience $27.64 $4,790 $57,500
5-9 Years of Experience $33.71 $5,840 $70,110
10-19 Years of Experience $41.74 $7,230 $86,810
20 Years or More Experience $51.14 $8,870 $106,380
BSN Nurse Starting (Entry-Level) $25.95 $4,500 $53,980
1-4 Years of Experience $29.95 $5,190 $62,300
5-9 Years of Experience $36.53 $6,330 $75,980
10-19 Years of Experience $45.23 $7,840 $94,070
20 Years or More Experience $55.42 $9,610 $115,280

Industry-Wise ADN vs. BSN Salary

Examples of an ADN vs. BSN salary offered in different nursing industries include the following:

Industry Average Annual Salary
Hospitals $76,000 $82,360
Physician's Offices $66,540 $72,110
Home Health Care $70,460 $76,350
Nursing Care Facilities $66,710 $72,290
Outpatient Care Centers $81,030 $87,810

Employee Benefits and Perks

Having an advanced degree typically means a few extra benefits and perks on the job. For example, BSN nurses may enjoy perks such as increases in salary and opportunities for career advancement at a faster pace than associate degree registered nurses. BSN nurses who hold administrative or management positions may enjoy a more structured work schedule, including not having to work nights or weekends.

Benefits including paid leave, holiday pay, and employer-sponsored insurances are often part of benefits packages that both ADNs and BSNs typically enjoy. Also, some employers offer extra perks such as bonuses for meeting certain goals such as no accidents/injuries for a certain period or for getting good reviews for state inspections.

RN vs. BSN Salary Outlook

Associate degree registered nurses are usually offered lower salaries than BSN nurses. Because BSN nurses are in high demand, they can often leverage their degree level to get higher pay and increased job opportunities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there was an average increase in registered nurse wages of at least one dollar per hour between 2018 and 2019.

Many employers offer a percentage increase for nurses who hold a BSN degree or who have higher degree levels. Also, registered nurses who choose to specialize in a specific area such as geriatrics or pediatrics may see a more positive salary outlook than those who do not.

On average, there has been an average increase of 1.5 to 2 percent in both ADN and BSN nurses during the last five to ten years.

State-Wise BSN vs. RN Salary

One of the most influential factors in determining a registered nurse’s salary is their geographical location. States that have a higher cost of living understandably have a higher rate of pay than states where it costs less to live.

For instance, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report, South Dakota is currently the lowest paying state in the United States for registered nurses holding both ADN and BSN degrees. BSN registered nurses in South Dakota make an average of $62,080 annually, while ADN nurses typically earn around $57,290. That's a difference of a little over $5,000 between the two degrees each year. On the other hand, RN vs BSN salary in California is almost twice the average annual income in South Dakota. In California, ADN nursing salaries average $109,420, and BSN nurses earn nearly $120,000 each year, a difference of over $9,000 annually.

State BSN Nurse RN (ADN) The Difference in Salary Between BSN and RN (ADN) Nurses
Alabama $62,440 $57,620 $4,820
Alaska $94,460 $87,170 $7,290
Arizona $81,130 $74,870 $6,260
Arkansas $63,410 $58,520 $4,890
California $118,580 $109,420 $9,160
Colorado $79,600 $73,450 $6,150
Connecticut $87,130 $80,400 $6,730
Delaware $77,090 $71,140 $5,950
District of Columbia $97,180 $89,680 $7,500
Florida $70,330 $64,900 $5,430
Georgia $72,930 $67,300 $5,630
Hawaii $108,410 $100,040 $8,370
Idaho $73,060 $67,430 $5,630
Illinois $76,650 $70,740 $5,910
Indiana $69,260 $63,920 $5,340
Iowa $63,060 $58,190 $4,870
Kansas $64,750 $59,750 $5,000
Kentucky $65,770 $60,700 $5,070
Louisiana $68,000 $62,750 $5,250
Maine $73,110 $67,460 $5,650
Maryland $81,120 $74,860 $6,260
Massachusetts $98,160 $90,580 $7,580
Michigan $76,260 $70,370 $5,890
Minnesota $83,290 $76,860 $6,430
Mississippi $62,140 $57,350 $4,790
Missouri $66,940 $61,770 $5,170
Montana $72,510 $66,920 $5,590
Nebraska $69,700 $64,320 $5,380
Nevada $92,860 $85,690 $7,170
New Hampshire $77,250 $71,290 $5,960
New Jersey $88,020 $81,230 $6,790
New Mexico $76,580 $70,670 $5,910
New York $91,420 $84,370 $7,050
North Carolina $69,260 $63,920 $5,340
North Dakota $69,180 $63,840 $5,340
Ohio $71,060 $65,580 $5,480
Oklahoma $66,840 $61,680 $5,160
Oregon $97,720 $90,170 $7,550
Pennsylvania $74,750 $68,980 $5,770
Rhode Island $85,210 $78,630 $6,580
South Carolina $66,940 $61,780 $5,160
South Dakota $62,080 $57,290 $4,790
Tennessee $64,650 $59,670 $4,980
Texas $77,790 $71,790 $6,000
Utah $70,740 $65,290 $5,450
Vermont $73,340 $67,680 $5,660
Virginia $74,910 $69,120 $5,790
Washington $90,000 $83,060 $6,940
West Virginia $65,900 $60,810 $5,090
Wisconsin $75,770 $69,920 $5,850
Wyoming $71,030 $65,550 $5,480

Annual Job Openings Comparison

It is estimated that at least 105,000 job openings for BSN nurses and more than 65,000 associate degree registered nurse jobs will become available each year.

Job opening availability may be influenced by the number of registered nurses who reach retirement age and whose positions need to be filled. Also, the increased need for nurses to care for a population that is living longer and who have chronic diseases may be a factor. Increased focus on wellness and disease prevention may also contribute to the need for increased nurses in the healthcare industry.

OccupationNewReplacementAnnual Job Openings (New + Replacement)
RN (ADN)897756,53365,510
BSN Nurse2339482,226105,620

Job Outlook Comparison

Sources agree that the demand for nurses will continue to be high in the future. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate for registered nurses is expected to grow by twelve percent from 2018- 2028.

While most healthcare facilities continue to hire both associate and bachelor's degree registered nurses, many prefer to employ BSN nurses. Healthcare facilities, such as teaching hospitals or research facilities, often choose to hire only registered nurses with a bachelor's degree or higher. The healthcare facilities that do decide to utilize both ADN and BSN nurses may offer a BSN nurse a position before one with an Associate degree.

The employment growth rate for BSN nurses is almost 6 percent higher than that of associate degree RNS. However, it is important to note that the need for qualified nurses due to factors such as an aging population and increased occurrence of chronic diseases makes the job outlook for both RNs (ADNs) and BSNs favorable.

Occupation Employment New Employment Growth (2018-2028)
2018 2028 Number %
RN (ADN) 982,200 1,071,970 89,770 9.14%
BSN Nurse 1,545,200 1,779,140 233,940 15.14%

The Bottom Line

There are several distinct differences in ADN nurses and BSN nursing roles, responsibilities, and benefits. From the type of positions a registered nurse can hold to the kinds of facilities where employment is offered, there are many things to consider. For many, the difference in BSN vs RN salary is a determining factor when choosing a nursing path of study. If you are considering a career as a registered nurse, researching the types of programs available and deciding your long-term career goals will help you determine the degree that is best suited for you.

Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years' experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels. Because of her love of nursing education, Darby became a test-taking strategist and NCLEX prep coach and assists nursing graduates across the United States who are preparing to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).