Trends in nurse leaders' salary and compensation: 5 report findings

Most nurse leaders are satisfied with their jobs, and over half earn $90,000-$169,999, according to the American Organization for Nursing Leadership's report Salary and Compensation Study for Nurse Leaders.

The AONL sent an online survey to about 17,000 email addresses of AONL members and nonmembers, of which 2,145, or 13 percent, responded in January and February 2019 with data from 2018. Survey respondents' three most commonly reported job titles were director (35 percent), manager (21 percent) and chief nursing officer/chief nursing executive (18 percent). 

Five report findings:

1. While 57 percent of respondents report an annual salary between $90,000 and $169,999, 10 percent earned a salary below that range and 33 percent above.

2. Nurse leaders with senior-level titles earned the highest incomes: Eighty-one percent of non-system CNOs/CNEs and 91 percent of system CNOs/CNEs reported earning over $150,000 annually, for example.

3. Nurse leader salaries were similar across employer types, with most earning less than $150,000 per year. Respondents from consulting firms and system/corporate offices were an exception, however, with 56 percent earning $170,000 or more per year.

4. AONL divided respondents into nine geographic regions, with Region 9 (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Washington) showing the greatest percentage of respondents who earn $150,000 or more, at 69 percent. Region 6 (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota) reported the lowest percentage of nurse leaders earning over $150,000, at just 30 percent.

5. Eighty-two percent of nurse leaders rate their overall job satisfaction on a five-point scale as either "5, very satisfied (42 percent) or "4, somewhat satisfied" (40 percent).

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