Dollars and Sense: What are nurses paid?

You’re right to ask questions about nursing pay. It’s best to start a new career on a financially savvy footing, and nurses face the same challenges as any new grad who enters the world of salaries, taxes, bills and credit. Here’s everything you need to know.

How is nursing pay decided?

Nursing pay is based on a number of factors, including whether or not an organization is unionized. Many hospital nurses, for example, are paid according to the salary grid negotiated in the Hospital Central Collective Agreement. About 50,000 nurses are covered under this agreement. Non-unionized hospitals and other sectors usually negotiate with individual employees or with groups of employees. 

What is starting hourly wage for RN in Ontario?

Generally speaking, rates of RN pay are based on a years of service scales, and start at $21.75 per hour reaching as high as $40 per hour.

In acute care, new graduates are paid $30.17 hourly for annual salary of $58,831.50. The full-time RN base rate range run from first year pay of $28.08 an hour ($53,040 a year) to 25-year pay of $40 an hour ($78,000 a year), according to the Ontario Nurses’ Association

Overtime pay is typically one and a half times the hourly rate. Advanced Practice Nurses, Nurse Practitioners and nurse managers (who have earned Masters degree or higher) earn higher salaries.

What is hourly wage for (an acute care) RN with five or more years experience in Ontario?

With five years’ experience, acute care nurses are paid $36.12 hourly for an annual salary of $70,434. An acute care RN practicing for 25 years is paid $43.61 an hour for an annual salary of $85,039.50. Can I work more to boost my pay?Working overtime, nurses can add to their salary at any pay grade by 20 percent or more.According to the Canadian Federation of Nurses Union, the average weekly share of nurses who worked paid overtime was 18.7 percent (relatively unchanged from 2010) or roughly 7.3 hours a week. So five years into your career, assuming you worked average paid overtime, that would add another $13,711.15 to your salary of $70.434.

What is a nurse’s salary in a remote region? 

Nurses compensation can be higher in some remote regions. For example, Nunavut nurses base salary is between $81,081 and $120,900. On top of that there is a northern allowance of up to $34,555; an annual special allowance of $19,500 and signing and monthly retention bonuses.

Finally, some remote regions will also pay for various professional development including education costs.

Is there a ceiling on how much money I can make as a nurse? 

Yes and no. Salaries in clinical settings don’t vary widely, however once a nurse enters senior management in an organization or moves into teaching at a university, the pay can increase dramatically. Also, there are other methods (than working overtime) to boost your earning potential. Check out: “Nurses have plenty of earning potential.” — Jannine Bowen, Nurse Practitioner, Markham-Stouville Hospital

How can I pay off my student loan quicker?

Like all new grads, you’re keen to pay down debt and start saving, maybe for a new car or house. The first challenge is to create a budget, says Bev Moir, a senior wealth advisor at ScotiaMcLeod. Moir was a Registered Nurse long before she entered the field of wealth management, so she has firsthand experience about financial challenges facing health care workers. She recommends asking for assistance creating a budget — which is really about setting short-term and long-term priorities — from a financially savvy relative, or using a resource like a book. Even a bank manager can help you prioritize your money flow without any additional costs, she says.

Do nurses face any unique financial challenges? 

 Nurses don’t face unique challenges per say. However, some of you, depending on your employer, may be offered extensive benefit and pension plans. “When I think back to the early stages of my career, I realize how I may have taken those for granted. I didn’t understand how they worked, and how they would work for me in time.” Moir suggests taking the time to read the information provided, and decide whether there is the right away of saving for you. 

Do nurses have any financial pluses?

Moir works with quite a number of nurses who have branched out and opened up their own businesses, whether it’s as nurse consultants or launching an at-home care business. “Nurses have quite a few qualities that make them terrific entrepreneurs,” she says. For example, nurses tend to have great people and organization skills. “I’ve seen quite a few nurses do extremely well for themselves over their careers in the field,” adds Moir.