How much do nurses make? That question is often top of mind for those considering nursing careers, and there’s not one simple answer. Part of the answer depends on what region of the country you’re in, and an even bigger part of the answer depends on how you become a registered nurse. If you go through a RN to BSN program, you’re more likely to be happy with the answer than if you decide to stay at the ADN level.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a mean hourly wage of $35.36, or $73,550 a year for full-time nurses (May 2017 data). Those numbers vary slightly depending on the facility and capacity a nurse works in, of course. For instance, the mean hourly wage at nursing care (skilled nursing) facilities or physicians’ offices is lower than that at a general medical and surgical hospital or outpatient care center.

How Michigan Compares to the National Average

In Michigan, BLS numbers show wages near the national average, with a mean hourly wage of $33.22 and a mean annual wage of just over $69,000. More recent figures from Glassdoor show an annual average slightly higher, at $70,307 with a range from $53,000 to $89,000.

What accounts for that range? Education has a good deal to do with it. In 2013 data, the BLS shows a nearly $9-an-hour difference between nurses who earned a BSN degree along with RN certification and those who didn’t. ADN-educated nurses, with an average hourly wage of $26.66, arrived at an annual salary of $55,550, near the bottom edge of the wage range, Glassdoor found. RNs with BSNs, by contrast, earned an average hourly range of $35.52, and an average annual salary of $73,900.

The BSN Advantage: More Than Just Pay

The premium placed on RNs with a BSN is clear from the pay difference, and the BSN salary average being so close to the statewide RN pay average indicates that Michigan is in sync with a nationwide trend to hire RNs with BSNs. Pursuing a BSN is a sound strategy if you want to be competitive in the Michigan nursing job market and qualify for the same pay as your nursing colleagues.

After all, BSN degrees aren’t just about the salaries available to current nursing job seekers. We’re fast approaching 2020; back in 2010, the National Academy of Sciences, through its Institute of Medicine, recommended that 80 percent of nurses in the United States hold a BSN degree. For nursing students looking to enter the profession, an RN with a BSN is more the norm than the exception — an opportune development for a rapidly changing healthcare industry.

For RNs looking to keep pace with colleagues who have already earned a BSN, Eastern Michigan University’s RN to BSN online program provides a way. The program consists of a series of seven nursing courses, two electives and a capstone course — all 7.5 weeks in length and worth three credits apiece. It’s possible for a student to move through the entire program in just 16 months while continuing to work as an RN.

In the long term, the BSN provides the education necessary to meet the needs of the future, and in the short term, it can increase an RN’s salary.

Learn more about Eastern Michigan University’s online RN to BSN program.