Knowing the facts about the average RN salary in Houston benefits current and prospective nurses alike. If you’re already working in the field, a clear picture of salary trends in Houston makes it easier to compare job opportunities. Houstonians weighing their healthcare career options can use knowledge of the average nurse salary in Houston to determine whether nursing school is a good investment. This post answers frequently asked questions about RN jobs and wages in Houston with tips on increasing your RN pay in this popular Texas city.
How Much Does a Staff Nurse Make in Houston?
The average RN salary in Houston for permanent positions posted on Vivian was $39.11 per hour as of late October 2022. Houston’s average beat the state average of $35.84 by 8% and was about 5% more than the national RN pay average of $37.24. However, experience, education level, professional certifications, practice setting and employer often factor into how much you ultimately earn.
How Much Does a Travel Nurse Make in Houston?
Travel RNs work for healthcare employers for predetermined periods based on the length of their contracts. The average length of travel nurse contracts is 13 weeks, but it can be longer or shorter. In some cases, contracts may last for several months. Per Vivian’s salary data, RNs working travel nurse jobs in Houston averaged $2,390 per week in late October 2022, about 3% higher than the state average of $2,311.
Average RN Salary in Houston vs. Other Texas Cities
Because the average RN salary in Houston is higher than Texas’ average, it’s also higher than many other major cities across the state. Comparing the $39.11 average hourly wage of Houston’s staff RNs, here’s how their pay compared to the hourly rate of their peers in several larger cities statewide on October 26, 2022.
|City||Average Wage||% Houston Wages Are Higher|
|Dallas and Fort Worth||$36.89||6.02%|
What Is the Highest-Paid Nurse Specialty in Houston?
Generally, healthcare employers offer higher pay rates for nursing specialties that are both in demand and require elevated levels of monitoring and support. Some top-paying specialties in Houston include:
- Pediatrics operating room
- Pediatric hematology and oncology
- General hematology and oncology
- Cardiovascular operating room
- Cardiovascular pediatric intensive care
- Pediatric intensive care
- Bone marrow transplant
- Pediatric emergency room
- Cardiac cath lab
Salaries for Nurses vs. Other Healthcare Jobs in Houston
The average RN salary in Houston is generally higher than the pay rates for many other healthcare jobs. The larger salary is primarily due to the additional schooling, licensing requirements and job duties of RNs. For example, RNs earned nearly three times more than permanent certified nursing assistants (CNAs) in Houston, who averaged $13.65 in late October 2022 and travel CNAs made $693 per week, less than a third of what travel RNs earned. Licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) in staff positions banked $23.24 per hour in Houston, while travel LVNs made 41,470 weekly. RNs also earned more than the average travel allied health professional, who made $1,912 per week, and perm allied health worker, who earned $29.36 hourly.
However, RNs with advanced education and skills who obtained their nurse practitioner (NP) credentials saw a big bump in pay in Houston. Staff NPs earned $60.07 per hour, about 53.6% more than perm RNs, and travel NP salaries totaled $3,554 weekly, nearly 49% more than travel RNs.
Forecast for Nursing Jobs in Houston and/or Texas
Based on Texas Labor Market Information (LMI) from the Texas Workforce Commission, the demand for nurses in Houston and throughout Texas should grow considerably through 2030. Across the state, the LMI projects the number of RN jobs to expand by 17.07%, with 16,207 job openings for RNs available each year. Growth in Houston will likely be even faster, with an anticipated growth rate of 19.39% and 4,419 RN job openings annually.
Houston’s Most In-Demand Nursing Jobs
Subsectors of the healthcare industry grow at different rates. In faster-growing practice settings, the demand for nurses is higher, and employers often offer better pay rates to attract quality candidates. According to LMI, the following RN subsectors will grow the fastest through 2030:
|Subsector||% Projected Increase in Total RN Jobs|
|Offices of health practitioners other than physicians||33.3%|
|Outpatient care centers||26.05%|
|Home health services||25.39%|
|Ambulatory healthcare services||24.33%|
|Specialty hospitals other than substance abuse and mental health facilities||20.54%|
Source: Texas Workforce Commission, 2020-2030 Projections
Is Houston a Good Place for a Nurse to Live?
Nurses may find living in the Lone Star State enjoyable and may settle in Houston for various reasons. Houston is the largest city in Texas and has a lower-than-average cost of living and no state income tax. Residents have access to high-quality schools, plenty of cultural amenities, entertainment opportunities and a thriving job market.
Healthcare is among the top job sectors in Texas, and Houston is home to the largest medical complex in the world, with numerous hospitals, clinics and long-term care facilities. Thus, RNs should have no trouble finding numerous staff and travel nurse jobs throughout the Houston metro. Due to the competitive RN salary and low cost of housing in the city, RNs should enjoy a high standard of living in this vibrant city.
What Are Some Top Healthcare Employers in Houston?
More than 376,000 people worked in the healthcare sector in Houston in 2020, according to the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP). Ambulatory care centers accounted for roughly 44% of all employment. Hospitals employed about one-third of healthcare workers, while social assistance, residential care homes and long-term care facilities provided 23% of healthcare jobs.
Many great healthcare employers operate in Houston. Based on the number of employees, the GHP lists the following institutions as top Houston healthcare employers:
- Texas Medical Center
- CHI St. Luke’s Health
- HCA Houston Healthcare
- Harris Health System
- Houston Methodist
- MD Anderson Cancer Center
- Memorial Hermann Healthcare System
- Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center
- Texas Children’s Hospital
- UTMB Health
From the perspective of providing high rates of pay for staff RNs, the following table lists the top employers and agencies in Houston.
|Hospital or Agency||Average Hourly Rate|
|Memorial Hermann Health System||$45|
|Medical City Healthcare||$38|
|HCA Houston Healthcare||$37|
Source: Vivian, late October 2022
For travel nurses considering a contract in Houston, Vivian listed these agencies with the highest-paying posts.
|Travel Staffing Agencies||Average Weekly Salary|
|CrossMed – Cath Lab||$3,900|
|Jackson Nurse Professionals||$3,485|
|Spire Workforce Solutions||$3,245|
Source: Vivian, late October 2022
How Can You Increase Your Pay as a Nurse in Houston?
The steps to increasing your RN salary in Houston depend on your specific goals. If you enjoy working for your current employer, consider continuing your professional development to better position yourself for promotions, generally tied to raises. Alternatively, you can expand your skill set and credentials in preparation for looking for other staff nursing jobs in Houston if you’re ready for a change.
Consider these five ways you could earn more as an RN:
1. Take a Travel Nurse Position
A comparison of the average weekly salary for travel nurse jobs in Houston of $2,390 per week and the permanent RN hourly rate of $39.11 reveals that travel RNs earned about 53% more per week in a 40-hour work week in late October 2022. Thus, nurses who don’t live in Houston but take travel contracts there earn the most.
You can also work as a local travel nurse if you want to live and work in the city. The downside is you won’t qualify for the tax-free stipends and per diems for housing, meals and other incidentals. Instead, your entire salary is subject to income tax, meaning you gross less after taxes compared to traditional travel nurses. However, local travel nurses often still earn more than their staffed counterparts.
2. Go Back to School
Advancing in your career allows you to take on new responsibilities and earn more money. Expanding your education is generally a guaranteed way to accomplish this advancement. If you have an associate degree in nursing, explore bridge programs that allow you to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing while you work.
For RNs with a bachelor’s degree, earning a Master of Science in Nursing is the first step toward gaining certification in advanced practice roles, such as an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner and certified registered nurse anesthetist. While exploring educational programs, talk to your employer about tuition reimbursement. You may get all or some of your tuition, books and fees paid for as an employee benefit.
3. Become a Certified Nurse
Nursing certifications attest to your knowledge and experience caring for patients within a population or branch of medicine and may help you get a raise or find a better-paying job. RNs can pursue dozens of specialties from certifying bodies such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center, American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation and National Certification Corporation.
Each organization establishes a unique set of criteria for the credentials they grant. Generally, RNs must meet specific education and experience requirements and pass an exam to become certified.
4. Volunteer for In-Demand Shifts
Many RNs prefer to work the day shift, leaving healthcare employers with more openings for second-shift and third-shift positions. If your personal obligations and other responsibilities allow you the flexibility to work these shifts or a rotating schedule, you may be able to earn more per hour. Some employers also provide bonuses for weekend and holiday work.
5. Conduct Research and Ask for a Raise
If you want to remain in your current position but earn more money, ask your supervisor for a pay increase. Come to the negotiating table prepared to show why you deserve a raise. Update your CV with your skills, certifications, education, experience and quotes from positive performance reviews, and bring a copy to the meeting.
Use Vivian’s salary tool to determine how your wages compare to the average RN salary in Houston and explore other healthcare jobs in Houston to see what these currently pay. Strengthen your case and be prepared to negotiate for a better salary by compiling a list of statistics demonstrating why your wages aren’t competitive.