How much does a Surgical ICU Nurse make in the United States?

Average Surgical ICU Nurse Salary

High Confidence

$3,407/week

This is 7% higher than the travel nursing US average of $3,177.

Estimate based on 98139 active jobs in the last 90 days.

What is a Surgical Intensive Care Unit RN?

Surgical intensive care unit nurses, also called SICU nurses, work in a fast-paced, high acuity critical care environment. SICU RNs primarily work in hospitals, but they may also work in surgical centers, especially those that have an ICU. Good SICU nurses have advanced critical care skills and technical ICU nursing skills that help boost their wages, but numerous other elements factor into the salary of surgical ICU RNs.

SICU nurses are registered nurses who specialize in caring for critically ill surgical patients throughout the perioperative period, including preoperative, postoperative, and post-trauma injury management. They receive specialized education and training to provide intensive care to unstable patients who may be on mechanical ventilation or recovering from major cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, or transplant surgery.

The minimum education requirement to become a SICU nurse is an Associate Degree in Nursing, but some facilities prefer ICU nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. All nursing programs must be accredited by either the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

How a Surgical Intensive Care Unit RN salary is based

Graduates must pass the NCLEX-RN licensure exam, which is the only license required to become a SICU nurse. Many facilities want new RNs to gain some nursing experience before transferring to the SICU. Once you have sufficient experience to transition to SICU nursing, your base salary will be lower than experienced SICU nurses. Only time on the job will boost your salary based on experience level.

SICU nurses undergo specific on-the-job training to enhance their education and effectively handle the critical needs of their patients. This specialized training and the overall nature of the work may result in SICU nurses having higher base salaries than nurses in non-critical care settings, even relatively new SICU nurses.

Certifications can help increase your knowledge and growth as a SICU nurse and should also increase your salary. All RNs must complete Basic Life Support certification and SICU nurses must also complete Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support certification. Mandatory certifications generally don’t affect base salary but voluntary certification usually will and it’s a good career move overall.

Work setting can affect base pay for SICU nurses. Large med surg hospitals may have more funds for salaries than smaller outpatient clinics, even those with ICUs. Geographical location also plays a big role. Urban medical facilities usually have much more funding than rural ones, which can translate into higher base salaries for all nurses. Salaries also tend to be higher in certain states, but so are the costs of living in these areas.

How to increase your Surgical Intensive Care Unit RN salary

SICU nurses benefit from pursuing professional certifications. The additional study required to pass certification exams often translates into higher salaries for SICU nurses compared to uncertified RNs in similar positions.

There aren’t any certifications specifically for SICU nursing, but Critical Care Registered Nurse certification through the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses works. CCRN certification is available to RNs providing direct care to critically ill adult patients no matter their location. Sitting for the CCRN exam requires RNs to complete 1,750 hours in the direct care of critically ill patients within the last two years or 2,000 hours during at least five years of nursing practice.

Furthering your education also heightens your career advancement and salary potential by putting you on the path to an advanced practice role. A SICU RN could become an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. You must complete a Master of Science in Nursing with an NP focus, a Doctorate Nurse Practitioner program, or a postgraduate certificate if you already possess your MSN or NP qualifications in another specialty. An ACNP program can take two to three years depending on the program and whether you attend full-time or part-time.

The AACN offers the ACNPC-AG exam, which is an entry-level advanced practice board certification for ACNPs educated at the graduate level to provide care to acutely ill patients from young adults through gerontology. The American Nurses Credentialing Center also offers the Adult-Gerontology ACNP Certification (AGACNP-BC) exam for nurses who hold a master’s, post-graduate certificate, or DNP from an accredited AGACNP program that includes at least 500 hours of faculty-supervised clinical hours and advanced physiology/pathophysiology, health assessment, and pharmacology coursework.

Where do Surgical ICU Nurses get paid the most?

StateAverage Weekly SalaryMax Weekly Salary
North Dakota$4,320$8,100
Wisconsin$3,932$6,547
Idaho$3,894$7,756
New Mexico$3,804$7,860
Georgia$3,800$6,912
South Dakota$3,791$6,027
California$3,765$11,823
Alaska$3,745$6,916
Oregon$3,730$8,242
Delaware$3,720$5,267

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What cities pay the most for Surgical ICU Nurse?

CityAverage Weekly SalaryMax Weekly Salary
Sleepy Hollow, New York$6,658$6,658
Orangeburg, New York$6,502$6,502
Cottage Grove, Oregon$5,989$5,989
Friday Harbor, Washington$5,989$5,989
Laguna Beach, California$5,880$5,880
Manhasset, New York$5,784$7,185
Quincy, California$5,712$5,712
Selma, California$5,627$8,985
Wareham, Massachusetts$5,520$5,980
Parker, Arizona$5,472$5,472

Top Surgical ICU Nurse Jobs

View job details for Travel Nurse RN - SICU - Surgical Intensive CareAdvantis Medical
Travel Nurse RN - SICU - Surgical Intensive Care
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Advantis Medical
19 hours ago
Dec 713 wks3x12 hrs
$3,110/wk
Travel contract
I'm interested
View job details for Travel Nurse RN - SICU - Surgical Intensive CareAdvantis Medical
Travel Nurse RN - SICU - Surgical Intensive Care
Moose Lake, Minnesota
Advantis Medical
19 hours ago
ASAP13 wks3x12 hrs
$2,995/wk
Travel contract
I'm interested
View job details for Travel Nurse RN - SICU - Surgical Intensive CareAdvantis Medical
Travel Nurse RN - SICU - Surgical Intensive Care
Dallas, Texas
Advantis Medical
19 hours ago
ASAP13 wks3x12 hrs
$2,995/wk
Travel contract
I'm interested
View job details for Travel Nurse RN - SICU - Surgical Intensive CareAdvantis Medical
Travel Nurse RN - SICU - Surgical Intensive Care
Rogers, Arkansas
Advantis Medical
19 hours ago
ASAP13 wks3x12 hrs
$2,880/wk
Travel contract
I'm interested
View job details for Travel Nurse RN - SICU - Surgical Intensive CareAdvantis Medical
Travel Nurse RN - SICU - Surgical Intensive Care
Akron, Ohio
Advantis Medical
19 hours ago
ASAP13 wks3x12 hrs
$2,880/wk
Travel contract
I'm interested

What are the highest paying Agencies for Surgical ICU Nurse jobs?

Average Weekly SalaryMax Weekly Salary
LRS Healthcare - Travel Nursing$7,700$9,317
MedWave Healthcare Staffing$6,467$7,585
Rock Medical Group$6,285$6,285
NuWest Travel Nursing$6,171$6,285
MSSI$6,021$6,025
GQR Healthcare$5,797$7,817
Marshall Healthcare Staffing$5,789$7,500
Healthcare Support$5,754$7,229
ARMStaffing$5,726$6,640
American Traveler$5,229$10,014