Emergency room (ER) nurses, also called emergency department (ED) nurses, remain in high demand due to ever-increasing visits to emergency departments each year. If you’re attracted to a fast-paced and rewarding work environment, becoming an ER nurse may be right for you. Learn facts about emergency room nursing, average salaries, ways to boost your earning potential, and more in this guide.
How Do You Become an ER Nurse?
To become an Emergency Room Nurse, you must have:
A nursing license by passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)
Professional certifications may or may not be required but always make you a more desirable candidate. BCEN recommends 2 years of experience in emergency room nursing before pursuing the CEN certification. Other ER nursing specialties you may want to pursue, including flight (CFRN), critical care ground transport (CTRN), and pediatric emergency (CPEN).
Average Emergency Department Nurse Salary
The average salary for a Emergency Department Nurse is $45.91 per hour. This is 4% higher than the nursing US average of $44.04.
Last updated on December 10, 2023. Based on active jobs on Vivian.com.
Salaries for Emergency Department Nurse compared to Registered Nurse National Averages
4% higher than the nursing US average.
Where do Emergency Department Nurses get paid the most?
|State||Average Hourly Salary||Max Hourly Salary|
|District of Columbia||$43||$50|
What are the highest paying Employers and Agencies for Emergency Department Nurse jobs?
|Average Hourly Salary||Max Hourly Salary|
|Lehigh Valley Health Network||$48||$48|
|Insight Hospital and Medical Center||$48||$48|
|Inova Health System||$47||$54|
|St. Luke's Health System||$46||$57|
|George Washington University Hospital||$45||$50|
|Baylor Scott & White Health||$45||$45|
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How Can You Increase Your Pay as an ER Nurse?
There are several ways emergency room nurses can increase their earning potential, including:
Getting the Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) Credential
To qualify to sit for the Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) exam offered through the Board of Certification for Emergency Room Nursing (BCEN), you must hold an unrestricted Registered Nurse license in the United States, a U.S. territory, or Canada.
Although the BCEN recommends having at least 2 years of experience in your specialty area, it isn’t required.
Earning a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Higher
Having an advanced degree can help you move up to higher-level positions in nursing. It can also raise your income (this could be a $20,000 increase in salary over time).
Working on Nights or Weekends
Many hospitals offer more money to emergency room nurses who work less popular shifts like nights and weekends.
Becoming a Preceptor for New Hires in the Unit
Nurse preceptors serve as teachers and coaches to newly-hired nurses in the unit. They provide feedback, set learning objectives, teach hospital protocols, and encourage critical thinking. Becoming a nurse preceptor requires both a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s degree, plus at least a year of experience in your unit.
What is an Emergency Department RN?
Visits to emergency departments increase every year, which keeps emergency department nurses in demand. ED nurses work in unpredictable, high-intensity environments, treating patients in all age groups. They primarily work in emergency departments at hospitals, but they may also find employment in trauma units, burn centers, urgent care centers, disaster zones, military bases and correctional facilities. The rising need for RNs in the emergency medical field often fuels hefty salaries, but several factors can impact an ED nurse’s paycheck.
Emergency department nurses are registered nurses who specialize in providing immediate assessments and care to patients experiencing potentially life-threatening crises. They prioritize care based on the critical nature of each case and help stabilize and treat patients. ED nurses may discharge patients once the emergency passes or arrange hospital admittance for further treatment.
There aren’t any special educational requirements to become an ED nurse beyond what’s required to become a registered nurse. Therefore, they must earn an Associate or a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from a program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Upon graduation, they must pass the NCLEX-RN licensing exam.
How an Emergency Department RN salary is based
The base salary of an ED nurse may be impacted by numerous factors, such as years of experience. Experience is something you can only gain with time on the job; as your years in the field grow, so will your base salary. Other key elements potentially affecting your salary that you have more immediate control over include certifications, work setting and physical location of the job.
ED nurses must have Basic Life Support and Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support training and certification, so having these certifications likely won’t improve your base salary. Because they may treat patients of any age, Pediatric Advanced Life Support also may be required. If it’s not required, get it anyway. Obtaining any professional certification relevant to the emergency nursing field could boost your salary base. Studies have shown that certified nurses usually earn more than those who aren’t.
Hospitals tend to pay more than other workplace settings, which is convenient since ED nurses are frequently employed in these settings. The geographical location of the hospital can have a bigger impact on base salary. ED nurses in California tend to have some of the highest salaries nationwide. Locations on both the East and West Coasts and in the New England states tend to pay more while ED positions in midwestern states and many areas in the south typically pay less.
How to increase your Emergency Department RN salary
You can become an ED nurse with only an associate degree but pursuing your BSN can potentially increase your salary. If you already possess a BSN, consider an advanced degree. A Master of Science in Nursing may open career paths in advanced roles that come with higher salaries, such as an emergency nurse practitioner position.
If you want to become an emergency nurse practitioner, you first need national certification as a family nurse practitioner. Once you have this credential, there are three routes you can take to sit for the exam for Emergency Nurse Practitioner Certification. You can complete:
100 emergency-related continuing education contact hours with a minimum of 2,000 direct care emergency practice clinical hours
An approved graduate or postgraduate academic emergency care nurse practitioner program with all ENP program didactic courses and requirements
An approved advanced practice fellowship program in emergency care
Becoming a certified emergency nurse practitioner should increase your salary significantly. You can also enhance your skills and potentially your pay through professional certifications that only require an unrestricted RN license and no additional education.
The Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing offers two relevant certifications. Two years of experience in an emergency department setting is recommended but not required to sit for either certification exam. The Certified Emergency Nurse credential is ideal for ED nurses wanting to demonstrate their expertise and skills in emergency nursing. Because ED nurses may treat trauma patients, you may also consider the Trauma Certified Registered Nurse credential to demonstrate your expertise and knowledge in trauma nursing. Either certification has the potential of increasing your salary since many employers favor certified staff.
What professional certifications can potentially increase my salary as a Emergency Department RN?
Earning your Advanced Disaster Life Support (ADLS), Domestic violence nurse examiner (DVNE) or Covid-19 Certification (Covid-19 Certification) often increases your salary potential as a emergency department nurse or makes you eligible for another position with greater responsibilities, which also might include a bump in wages.
Can having a Advanced Disaster Life Support (ADLS) boost my salary as a Emergency Department RN?
Yes, having a Advanced Disaster Life Support (ADLS) or any relevant professional certification has the potential to boost your salary as a emergency department nurse.
Can having a Domestic violence nurse examiner (DVNE) boost my salary as a Emergency Department RN?
Yes, having a Domestic violence nurse examiner (DVNE) or any relevant professional certification has the potential to boost your salary as a emergency department nurse.
Can having a Covid-19 Certification (Covid-19 Certification) boost my salary as a Emergency Department RN?
Yes, having a Covid-19 Certification (Covid-19 Certification) or any relevant professional certification has the potential to boost your salary as a emergency department nurse.
Where can I learn more about working as a ED Nurse?
Take a look at Vivian's ED Nurse Career Guide for more information, including required education, responsibilities, pros and cons and more.