Long Term Care Nurse Salary Guide

Long-term care RNs specialize in patient care when the patient needs extended medical services, often due to disabilities, serious injuries or chronic illnesses. This specialty usually involves working with the same patients every day because they need ongoing care. Patients in long-term care are often elderly, but younger patients with a disability or long-term health condition also may require long-term care. LTC nurses typically coordinate care, monitor patients, perform different therapies or treatments, provide emotional support and help with tasks such as bathing and transferring.

How do you become a long-term care RN?

Becoming a long-term care RN starts with earning your general nursing degree. To become a licensed RN, you must graduate from an accredited nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam. State boards of nursing usually have additional requirements, such as fingerprinting for background checks and an application fee, that you must complete before applying for your state RN licensure.

You might take additional classes or gain clinical experience in gerontology or long-term care while you earn your nursing degree to prepare you for this field. However, working as a long-term care RN is possible as soon as you become a licensed nurse. Working with older patients or those with chronic conditions in any nursing position can help you gain experience to improve your chances of landing a travel or staff long-term care RN job.

What credentials/licensing does a long-term care RN require?

The primary required credential to become a long-term care RN is your state RN license. You must keep this license current by completing any continuing education and other requirements established by your state's licensing board. Like all RNs, you must earn Basic Life Support (BLS) certification. Some facilities may also require the completion of Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) certification.

Additional credentials can deepen your knowledge within the specialty and increase your pay potential. One option is the Gerontological Nursing Board Certification (GERO-BC) offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. To earn this certification, you need at least 2 years of RN experience plus 2,000 hours of clinical practice in gerontology and 30 continuing education credits related to gerontology within the last 3 years.

Average Long Term Care Nurse Salary


This is equal to the nursing US average

Last updated on December 10, 2023. Based on active jobs on Vivian.com.

Salaries for Long Term Care Nurse compared to Registered Nurse National Averages


This is equal to the nursing US average


United States

Where do Long Term Care Nurses get paid the most?
StateAverage Hourly SalaryMax Hourly Salary
New York$54$65
What are the highest paying Employers and Agencies for Long Term Care Nurse jobs?
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How can you increase your pay as a long-term care RN?

Gaining as much experience as possible with older patients and in long-term care settings may help you boost your pay. This could include experience as a nursing assistant in a care facility or clinical rotations in gerontology. Working toward your Gerontological Nursing Board Certification after you have some clinical experience in the field could help you earn a raise or land a new job with higher pay. Being willing to move to a state with higher average wages can also help. Compare the standard salaries in states where you'd like to live to find the best options based on pay and personal preferences.

How much does a staff long-term care registered nurse make?

Staff long-term care (LTC) registered nurses (RNs) earned an average of $43.68 per hour, according to Vivian Health's salary data from May 10, 2023. That equates to a rate about 4% higher than the average nursing wage of $41.93 per hour on that date.

Is long-term care nursing a growing career?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides job outlook information RNs in all specialties combined. According to its data from May 2021, RN employment has a projected growth of 6% between 2021 and 2031. Long-term care RN positions should also see increased demand due to the rising elderly population. The BLS notes that home care and residential care facilities will have a high demand for nurses to meet the care preferences of older adults.

What type of employers/facilities have the most long-term care RNs?

Data from the BLS in May 2021 shows that RNs in all specialties combined work overwhelmingly for state, local and private hospitals, accounting for 60% of the workforce. Ambulatory healthcare services come in next with 18% of nurses. Nursing and residential care facilities are tied with government positions at 6% each, while educational services round out the employment with 3% of the workforce. However, long-term care RNs are more likely to work in a nursing or residential care facility, though some hospitals have long-term care wings.

Which employers/facilities have the highest pay?

BLS data from May 2021 lists government RN jobs as the highest-paying options. That's followed by hospital positions and ambulatory healthcare services, which are similar in pay. Nursing and residential care facilities come in next with a slightly lower pay rate. Educational services come in lower still, ranking at the bottom of the list.

How does long-term care RN pay compare to similar healthcare jobs?

Long-term care nurses tend to fall toward the middle of the RN pay scale. Certain specialties paid a little less, including family medicine nurse positions, which averaged $41.98 per hour, based on data from Vivian Health on May 10, 2023.

Other specialties paid more than long-term care nurses on this date. For instance, cardiovascular operating room RNs made an average of $49.46 per hour. Positions with higher levels of responsibility also paid more. Case management nurses made an average of $44.46 per hour, while nurse managers earned $50.22 per hour on May 10, 2023.

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Long Term Care Nurse FAQs

What is a Long Term Care RN?

Between 2019 and 2029, employment of registered nurses is expected to grow 7%, primarily due to an aging population. Because long-term care nurses play a significant role in caring for older patients, demand in this specialty is also expected to grow. LTC nurses work in facilities that care for patients who are elderly, disabled, or impacted by chronic conditions. These facilities include skilled nursing facilities, continuing care retirement communities, and assisted living communities. LTC RNs may also be employed by home health agencies, hospices, long-term acute care hospitals, and rehabilitation centers. Work setting along with other factors impact a long-term care RN's salary.

Long-term care nurses are registered nurses who specialize in working with patients needing care for an extended period due to a long-term disability, injury, illness, or medical condition. Patients tend to be elderly but can be of varying ages. LTC nurses help develop and implement long-term care plans for patients by working with other members of an interdisciplinary team. They perform various nursing tasks as they provide direct patient care and respond to changes in each patient’s status.

To become a long-term care nurse, you must earn an associate or bachelor’s degree from a nursing program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Upon graduation, you must pass the NCLEX-RN licensing exam and complete training to earn Basic Life Support certification.

How a Long Term Care RN salary is based

A long-term care RN's salary may be based on several factors, but education and license aren’t necessarily among them. Nurses can enter this field with just an ADN and though a BSN could increase employability, it may not affect salary much. The only license required is your RN license, so it’s a given not a salary basis. What can impact starting salaries are years of nursing experience, relevant skills obtained, and employment location.

Years of experience can impact salary for any professional, including nurses. However, it also helps increase relevant skills so it potentially affects salary twice. Experienced LTC nurses may earn higher starting salaries because they’ve developed strong analytical and critical thinking skills over the years, providing them with a better perspective on how to make a difference in their patients’ lives. Over time, LTC nurses also master multitasking and time management skills to help them more effectively manage substantial caseloads of patients with various comorbidities. These along with other additional skills developed through experience can impact an LTC RN’s base salary.

Location of employment is also two-fold because it includes the type of facility that employs you and the physical location of this facility. LTC nurses can work in various healthcare facilities and some pay more than others. Large long-term acute care hospitals generally have more funding for salaries than small skilled nursing facilities and facilities in metro areas usually have higher base salaries than those in rural areas. Certain cities and even states also have higher starting salaries, but this is often due to a higher cost of living.

How to increase your Long Term Care RN salary

LTC nurses aren’t usually required to earn an advanced degree but pursuing certain coursework can potentially boost your salary. Elective courses in gerontology may be particularly helpful. To advance in your career and get a bigger pay bump, consider pursuing a Director of Nursing role.

DONs oversee and coordinate the duties of a long-term care facility’s nursing staff. However, the position combines nursing and administrative skills and a dual degree in nursing and healthcare or business administration may be necessary. While an ADN prepares you to enter the nursing field, earning a BSN makes you more employable as a DON and some facilities even prefer DONs with a master’s degree in nursing or nursing or healthcare administration.

If you don’t have any desire to become a DON, you can still increase your salary by pursuing a professional certification. There aren’t any professional certifications specifically for LTC nursing, but it may be financially beneficial to earn Gerontological Nursing Certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. To sit for the exam, you must have practiced an equivalent of two years full-time as an RN with at least 2,000 hours of clinical practice and 30 hours of continuing education in gerontological nursing within the last three years.

Where can I learn more about working as a Long Term Care Nurse?

Take a look at Vivian's Long Term Care Nurse Career Guide for more information, including required education, responsibilities, pros and cons and more.