Operating Room Nurse Salary Guide

An operating room nurse is a registered nurse (RN) who cares for patients undergoing surgical procedures. Before surgery, an OR nurse answers questions and educates the patient about what to expect. You may also have patients sign consent paperwork before each procedure begins. During surgery, the OR nurse may pass instruments, monitor the patient's condition and perform additional nursing duties. Once the operation ends, you may also clean surgical equipment or help prepare the OR for the next patient.

How do you become an operating room nurse?

Before becoming an OR nurse or entering any other nursing specialty, you must meet the basic education and licensing requirements for a registered nurse. The first step is to enroll in an approved education program, which may lead to an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing. Once you have the required education, you can apply to take the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs, commonly called the NCLEX-RN. Passing the NCLEX-RN demonstrates you have the knowledge and skills to keep patients safe and comfortable.

What credentials/licensing does an operating room nurse require?

Once you have an RN license, you must earn Basic Life Support certification. You may also need Advanced Cardiac Life Support credentials to work in the OR, but you typically don't need additional credentials to work as an OR nurse. However, many OR nurses get certified to demonstrate their competency in providing perioperative care.

As an OR nurse, your two main options are the Certified Foundational Perioperative Nurse (CFPN) credential and the Certified Perioperative Nurse (CNOR) credential.

The CFPN is designed for early career OR nurses who want to validate their knowledge as they work toward becoming eligible for the CNOR. Unlike nursing credentials issued solely based on your exam performance, the CFPN credential has several components, including a self-assessment and a reflective learning exercise. To obtain the CNOR, you must take a 200-question exam covering patient assessment, documentation, intraoperative activities, infection control and other relevant topics.

Average Operating Room Nurse Salary


The average salary for a Operating Room Nurse is $48.98 per hour. This is 9% higher than the nursing US average of $44.57.

Last updated on May 21, 2024. Based on active jobs on Vivian.com.

Salaries for Operating Room Nurse compared to Registered Nurse National Averages


9% higher than the nursing US average.


United States

Where do Operating Room Nurses get paid the most?
StateAverage Hourly SalaryMax Hourly Salary
New York$52$74
New Jersey$41$53
North Carolina$32$43
What are the highest paying Employers and Agencies for Operating Room Nurse jobs?

Last updated on May 21, 2024. Information based on active jobs on Vivian.com and pay data from BLS and around the web.

A Nurse holding a file folder

Operating Room Nurse Career Guide

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How can you increase your pay as an operating room nurse?

To earn more as an OR nurse, consider obtaining the CFPN or CNOR credential. Professional certification helps validate your knowledge and skills, which may make you eligible for higher-paying positions with your current employer or in another role with a competing company.

If you enter the field with an associate degree, consider returning to school for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSB) degree. BSN-prepared nurses typically earn more than RNs with 2-year degrees or nursing diplomas. According to BLS data released in 2022, the median weekly wage for any professional with a bachelor's degree is 38% higher than the weekly median for someone with a 2-year degree.

How much does a staff operating room nurse make?

According to Vivian Health's salary data for the week ending April 22, 2023, staff operating room (OR) nurses earned an average of $45.70 per hour. In a 40-hour workweek, this hourly rate corresponds to a weekly salary of $1,828.

Is operating room nursing a growing career?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) produces occupational outlook profiles for a wide range of professions, including RNs. According to BLS's data for 2021, the demand for RNs should increase by 6% between 2021 and 2031. However, BLS analysts don’t break down RN data into specialties such as OR nursing.

What types of employers/facilities have the most operating room nurses?

OR nurses work primarily in hospitals and ambulatory healthcare centers, with hospitals accounting for 60% of all employment in the nursing field, per BLS's data on May 2021. As an experienced OR nurse, you may also be able to find employment with a government agency.

Which employers/facilities have the highest pay?

BLS analysts report the median annual wage for each type of work environment. In May 2021, RNs earned the most when employed by government agencies. This may include working in a government-owned hospital or accepting a job with a government research agency. Hospitals pay less than government agencies but employ more OR nurses. Ambulatory healthcare services pay slightly less than hospitals.

How does operating room nurse pay compare to similar healthcare jobs?

OR nurses tend to earn more than RNs in other specialties. According to Vivian Health's salary data for the week ending April 22, 2023, staff cardiac stepdown RN earnings averaged $37.32 per hour, more than $8 less than OR nurses. Travel cardiac stepdown RNs also earned less than travel OR nurses, with an average weekly salary of $2,465 compared to $2,700.

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