An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) prepares you for a career in nursing; however, licensing is also required before you can secure a job. Your salary will likely vary depending on the specific position that you work in. The table below shows a few of the positions you qualify for and the average salary among those with an ADN:
|Job Title||Average Salary with an ADN|
|Nurse Case Manager||$66,010|
|Asst. Director of Nursing||$67,553|
|Clinical Nurse Manager||$69,490|
It's also important to keep in mind that different cities and states will also have vastly different salaries. This is based on a number of factors, including government funding, cost of living, population size, and employment need. The five states with the highest average salary in 2017 for RNs in general, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, were:
- California: $102,700
- Hawaii: $96,990
- District of Columbia: $90,110
- Massachusetts: $89,330
- Oregon: $88,770
Starting Salary for a Registered Nurse with an Associate Degree
Having an ADN is the first step to being qualified to become a registered nurse - though you'll also need to pass the NCLEX-RN certification exam before you can find work. Currently, there is a shortage of registered nurses in the country. In fact, there is an expected 15% increase in nursing positions expected between 2016 and 2026. Because of this high need for RNs, the starting pay is better than in some other fields. The median starting salary for registered nurses with an ADN is $55,333, according to 2018 PayScale.com data. In comparison, RNs with a Bachelor of Nursing (BSN) degree had a median starting salary of $64,366.
ADN Salary vs. BSN
Many RNs continue their education with a BSN degree. It's important to note that it is not a requirement to become a registered nurse, but it will lead to many more career opportunities and higher pay. A BSN degree can be completed in four years; however, if you have already completed the ADN program it can be completed in as little as 15 months with transfer credits and an accelerated program. There is quite a difference in pay for RNs with an ADN or a BSN. Check out this table that compares the average salaries of RNs with an ADN and RNs with a BSN at various stages of their career:
|Years of Work Experience||ADN Salary||BSN Salary|
|20 years or more||$72,173||$85,132|
BSN programs could also allow students to choose a specialty focus, such as pediatrics or gerontology. These specialty nurses can then work in higher paying fields depending on the knowledge needed and the employment need. Let's take a look at some of the specialty positions an RN with a bachelor's can consider, along with the average salary.
|Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU)||$83,000|
|Post Anesthetic Care||$84,000|
|Intensive Care (ICU)||$65,000|
What Can I Do with an Associate Degree in Nursing?
Requirements to become a nurse will vary depending on the nursing career you're after; however, an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is a great introductory degree if you are interested in becoming a nurse. Once you complete an ADN, you'll be prepared to sit for the NCLEX-RN certification exam for registered nurses (RNs). As an RN, you'll work above a licensed practical/vocational nurse (LPN/LVN).
As an RN, you'll be able to take on more responsibilities and roles than an LPN. You're more likely to work closely with patients and doctors, treating patients and carrying out medical orders. As an RN, you'll need to check on vitals, administer medication and treatment, keep patient records, and monitor any changes. You'll also act as a liaison between the patient and his/her family and the medical team. As an RN, you'll be an important face for the clinic or hospital when the doctor is unavailable. RNs work in almost every medical field, so you can work in a clinic, private office, hospital, community center, home healthcare office, retirement home, and school. The table below shows the average salary of RNs in some of these environments.
|Nursing Care Facilities||$65,710|
Can You Be a Registered Nurse with an Associate Degree?
Yes, you can be an RN with an associate degree. In fact, there are several associate degree programs for becoming a RN outside of the ADN program. Along with the Associate's Degree in Nursing, there are also an Associate of Nursing (AN), Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN), and Associate of Applied Science in Nursing (AASN). All of these programs will teach you the basic fundamentals of being a nurse.
*All salary statistics come from PayScale.com (2018) and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017).