How Much Do Operating Room Nurses Make?

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How Much Do Operating Room Nurses Make?


Surgical nursing, more appropriately known as “perioperative nursing”, is a specialized field within nursing that is growing every year. Nurses in the OR are responsible for many different duties. Working in the operating room provides many opportunities for jobs and the ability to work your way up the pay scale quickly. Once you can get your foot in the door and gain some experience, your career will quickly take off.

Obtaining Your Bachelors Degree


So how much do perioperative nurses make compared with other fields in healthcare? According to, the national average is approximately $71,000. New graduates starting out will be closer to $55,000-$60,000 annually or about $29-$33.00 per hour.

Completing your BSN (bachelors of nursing) should be a major incentive for you as it will lead to increased pay rates, job security, and more opportunities.  Many hospitals are willing to help you complete your degree with tuition assistance and this is something that you can definitely look for during your job search.

Becoming Certified


Nurses who are CNOR (Certified Nurse Operating Room) certified can often negotiate better hourly pay and have more opportunities. You must first have two years of operating room experience before you can qualify to sit for the exam, but it is well worth it.  Typically, nurses will study for about three months and then take the exam. Not only does becoming certified increase your earning potential, it makes you a better and more knowledgable nurse.

Hourly and Regional Differences


Those will to work odd hours such as overnights or weekends will typically earn more. Most people prefer to work day shifts, so if working off-shifts is something that you’re interested in, you will most likely benefit financially from it. There is also always the option to take call and/or holidays to earn extra money.

There will also be regional differences as well in pay rate. For example, working in areas where the cost of living is higher, your pay will be higher as would be expected.  One thing you may not have considered though is that remote areas that find it hard to recruit nurses, will often pay higher than you would think. I’ve often seen travel nursing jobs that pay very well in remote areas such as Alaska or other small-town areas. Another way to predict areas that will pay well is to look at population growths. From 2017-2018 major areas of the country that have had high growth are parts of Texas, Utah, Florida, Idaho, Colorado, Nevada, and Arizona. Read all about future opportunities here. According to Nightingale College, the top 6 paying states currently are Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Washington, Minnesota, and Illinois.

Different Facilities


There will also be pay differences depending on the type of facility you work at and the level of acuity of your patients that you care for. For example, working at a Level I trauma center will typically pay better than a small surgery center due to the higher level of responsibilities that are expected.

The best way to research what you will make as a perioperative nurse is to investigate your specific area, call and talk with local HR departments, and speak with other nurses who work in the perioperative field at hospitals and surgery centers around you. Other helpful resources are speaking and working with recruiters and travel nursing companies.

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