Male nurses make more than female counterparts

Women dominate the nursing space, with a female-to-male ratio of five to one, but female nurses make less on average than their male counterparts, according to a recent survey from Medscape.  

Men in both registered nurse and license practice nurse roles earned about $4,000 more than women for the same work in 2017, the survey revealed, underscoring a gender wage gap in the field for the fourth year in a row. Among RNs, men made 5 percent more than women. Among LPNs, men made 9 percent more than women. The survey could not indicate why men were consistently making more money. In the dataset, just 8 percent of RN respondents were men.

Wage growth

For both men and women, RNs made significantly more on average compared to LPNs in 2017––$81,000 for full-time RNs compared to $46,000 for LPNs. In 2016, RNs made an average of $80,000 annually, while LPNs saw no change year over year, according to the survey.

“These findings suggest a flattening of RN and LPN wages overall from the previous year and very little change from two years ago,” the survey reads.

The results could be influenced by a large number of older and higher-paid nurses leaving the industry, with younger, early-career nurses joining. Adjusted for inflation, the wages may even reflect declines. The results are also close to bureau of Labor Statistics data, which revealed a $73,550 average annual salary for RNs in 2017––a 2 percent increase from 2016––and $45,710 for LPNs. Both data sets reveal that RN wages “have failed to increase appreciably,” the survey states.

RNs paid by the hour reported an average rate of $37 per hour for full-time workers and $38 for part-time workers. LPNs reported hourly wages of $22 for full-time workers and $23 for part-time workers. Both roles saw little change from the previous year. BLS data found a minimal drop in hourly wages for RNs and a slight increase for LPNs.

More RNs are paid by the hour than salaried––57 percent compared to 43 percent, respectively. Salaried workers made more on average than hourly workers, with salaried RNs making 8 percent more and LPNs making 13 percent than their hourly counterparts.

Most RNs­––­52 percent––work in the hospital setting, with 39 percent employed in inpatient settings and 13 percent in hospital-based outpatient settings. By comparison, most LPNs reported working in skilled nursing and long-term care, private medical offices and clinics or hospital-based outpatient settings.

“It would appear that any wage growth in professional nursing is occurring in salaried rather than hourly positions, thus benefitting a much smaller number of nurses,” the survey states.

Wage disparities

Men also made more than women whether they were in salaried or hourly roles in 2017, with salaried male RNs making 7 percent, or $6,000, more than women annually and 5 percent more in hourly positions. Hourly-paid male LPNs earned 13 percent more than women. In 2016, salaried male RNs made 10 percent more than women, marking some progress in closing the wage gap year over year.

Surprisingly, one of the key differences in annual salaries for hourly-paid men and women was not in base pay, as both male and female RNs had an average hourly rate of $37 in 2017. Among LPNs, men reported an hourly wage of $23, while women had $22.

“These finding[s] suggest that the higher annual gross incomes of hourly-paid men are not related to a difference in base pay,” according to the survey. “But this ‘equality’ is deceptive.”

Women should be making more because they typically have more experience in nursing than men, but men are more likely to choose settings with higher wages, such as hospital inpatient settings. Men also were more likely to work more overtime than women and earn more as a result.

The survey included responses from more than 2,000 LPNs and more than 5,000 RNs in the U.S.