NICU Nurse Salary: How Much Will I Make?

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurses, or neonatal nurses, take care of the newborn, especially those delivered prematurely or with health conditions that require special care. The infants’ delicate and frail condition requires that they be attended by specialists and specially-trained nurses.

NICU nurses are typically Nurse Practitioners, meaning they have master’s degrees (MSN) and are licensed Advance Practice Nurses (or APNs). With training, relevant experience and professional advancement, they may start working in area of specialized caring for neonates.

If you intend to work in this league, you might have questions about a NICU nurse salary.

National average NICU nurse salary 2015

In the data provided by, a NICU nurse receives an average compensation of $146,251 annually, per data collated as of November 1, 2014. This annual compensation package has the following breakdown:

Median Salary: $106,740
Bonuses: $68
Social Security: $8,171
401k/403B: $3,845
Disability Benefit: $961
Healthcare: $6,592
Pension: $6,729
Paid Time: $13,145
TOTAL: $146,251

Median neonatal intensive care unit nurse salary

The NICU median salary per year, month, week, and hour follows:

Annual: $106,740
Monthly: $8,895
Weekly: $2,053
Hourly: $51

The median annual salary indicated above simply means that 50% of NICU nurses in the US today make less than $106,740 a year, while the other 50% make more than that median.

The same holds true for the other figures – half of the total number of NICU nurses earn less than $51 per hour, while the other half of the workforce earns more than $51.

Now, what you should be interested in is this: How much is less and how much is more, relative to the median.

How much you will actually make is a combination of factors, such as your experience, training and level of education, industry where you belong, geographic location, and benefits the hospital offers.

These matters will come into play in determining your salary bracket.

10 states with high wages for NICU nurses

The top-paying cities with their median hourly, weekly and annual pay are:

NICU nurses salary wages in other states

Salaries for NICU nurses in the states of North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Colorado, Arizona and Ohio are roughly within the national median NICU nurse wage per hour ranges from $50-$52.

The salaries in the following states, however, are well below the national median: South Dakota, Montana, Mississippi, Nebraska, West Virginia, New Mexico, Arkansas, Alabama, North Dakota, Vermont, Kansas, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas, Idaho, Ohio, and the rest of the US (from $40/hour to $49/hour).

It must be noted that geographical location and the cost of living in a particular city or state play a great role in determining the salary matrices for all working sectors.

While you consider working in a city or state offering the highest pay for neonatal nurses, do take into account the cost of living in those cities or states, opportunities for career growth, quality of life and other equally-important matters.

Lower and upper annual salary brackets

The lowest 10% of all NICU nurses in the US receives less than $88,509. The top 10% receives more than $124,850.

The middle 50% of the total NICU nurses in the US can expect to be paid an annual basic salary ranging from $97,197 to $116,220.

Closing in the gap

Do you belong to the lower end of the salary spectrum? Take heart! It simply means that you have lots of room to grow. While the disparity is large; you will have to figure out how to go higher and land the best-paying job for yourself. Well, how?

Consider the following statistics:

Thirty-six per cent, or more than one-third, of employed NICU nurses have more than 15 years of experience in the positions they’re holding.

Sixty-one per cent, or slightly less than two-thirds, of the jobholders have a minimum of a master’s degree in nursing.

You can almost be sure that those NICU nurses are the professionals occupying the upper spectrum where annual pay ranges from $116,000 to over $125,000.

Those with 5-15 years of experience make up almost 30%; add that to the 36% with over 15 years of experience as neonatal nurses.

That leaves barely 34% of NICU nurses new to the job. It should give you an idea that most of these professionals will approach retirement in a few years.

Meantime, you are better off undergoing relevant training and upgrading your level of education. In no time, you will be able to close that gap.

I hope this helps with a NICU nurse salary wage information.

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