Nursing is a field that interests many in the USA and has become one of the essential professions with the spreading of the coronavirus. But how much do Registered Nurse Salary in Alabama? And what effect has the pandemic had on their salaries and compensations?
Registered Nurse Salary in Alabama Outlook
The average salary for a registered nurse in Alabama today is $60,230/year, or $28.9/hour. There are variations in earnings across nurses in Alabama. Some registered nurses earn in the higher percentile, earning around $81,846/year, which is higher than the national US average of $70,335/year.
Difference in RN Salaries Across US States
Due to State Sovereignty in the USA, each state ends up having its own minimum wage and thus varying average salaries for each profession, Registered Nurses included.
Alabama ranks #49 out of the 50 US states (plus Washington DC) and #48 excluding Washington DC. The difference between Alabama and the top 3 earning states is drastic and is shown in the following table.
|State||Average RN Salary/Year||Alabama’s Average RN Salary/Year||Difference/Year|
|District of Columbia||$94,820||$60,230||$34,590|
However, these figures do not show the reality of the income earned and whether it realistically reflects better living standards because they do not consider the cost of living in these states. Thus, they do not reflect the disposable income of a registered nurse in these states.
Take, for example, the state of Hawaii. In 2020, Hawaii ranked the highest in the cost of living index, which measures the cost of living across the US states by measuring the cost of basic needs like food, shelter, and transportation costs. This brought Hawaii to the very bottom of the Average RN Salaries (COL adjusted) list at an average of $52,784/year. Placing it lower than Alabama’s average (COL adjusted) of $67,522/year with a difference ($14,738/year).
Factors Affecting RN Salaries
Of course, like any other profession, Registered Nurses’ salaries varies depending on factors such as:
- Level of Experience and Education
- Type of Nurse
- Location and Workplace
- Level of Experience and Education
Naturally, the higher the level of education and the higher the degree, the better the pay and the higher the salary. When it comes to Nursing, two degrees could qualify a nurse: Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). The former being a two-year degree and the latter a four-year degree. Since the BSN counts as a higher degree, Registered Nurses with BSN commonly work in jobs with higher levels of responsibility and accordingly get paid higher than those with AND degrees.
Nevertheless, not all institutions compensate nurses on the same basis. While some institutions provide nurses with higher degrees, more bonuses, and higher incentives, other institutions compensate nurses based on their years of experience. Institutions that compensate based on years of experience usually base the pay on the years the nurse worked and was part of the institution to reward loyalty to the institution. Other institutions have brackets of income for different years of experience. For example, all nurses with 5 years of experience would all be paid the same amount, and those with 10+ years of experience would be paid the same amount…etc.
- Type of Nurse
An essential factor affecting RN salaries is what the nurse does, what he/she does, and their responsibilities. In the US, nurses who perform advanced practices and/or whose work requires them to do things out of the norm or the job requirements of the traditional nurse, like traveling, earn higher than those who do not. Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) earn higher than the traditional RN. APRNs are more specialized and perform tasks like nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, and nurse practitioners. They hold high degrees of educations (master’s degree) and thus get compensated more than nurses who do not have a graduate degree. Another type of nurse is the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). LPNs typically earn less than APRNs and RNs, because LPNs receive only one year of training and practical education at a hospital, unlike the high education degrees of APRNs and RNs.
- Location and Workplace
As mentioned earlier, different states have different average RN salaries. However, the state you work in determines your salary, and where you work in the state is a big determinant.
Different facilities and institutions have different levels of compensation (in descending order):
- Outpatient Care Facilities – like physician offices and clinics typically provide the highest RN salaries
- General Hospitals – both Medical and Surgical come second in salary levels
- Occupational Health Workplaces – where RN take care of health hazards in different occupations and programs
- Mental Health Institutions
- In-Home Health Care
- Nursing Care Facilities – taking care of the elderly in nursing homes
These factors are not exclusive to one state or one region. These three factors are shared among all US states, but what creates the actual difference between states is the minimum wage for each profession dictated by each state separately. However, education, type of nurse, and workplace are all expected to affect RN salaries similarly, but not necessarily by the same amount.
Discrimination in RN Salaries
Income inequality has been a prevalent issue in the USA for ages. The worst part is that this inequality had no solid explanation of why two employees working the same job would earn less than the other. However, the USA has been taking steps in the previous years to try and reduce this problem.
The most reasonable explanations all pointed towards Racial and Ethnic discrimination where minorities and marginalized groups would earn less than white employees. Unfortunately, RNs were no different. Differences in salaries were noticed among nurses of the same position and responsibilities. Possible reasons for that are:
- Differences in Human Capital: Individuals of diverse races/ethnicities are perceived to lack the characteristics required for them to be considered high in Human Capital and thus high in demand, like education and skills.
- Different Needs for Fringe Benefits: It was also noticed that some RNs might require more non-monetary benefits than monetary compensation. For example, RNs who are part of and responsible for a family place more value on more convenient benefits, like flexible working hours and forgoing higher wages.
- Discrimination and biases: Hospitals were found out to be one of the top 10 industries with the highest levels of discrimination and biases against minorities and women in 1999. These biases are showcased especially in important career development factors, like promotion, compensation, and recognition.
- US Pay Equity Law
In 2018, the Pay Equity Law was introduced in the USA, and Alabama was the 49th state to enact it in June 2019. The law provided that employers were prohibited from discriminating between employees and giving unequal salaries to employees performing the same duties and having the same education level. This law was enacted to eliminate inequalities in income among people of different sex or race.
Effect of COVID-19 on RN Salaries
The COVID-19 pandemic hit many industries in various degrees and intensities. But, needless to say, hospitals were one of the industries most affected by this global pandemic. With the number of patients growing day by day, nurses became harder and harder to find and retain. RNs in the US has been moving from states with high surges in the virus to states that have not been severely affected. But now that the virus has spread everywhere globally, nurses have become more and more of a scarce resource.
This scarcity has led to nurses’ salaries increasing drastically due to the high demand for nurses and the low supply of qualified RNs who are willing to subject themselves to the dangers of the job. Hospitals did not feel the severity of the situation (the shortage in the supply of RNs) at the beginning of the pandemic. The focus was wholly on the acquisition of ventilators, protective equipment, and COVID tests.
Now things are different. A year deep into the pandemic, hospitals realize that staffing has become the hardest part of the pandemic to the extent that different states have been offering higher and higher wages for nurses to incentivize them to travel to the state and work there. This bidding war was demonstrated in several states. For example, an RN in New Jersey now earns $5200 a week. In South Dakota, RNs earn $6200 a week, and in North Dakota, RN salaries even reached $8000 a week.
A Job Portal showed an increase in RN salaries offered in Alabama. RNs in Alabama now are offered more than the earlier mentioned $28.9/hour. Jobs offered now have salaries ranging from $30/hour to $50/hour and $60/hour. Which shows how much the demand for RNs in Alabama has increased.
Also read Licensed Practical Nurse Salary in West Virginia 2021