Because flight nurse jobs are so demanding, you can expect to be well-compensated for your work. There are a number of factors that play into minimum and maximum flight nurse pay, including location, experience, education, and whether you work for a hospital or a private company.
The nationwide average for flight nurse pay is between $40,000 and $90,000 per year. The median salary is around $68,000 per year. Because flight nurses usually work 24-hour shifts twice a week, they often have free time to have a second job, which is often working shifts in an emergency room or intensive care unit. The overlap in skill sets makes this possible. It is important to note that flight nurses have to spend a lot of time keeping up on their certifications and competencies, which they typically are not paid for.
In general, more experienced flight nurses make more money. Flight nurse pay for nurses with 1 to 4 years of experience is between $45,000 and $60,000 per year, while those that have 5 to 9 years of experience make between $58,000 and $82,000 per year. Those with more experience have an even greater earning potential, up to $100,000 to $130,000 a year. More experienced flight nurses can get involved in administration, scheduling, and managing that may allow them to increase their pay, as well.
Private Companies vs. Hospitals
Flight nurse pay is lower for nurses who work for hospitals than those who work with private medical emergency transport companies. As this is one of the nursing specialties that has to turn away applicants, flight nurse pay is lower than what you find in some other specialties. In hospitals flight nurse salary may be closely aligned with emergency room nurses with similar amounts of experience. Hospital flight nurses can expect to make between $49,000 and $60,000 per year, while those working for private companies may make $72,000 to $83,000.
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Military Flight Nurses
The Air Force and Air Force Reserves also have flight nurses. The competition for these jobs is intense, especially in the active-duty Air Force. The experience criteria are less stringent than those applied to civilian jobs, and the Air Force trains their flight nurses. Most medical professionals, including nurses, enter the Air Force as Second Lieutenants or higher, with increasing rank as they gain experience. The base pay for a second lieutenant is $33,000 to $42,000 per year, but with increased rank and experience a nurse could earn $72,000 or more a year.
The geographic location of the company also has an impact on flight nurse pay and on the pay of nurses in general. For instance, nursing salaries of all types are highest in California. After California come New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Florida, and North Carolina, in order. In addition, the demand for nurses is higher in larger urban areas, so many times nursing salaries are higher, because there is competition for qualified nursing hires. This is just as true in flight nursing as in other specialties.
Flight nurse pay is affected by a wide variety of factors. If you are looking for the best pay rate, moving to a large city in California and working for a private company is your best bet. Otherwise, make sure you look into what pay rates are like in your area before you interview with a prospective employer!