We all know that nurses play a crucial role in ensuring the health and well-being of students, but have you ever wondered how much school nurses make for their hard work?
As the unsung heroes of the educational system, does their salary commensurate with their important work?
If you are considering a career path down this road, you need to be well informed about how much they are making, among other things, to make an informed decision.
And that is what this article is all about. We’ll discuss everything surrounding school nurses’ compensation and how to become one.
The starting salary for a school nurse is $19.50 per hour, which translates to $811 per week. Monthly, this amounts to $3,380, and on an annual basis, it comes to $40,550.
Public school districts have implemented a structured salary progression system outlining when employees are eligible for salary increments.
While seventeen states require school districts to adhere to minimum salary levels and subsequent increases for professional staff, it is important to note that these figures serve as the baseline compensation that professionals must receive.
However, individual school districts have the autonomy to offer higher salaries. Consequently, in many states, the respective school districts determine the entry-level and subsequent salaries of school professionals.
As a result, professionals working in financially affluent districts often enjoy higher pay scales than their counterparts in less prosperous areas.
In states where school staffs are union members, school nurses are typically affiliated with the Nurses and Health Professionals division of the American Federation of Teachers.
These unions advocate for the rights and interests of school professionals and periodically engage in contract negotiations to ensure fair compensation.
These negotiations often involve discussions on various aspects of salary, including entry-level salaries and subsequent salary steps.
Additionally, entry-level school nurses who possess advanced practice credentials or have completed a specified number of credit hours in professional development coursework may be able to negotiate higher starting salaries.
In 2023, school nurses can expect to earn an average salary of $29.20 per hour, $1,168 per week, $5,060 per month, or $60,730 per year.
These figures show a modest increase of only 7 percent compared to the average salary for all occupations across the United States, which is $56,310.
As you already suspect, the average salaries of individuals in different geographical regions often align with the cost of living indices specific to those areas.
This means that areas with higher cost of living tend to have higher average salaries. In the case of school nurses, the highest-paid professionals can be found in California and Hawaii, where the cost of living is significantly higher compared to the rest of the United States.
The cost of living in these states is 50 percent and 77 percent higher than the national average.
On the other hand, school nurses in Alabama, South Dakota, and Mississippi receive lower salaries as the cost of living in these states is 18 percent, 12 percent and 19 percent lower than the national average.
The laws of supply and demand also play a significant role in determining average salaries. For example, California has one of the lowest nurse-to-state-population ratios in the country.
With only 9.25 nurses for every 1,000 residents, schools in California face intense competition with hospitals for nursing employees.
In contrast, states like Alabama have a higher nurse-to-state-population ratio of 12.79 nurses per 1,000 residents.
As a result of this increased competition for nursing professionals, average school nurse salaries in California are likely to be higher.
The scarcity of nurses relative to the population leads to a greater demand for these professionals and drives their salaries.
At the entry-level, you can earn a salary of $19.50 per hour, which amounts to $780 per week, $3,380 per month, and $40,550 per year.
As you gain more experience, your salary increases accordingly. For those with 1-4 years of experience, the hourly rate is $22.50, resulting in a weekly salary of $900, a monthly salary of $3,900, and an annual salary of $46,790.
With 5-9 years of experience, the hourly rate increases to $27.50, leading to a weekly salary of $1,100, a monthly salary of $4,770, and an annual salary of $57,190.
By the time you get at 10-19 years of experience, your hourly rate jumps to $34.16, translating to a weekly salary of $1,366, a monthly salary of $5,920, and an annual salary of $71,050.
For those with 20 or more years of experience, the hourly rate is $42.42, resulting in a weekly salary of $1,697, a monthly salary of $7,350, and an annual salary of $88,240.
As a school nurse teacher, it is important to continuously strive for professional growth and advancement, not only in terms of knowledge and skills but also in terms of salary.
Increasing your salary as a school nurse teacher can be achieved through various strategies and initiatives. These may include:
You can employ several strategies to increase your salary as a school nurse teacher. Some include;
Pursuing certifications or specialized training in areas such as pediatric nursing or mental health can enhance your skills and make you more valuable to your school district. This can lead to higher pay and more opportunities for advancement.
Many school districts offer summer programs or camps where nurses are needed to provide medical care and support to students.
You can earn extra income by taking advantage of these opportunities while gaining valuable experience and expanding your professional network.
Some schools offer after-school activities or clubs that require medical supervision. By taking on this role, you can earn additional income and demonstrate your commitment to the well-being of your students.
Before signing a new contract, research the average salary for school nurse teachers in your area and be prepared to explain why you deserve a higher salary.
Highlight your accomplishments, such as certifications or additional qualifications, and emphasize the value you bring to the school community for a raise.
Pursuing a graduate degree is a long-term strategy that can lead to higher salary potential as a school nurse teacher.
By earning a master’s degree in nursing or education, you can position yourself for leadership and higher-paying positions.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals throughout the United States are grappling with significant shortages of nurses.
As a per diem nurse, you can easily take on additional weekend or evening shifts without being bound to a fixed schedule.
The National Board of Certification for School Nurses (NBCSN) provides a certification opportunity for school nurses.
To be eligible for the National Certification Examination for School Nurses, you must hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and have gained at least 1,000 hours of experience working as a school nurse.
With such certificates, any school nurse will be better positioned to negotiate for higher compensation.
School nurses primarily work within both private and public schools’ primary and secondary education systems.
Approximately 62% of school nurses are employed by elementary schools, while 25% work in middle and high schools. The remaining 13% have roles that span both primary and secondary schools.
School nurses can also be found in pre-schools, recreational camps, hospitals, county and state boards of education, and state and local health departments.
While technically, nurses working in colleges and universities can be considered school nurses, they are typically categorized differently due to the distinct healthcare needs of young adults compared to children and teenagers.
Becoming a school nurse is a rewarding and fulfilling career path for those passionate about healthcare and education.
To become one, you must possess medical knowledge, strong communication skills, and a genuine desire to make a difference in students’ lives. Here is how you can become a school nurse.
You must earn an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited college or university.
ADN holders can pursue an RN-to-BSN program, while those with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree can opt for an accelerated BSN program.
After graduating from ADN or BSN programs, you must pass the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become eligible for a nursing license.
The exam covers areas such as safety, health promotion, psychosocial integrity, and physiological integrity.
Most schools prefer school nurses to have 1-2 years of clinical experience. If you hold an RN, you should seek opportunities to work with children, focusing on the specific age group you are interested in.
While not mandatory in all states or by all employers, certification demonstrates your commitment, knowledge, and experience. The NBCSN offers the nationally certified school nurse (NCSN) certification.
To qualify as a school nurse, you need an active RN license, a BSN or higher, 1,000 hours of recent clinical experience, and passing the certification exam.
Renewal requires meeting specific criteria such as clinical practice hours in nursing and proof of employment in school health or a related field.
As indicated by recent anecdotal findings, school nurses are experiencing a lack of job satisfaction. A study published in The Journal of School Nursing 2004 reported that 83 percent of school nurses were satisfied with their jobs.
However, this research was conducted before implementing budgetary constraints that led to significant cutbacks in school nurses.
Recent findings suggest that school nurses feel oppressed and powerless in their work settings. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated this growing dissatisfaction among school nurses.
How much do school nurses make? The salary of school nurses varies depending on several factors, such as location, experience, and education level.
However, school nursing is a profession that offers competitive compensation. By providing essential healthcare services to students, school nurses contribute to the student population’s overall well-being and academic success.
School districts and policymakers need to recognize the value of school nurses and ensure they are compensated fairly for their expertise and dedication.