ICU Nurse

ICU Registered Nurse Salary: Explained State by State

Whether you are considering pursuing a career as an ICU nurse or simply want to learn more about salary expectations as an ICU nurse, then you are in the right place.

This article will highlight what you need to know about the salary of ICU nurses, including ways to increase a salary as an ICU nurse. 

ICU nurses play a key role in the medical field and aid several patients daily. This medical profession requires a lot of dedication as it can be quite challenging both physically and demanding.

This is why it is important to ensure as a medical nurse, you will receive the salary that you deserve for this job.

Average Salary Range of ICU Nurses

According to ZipRecruiter, the highest-paid ICU nurses can earn approximately $251,000, and the lowest-paid ICU nurse’s salary is around $47,000. The average salary range of ICU nurses is quite broad. Most registered nurses earn between $65,000 to $208,000.

Higher-paid ICU nurses may earn around $208,000, but this is usually a small portion of nurses in the country. Based on these statistics, the average ICU nurse salary is around $58,00 an hour and $10,110 per month. 

On the other hand, found that the average ICU nurse salary ranges between $69,500 and $91,000. These statistics state that the lowest average ICU nurse’s salary is $60,487, and the highest is around $103,281. These statistics are much lower than ZipRecruiter’s findings which is important to keep in mind as these averages may vary.

Average Salary Based on the Type of ICU Nurse

The most common type of ICU nurse is a General ICU nurse who works in the general ICU. However, there are several other types of ICU nurses. These ICU nurses have chosen to specialize in a specific medical field, allowing them to work in a specific critical care unit.

The average salary of an ICU nurse will differ depending on the medical field that they work in. The average of other specialized nurse salaries include: 

  • General ICU nurse – $75,000
  • Emergency room ICU nurse – $65,000
  • Postoperative care unit nurse – $60,000
  • Neonatal ICU nurse – $65,000
  • Pediatric ICU nurse – $65,000
  • Surgical ICU nurse – $70,000
  • Neuro ICU nurse – $70,000
  • Flight nurses or traveling nurses – $60,000

Average ICU Nurse Salary Based on Experience

One of the key factors that are important to take into consideration when analyzing ICU nurses’ salaries is experience. A nurse’s salary is based on the level of experience that the nurse has.

This is one of the reasons why there is quite a large gap between the average salary ranges, as some registered nurses have many more years of experience than others.

According to Payscale, ICU nurses get paid the following hourly rates based on their level of experience:

  • 1 year of experience – $27,81
  • 1 to 4 years of experience – $30,42
  • 5 to 9 years of experience – $34,11
  • 10 to 19 years of experience – $39,18
  • 20 plus years of experience – $42,00

State Average ICU Nurse Salary


The average ICU nurse’s salary will differ in each state, which is why it is a good idea to look up the state in which you are planning to work in. In certain states, an ICU nurse’s average salary is around $114,268. However, in other states, the average salary is around $74,702.

There are several factors why the average ICU nurse salary may differ, including the prices of hospitals, medical equipment, and any other factors such as the cost of living.

Five Highest Paying States:

When choosing the city that you would like to practice in as an ICU nurse, the average earning potential is an important factor to take into account. This is why it is important to keep the highest paying cities in mind as an ICU nurse.

The cities which have the highest average ICU nurse salaries include:

  1. New York – is the highest-paying city in terms of ICU nurse salaries. New York has an average annual ICU nurse salary of $114,269, which works out to approximately $54,94 per hour.
  2. New Hampshire – has the second highest-paid ICU nurses, with an average annual salary of $110,722. The average hourly rate of an ICU nurse practicing in New Hampshire is around $53,26.
  3. Vermont – the average annual salary of an ICU nurse practicing in Vermont is $104,709. This makes the average hourly rate for ICU nurses around $50,34.
  4. Wyoming – ICU nurses based in Wyoming earn an average annual salary of $102,025. This works out to an hourly rate of approximately $49,05.
  5. Maine – the average salary of an ICU nurse working in Maine is around $101,826 per year. Meaning the hourly rate of an ICU nurse in Maine is around $48.95.

Five Lowest Paying States:

Unfortunately, not all states have the same ICU nurse salary. Some states pay ICU nurses much better than others. This is even though most nurses attend nursing school for the same amount of time. This is why it is essential to consider the cities that may not pay a registered nurse as much.

The lowest-paying cities for ICU nurses include:

  1. North Carolina – is currently the lowest-paying city for ICU nurses, with an annual salary of $74,02. ICU nurses earn around $35,91 per hour practicing in North Carolina.
  2. Missouri – ICU nurses earn approximately $80,224 annually, which works out to approximately $38,57 per hour.
  3. Texas– ICU nurses practicing in Texas earn an annual salary of $81,050, which is approximately $38.97 per hour.
  4. Illinois – the average annual salary of an ICU nurse practicing in Illinois is approximately $81,650. Making the hourly rate of ICU nurses around $39,25.
  5. Michigan – ICU nurses earn an annual salary of $81,997, which is approximately $39,42 per hour.

Average ICU Nurse Salaries by State

There is a big difference between the highest-paying cities and the lowest-paying cities for ICU nurses. This is why it is crucial to be strategic about the city that you plan on practicing in. When considering the city that you would like to work in, it is important to look at the average salary for all the different states, allowing you to make a well-informed decision.

To help you with this, here is a list of the average ICU nurse salary in all 50 states listed in alphabetical order:

  1. Alabama – $89,953
  2. Alaska – $94,094
  3. Arizona – $95,480
  4. Arkansas – $82,096
  5. California– $89,752
  6. Colorado– $87,388
  7. Connecticut– $96,691
  8. Delaware– $87,167
  9. Florida– $86,810
  10. Georgia– $92,106
  11. Hawaii– $98,931
  12. Idaho– $83,996
  13. Illinois– $81,650
  14. Indiana– $94,868
  15. Iowa– $87,991
  16. Kansas– $88,219
  17. Kentucky– $83,651
  18. Louisiana– $89,652
  19. Maine– $101,826
  20. Maryland– $93,261
  21. Massachusetts– $101,673
  22. Michigan– $81,997
  23. Minnesota– $92,444
  24. Mississippi– $82,652
  25. Missouri– $80,224
  26. Montana– $96,472
  27. Nebraska– $91,746
  28. Nevada– $93,353
  29. New Hamshire– $110,772
  30. New Jersey– $95,695
  31. New Mexico– 87,799
  32. New York– $114,269
  33. North Carolina– $74,702
  34. North Dakota– $93,532
  35. Ohio– $91,813
  36. Oklahoma– $85,269
  37. Oregon– $89,462
  38. Pennsylvania– $97,611
  39. Rhode Island– $94,933
  40. South Carolina– $87,633
  41. South Dakota– $90,800
  42. Tennessee– $92,486
  43. Texas– $81,050
  44. Utah– $90,421
  45. Vermont– $104,709
  46. Virginia– $90,543
  47. Washington– $98,833
  48. West Virginia– $99,291
  49. Wisconsin– $92,444
  50. Wyoming– $102,025

How to Earn More as an ICU Nurse

Group of Nurse and Doctors discussing a case

No matter the field you are working in, you will always want to try to earn more and grow in your industry. As a registered nurse, this can feel like quite a challenge.

However, there are a few ways that you can increase your salary as a registered nurse, such as:

  • Work the night shift – a registered nurse who works during the night shift hours, which are typically from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., has increased pay. If you are interested in making more money and do not mind the hours, this is the best time to work.
  • Working overtime – overtime pay can be a huge benefit, especially during the weekends and night shift hours.
  • Specialize in a field – one of the best ways to earn more as a registered nurse is to specialize in a field. This may require a bit more studying, but it will be worth it in the long run.
  • Move to another city – one of the quickest ways to make more money is to move to a city that offers registered nurses higher salaries.

About ICU Nurses

Intensive Care Unit nurses (ICU nurses) or critical care nurses work in intensive care units. This is the unit that is specifically reserved for the treatment of patients who are dealing with life-threatening medical conditions.

It means critical care nurses are responsible for aiding patients experiencing life-threatening complications. Intensive care units operate 24 hours, meaning ICU nurses will work in rotation to ensure that there are nurses in the ICU around the clock. 

There is a higher demand for ICU nurses in the medical field. This demand has been even direr since the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 resulted in a demand for various medical jobs.

However, ICU nurses were probably one of the most needed. Since the pandemic had a huge impact on the ICU unit specifically, which meant more demand for ICU registered nurses during this time. 

Generally, there is a ratio of one ICU nurse to every one to two patients. Allowing for more one-on-one care for the patients being treated in the ICU. Unlike in other wards where there is a ratio of around one nurse to every five patients.

This is a necessity as the life-threatening complications are extremely hard to manage and require specialized treatments. Typically critical care nurses will assist in administering these treatments and closely monitor the patients.

Several different types of ICU nurses specialize in different medical fields. The most common types of ICU nurses include:

  • General ICU nurses
  • Emergency room ICU nurses
  • Postoperative care unit nurses
  • Neonatal ICU nurses
  • Pediatric ICU nurses
  • Surgical ICU nurses
  • Neuro ICU nurses
  • Travel nurses

Skills of ICU Nurses

Nurses working in intensive care units require a wide range of skills to complete their necessary duties. It is important to consider the different skills required as an ICU nurse when looking at salaries. Especially since the level of skills you possess should be reflected in your salary.

ICU nurses will require a wide range of medical knowledge and skills that they will gain while working toward their nursing degree. Skills include ICP monitoring, central line insertion, sheath removal, cardioversion defibrillation, and many more.

Other medical assessment skills like taking blood pressure, monitoring vitals, assessing pain levels, and more will also be learned. 

There are other skills that all ICU nurses will also require to fulfill their responsibilities in the best way possible. These are the types of skills that can make all the difference in the type of ICU nurse you are.

A few of the skills required by ICU nurses include:

  1. Communication skills – listening skills, oral communication, patient education, written communication, etc.
  2. Problem-solving skills – team skills, research skills, investigation skills, analyzing skills, creativity, etc.
  3. Critical thinking skills – evaluation skills, decision-making skills, creating solutions, etc. 
  4. Interpersonal skills – patience, delivering information, sympathy skills, etc.

General Schedule of ICU Nurses

The schedule of ICU nurses will differ depending on the type of ICU nurse you are and the hospital you work for. Taking into account the number of hours your shift is as an ICU nurse is also an important factor to consider when analyzing the salaries. This is especially because you want to make sure you are being remunerated properly for the time you will spend working. 

Most ICU nurses working in hospitals will have shifts between 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., which is usually the day shift. The night shift usually starts at 11 p.m. and ends at 7:30 a.m. This means the shifts are around eight and a half hours long, but recently shifts are much longer. 

Most ICU nurses are currently working twelve-hour shifts, with shifts starting from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and vice versa. When ICU nurses work the night shift, they are usually paid a bit more compared to nurses working the day shift.

Where Can ICU Nurses Work?

The hospital where an ICU nurse works plays quite a significant role in the ICU nurse’s salary. After all, the intensive care unit that a nurse practitioner works in will also play a key role in the skills and knowledge you require. This is why it is important to take note of the various medical units you can work for in a hospital as an ICU nurse. 

Most ICU nurses will work in critical care units in hospitals where the patients who are at the most risk are treated. In most hospitals, a large majority of ICU nurses typically work in the general ICU.

Other areas in the hospital that ICU nurses may work in include pediatric ICU, neonatal ICU, postoperative ICU, cardiothoracic ICU, surgical ICU, neuro ICU, and emergency rooms. ICU nurses may also work as travel nurses. ICU nurses treat patients who are critically ill while they are being transported to the hospital.

Final Thoughts

Healthcare jobs can be extremely demanding, and being an ICU nurse is no exception. If anything, this is a job that can be one of the most strenuous in the medical field. This is why it is important to ensure that you, as a registered nurse, are getting the salary you deserve. 

Now that you know how ICU nurse salaries work and the various factors that influence the differences in these salaries, you can find a way to earn the most as an ICU nurse.

Share your love

Avlin is passionate about helping aspirants become better personal support workers. He is an entrepreneur and runs a clinic in Toronto.

Articles: 226