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As of June 2021, the number of registered and enrolled nurses was 420,553 — which is already 40 per cent higher than 2025 predictions. With the demand for nurses continuing to surge, the subject of salary is one that is attracting more attention.

In Australia Registered Nurses (RN) earn an average salary of $73,000 per year. This number can vary greatly depending on a nurse’s experience, location, qualifications, and seniority. Let’s have a closer look at the factors which influence a nurse’s salary – and how you can potentially increase your take home pay.

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Location

Where you choose to work as a nurse will affect how much you earn. Nurses who live and work outside of Australia’s metropolitan areas tend to earn more than those based in major cities.

This trend comes down to a case of supply and demand. There’s a greater number of nurses in big cities – so employers have many candidates to choose from.

On the flip side, the number of nurses wanting to live and work in rural and remote areas has become scarce.

As such, the demand for them is greater, and healthcare providers are willing to pay more to ensure these communities are serviced.

Experience

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As with most industries, experience is a big factor when it comes to how much you’ll earn as a nurse. Most registered nurses begin their career on a salary between $60,000 – $65,000.

Thanks to the stipulations of the Nurses Award 2010, a nurse’s pay will then grow 4-5% every year after that, until they have 8 years of experience.

At which point, all nurses at this stage of their career will be on approximately the same salary. Increasing your earnings beyond this threshold means securing more senior roles, which generally involves pursuing further training and education. 

Qualification

In nursing, a higher level of qualification means being able to access more senior, higher paying roles.

Nurse Practitioners earn, on average, around $120,000 per annum in Australia. When broken down into an hourly rate, the wage of a Nursing Practitioner is more than three times that of an entry-level Registered Nurse.

On average, Nursing Unit Managers earn over $115,000 per annum while Directors of Nursing are highly paid professionals and can earn above $200,000 a year.

Specialisation

Nursing is an incredibly broad and diverse field. As a result, it comes as no surprise that increasingly specialised skills and experience attract the best wages and benefits.

In fact, specialised roles account for some of the highest salaries in Australia, with a range of highly skilled nursing roles in various sectors of the healthcare industry.

For example, an Anaesthetist Licensed Registered Nurse can attract a yearly salary ranging from $105,000-130,000, and Orthopaedic Nurses can earn up to $120,000 per annum.

Check your wage

A range of resources are provided below to assist in determining the pay for nurses and midwives in Australia.

The HealthTimes Wage Checker App below is an interactive app that allows nurses and midwives to check wages based on location, role, grade and experience. The wage checker app is currently only applicable to public sector nurses and midwives.

Additional resources

The wage checker app and the charts and tables below do not take into consideration factors such as working conditions, nurse to patient ratios, over-time allowances, salary packaging provisions, agency rates nor any other allowances.

It is therefore important that nurses and midwives check with their Human Resources contact or relevant Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation body for more specific information.


Australian State-by-State Nurse Salary Guide (public system) Annual Base Salaries


Click here to search for nursing jobs

Click here to search nursing courses




State Nurse Award Resources:

ACT Nursing and Midwifery classifications and rates of pay

NT Salary Rates and Allowances

NSW Public Health System Nurses and Midwives Award

Victorian Nurses and Midwives Enterprise Agreement 2016-2020

Queensland Nursing Wage Rates

Nurses Midwifery (South Australian Public Sector) Enterprise Agreement

Western Australia Awards and Agreements

Department of Health Tasmania Salary Rates (Nursing)

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Charlotte Mitchell

Charlotte is a published journalist and editor, with 10 years of experience in developing high-quality content for national and international publications.

With an academic background in both science and communications, she specialises in medical and science writing. Charlotte is passionate about creating engaging, evidence-based content that equips the community with important information on issues around healthcare, medicine and research.

Over the years, she has partnered with organisations including the Medical Journal of Australia, Cancer Council NSW, Bupa, the Australasian Medical Publishing Company, Dementia Australia, MDA National, pharmaceutical companies, and state and federal government agencies, to produce high-impact news and clinical content  for different audiences.