Working as a nurse in the USA is a dream for many people. It is almost common knowledge that the salary of nurses in the states is really high compared to other countries. Also, the country offers lots of opportunities for economic and personal growth.
This features an OFW couple living in the USA, as they talk about the salary of nurses in the country, as well as the cost of living there. The information presented in this article comes from the YouTube video from the channel Filipino Couple in America.
Disclaimer: The information posted here is based on the personal experiences shared by the OFW in the video below. Please let this post serve as a guide only. If you have specific questions, you may ask the OFW by commenting on their video on their accounts.
How much does a nurse earn in America?
If you’re interested in knowing more about the salary of nurses working in the States, then this article for you. It features the YouTube channel Filipino Couple in America, and one of their videos about the salary of nurses in America as well as the cost of living.
You can access the original video right below:
At the start of the video, Rina from Filipino Couple in America mentioned a disclaimer, stating that what she is saying is just based on her experiences; that the amount could vary depending on who you ask and that’s because there are several factors that affect salary of nurses in the USA.
Also Read: USA Do’s and Dont’s
Working as an Entry Level Nurse
Rina mentioned that she is based in Chicago, Illinois. That is important to note since nurse salary depends largely on which state you are in. In Chicago where Rina’s working, their starting rate is 28 to 30 dollars per hour. In Philippine Pesos, that is equivalent to 1,350 pesos to 1,450 pesos per hour.
Rina works in a nursing home. When she started working in that facility, Rina had absolutely no nursing experience. As such, she was considered as an entry level nurse, like a fresh graduate.
Rina worked as a medical representative back in the Philippines, but that work doesn’t count, and she doesn’t have experience working as a nurse. Basically, she started her nursing career in the USA.
One interesting fact that was mentioned by Rina is that, when she asked around, she found out that the entry level salary of nurses working in hospitals is lower than the entry level salary for those working in nursing homes.
Nursing Home Nurse vs Hospital Nurse
Rina chose to work in a nursing home because, apparently it is a more stable job than when working in a hospital. Here are some reasons why nursing homes can be preferable:
- In the hospital, when there aren’t many patients, they can cancel your employment.
- The demand for nurses to work in nursing homes is really high.
- You can work overtime as much as you want in nursing homes for extra pay.
- Your schedule is always fully packed while working as a nurse in a nursing home, because the demand is always high.
Factors Affecting Nurse Salary in the USA
According to Rina, the factors that affect nurse salary are the following:
as your years of experience increases, so does your value. You can then demand for a much higher salary. This is especially true for your years of experience that are done in the USA.
Your salary depends on your location in the USA and on which clinical area you are.
Hours per week
According to Rina, if you work more than 40 hours per week, the extra hours beyond 40 hours is already considered overtime work.
Rina shared that in the nursing home, she works 8 hours per day. If you work for 5 straight days in a week, say for example from Monday to Friday, then you get overtime pay if you decide to continue working during the weekends.
How much are you paid for those extra overtime hours? Well, Rina said that the terminology used is that those are “time and half” hours, which means that you get extra half of our hourly rate per hour you work over time.
For example, if your hourly rate is 30 dollars, then any overtime hour is paid 30 dollars plus half of that, which is 15 dollars. That means your overtime pay is 45 dollars per hour.
If you work hard and work a lot during overtime, then you will definitely earn a lot of money.
The take home salary is also greatly affected by the tax deductions, and these deductions are based on how much you earn.
Rina mentioned that in Illinois, there are two kinds of taxes. These are:
- Federal tax
- State tax
- Aside from these, you are also paying for Medicare and Social Security Fee.
Usually, the government will take 25 percent of your salary for tax, but that could even be higher depending on your salary. The higher your income is, the more you have to pay for taxes.
As mentioned, you have to pay taxes so your gross income is deducted by that. But you also have to pay for health insurance which is around 100 dollars.
Take Home Pay as a Nurse: 1650 USD
Rina mentioned that her take home or basic salary is 1,650 USD after all the taxes and the health insurance and other payments have been taken care of.
Monthly Cost of Living in Chicago, Illinois: 2500 USD – 3000 USD
While the salary may sound big when you convert it into Philippine pesos, it is important to take note that the cost of living in USA is also expensive.
Before anything else, Rina reiterated that the information shared below is based on her experience, and will largely vary depending on several factors. One major factor for cost of living, in fact, is the lifestyle of a person. In any case, here’s a brief summary of the estimated monthly expenses in Chicago and budget you have to allot:
Housing/Accommodation: 1300 – 1700 USD per month for a 2-BR apartment
Food & Grocery: 500 USD per month
Electricity: 200-300 USD per month during summer, and 150 USD per month during winter
Gas: 100-150 USD per month during summer, and 350-450 USD per month during winter
Phone Bill: 50 USD per month
Car: 500 USD per month
Car Insurance: 100 USD per month
Based on the couple’s expenses, both of these Filipino nurses have a combined monthly expense between 2500 USD to 3000 USD per month.
How to Work as a Nurse in the U.S.
Until now, there are still many agencies that are bringing nurses to the States. Aside from the US, though, agencies also bring nurses to other parts of the world, including Canada, U.K., etc.
To qualify to work as a nurse in the USA, you usually need to obtain the following:
1. You need a TOEFL or an English exam to prove that you can speak the language fluently, and can therefore do your job as a nurse effectively. Indeed, to be an effective nurse, you need to be able to communicate well with not just your patients but also the people you work with and for.
You can also be petitioned to go to the USA with an H1B visa. The thing about this visa though is that once you arrive in the US, you are not allowed to work yet.
2. What you can do to be able to work is to review and take an exam. But at the same time, you have to start processing the green card the moment you arrive. Once you pass the exam, you can begin to work, especially if you already have the green card ready, which could take around 3 months.
3. But you can’t work right away in a hospital. You can, however, work as a nurse in other areas, including being a company nurse, or a homecare nurse, or a school nurse. You will earn less than nurses working in hospitals, but at least you get a much needed experience.
4. Experience really matters, especially the kind of experience that you get from working in the US. In fact, even if you spent years working outside the US, they normally don’t count those years. To them, those aren’t nearly as relevant as really getting a feel for the kind of work that nurses do in the US.
5. Working as a hospital nurse has several perks. These include having the ability to get a 401k plan, which allows employers to deduct at least 3 to 75 percent of your salary, but this money eventually goes to your retirement.
There you have it. This article is an overview of what to expect in terms of salary and cost of living while working in the USA as a nurse. Are you interested? If so, then check out the other articles in this website which, not only focus on nurses in the USA, but other relevant articles as well which are related to working abroad in general.