What is the Average Telemetry Nurse Salary
By The Nursezone Writing Staff
Every minute that passes, someone in the U.S. is experiencing a heart attack. With over 735,000 heart attacks per year in the U.S. alone, understanding and predicting sudden cardiac arrest is a vital role in healthcare.
Telemetry nurses use a combination of equipment to measure blood pressure, oxygen saturation, and cardiac rhythm to monitor patients at risk for heart problems. With up to six patients under their supervision, nurses must quickly identify any irregularities in heart rhythms and notify the physician immediately. These patients are typically transfers from the intensive care unit (ICU) or emergency room (ER), or they are people at high risk of cardiac arrest, making them critical care patients.
Because of the patients’ acute condition and the number of hearts needed to monitor, telemetry is considered a high-stress position. The average telemetry nurse salary varies widely from $58,000 to $106,000—the average being around $82,000—and depends heavily on a number of relevant factors.
Increasing Your Annual Salary
To put this salary into perspective, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average RN nurse salary is around $71,730. The average specialized nurse—those in fields such as psychiatric, perioperative, geriatrics, and more—earn an average of $76,527 per year.
Telemetry nurses enjoy significantly higher pay than the average nurse. Of course, this doesn’t apply to all hospitals, and in many, the opposite is true. If you’re trying to increase your salary, there are many considerations to keep in mind.
Choosing another location, working in the telemetry field longer, earning specialty certifications, studying for higher degrees, negotiating salary, and travel nursing are six common ways to change the level of pay you receive.
Location, Location, Location
Where you work can have a significant impact on salary. The amount a hospital offers is typically based on the location’s cost of living. In nursing, the differences in pay can be striking, and a lot is due to geography. California is known to have one of the most expensive costs of living but also has some of the highest paying positions for telemetry nurses. In fact, on some job opportunity sites, the upper echelon of paid positions is almost exclusively in California.
Other states that offer well-paying positions, according to the National Telemetry Association, include Hawaii, Oregon, Alaska, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, District of Columbia, New Jersey, and Washington.
The longer you work in a company, the more skills you acquire, and the more valuable it is to keep you on. Contrast that with the costs of hiring a new employee and training them on the specifics of the job—not to mention, acclimating them to the work culture—and you can see why work experience is a crucial aspect of salary.
When it comes to nursing, growth in expertise means reduced liability of malpractice for a hospital and better overall care for their patients. These are invaluable, which is why the differences in salaries between new hires and nursing veterans can be upwards of 30-40%.
Becoming a Certified Nurse
Another way to demonstrate your skills and offer value to your hospital is to become a certified nurse. It’s often commented that licensure is competency while certification is proficiency. And hospitals recognize this. That’s why, across the board, certified nurses make, on average, 23% more than non-certified nurses.
For telemetry, the certification process is different than other specialty fields. In most nursing specialties, there is one association that dictates the examination and is recognized as the national standard in that field. For telemetry, the closest one to this is the NTA (or National Telemetry Association). Depending on your hospital and what type of patients you typically see, there are other associations whose examination closely aligns with the needed expertise.
National Telemetry Association
The NTA offers an online certification process that allows nurses to complete a 303-question exam from the comfort of their home. To help you adequately prepare, they offer study material, testing subject areas, and a practice exam to see the areas in which you’re less proficient. Scoring an 85% or higher grants you the certification.
Three of the primary subject areas telemetry nurses will be tested on include EKG reading, cardiac medication, and identifying cardiac arrhythmia.
Other Certifications and Credentialing Programs
As mentioned, there are other parallel nursing programs that test a telemetry nurse’s expertise but center around different critical-care specialties. Other certification programs include those through the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses and the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.
There is also a credentialing program that is available for nursing students and telemetry nurses through Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI). The courses and examinations offered through CCI test a nurse’s knowledge of the machinery surrounding telemetry, making it a preferred option in some cases.
If you’re unsure which program to use, always speak to your supervisor first to see which certification they prefer, and which will net you the most benefits.
There are many educational steps a nurse can take to increase their salary. When first starting out on the nursing career, there are three primary options for nursing students. The first is to receive an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) in a 12- to 24-month program. The second option is to receive a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) through an accredited four-year university. After receiving your degree, you are eligible to take and pass the NCLEX exam, which officially makes you a registered nurse.
The third option is a combination of the two. Many nurses receive their ADN, pass the NCLEX and begin working, and then return to school for an RN-to-BSN program. This way, nurses can be making money while in school.
Telemetry nurses also have the option of advancing their level of education to receive a Master’s Degree in Nursing (MSN).
Master’s in Nursing
While a master’s program is not necessary to become a telemetry nurse, there are perks that come with advancing your education. For one, MSN nurses enjoy a significant bump in pay. Of course, this depends on the hospital, but plenty of hiring managers look for nurses with advanced degrees and proven credentials.
Depending on where you want your career to go, a master’s program will emphasize different fields. A telemetry nurse could gain an understanding of resource management and behind-the-scenes business aspects of nursing. This would allow them to become nurse administrators or consultants for hospitals. Another option for telemetry nurses is to double down on the science and technology aspect of their field and move toward research and development.
BSN in 10
In 2017, New York State passed the “BSN in 10” law, which requires all nurses to gain their BSN within the first ten years of working as a registered nurse. Otherwise, their license will be suspended. This push comes from the healthcare providers and patients wanting the best of patient care.
RNs who have an ADN and are already employed in hospitals will be grandfathered into this program and will not have to complete an RN-to-BSN program. If states follow New York, many critics have said it will render the ADN useless. However, the ADN still allows nurses the opportunity to start working before they finish their degree.
It’s estimated that less than 30% of workers negotiate for a higher salary, despite most employers expecting negotiation to happen. This discrepancy is starker for women, and nursing is a female-dominated field, making it one of the least likely fields for employees to negotiate. However, of those who do negotiate, over 80% are awarded a higher salary.
Thinking about the benefits of negotiating versus actually doing it effectively in the room are two different things.
Don’t be afraid to look up negotiating tactics and read some books on the subject before going in. Negotiating for better pay is a must in any job opportunity, especially nursing, and requires specific know-how that doesn’t come from schooling or certification processes.
When you determine the value of what your salary should be, try to negotiate a higher value. If they offer $75,000, and you want a salary of $85,000, ask for $90,000. Expect pushback to happen and for them to lower your counteroffer. This is part of the negotiating game.
Asking for Time to Consider is Okay
Answers don’t have to be given in the room. If after a round of negotiating, their final offer isn’t what you expected, feel free to ask for time to consider it. If they word it as an ultimatum, it’s almost guaranteed to be a poor deal.
Remember, negotiating is a standard practice when being hired or asking for a raise. Remain confident and calm and do your research beforehand to be prepared.
One of the most significant ways to negotiate a better salary is to have another opportunity lined up to leverage with your current employer. The ability to say “no” confidently is the strongest argument in your favor. If you’ve been searching for a job for months and the employer knows this, they can offer you the lowest end of the pay scale. But if you’re a qualified candidate who has another interview lined up, then you have the ability to set your price.
To do this, build a strong resume and submit it to a few nearby hospitals before you enter into pay negotiations.
Nurses with a desire to travel can increase their pay by becoming a traveling nurse. Travel nurses take assignments from 8 weeks to 6 months and are paid for travel expenses, housing, and are offered a stipend to cover the cost of living. They also enjoy a bump in pay and the ability to take vacations between assignments.
There are many upsides to travel nursing. If you’re someone who enjoys new sights, new scents, and new places, this should be something to consider.
Job Roles of Telemetry Nurse
There are three main roles a telemetry nurse must perform on a daily basis. They monitor, educate, and treat their patients. In addition, they perform many duties of a typical nurse like inpatient and discharge services.
Knowing when to step in and what signs indicate cardiac problems is central to be a telemetry nurse. Patients at risk for heart disease and cardiac problems including those with gastrointestinal issues, obesity, diabetes, and coronary disease will be hooked up to electrocardiograms. These and other life-sign measurement devices are used by telemetry nurses to monitor illnesses and prevent them before they arise when possible.
The different devices include those that monitor heart rhythms, oxygen saturation, respiration, and blood pressure. Combining these with an understanding of your patient’s current condition is key to identifying problems.
This means telemetry nurses have to make rounds with their patients. Seeing a spike in heart rate might signal that the patient is experiencing trouble or that a patient is experiencing nightmares while they sleep. It’s these types of distinctions telemetry nurses must identify.
Education is one of the primary factors preventing patients from leading a healthy life, with the most common misinformation in diet and exercise. With diets ranging from a plant-based diet to Mediterranean to vegan, it’s hard to know which one to choose. And patients will often be swayed to the enticing results of unhealthy diets that are unsustainable.
Diet is only one piece to the equation. For a happy, healthy heart, patients must also include exercise into their daily routine, form regular sleep hours, and cut out sleep-depriving drugs. Telemetry nurses do their best to inform and instill these positive habits.
Apart from the specialized duties, telemetry nurses also have the responsibilities of an RN. They deal with inpatient services, patient history, documenting vitals, sterilizing patient rooms, and discharging. They are also in charge of filling out and administering prescriptions ordered by the physician.
Telemetry Nurse Salary
Working with cardiac patients in acute conditions is a high-stress situation. They need to be monitored 24/7, and nurses must detect any warning signs of deteriorating conditions. Multiply this responsibility by six patients, and you have the workload of a typical telemetry nurse.
Telemetry nurses make more than the average RN due to their dual specialties. They offer expertise in EKG equipment and identifying cardiac arrhythmia as well as provide comforting bedside treatment. As nurses improve their skill sets and continue to educate themselves, they will increase their annual salary. To increase your pay even more, take into consideration location, negotiation, and becoming a traveling nurse.
CDC. Heart Disease Facts. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
BLS. Registered Nurses. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm
NTA. Top 10 Paying States For Registered Nurses. https://nationaltelemetryassociation.org/top-10-paying-states-for-registered-nurses/
Advance Healthcare Network. 2018 Nursing Salary Guide. https://cdn.elitecme.com/advance/ebook/2018/July/NW_SalaryGuide_2018/index.html?page=2
Nurse.org. New York's 'BSN in 10' Law And The Push For 80% Of Nurses To Hold BSN By 2020. https://nurse.org/articles/BSN-initiative-80-2020/
Mayo Clinic. Weight loss: Choosing a diet that's right for you. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss/art-20048466