Labor and Delivery Nursing: A Look at Salary and Compensation in 2021
By Jennifer Larson, contributor
Labor and delivery nurses often talk about their work being a calling. The opportunity to be with women throughout the childbirth process, caring for them as they welcome a new baby into the world, is irresistible for many nurses.
Because it is a popular specialty, it can be challenging to land that first job as an L & D nurse.
“Labor and delivery nurse positions are still very competitive,” said Jamil Norman, PhD, RN, CNE, academic coordinator for Walden University’s RN-to-BSN program and a former labor and delivery nurse.
But as veteran labor and delivery nurses will tell you, the extra effort it may take to join this field is worth it. It’s a meaningful career choice that also offers the chance to earn a good living.
What L&D nurses can expect to earn
According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for all registered nurses in the United States in 2019 was $73,300. That works out to an hourly rate of about $35.24.
Now, let’s look more closely at what a labor and deliver nurse can expect to earn. As of February 24, 2021, PayScale reports that the median hourly rate for labor and delivery nurses was $31.30, which works out to an annual salary of $65,414.
The data on Salary.com showed an even higher compensation rate: as of February 26, 2021, the average annual salary for a labor and delivery nurse was $74,300, with most salaries ranging between $67,600 and $84,100.
Why L&D nursing salaries can vary
Your L&D nurse salary can vary by the size and type of institution, of course. A larger hospital might pay a higher salary than a small one, unless a smaller one may need to pay more to fill its nursing positions.
The job location also matters. You’ll definitely earn a higher salary in some states and regions of the country, and you might earn more in an urban area than in a rural area. But you’ll want to keep cost of living in mind when comparing the L&D salaries from state to state.
For example, ZipRecuiter reports that the highest wage for labor and delivery nurses is nearly $50 per hour in Massachusetts, where the annual salary will top the $102,000 mark. Hawaii and New Jersey salaries are close behind, with Massachusetts’ neighbor, Connecticut, coming in fourth.
States at the bottom of the list include North Carolina and Florida, with an average hourly rate that hovers around $36. ZipRecruiter’s list of average salaries for labor and delivery nurses by state can give you a sense of the going rate wherever you consider working.
Experience also plays a role when it comes to your paycheck. New L&D nurses will normally earn less than nurses with a few years of experience under their belt.
How to increase your salary as an L&D nurse
Want to earn a little more as a labor and delivery nurse? Besides putting in time at the bedside and delivering excellent patient care, here are a few other suggestions that can boost your earning power:
- Get certified. Nurses need to be certified in Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advance Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) to work in labor and delivery. But you can go beyond those certifications and pursue additional ones that show you’re committed to gaining more knowledge and mastering more skills. That can convince an employer to pay you more, too. One to consider: the Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB) credential from the National Certification Corporation (NCC).
- Seek additional education. Love learning? Consider finishing your BSN or getting a graduate degree, which can boost your earning potential. Continuing education units can also increase your expertise and show your dedication to maternal and child health.
- Take on more responsibilities. If you take on the role as a charge nurse, you’ll be in charge of supervising other nurses, in addition to your other job responsibilities. That can add a few extra dollars to your take-home pay, too.
- Take an L&D travel nursing job. You might be pleasantly surprised to learn that a labor and delivery travel nurse salary can be substantial. If you take a travel nursing job with American Mobile, you could earn up to $2,800 per week. That can really add up over the course of a few 13-week assignments.
Sometimes labor and delivery nurses go on to pursue other roles, such as in the arena of pediatric nursing or neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nursing. The earning potential in these roles is similar to that of labor and delivery nurses. Or an L&D nurse could pursue additional education and consider a career as a nurse practitioner or certified nurse midwife, which can boost earning potential.
Wherever your labor and delivery nursing career takes you, it will certainly provide many rewards.