Oncology Nurse Salary in 2023

Oncology Nurse Salary in 2023

An oncology nurse is a type of advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) responsible for caring for patients with cancer. After becoming a registered nurse (RN), many people decide to undertake further training to specialize in oncology. The role of these nurses is to care for patients with varying different types and stages of cancer. They also educate patients about their condition. 

Oncology is a very popular and competitive specialization. There are many different roles available, from working in a bone marrow transport unit, providing care in the community as a home health nurse, or working in palliative care.

Oncology nurses work as part of a multi-disciplinary team and care for various patients, including inpatients, outpatients, children, or the elderly. The job can be very rewarding, and oncologist nurses make a huge difference in the lives of their patients. They also help to support the patient’s family. 

The job can take an emotional toll but is very rewarding for the right type of person. Nurses in this field tend to have higher salaries than nurse practitioners in other fields. Let’s look at the role of an oncology nurse and discuss the salary you could earn. This article will help you assess whether a role as an oncology nurse is the right nursing career for you. 

Oncology nursing job description

Oncology nurses work with patients at various stages of their cancer journey. One of the primary roles is to assess patients and develop a care plan. Patients may be struggling with side effects and need extra care. Oncology nursing involves assessing patients before, during, and after chemotherapy. These nurses, therefore, must have an in-depth understanding of the pathology results and how they are likely to implicate the patients’ health and wellbeing. They also educate patients about the types of treatments available to them and are knowledgeable about the expected side effects of the treatments. 

Educating patients

Nurses working with cancer patients must use their interpersonal skills to communicate with and listen to the patient. They will assess patients’ needs and talk about their understanding of the disease. Patients’ emotional states are also evaluated, and the nurse offers support to patients and their families. This involves being sensitive to the patient’s needs and understanding that some people don’t like full disclosure of information.

Coordinating cancer patient care

Oncology nurses are responsible for coordinating the care of their patients. This includes ordering tests and providing different treatments. Any treatments provided will be documented, and medical records will be updated with details of the patient’s condition and progress. This helps to ensure continuity of care across the nursing team. 

If necessary, the oncology nurse will also refer patients to other healthcare professionals for further treatment. Often cancer patients are referred to dieticians, radiation oncology, social workers, a pediatric nurse, or speech and language pathologists.

Administrate medication

Another primary responsibility is to administrate medication, including chemotherapy drugs, to patients following doctors’ instructions. Nurses are educated on how to handle medication safely and how to manage allergic reactions. They also need to be able to cope with cytotoxic spills. Oncology nurses must ensure drugs are administered in the right dose and via the correct route.

 Oncology nurses are also responsible for caring for patients and helping them manage symptoms of their cancer and the side effects of the treatment. This involves ongoing evaluation and providing appropriate care. The nurse may administer additional drugs to control pain or side effects or arrange for the patient to be referred to an oncologist. Nurses dealing with cancer patients need to have knowledge of nausea, fatigue, and vomiting, which are common side effects of chemotherapy.

Skills needed by oncology nurses

Like all nurses, those who specialize in oncology must be caring and compassionate as they need to effectively support patients and their families through their illness. Training involves education on pain management using medication and non-drug-related methods. 

Oncology nurses also require strong interpersonal skills as they’ll need to communicate with a wide variety of patients and other medical professionals. They must have good listening skills as their job involves listening to patients’ concerns and supporting the family. 

What makes oncology nursing an especially competitive specialty?

Oncology nursing is a unique field due to the type of patients the nurse cares for. Providing cancer care or end of life care is popular as cancer patients are interesting and generally have a different perspective on life. When faced with the prospect of dying, many people find deeper meaning in their lives. Many patients report strengthened bonds with family and friends that they have taken for granted in the past. 

Oncology nurses can form strong bonds with their patients and their families as they work with them frequently. While many nurses enjoy this aspect of the job, losing patients can take an emotional toll. 

Oncology nursing is also very popular as it provides job satisfaction and is very rewarding. Many nurses love making a difference in people’s lives, and it’s rewarding watching people get better. There are also many nursing specialties available in the field, from education and preventative care to acute care, rehabilitation, and palliative care. 

Oncology nursing is a very diverse field, and nurses can choose to work with children, adults with a specific type of cancer, or the elderly. They can also focus on chemotherapy, radiation, or biotherapy. 

nursing specialty: 

  • Breast oncology
  • Hematology/oncology
  • surgical oncology
  • GYN Oncology 
  • Head and neck oncology
  • Bone marrow transplant 
  • Cancer counseling
  • Prevention and early detection
  • Symptom management
  • palliative care

Starting salaries for oncology nurses

An entry level oncology nurse requires a nursing degree. Most nurses study for a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, which allows them to become a licensed registered nurse (RN). After finishing your degree, you’ll need to work in a hospital or volunteer in a cancer ward to get at least 1,000 hours of clinical work experience. This will allow you to apply for further training as an oncology nurse, after which you’ll be able to enter employment. 

If you’re planning to become an oncology nurse, you’ll need to enroll in a master’s degree in nursing, specializing in oncology. This will allow you to become an advanced practice nurse. The master’s degree will include a mixture of theory-based learning in the classroom and clinical work experience. You’ll need to complete a minimum of five hundred hours of clinical practice in an oncology ward and then take an exam that will provide you with certification. 

Certificates can be obtained from the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC).  The exam board has certified approximately 36,000 oncology nurses across the U.S. There are many different types of certification options available depending on which area you want to specialize and work in, including Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN) and Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner (AOCNP). Those who wish to qualify to work with children are the Certified Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Nurse (CPHON). 

You may also like to check out the Advanced Oncology Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist (AOCNS) and Certified Breast Care Nurse (CBCN). Each of these certifications consists of a multiple-choice exam that has 165 questions. 

Oncology nurses generally have an average salary of approximately $35,000 after graduating. This is a national average; starting salaries can vary depending on the level of education, experience, and where you’re employed. The average salary for an oncologist nurses varies from state to state. Advanced practice nurses can earn an average of $60,000 to $125,000 annually. 

Factors that affect an oncology nurse’s salary

Oncology nursing is generally a role that’s in high demand as the number of people with cancer seems to be on the increase. The position requires a specific skillset and expansive education, which means that oncology nurses tend to earn a higher salary than other types of nursing specialisms. 

The average weekly salary for an oncology nurse practitioner is about $1,651 per week. However, the amount earned can vary from $600 per week for a recent graduate to $3,200 per week for an advanced practice nurse with years of experience. Factors such as experience, education, employer, and the state you live in will all be taken into account when determining pay rates.

Clinical nurse specialist

An oncology nurse practitioner can also specialize in a certain aspect of cancer treatment. They may decide to assess patients and educate them in radiation therapy or specialize in brachytherapy. Many nurses also specialize in a specific type of cancer, become pediatric oncology nurses, or specialize in gynecological or breast cancer.

Oncology nurses can also get involved in research, clinical trials, or become a nurse educator, providing in-house education to colleagues and students. Specializing in an area you’re interested in will help you add to your resume, gain promotion, and ultimately lead to a higher salary. 

How much does an oncology nurse make in the United States?

The average oncology nurse with degree-level education, certification, and over two years of work experience will earn approximately $77,400. The practitioner salary will depend on education, additional skills and experience, and the number of years in the profession. The salary range for a fully qualified and experienced oncology nurse will generally fall between $69,200 and $86,500. 

What skills and qualifications can help oncology nurses get a higher starting salary?

Average salaries can fluctuate, depending on demand and the number of nurses in employment. The good news is that if you’re dedicated, you can influence your annual salary by undertaking additional training or getting more experience. Here are some tips for oncology nurses who are looking to increase their salary:

Further education

If you’re looking for a pay increase and are working as an oncologist nurse, the best thing to do is further your education. You can study for a master’s degree in nursing or choose a nursing specialism. 

Expand your skills

Expanding your skillset can help you receive a pay boost. You may like to learn more about an area that interests you, do work experience in a different area of oncology care, volunteer for a cancer charity, or learn about an additional treatment option. The more you learn about oncology, the more likely your employer will consider you suitably qualified for advanced positions. 

Keep up with the latest medical trends

If you’re dedicated and passionate about your career, it would be advantageous to ensure that you’re staying up to date with the latest advances in your field. This may include new treatments, cancer research, new care techniques, and new technologies or medications. Being knowledgeable and interested in your field will entice employers to hire you at a higher salary range.

Advance your position

Another way to gain an increased salary is to take on a leadership role. You may be able to study the management side of nursing or become a supervisor to younger colleagues. Managerial or charge nurse positions generally have a higher salary. You may also like to further your education by gaining a certification from the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation.

Become a nurse educator

Another option if you’re looking to improve your job prospects and increase your salary as an oncology nurse is to become a nurse educator. You’ll need to study towards a Master’s Degree or a Doctorate Degree in nursing. There will then be many opportunities available; you could become a guest lecturer at a university, teach clinical skills to new students and colleagues in a hospital or act as a mentor for an oncology travel nurse. 

Highest-paying oncology nursing jobs

It can be hard work being an oncologist nurse as there are daily challenges that need to be overcome. Oncologist nurses work in hospices, outpatient and inpatient facilities, cancer wards of hospitals, and cancer institutes. Some also provide home visits for patients that are recovering from cancer and are well enough to go home. Other common workplaces include acute care hospital settings and ambulatory care facilities, surgical centers, and community healthcare clinics. Nurses also work in oncology offices or departments and radiation or chemotherapy facilities. 

Some oncology nurses aim to achieve a high salary and a few organizations that pay above-average wages. The highest-paid oncology nursing jobs are reported to be at Barnes Hospital, American HealthCare, and MD Anderson Cancer Center. The average oncologist nurse working at Barnes Hospital earns an annual salary of $123,202.

Where to find the best oncology nursing jobs

Oncology nursing jobs are listed on career search sites such as Indeed or SimplyHired. If you have a specific hospital or care facility that you dream of working in, you can contact the organization directly. For example, if you want to work for American HealthCare, you can look at their website to see if any vacancies are listed. It may be worth sending your resume to the human resource department even if there aren’t any current vacancies. Your resume could be kept on file, and you’ll be contacted should a suitable position occur.

How do oncology nurses’ salaries vary by location?

Oncology nurses’ salaries will vary depending on which state they’re located in. Some states have a higher cost of living than others, so the pay is higher. Here are ten states and their average weekly and annual salaries for a mid-career oncology nurse: 


Vermont has one of the lowest average nurse practitioner salary across the states. This is because it’s generally considered a cheaper state to live in. On average, an oncologist nurse in Vermont will earn about $987 per week, which equates to $39,163 annually. 


Cancer facilities in Maryland generally offer oncologist nurses a slightly higher salary than Vermont. The average oncology nurse salary for cancer wards and care facilities is likely to be $1,183 per week. This is about $46,940 a year. 


Florida is a state that many people retire to due to its good medical facilities, relaxed lifestyle, local amenities, and sunny weather. Most oncologist nurses are working with elderly patients in Florida, although there are also some opportunities to work with younger adults or as a pediatric nurse practitioner. The average salary in Florida is likely to be about $1,482 per week or $58,804 annually. 

New York and California

States such as New York and California generally have the highest wages. However, it’s more expensive to live in these states, and the cost of housing is exceptionally high. The average salary is $1,854 per week in New York and $1,852 per week in California. This equates to approximately $73,565 annually for an oncologist nurse in New York. 

Other states 

Here’s a list of what you can expect to earn as an oncologist nurse in other states: 

Arizona:  $1,659 per week

Texas: $1,664 per week

Oregon: $1,729 per week

Washington: $1,737 per week

Illinois: $1,805 per week

What should you look for in an oncology nursing job?

While salary is important, it shouldn’t be your only consideration when looking for an oncology nursing job. It’s also worth considering whether the role will suit your skills and experience as well as your career aspirations. You’ll want to find a position where you’ll be happy and have job satisfaction. Here are some things you should consider when applying for oncology nurse jobs: 

Working hours

Before deciding whether a job is right for you, you’ll need to consider the working hours as this will affect your quality of life. Oncology nurses generally work in a hospital or cancer institute; some work as a travel nurse and provide patients with care in their own homes. Most nurses work shifts that are between eight and sixteen hours and will be during the day or night. Outpatient nurses are required to work weekdays, whereas those working on a ward will often need to work weekends.

Ensure that you understand the hours you’re expected to work before accepting the job. Check what’s written in your contract about hours and overtime. 

Benefits offered

When looking for a job as an oncology nurse, you should also consider the package that the potential employer is offering. There may be other benefits such as holiday allowance, medical insurance, retirement contributions, and bonuses. 

Company culture

It’s also a good idea to investigate the company’s culture before applying for a job as the working environment will impact your enjoyment of the job. It may be beneficial to try and find out whether current or previous employees are happy at work. 

The team

Co-workers will also have an influence on the job as nurses have to rely on their colleagues and often work as a team. If possible, try to meet some of your colleagues during the interview process. This will allow you to assess whether the team seems passionate and happy and whether you’re likely to fit in. It’s beneficial to work in a positive environment with other people who share your vision and have similar values.

Company stability

It may also be wise to check how stable the company is before applying for or accepting a job. Is the organization stable and expanding, or will you be at risk of being made redundant in the future?

Opportunities for growth and education

It would help if you also looked for opportunities that are likely to support your career progression. You may like to ask about advancement opportunities at the interview. This will also look favorable as you’ll seem like someone who’s interested in being employed by the hospital for years to come. You’ll also seem driven and ambitious. You may also like to look for a job that will support your career growth. This may include the opportunity for additional learning. 

What do projections show about the growth of the job market for oncology nurses?

Sadly, the number of people who have cancer is increasing. It’s estimated that in the future, as many as one in two people will have cancer at some point in their lives. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that there will be a 12% increase in nursing jobs over the next ten years. 

It’s expected that the industry will see the most significant job growth in outpatient cancer care, and more home care nurses will be required. It’s thought that there will also be technological advances that improve and change the provision of medical care for cancer patients. There may also be a wider variety of medical facilities and environments available to patients. 

What resources exist to help nurses find the best oncology nursing jobs?

Here are some great resources which will help you progress in your chosen career as an oncology nurse. These sights have job boards, careers advice and guidance, as well as the possibility to network with oncology professionals. 

The oncology nursing society

The oncology nursing society’s website is an excellent resource for anyone who’s trained as an oncologist nurse and is looking to improve their job prospects, students looking to start their career, and people interested in taking the first steps to becoming an oncology nurse. 

The site has a Career Center for job-seekers, and if you’re a member of the society, you can also benefit from career coaching and guidance on resume writing. You’ll also be able to view the ONS Job board with the latest positions. 

The oncology nursing society is passionate about helping career starters, and recent graduates land their dream job. Career guides are available for people who need to improve their skills and don’t know where to start. The oncology nursing field is rapidly changing, so it’s good to keep up to date with new nursing techniques and treatments. 

Clinical Journal on Oncology Nursing

The Clinical Journal on Oncology Nursing has some great article which can help you stay up to date with this medical specialization. You’ll find valuable articles and advice on the site whether you’re a student or have been working in the field for years. 

The Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses

Based in Chicago, the Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses has some excellent career advice about becoming a pediatric oncology nurse and working with children and young people who have cancer. 


Getting a cancer diagnosis is scary and life-changing; the oncology nurse’s job is to support and care for cancer patients. This role is diverse, rewarding, and can be done in various medical facilities with different types of patients. 

If you’re considering a career as an oncology nurse, there are many specializations, so you’ll be able to follow your own interests. There is likely to be an increased demand for oncology nurses over the next ten years, so it’s an excellent field to get into. Oncology nurses are generally well paid, and they have fantastic career progression with the opportunity to continue learning. 

However, it would help if you also considered whether you have the right personality, skill set, and dedication to the job. An oncology role can be emotionally draining and challenging. Working in palliative nursing care can be especially difficult as nurses often spend a lot of time with their patients and form a bond with them.  

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