How to Negotiate Your Nursing Salary

There are several important factors to consider when exploring career options. While education and job responsibilities are essential components, the matter of salary typically tops the list.

Nursing salaries are determined by workload, experience, and education. It takes dedication, diligence, and countless hours of clinical experience to earn a nursing degree. Add long shifts and work environments containing potential health hazards, and the expectation of a high salary should present no questions. However, this isn’t always the case. To ensure appropriate compensation for a challenging nursing role, all nurses should be prepared to negotiate their salaries.

Approaching Salary Negotiations

Though seemingly stressful, negotiating a salary can be simplified with the proper preparation. When the main objective is to persuade an employer to increase a salary offer or current compensation, conducting thorough research and providing relevant examples are keys to coming to an agreement.

Determine an appropriate salary range for your role by conducting research on similar nursing responsibilities and salaries using accurate data sources (i.e., nationally recognized organizations and  journals). Once you’re prepared with documented research and understand average compensation, it’s time to negotiate your salary.

Negotiating Your Nursing Salary

Tailored specifically for nursing careers, the following tips can help in establishing a fair salary agreement with your employer.

Determine your value prior to starting the negotiation.
Use your research to determine a salary that appropriately fits your education, experience, and responsibilities. Going into a salary negotiation with a specific number in mind can help in discussing your salary with an employer.

Present the unique value you could bring to your potential nursing unit.
Looking beyond the typical job responsibilities and expectations, address the unique qualities only you are able to offer the organization. Indicate how your impressive education and experience have combined to mold you into a versatile individual with a variety of professional abilities. Also, provide details on specific contributions you can offer the unit.

If possible, allow employers to offer a salary first.
While it’s beneficial to enter a salary negotiation with a specific number in mind, it’s also beneficial to understand what the institution has budgeted for the position. If you’re asked to state your desired salary, ask the employer what it has budgeted for the position. Use the information provided on which to base your anticipated salary.

Present the additional items you are willing to negotiate.
In addition to base pay, many medical institutions offer benefits to their employees. Health insurance, 401(k) match programs, paid holidays, vacation time, education reimbursements, special discounts, and bonuses are all important factors to consider when negotiating a salary. If the budget restricts a salary increase, perhaps the employer will consider increasing the amount of benefits and perks you receive.

Are You Earning Enough at Your Nursing Job?

While experience and unique contributions are valuable factors of a salary offer, education is a major consideration in the compensation each nurse receives. Like many other industries, professionals with a higher level of education can expect to receive a higher amount of compensation than those with less education.

When it comes to nursing, the level of education you’ll need is determined by the professional nursing position in which you’re most interested. The following list details the education requirements for different nursing roles.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
Requirements: Must complete a one-year secondary education program and earn a license with a passing score on the NCLEX-PN exam
Possible Careers: Entry-level nursing positions that involve providing basic care to patients in non-intensive units under the direction of a registered nurse

RN with an ADN
Requirements:
 Must earn an associate degree in nursing (typically a two-year program) and a license through a passing score on the NCLEX
Possible Careers: Entry-level nursing positions that involve providing care to a variety of patients in both basic and intensive care units

RN with a BSN
Requirements:
 Must earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing (typically a four-year program) and a license through a passing score on the NCLEX
Possible Careers: All positions offered to RNs with ADNs, with the addition of supervisor nursing positions

RN with an MSN
Requirements:
 Must earn an ASN or BSN, along with a Master of Science in Nursing degree (typically a two-year program), work experience in a medical setting, and a license through a passing score on the NCLEX
Possible Careers: Managerial positions, nursing educators and advanced practice roles

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Requirements: Must earn a BSN or MSN and a DNP (programs range from 12 months to four years), extensive work experience in a medical setting, and a license through a passing score on the NCLEX
Possible Careers: Top-level and advanced clinical nursing positions in a variety of medical institutions

Bar graph depicting average annual nursing salaries
Upgrade Your Nursing Salary at Rivier University

Are you ready for more? Furthering your education is the first step on the path to promotion. Rivier University offers a fully online RN-BSN program for students who already have an ADN and want to enhance their nursing careers. Nurses with a BSN can further their careers with a fully online MSN program, with concentrations in nursing education, leadership in health systems management, and family nurse practitioner, all of which offer abundant job opportunities.

Students in Rivier’s online nursing degree programs have access to experienced professors, peer mentors, and many more resources. And since all class content is available online, students can complete coursework on their own time from wherever it’s most convenient for them.

Take that first step  Contact an enrollment counselor today to get started.