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Established RNs and recent grads alike may have concerns about their earning potential. Often, nurses shy away from discussing their salary. However, nurses who settle for a salary they do not agree with may regret it, especially if they discover a co-worker with the same qualifications is paid more. Though it may be uncomfortable, nurses should know that most healthcare employers are open to salary negotiations.

Do Nurses Engage in Salary Negotiation?

The 2018 Nursing Salary Research Report presents findings from 4,520 RNs and advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) surveyed. The study concluded that all RNs were “moderately satisfied with their salaries.” As far as negotiation, the survey found that 43 percent of the time men usually or always negotiate, while only 34 percent of women engage in bargaining. Other findings from the survey include:

  • A correlation exists between education and certification and higher salaries for both genders.
  • To increase income, 56 percent of male and 49 percent of female respondents would consider pursuing higher education and certification.

When Should Nurses Negotiate Their Salary?

Nurses are most valuable to a healthcare employer when they have many years of experience, have a BSN or higher, and hold specialty certification. Experienced nurses may be able to negotiate their salary when they change jobs, titles or employers.

What Can New Nurses Do to Leverage for More Money?

New nurses may have difficulty negotiating a salary because they are just starting out, but they should tell employers about any hospital or other healthcare experience they may have acquired while completing their preparation. ADN-prepared nurses can discuss their plans to enroll or their current enrollment in an RN to BSN program.

What Are 5 Tips for Negotiating Salary?

Nurses who are well informed have a better chance of receiving the salary they desire. Healthcare companies may adhere to a certain pay structure, but you may find some wiggle room in their pay scale.

Most importantly, never treat negotiating as entertainment. You should only negotiate because you want the job and need to make enough money to be financially stable. Moreover, do not lie about having another job offer if it is not true. These tactics can backfire on you and hurt your professional reputation. Here are five tips for negotiating:

  1. Investigate salaries so you are prepared for negotiations. By knowing your worth, you can confidently ask for a salary that is comparable to what nurses who meet the same criteria make. For example, RNs who work in neonatal care should research salaries for their specialty in the same geographic location.
  2. Settle on a salary range. Choose an amount that is slightly more than you want, while also knowing the lowest number you will accept.
  3. Wait for the employer to quote a salary first. Unfortunately, an employer may ask job candidates what their salary requirements are before stating an amount. This is why it helps to research salaries that fit the demands and responsibilities of the position.
  4. Market yourself. Nurses need to demonstrate to an employer what they can offer and why. They should recount relevant stories about nursing situations, talk about professional activities, and share references or documentation that proves their competency.
  5. Have a checklist. It is helpful to know if the employer’s offer meets your needs, so ask questions. Is the salary commensurate with your expertise? Is the benefits package adequate? Are the terms of the job acceptable to you?  Can you consent to everything without any misgivings?

Nurses can encounter obstacles when deciding to negotiate their salary. For nurses who are part of a labor union, salary may be predetermined based on a contract between the organization and employer. In addition, many healthcare employers rely on a tiered pay system to decide salary amounts. Within the boundaries of the payment arrangement, employers may consider a nurse’s experience, preparation and certifications.

Regardless of the situation, be confident and prepared, and negotiate the salary you deserve.

Learn more about Mississippi College’s online RN to BSN program.


American Nurse Today: 6 Tips to Salary Negotiations

Donna Cardillo RN: How to Negotiate the Salary You Want How to Negotiate Salary. Nursing Job 101

Becker’s Hospital Review: 4 Tips for Nurses Negotiating Salary 2018 Nursing Salary Research Report Nurse Recruiters Share Top Tips for Negotiating Salary

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