How to negotiate a nursing salary

Top tips and strategies to negotiate a higher nursing salary.

Sunayana Samantaray
Sunayana Samantaray
9th May 2023 • 5m read

Are you wondering how to negotiate a nursing salary and get the raise you deserve? Don’t fret! We have some tips for you! Negotiating for a higher salary can be daunting, but with the right tools, you can turn the art of negotiation into a science. 

Nurses who accept an employer’s first offer, or hesitate to negotiate, could be leaving money on the table. Using your value, professional worth, and nursing experience to advocate for a salary hike can be crucial for your financial success. Our top five tips will help you navigate the salary negotiation process like a pro! 

Research your nursing field

To put your best foot forward, you need to equip yourself with relevant nursing industry data. This requires researching the average national pay, pay by state, and qualification requirements. You can use the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics or other credible job sites, such as PayScale or Glassdoor, to gather information. 

The key to optimal negotiation lies in using your research to identify and advocate your professional standing. Aim to set your salary range above the average rates to leave room for negotiation, but also have a predetermined lowest acceptable offer. However, it is important to recognize that your employer’s compensation rates are often personalized, and it is wise to modify your negotiation tactics to fit their expectations. 

Critical thinking, communication, patient assessment, and empathy are essential skills for all nursing fields. Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash.

Make a list of your greatest nursing skills

Whether you are asking for a raise or negotiating your salary for a new job, backing up your request with a list of your greatest nursing skills is essential. Your list should include both technical nursing qualifications and interpersonal skills for healthcare management. 

Skills such as teamwork, empathy, conflict resolution, and adaptability apply to every nursing field. Gather evidence or examples from past jobs that highlight these qualities. 

It is also vital that you add demonstrable technical skills to your list. For example, if you are a palliative care nurse practitioner, you can add our Palliative Care Essentials certificate to stand out. Adding professional certifications covering advanced education or professional development in your field is a great resume booster for nurses.

Advance your nursing education

Advancing your nursing education offers a tangible justification for your higher salary negotiation. If you are an LPN with an Associate Degree in Nursing, you can enroll in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program to become an RN. Similarly, if you currently work as an RN, you can get a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree to guarantee a pay raise. 

However, we know that enrolling in a postsecondary program isn’t a realistic option for everyone. So, acquiring professional certifications or education credits while working as a full-time nurse is a great alternative. Our accredited Continuing Education Credits (CME) for Nurse Practitioners are accepted by The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) and are great career advancers. We also offer AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ for nurses to fulfill Category 1 CME hours. 

Use the industry average and your nursing qualifications to negotiate a higher nursing salary. Image by Robert Owen-Wahl from Pixabay.

How to negotiate your nursing salary

The actual salary negotiation process needs to be an open dialogue with a tactful approach. You will want to calm your nerves and try to gauge your employer’s reactions to your salary requests. The key is to get employers to provide their salary ranges first, but if they don’t, you can always use your industry salary research to get the ball rolling. 

It is important to be respectful, and not aggressive, with your negotiation tactics. You should also refrain from asking for exaggerated pay rates. Be sure to back up your salary requests with your professional achievements. Your negotiation strategies will vary depending on your employment status. 

How to ask for a raise in your current nursing position

  • Prepare and plan your negotiation strategy. 
  • Practice, practice, practice! Present your pitch to your human resources manager or another colleague to eliminate unnecessary jitters. 
  • Justify your salary raise request with proof of tangible growth. 
  • Timing matters. If you can, approach your employer at least one year after your previous raise and when your organization is not experiencing a revenue deficit.
  • Summarize your contributions and participation. 
  • Highlight both interpersonal and intrapersonal skills. 
  • Ask yourself questions such as whether you have made improvements or acquired any new skills since your last performance review.
  • Compare your current salary with the average nursing salary in your state. Be sure to factor in your experience and qualifications. 
  • Ask for a raise of 4 to 5 percent. 
  • Give your employer time to consider your request. 

How do you negotiate a higher salary when starting a new job?

  • Your resume, application, and interview need to highlight your greatest nursing skills that match and go beyond the job posting requirements. 
  • Find the average pay for the nursing position. You can use your research or ask the prospective employer for their range. 
  • Keep the negotiation productive by setting your pre-determined, lowest acceptable salary range. Be sure to request a salary that is 15 to 20 percent above the original offer. 
  • Leave room for negotiation. 
  • Take your time to consider their offer. Don’t give in to pressure and agree to the offer immediately unless you are happy with the negotiation. Request a few days to consider the salary and benefits. 
  • It is important to take gender and racial pay disparities into account. 
  • Be sure to have a respectful and open dialogue with your hiring manager.
  • If satisfied, agree to the terms and good luck with your new job!

Negotiate beyond your pay

Negotiating for a beneficial compensation package beyond your pay should factor in your schedule, vacation days, and salary bonuses. It is crucial to negotiate a benefits package that offers you an optimal work-life balance. You should also negotiate stock options and annual pay raise percentages. 

Salary negotiation is a vital element for career growth, and articulating your market value with research and evidence makes the science of negotiation less intimidating. We hope Medmastery’s top five tips will help you negotiate your nursing salary seamlessly.