Whether you’ve just finished your nursing training and have received your first job offer, or you’re a veteran nurse with years of experience with multiple employers, negotiating a higher salary can be uncomfortable, awkward, or even intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be! Salary negotiation is a normal part of the hiring process for nurses, and employers expect you to make a counteroffer.
Why is it Important to Negotiate Your Salary as a Registered Nurse?
Most employers begin negotiating by extending an offer at the low end of their range. Negotiating a higher offer lets them know you understand your worth—and the value you bring to the organization. It’s likely you didn’t get into the healthcare industry for the money, but nursing is an incredibly demanding profession, and you deserve fair compensation.
Accepting a lowball offer indicates to your potential employer that you lack confidence, don’t know your worth, or haven’t done your research. Do you want to send those signals? No way!
Use these 5 tips from the expert nursing recruiters at Medical Talent, a leading national RN staffing agency, to help you feel as comfortable negotiating a better salary as your potential employers feel extending their initial offer.
Expert Medical Recruiters Share How to Negotiate a Higher Nursing Salary
Whether you partner with an employment agency for RN jobs or you’re job hunting alone, research, preparation, and practice help set the stage for successful salary negotiation.
#1 Research Salary Averages for Registered Nursing Jobs
Wonder how much money you could be making? It pays to find out.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is a good starting point for salary research. It provides annually updated salary ranges for registered nurses and other occupations. However, these pay scales are based on national averages and can vary widely by region.
Websites like Payscale and Glassdoor offer salary calculators which can also provide insight into the appropriate salary range for your next job. However, compensation can be higher or lower based on:
- Experience Level. Tenured nurses can leverage their years of experience to ask for higher pay.
- Education Level. Nurses with advanced degrees and certifications often command higher compensation.
- Nursing Salaries in Your Area. The local nursing job market will drive salaries higher and lower as health facilities compete for the best talent.
Having detailed information about salary ranges for nurses with your level of experience in your area will help you create appropriate compensation expectations. Consider reaching out to your local nursing organization to see if they can help with your research.
#2 Determine Your Ideal Salary as an RN
Decide on your ideal salary range before your interview. What is your dream number? What is the lowest you would accept? Knowing your numbers can make it easier to know if an opportunity is worth pursuing.
#3 Let the Employer Present a Nursing Salary First
In a salary negotiation, the person who speaks first usually loses ground. Don’t rush to fill an awkward silence after your interviewer asks you to disclose your salary “requirements” or “expectations.” Instead, take a moment to decide on your best answer.
Medical Talent nursing recruiters suggest using one of these approaches:
- Suggest a salary range. If you don’t want to knock yourself out of the running by asking for your top salary number, use your research to suggest a range you’d be willing to accept. Even if your numbers don’t initially match, perhaps your ranges will overlap, which will keep you in consideration during the next stage of the process.
- Answer a question with a question. Ask the facility what they are willing to pay. They might not be willing to answer, but if they do, you’ll have a better idea of where to begin your negotiation.
- Remain flexible. Don’t want to show your salary card yet? Feel like you may have taken yourself out of the running by asking for too much money? Tell your interviewer you’re “flexible.” This will let them know you might be willing to accept a lower salary in return for other benefits or professional development opportunities.
#4 Ask for 15% Higher Than Your Initial Offer
Your dream health facility made an offer. Now what?
Current market wisdom suggests asking for 15% higher than the initial offer is reasonable. Can’t do the math in your head under pressure? Don’t worry. It’s also a good idea to ask for time to consider the offer.
Asking for a few days will give you time to decide your next steps. Remember—your potential employer is expecting you to negotiate. Don’t disappoint them—and most of all, don’t sell yourself short.
The nursing profession is 86% women—women who earn 83 cents for every dollar men earn. Yet 32% of women report not negotiating for a higher salary. As a nurse, you bring valuable skills and experience to the table, and medical facilities are eager to hire you. Ask to be fairly compensated for your valuable contributions. In a respectful negotiation, everyone has the same goal: finding an offer that benefits all parties.
#5 Talk about Your Nursing Accomplishments
Unless you share them, your interviewer may never know what you really do in a day’s work. Be open and honest about your nursing accomplishments. Consider keeping a log of your achievements in a notebook, an app, or a spreadsheet to make it easier to remember your accomplishments during interviews.
What Can Registered Nurses Negotiate Besides Salary?
You negotiated for a higher salary—great job! Unfortunately, your dream employer is unable to offer you more money. You want to job, but you also know your worth—and have bills to pay. If you can’t find equal ground in terms of pay, consider asking for other benefits to make up the difference:
- Sick Days
- Paid Time Off
- Negotiate Your Schedule
- Continuing Education Reimbursement
- Sign-on bonus
How a Nursing Recruiter Can Help You Find a High-Paying RN Job
Looking for a better RN opportunity? Working with a nursing recruiter can help you advance your career.
Recruiters Have Access to Better Nursing Jobs
Nursing recruiters have well-established relationships with leading employers who trust them to deliver compassionate, skilled nursing talent. Often, hiring managers don’t post jobs online; they trust their preferred RN staffing agency to meet their staffing needs. By partnering with a recruiter, you’ll have access to a wide variety of top nursing opportunities.
Nursing Recruiters are Expert Negotiators
You may have only negotiated for a higher salary a few times in your career, but a nursing recruiter negotiates multiple times per day. They understand the industry and the local job market and know how to get the best offer for you.
Find RN Jobs Faster with a Recruiter
Don’t want to spend days—or weeks—combing job ads to find work with the salary, benefits, and schedule you desire? A nursing recruiter can help you find rewarding work quickly. Whether you’re working full-time or merely want to find a nursing job faster, working with an employment agency for RN jobs can help you find an opportunity that fits your skills, education, and interests. Since they have established relationships with hiring managers, recruiters can get your resume seen by decision-makers and submit your application for unadvertised opportunities.
Negotiate a Higher Nursing Salary with Recruiters from a Top RN Staffing Agency Today
Medical Talent nursing recruiters work as hard for you as you do for your patients. They’ve worked in the medical industry, understand the challenges you face each day—and know how to get the highest compensation for your valuable nursing skills. Browse our Registered Nursing Jobs and apply today!