Maximize your nursing income

While it would be nice to work just for the creative personal satisfaction, money is usually an object. When times are tough, that’s even more true. Whether you’re a recent graduate or an experienced registered nurse, making the most of your money and benefits is important. Here are some specific strategies you can use to increase your earning potential.

Advance Preparation

Ideally, adding to your earning potential starts before you ever go on that first job interview. Unfortunately, there isn’t a great deal of difference in salary between an associate or a bachelor’s degree in nursing for that first job. Some organizations don’t pay anything extra for a BSN; others might pay a little more — say $0.50 an hour (which is still an extra $1000 a year). However, the BSN opens doors to positions you aren’t likely to be considered for if you have an ADN. In most states, for example, the BSN is the minimum qualification for a nurse educator. Entry-level management positions are also more likely to be available for the BSN-prepared nurse, and if you decide to go one for an advanced nursing degree, you’re in a better position with a BSN.

Put On Your Negotiating Shoes

Research shows that men in nursing (especially those in advanced practice positions) often have higher starting salaries than women. The reason appears to be that men are more likely to negotiate wages right from the start, while women often accept what’s offered. Over the course of the first five years, a dollar an hour translates into a bit over $10,000. If you don’t know how to negotiate, do some reading, take a course in tactics and practice with your peers or a friend. Make sure your resume showcases the reasons why you’re worth that extra money and don’t be afraid to shop around for a better deal. Do the research on comparable salaries so you’ve got the data to help make your case. Don’t overlook the advantage of a sign-on bonus to give you a boost when you start a new job.

Location Matters

Wages vary by geographical location as well as industry. Salaries are usually higher in metropolitan areas than rural areas, and in certain states than others. Be careful here, as living expenses are often also higher. In some cases, those extra earnings can be quickly gobbled up by rent or other expenses. The industry in which you practice also makes a difference. Although the majority of nurses still work in hospitals, other options abound, especially once you have a little experience under your belt. Check out non-traditional work venues like insurance nursing, industrial health, risk management, dialysis or nursing informatics.

Education Matters, Too

Additional credentials can make you more attractive to an employer, as can experience. Some organizations prefer or require certification in a nursing specialty for positions in critical care, emergency or neonatal nursing. A nurse who is competent in more than one area and is willing to float is a jewel beyond price when staffing is tight. Nursing is an extremely versatile field, and nurses who have a broad range of experience have more options over the long term. Your employer might even offer educational opportunities that can help you out in this area. If you don’t have the opportunity to gain extra experience in your own organization, consider a part-time or per diem position in a different specialty somewhere else in your community. And there is no question that going on for an advanced degree as a nurse practitioner, nurse midwife or nurse anesthesiologist will boost your salary potential. Nurse anesthesiologists are the highest-paid of the group.

The Benefits Picture

When looking for ways to maximize your income, don’t overlook the possibilities inherent in benefits. If you couldn’t afford that BSN when you first started your nursing education, an organization that offers tuition assistance can help you get a more advanced degree. Some organizations will help you pay for certification. Better health insurance coverage means fewer dollars of that precious salary out of your pocket. Flex time and employee health or child care accounts are another benefits that can cut costs and give you more money in-pocket. A good retirement plan makes a difference over the long term, even if it doesn’t change the financial picture right now.

Shift It

Consider choosing the less attractive but often more lucrative shifts to boost your income. Night and weekend shifts often come with a differential, for example. If your employer offers 12-hour shifts, you could work three days a week for full-time benefits there and pick up another day or two in another organization for a higher salary in lieu of benefits. This can also be a great way to gain experience in a different specialty. However, if you choose this course, make sure you balance your time to stay healthy and prevent burnout.

Get Creative

There are a wide variety of creative ways to earn extra money as a registered nurse. Nursing schools may hire tutors or maintain a list of freelance tutors for students who need extra help in a particular area. Also on the education front, you could be certified as a CPR or ACLS instructor; work for an organization that offers these courses or freelance. If you’re an expert in a particular area, your could earn speaking fees for continuing education events. Community events often have a first aid station and will hire nurses to cover this position. Health plans may offer telephone triage or telephone and online resources for patients who have questions about health concerns.

No matter which of the many strategies you choose to maximize your income, it’s important to remember a couple of things. First, in many cases, it’s not what you make but how you spend that determines your financial situation. Frugality and thrift will keep those precious dollars in your pocket. Second, do the work you love; for most people, having lots of money isn’t worth a toxic job in the long run.


Written by 3rd independent party

2016-28106  Exp. 10/18