Registered nurses (RNs) are well-compensated healthcare professionals, with the median salary for an RN currently averaging at $75,330 per year. Even if you were hired at a less than competitive rate, you shouldn't wait around forever for a raise. With educated RNs in such high demand, there is no reason not to negotiate your way to a higher salary from time to time. While asking for a raise can be intimidating, it's just another aspect of enjoying a fulfilling and rewarding nursing career. Read on to pick up useful tips for getting a raise as a nurse.
If it's been a while since you received a pay increase, stop waiting around. Unfortunately, many employers simply aren't very proactive about offering raises. Without speaking up, they are likely to assume that you are content with your current rate of pay. Even if it's been a long time, you're never guaranteed to get a raise. However, the following eight tips should help:
1. Research Typical Compensation In Your Area
Before asking for a raise, make sure that you're being realistic. By the same token, if you think you're compensated well enough, it never hurts to check. Use a site like Payscale.com to figure out the average going rate for nursing professionals in your area. This information will confirm whether or not you are entitled to a raise, and it will come in handy when requesting one. By doing your homework, you will show your employer that you mean business and that you are paying attention.
2. Hone Your Negotiation Skills
Negotiating a higher salary doesn't come naturally to most people. In fact, most people are incredibly uncomfortable doing so. However, it's often the only way to get what you want, so it's crucial to get comfortable with it. Enlist a friend to help you talk your way through negotiation talks. Study up on the subject to learn the most effective techniques. Go into the process being fine about potentially failing. Even if you do, your employer now knows where you stand, and you will have an even stronger leg to stand on when you request a raise again in the future.
3. Keep Networking
What if you've essentially maxed out your pay potential at your current position? Are you out of luck? Not necessarily. By constantly having your feelers out there looking for new opportunities, you're more likely to find something more lucrative before very long. Networking is among the best ways to stay abreast of potential career opportunities, so get active with local chapters of nursing-related organizations. Attend job fairs and other events whenever possible, and connect with fellow healthcare professionals through sites like LinkedIn.
4. Volunteer To Work In Critical Care Areas
Due to the chaotic atmosphere of such environments, critical care areas like emergency rooms tend to scare away many registered nurses. As a result, hospitals often struggle to keep qualified people on the job in those departments. To decrease turnover and increase the odds of landing qualified candidates, employers often offer higher compensation for those who work in critical care areas. Of course, you need to get comfortable with working in such environments first. Although they are often stressful, many RNs find them to be rewarding places to work.
5. Work The Night Shift
Most employers tack on a premium to the hourly rate for night shifts. This means that by working overnight, you should be entitled to extra compensation. Some employers bump up such employees' hourly rates, whereas others increase their pay by a certain percentage while working overnight. Either way, the extra pay comes very much in handy and helps to offset the stress of having to be awake, alert and, on your feet all night long.
6. Obtain Certifications
You can't expect employers to grant your request for a raise if you aren't willing to go the extra mile. A great way to do so is by pursuing specialty certifications. Nurses who hold certifications in things like gerontology, advanced cardiovascular life support, and certified hospice and palliative care, for example, tend to command higher pay than those who lack certifications entirely. Employers are even often willing to foot the bill for employees who seek certifications, so you may not have to pay a dime to get them. Even if you do have to pay, the investment will be well worth it when you get that coveted raise.
7. Pursue An Advanced Degree
At a certain point, you are likely to max out your earning potential based on your level of education. This is why it pays to consider pursuing a higher degree now. Although it means investing even more money into your education, it also means enjoying a truly significant pay increase down the line. Consider this: LPNs earn an average of $48,820 per year. Registered nurses earn around $75,330 per year. Finally, certified registered nurse anesthetists, or CRNAs, command around $189,190 per year. To qualify for the latter salary, you'll want to pursue your master of science in nursing, or MSN.
8. Gain Management Experience
Many registered nurses are perfectly happy sticking with patient care. Others enjoy the big picture better and may be better suited for management. Higher pay typically goes along with management and administrative nursing positions, so consider working toward that goal. The nice thing is that you don't necessarily need an advanced degree to start working your way up. Eventually, however, an MSN will allow you to pursue more and more advanced roles.
As you can see, there are many ways to increase the odds of being granted that much-needed raise. From simple things like networking to more involved things like pursuing a master's degree, the opportunities are truly endless for registered nurses.