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How to Negotiate Your Nursing Salary & Benefits


July 26, 2023

Picture this: You’ve finally found your dream job. You’re passionate, skilled, and ready to make a difference in patients’ lives. But there’s just one hurdle between you and that dream – figuring out how to negotiate your nursing salary.

Trust me, I’ve been there, and I understand the anxiety that comes with salary negotiations. I’ll walk you through how to negotiate. It’s my goal to help give you the confidence to stand up for your worth and secure the salary and benefits you deserve.

Nursing Salary Negotiations – Start by Knowing Your Worth

Before you dive into the nitty-gritty of nursing salary negotiations, it’s critical to get into the right mindset. It’s not easy to convince someone to believe in you when you don’t believe in yourself! If you sell yourself short, you’re not likely to make much progress.

So remember, you’re an invaluable asset with unique skills and experiences. Take a deep breath, summon your confidence, and enter the negotiation with a positive attitude. Know that your skills and contributions are worth acknowledging and compensating fairly. 

Research Nursing Salaries in Your Area

First things first – do your homework! Research and preparation is the key to successful negotiations. You need to be able to recognize the value you bring to the table.

Start by researching the average salaries for nurses with similar skills and experience in your area or the region where you work. You can use websites like Glassdoor, Payscale,, or professional nursing associations’ reports to gather the data.

Pro Tip: Salary research can be tricky! Depending on the websites you visit, you may see a wide range of salary results for people with your skills and job title. You can add them up and divide by the number of salary reports to get an average. If one salary site gives an average of $68,000, another $85,000, and still another $92,000, just add those three numbers  ($245,000) and divide by three. Round that number up to get an average of $81,700. 

Prepare to Highlight Your Achievements

Take a moment to reflect on your achievements. Things like advanced certifications, specializations, or outstanding patient outcomes are great leverage for your salary negotiation. 

Recognize the value you’ll bring to the organization and how your skills can contribute to its success. A little self-awareness will boost your confidence during negotiations.

Embrace the Power of Networking

Don’t underestimate the power of networking and gathering insights from fellow nurses who’ve negotiated successfully. Talking with other nursing pros and hearing their salary negotiation stories can give you valuable intel to help you prepare for your own negotiation. 

Chatting with colleagues, mentors, or professional nursing groups can not only provide you with valuable tips, but your fellow healthcare workers can also be a great source of support as you go through the negotiation process.

Negotiation Techniques – It’s More Than Just Numbers

Negotiating isn’t just about dollars and cents, it’s about good communication.

  • Start by actively listening to the employer’s needs and expectations. If the employer feels heard, they’re more likely to listen to you in return. If you can’t start on the exact same page, at least you’ll both be in the same chapter.
  • Showcase your passion for the job. Be open to discussing more than just the salary. Demonstrate your flexibility by considering alternative benefits like flexible hours, professional development opportunities, or comprehensive insurance coverage. Emphasize how your contributions can positively impact patient care and the organization’s success.
  • Be assertive, but also respectful. During the negotiation, use “I” statements to express your needs and concerns. For example, “I believe my skills and experience justify a higher salary” rather than “You are not offering me enough.”
  • Know when to compromise. Be collaborative, not combative. Avoid making ultimatums or focusing solely on personal desires. Instead, highlight how your skills and dedication align with the employer’s mission and goals. Both parties may have to bend a little to meet each other at least halfway. 

Remember, negotiation isn’t about making demands; it’s a constructive conversation aimed at finding common ground. 

Negotiating Beyond Salary – The Total Benefits Package 

A nursing job isn’t just about the paycheck. Your benefits are a big part of your total compensation package.

Non-monetary benefits like a favorable work schedule, tuition assistance for further education, and comprehensive health coverage can add substantial value to your overall compensation. These perks can boost your career satisfaction and contribute to your long-term growth and success.

Prioritize the benefits that align with your personal and professional goals. For example, if you plan to pursue additional certifications or a higher degree, tuition assistance can be a great asset. And there’s a bonus: Negotiating these benefits shows your commitment to lifelong learning and career advancement.

Don’t shy away from discussing the potential for growth and advancement. Ask about opportunities for promotion or lateral moves within the hospital or healthcare system. This shows you’re committed to your organization for the long term. 

The Follow-Up

Stay professional throughout the negotiation process. When you follow up, make sure to express your enthusiasm and appreciation for the opportunity. Reiterate your commitment to the role and express your gratitude that your organization came to the table to discuss terms. 

Responding to the Offer

If the employer opts to hand you everything you ask for, then go you! You just scored the ideal outcome. (Remember how you did it so you can do the same thing next time you need to enter salary negotiations!)

But if you received a counteroffer, you may need some time to make a decision. If that’s the case, then be transparent. Let your employer know you appreciate their willingness to work with you, and that you’d like some time to think about the offer. Be specific! If the employer didn’t give you a respond-by date, then offer a reasonable timeframe for your response. You might say something like, “I’d like a few days to review the offer. I can let you know my decision by the end of the day on [date]. Does that work?”

Remember, negotiations are not just about getting what you want; they are about building a positive and lasting professional relationship with your employer or future employer. Be gracious, courteous, and appreciative during this final stage of the negotiation process.

As you venture into the world of nursing negotiations, remember this: You hold the power to shape your future. Believe in yourself, do your research, and communicate your worth confidently. Never settle for less than what you deserve.

Pooja Patel is a registered nurse of eight years with a master’s degree in nursing leadership. Her primary specialty is in women’s health. She has worked as a labor and delivery nurse, fertility nurse, and now a fertility nurse manager. She has also worked in corporate insurance and ambulatory care. Pooja started her wellness and lifestyle blog, Nurse Bestie, to help overwhelmed nurses conquer their stress and learn how to live a happy and healthy life. She’s passionate about being healthy and sharing all of its life-changing benefits for busy nurses.