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How much money should you be making as a nurse?

Are you a nurse who wants to make more money? Although you want a higher salary, knowing how much money you should make is confusing. In today’s blog, HireMe Healthcare is breaking down how much you should be getting paid and effective negotiation strategies for discussing a promotion or negotiating your salary.

How much should you make?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a nurse in 2021 was $77,000, but that number doesn’t tell the whole story. Your salary depends on several factors, including your education level, if you're a traveling nurse, what shift you work, and how many years of experience you have.

Where you live in the US influences how much you make as well. Employers in states with a higher cost of living, such as California and New York, pay nurses more. But in those states, the cost of living is higher too.

Instead of opting for a state where the salaries and cost of living are the highest, it’s more financially sound to work in a state with a lower cost of living and above-average salaries, such as North Carolina.

Along with its lower cost of living, North Carolina is in the top sixteen states which pay nurses the most. Nurses in North Carolina can expect to make between $56,274 and $84,412, depending on their experience and education level.

Determining your worth

As you can see from North Carolina’s range in average salaries, a nurse’s paycheck can vary greatly. When calculating your worth, consider these factors:

  • How many years of experience do you have? The more experience you have, the higher your salary should be.

  • What is your education level? Registered nurses and nurse practitioners can expect to make more than nurses with an associate’s degree.

  • What type of nurse are you? Traveling nurses and nurses with specialized training, such as nurse anesthetists and psychiatric nurses, make more than nurses in other fields.

If you’re still confused about how much your salary should be, you can research the specific city you live in or talk with a trusted mentor about how much you should be making.

Negotiating your worth

Talking about salary can be tricky, but negotiating for fair pay is well worth it. When you go into salary negotiations at your current job or a new job, keep these tips in mind:

  • Do your research before negotiating. Find out how much other nurses are making in your area and how much of a pay bump you deserve based on your current experience and education.

  • Bring your value to the table. When negotiating salary, focus on the value you can provide to your employer. You can highlight how you’ve added value to past workplaces or specialized training which could help in the role.

  • Never accept the first offer. Often, employers will offer their lowest salary first. Even if it seems scary, it benefits you (and your employers since nurses with higher salaries stay in a position longer!) to counter with a higher salary.

While no one likes salary negotiations, it’s important to research how much your skillset and education are worth. As a nurse, you already have enough to deal with–a lower-than-average salary shouldn’t be added to the list.

Looking for a better-paying nursing job?

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