There are a few factors that will influence your salary as a nurse such as:
- Your experience
- Your degree
- Where you work
- Where you live
- What your specialty is
- Your employment status
- Your shift
Obviously, the more experience you have will translate into increases in salary. If you stay at the same job for a while, you will slowly increase your salary through raises (might be small and slow to accrue).
The best way to quickly earn more based on your experience is to change jobs often, say every couple of years. You don’t want to hop around too quickly, but you also don’t want to get stuck somewhere for 10 years without a significant pay bump because you could potentially double your starting salary in 10 years if you moved around.
BSNs are going to make more on average than ADNs. Most facilities pay BSN nurses more, and some hospitals will only hire BSN RNs due to magnet status. MSN RNs will make the most money, and likely be in higher up positions such as nurse managers, administrators, and have other opportunities open up that have higher salaries than regular floor nurses.
Where you work
The type of nursing you do will make a difference in your pay. If you work in a doctor’s office, you will not make as much as working in a hospital. Hospitals usually pay the highest for most nurses. However, there are specialty positions outside of the hospital that can pay more such as insurance jobs and others that may offer more. But for most people, working in the hospital will earn you the most money.
Where you live
Your location makes a difference. California nurses, for example, are the highest paid nurses in the U.S. because the cost of living is so f***ing high in California. Nurses in Texas, for example, (and in the south in general) don’t make as much as those in northern states, however, cost of living is generally lower in these areas and it may balance out in the end.
What your specialty is
If you are a med-surg nurse, you may not make as much as an OR or ICU nurse. Why? Some facilities pay nurses in higher level of care units more money, and other times the pay gap is due to experience alone.
Your employment status
If you are a full-time employee, you might not make as much as a PRN employee. You also might make more than a part-time employee. This is typically because facilities don’t pay PRN employees benefits, so they can afford to pay them higher wages.
Agency and travel nurses are paid the highest because they are filling a critical staffing gap and typically have more experience.
Differentials add up fast. Nightshift and evening shifts can carry significant diffs of $5-7/hr which translates to $10-14K per year at full-time hours. Add in overtime at 1.5x base pay and you can easily make six fixures as a nurse.
So here’s the quick and dirty on how to make more money in nursing:
- Change jobs every couple of years, especially in the beginning
- Work in high yield facilities like hospitals
- Work in high level of care units like the ICU
- Work off shifts (night, evening, weekend), for the differentials
- Check out PRN positions if you don’t need the benefits
- Consider agency or travel nursing
Let us know your tips!