7 Tips to Negotiate the Nursing Salary You Deserve

7 Tips to Negotiate the Nursing Salary You Deserve

“I feel that I am paid what I’m worth,” said no nurse ever. Most nurses want to earn more money! Have you ever considered negotiating your salary offer? If the answer is no, you're not alone. Only 60% of job seekers feel comfortable negotiating offers.

Surprisingly, employers expect you to negotiate! Failing to do so translates into not knowing your worth. It can also affect future raises and even worsen the gender pay gap. A Harvard study found that men are more likely to negotiate their salary than women. However, if it is explicitly stated that the salary is up for negotiation, this difference disappears.

Other studies have shown that 83% of negotiators end up receiving higher pay. Just think about how you can use that extra income! Every dollar you earn now is a dollar that can help you get out of debt or a dollar you can invest.

1. Do your Research

Before you begin to negotiate, it’s wise to know your numbers. Discover what other nurses who share your experience and education level make in your region. This knowledge is especially essential for new grads, as your first salary often dictates your lifelong salary. Because raises are typically percentage based, if your starting salary is low, it will be almost impossible to catch up to your colleagues whose initial salary was higher.

At Lume, we are a bank for nurses with an amazing feature that allows nurses to submit their salary for others to view. Check it out to compare salaries and confirm that your offer was fair. As a bonus, we also have reviews of hospitals and employers. This makes it your one stop shop when researching potential employers.

Not knowing what other nurses make—especially as a new grad—is one huge reason you may not negotiate and accept a poor offer. Remember that knowledge is power and having specific figures on hand can guide your specific salary request. Pay transparency shows disparities between genders and races while giving you a potential advantage when negotiating.

2. Know what you need

There is no point in negotiating a low salary that you know won’t suffice. Looking at your budget and household expenses, determine the salary you need to pay expenses and maintain the quality of life you want.

If your potential employer cannot meet your salary demands, consider alternative options! At Lume, we believe nurses deserve to be paid what they’re worth. Utilize our salary and reviews databank to find those higher-paying employers in your area. These features are only available to Lume bank account customers, so make sure you don’t miss out by joining our waitlist now!

3. Update your Resume

In an attempt to promote equity in the workplace, many employers base their salary on a nurse’s education and there are varying levels associated with education and certifications. Therefore, having a resume that accurately reflects your experience is important!


Maybe you are a brand new registered nurse, but have worked in management and possess strong communication and leadership skills. These attributes strengthen your worth as an employee, so use it to your advantage!

4. Know what’s Legal

Enter your interview knowing which questions are allowed and what topics are illegal to discuss. Believe it or not, you may not have to tell your future employer what your previous salary was. In fact, nine US states have made it illegal for employers to ask as a way to mitigate the gender pay gap. To learn about your state’s rules, check out this article.

5. Ask for 15-20% above the Original Offer

There are acceptable offers and offers that will quickly lose an employer’s respect. The rule of thumb is to negotiate for 15-20% of the original offer.

For example, if you are offered a salary of $50,000, you wouldn’t want to ask for $100,000. That’s a pretty big jump! At the same time, asking for $52,000 isn’t enough. Instead, negotiate for $57,500-60,000. It’s still in the range of the original offer, so it doesn’t seem too far out of left field. However, it makes a big enough difference in take home pay. 

6. Timing Matters

The unspoken rule in negotiation is to avoid talking first and allow the employer to present their numbers to you. This gives you an advantage because it lets you know what range to place your offer in. Typically, there is a salary scope that an employer is operating in and they will initially offer you the lower end of that range.

When you receive an offer during the interview, you may feel pressured to respond immediately. However, it’s okay and even wise to ask for a few days to consider it. This will give you the time to think critically about what’s being offered—the salary, schedule, benefits, and career opportunities.

7. Negotiate Benefits

Consider negotiating other benefits such as paid time off, stock options, and a sign-on bonus. While your hiring manager may have their hands tied on the salary they can offer, there may be more wiggle room with a hiring or relocation bonus.

Nailing that negotiation and increasing your overall income will help you reach your debt-free goals. The more income you have, the more money you can put toward eliminating debt and investing. And the higher your starting salary, the greater your lifelong salary will be!

Morganne Skinner, BSN

I am a registered nurse of 6 years with a background in Surgical-Trauma ICU and rehabilitation. I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia for 2 years. Currently, I am working in Public Health with maternal-child health and communicable disease.


Answering questions related to all things nursing and money.