Even during touch economic conditions there are strategies you can employ that will increase your nurse salary. Keep in mind that you need to consider the total compensation package and not focus solely on hourly pay. For example, is tuition reimbursement offered? Are you looking for CEU / CME reimbursement? What is the scope of Health Benefits and how big of a percentage does the employee pay vs. the percentage you pay? Are there Retention Bonuses? Do they offer Performance Incentives? What are the Shift Differentials? What about 401k contributions?
Method # 1: More focus is now being placed on nurses who are at the “mid-level” provider level. Certain practice areas, such as Certified Certified Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP), and Doctor of Nurse Practitioner (DNP) all earn higher salaries than other specialty areas. These and other mid-level positions are helping to fill in the void created by the reduced numbers of primary care physicians.
Method # 2: Look for in-demand shifts. Nurse salary differentials can range from $ 0.50 to $ 10.00 or more per hour. This range is tied to your area of practice, shift and certificates. Many night and weekend shifts increase nurse salary along with such high need specialties as ICU, CICU, CVICU, obstetrics, and OR.
Method # 3: Do not forget to consider all benefits to be additional compensation when looking at nurse base salary. As costs rise, many employers shift a greater portion of your health insurance premium cost to employees. In many cases the split is 80/20. This shift results in a lower of actual take-home pay. In a few cases, employers may pay 100% of the premium to compensate for a rigid salary structure.
Method # 4: Find out if the employer provides sign-on bonuses. If so, ask that this be spread out over time rather than given in one lump sum so that your actual nurse salary is increased. You may also be eligible to receive an annual bonus for meeting certain performance measures.
Method # 5: There may be reimbursements for CEU / CMEs and college or graduate level coursework that is job related. This can affect nurse salary over both the short and long term. Over the short term the obvious benefit is that you incur no additional expenses for continuing your education. In the long term you will be eligible for an across the board salary increase upon completion of an advanced degree of specialty training. Advanced training can also lead into administrative or leadership position, as well as a mid-level role.
Method # 6: Employer contributions to a 401k can be one of the most valuable benefits you can receive. When they match money that you contribute you gain in multiple ways. First, the money you contribute is pre-tax money. If you're in a 25% tax bracket every dollar you put in is equal to a dollar and a quarter in pay. The same for the money they match. You will not be taxed on that money as regular income. Then there are the gains on investments. This compounds and just grows and grows. This is an incredibly valuable benefit. Please do not discount this in favor of a few dollars more in each paycheck. As time goes by you will be very happy you have this.