Looking for a Better Wage? A Checklist to Maximize your Income

pencil_checkmark_yellowbackYou want better pay for all of your hard work.

Whether you are a nurse’s aide, an LPN, an RN, or an advanced practice nurse, you aren’t paid nearly what you are worth to the patient and your facility.

With the current hiring climate, you need to find a way to increase your pay in the job you have.

It isn’t easy to go out and find a job that pays better nowadays because not many jobs are available.

So, what is a nurse to do?

If you want to increase your pay, help your patients, and further your career, it’s going to take a bit of work on your part.

A recent study by an online nursing journal found the most common situations that lead to an increase in pay.

This is a handy checklist that outlines the ways you can increase your salary, stay in your current job, and get paid what you deserve for the excellent patient care you provide.  Some of the options may mean that you have to invest money in your future, but in the long run, they benefit your career.

Education, Certification, and Specialization

Getting a degree is the most common way to increase your salary.  For CNAs and LPNs, getting your RN degree can help, though it also means an increase in responsibility.

For RNs, it is a little more difficult.  Associate’s degree RNs can earn more money as BSNs, and nurses who have advanced standing earn even more.

If you can handle a nurse practitioner or nurse anesthetist program, you can position yourself to earn nearly twice as much as staff nurses.

Certification is another, less costly method of increasing your wage-earning power.

Mostly, this option is open to RNs, but nearly every specialty is represented for credentialing.

From medical-surgical to critical care to geriatrics, you can take a test to qualify for credentials in a wide variety of specialties, and this increases your worth to employers.

Many of the tests require a certain level of experience, but they are open to all levels of registered nurses.

Credentialing relates closely to specialty, and those who specialize can hope to earn more than more general nurses.

However, the lines of specialty are now blurring, as many consider medical-surgical nursing a specialty in itself.

Many other specialties are available to the nurse looking to increase earning power, such as wound care, critical care, trauma, cardiac, labor and delivery, and pediatrics.

Those who have experience in a specialty area are more likely to command a higher wage.

Location, Experience, and Leadership

The three tactics listed above are items you can change to influence your salary.  Some of the factors that figure into your wage are not in your control, though.

Location is an important item to consider when looking to increase your earning power.

“If you’ve been working patient care for longer than five years, you deserve a raise based on that alone.”

Nurses are generally in more demand in places where the nursing shortage is strongest.  When nurses are in need, the salary increases.

In addition, some places have a higher standard of living, such as New York City, and nurses are paid more just because of the geographical location.

You will face higher prices in the basics of living, such as groceries, transportation, and housing.

Many can’t afford to change their location, though, but it can radically improve your finances if you are able to move around the country.

Experience is another factor, and it is largely something you cannot change.

The longer that you are a nurse, the more valuable you become to a facility, and the more they are likely to pay you.

This does not help struggling new nurses, but it can help those who have been in the trenches for twenty years. If you’ve been working patient care for longer than five years, you deserve a raise based on that alone.

Finally, leadership programs through your facility, such as joining committees, conducting QA audits, or mentoring new nurses, can lead to an increase in salary.

Many magnet hospitals now how these programs in place, and even newer nurses can increase their earning power by getting involved in unit and hospital-wide activities.

What is the average salary for nurses in your state? Check out our state to state nursing map and see where you fit.

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