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Eight Tips Nurses Can Get Higher Salaries and Move Up Their Careers

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Last modified on November 23rd, 2023 at 1:05 pm

Eight Tips Nurses Can Get Higher Salaries

Nursing is a highly respected profession that requires both passion and commitment. Nurses are known for their dedication to patient care, and their role in the healthcare industry is essential. 

However, it is no secret that many nurses feel underpaid and undervalued for their hard work. If you are a nurse looking to increase your earning potential and move up in your career, there are several things you can do to achieve your goals.

1. Professional Certifications

Professional certifications are excellent ways for nurses to demonstrate their knowledge and expertise in a particular area of nursing. Certifications can enhance your career prospects, increase earning potential, and help you stand out. 

In addition, certifications affirm your skills and knowledge, which can give you greater confidence in your work and improve patient outcomes.  

When choosing a certification, it is vital to consider your career goals and interests. Look for certifications that align with your area of expertise or interests. For example, if you work in critical care, you may consider obtaining credentials in critical care nursing to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise.

Today, numerous nursing certifications are available, ranging from general certifications such as the Certified Registered Nurse (RN) credential to specialized certifications such as critical care nursing, pediatrics, or informatics. Enrolling in accredited nursing programs would be best for most cases since such programs allow your education and skills to get recognized by employers! 

2. Pursue Higher Education

One of the most effective ways to increase your salary and advance your career as a nurse is to pursue higher education. Nurses holding advanced degrees, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), are in high demand and command higher salaries. 

The AACN reports that nurses with an MSN degree earn an average salary of $100,000, while nurses with a BSN degree earn an average salary of $75,000. This demonstrates the potential for increased earning potential when pursuing higher education in nursing. 

If you are interested in pursuing higher education, multiple options are available. You can enroll in a traditional brick-and-mortar program or choose an rn to msn online program that allows you to complete your coursework on your schedule.

3. Specialize in a Nursing Field

Another way to increase your salary and advance your career as a nurse is to specialize in nursing fields. Specialized nurses, such as pediatric or critical care nurses, are in high demand and can command higher salaries. 

Additionally, such nursing roles often arise with more opportunities for advancement and career growth.

To specialize in nursing fields, you can pursue additional training and certification in your area of interest. Many nursing organizations offer certifications in specialized areas, such as oncology nursing or geriatric nursing. 

Additionally, some hospitals and healthcare organizations provide these training programs for nurses interested in pursuing a specific nursing field.

4. Gain Experience

Another way to increase your salary and advance your career is to gain experience. Nurses working for many years often command higher salaries than those just starting. Additionally, experienced nurses are prioritized for leadership roles and management positions.

To gain experience as a nurse, you can seek out opportunities to work in different healthcare settings or to take on additional responsibilities in your current role. You can also seek mentorship opportunities with more experienced nurses or pursue professional development opportunities to build your skills and knowledge.

5. Negotiate Your Salary

Many nurses are hesitant to negotiate their salaries, but this can allow an increase in your earnings. Before negotiating your salary, research the average salaries of nurses with your experience. You can also talk to colleagues and mentors to understand what salaries are typical in your field.

When negotiating your salary, be confident and clear about what you prefer. Focus on your skills, experience, and accomplishments, and be prepared to make a strong case for why you deserve a higher salary. 

Additionally, be willing to negotiate other aspects of your compensation package, such as bonuses, vacation time, or flexible scheduling.

6. Seek Out Leadership Roles

Another way to move up the career ladder and earn deserving salaries is to look for leadership roles. Nurses with leadership skills and experience usually command higher wages. 

Additionally, leadership roles offer opportunities for professional growth and development, as well as the chance to make a positive impact on your organization and your patients.

To seek out leadership roles, you can look for opportunities within your current organization, such as serving on a committee or taking on a supervisory position. 

You can also seek out leadership roles within professional organizations, such as serving on the board of a nursing association or taking on a leadership position in a volunteer organization. 

Additionally, you can pursue further education or certifications in healthcare management or leadership.

7. Work in Critical Care Areas

Working in critical areas can improve a nurse’s salary due to the specialized skills and expertise required for these positions. Nurses who work in critical areas are highly trained and experienced professionals, essential to providing life-saving care to patients in critical condition. 

Their expertise and knowledge are in high demand, so they are often compensated at a higher rate than nurses in other healthcare areas. 

According to a survey, the median annual salary for registered nurses was $75,330, but those who worked in specialty hospitals (including critical care hospitals) earned a higher salary of $83,950

8. Consider Relocating

Finally, nurses willing to relocate may be able to command higher salaries and more opportunities for career advancement. 

In some areas of the country, there may be a shortage of nurses, which can drive up their earnings and lead to more job openings. Additionally, healthcare organizations in certain regions may offer more opportunities for professional growth and development.

If you are considering relocating, research nursing job opportunities in your desired location. 

Look for healthcare organizations that offer competitive salaries and benefits, as well as opportunities for career advancement. Additionally, consider factors such as cost of living, commute times, and quality of life when deciding.


In conclusion, nurses can increase their salaries and advance their careers in several ways. By taking proactive steps to invest in your professional growth and development, you can achieve your career goals and enjoy a fulfilling and rewarding career in nursing.

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