You’re going to get a low offer from your first nursing job, but is there anything you can do about it?

Here’s what you need to know about if you can negotiate your salary as a new grad nurse.

*Disclosure: This article on can a new grad nurse negotiate her salary may contain affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. For more info, please see my disclaimer.

Can a New Grad Nurse Negotiate Their Salary? 

Every nurse, including new grad nurses, should try to negotiate their salary. New nurses, unfortunately, don’t have as much leverage because of their lack of experience. Therefore their chances of success are much lower. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try anyway. 

There is a chance you could be successful, that’s why you always try. Here are some things you should keep in mind. 

Why You’re at a Disadvantage

When I first graduated from nursing school and was offered my first job as a new nurse, I did what I’m recommending you do. I saw my first nursing salary and tried to negotiate a higher starting wage.

Ultimately, I was unsuccessful, and below I’m going to list out the reasons why.

Pay close attention because, as you’ll see, the issues that kept me from getting my raise are the same challenges you’ll have to overcome when you’re negotiating.

1. Lack of Experience

The first issue I ran into was that I didn’t have much of an experience. Sure, I had gotten my LPN license during RN school and started working as an LPN. But that didn’t matter much to the hiring manager.

The reason was that the LPN experience I had was in mental health, and I was applying for a critical care nursing position.

The second reason it didn’t matter to the hiring manager was that I hadn’t been an LPN for that long. When it comes to calculating LPN experience, many hospitals will count two years of LPN experience as 1 for RN pay. 

I say all this to get to this point your lack of Experience is going to be the biggest reason why you’ll have a hard time negotiating higher pay because it directly correlates to your lack of options. 

2. Lack of Options

Because you don’t have any experience, your options will be pretty limited, and they know that. 

Your ability to negotiate is only as good as your ability to walk away and get another offer. 

That was the boat I was in. I didn’t have a better offer, and at that time, I really wanted to work in the ICU, so I took what they gave me. 

Side Note
Something else to keep in mind is that for specialty areas like critical care, many new grads are trying to get a job there. So while you have fewer options, the facility has a lot of options to replace you.

Related: 5 Best Jobs for New Grad Nurses

How Do New Nurses Negotiate Their Salary?

Here are some things you can do to help you be more successful when negotiating your job offer. 

1. Research what the Market Rate is for Your Position

In the digital age, there are so many options you have to find out what other new nurses are getting paid for the same position. Two good options are:

Another good way is to go through my nurse job board and see what companies are willing to offer nurses for similar positions.

Not all job postings have salary information, but some do. Even seeing a salary range can do a lot to give you a ballpark idea. 

You’re looking for similar jobs in the area of the job you’re considering.

For example, if you’re getting a new grad critical care Registered Nurse position in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. You wouldn’t compare that to an ER Registered Nurse position in Austin, Texas.

They are different positions in two completely different states and cities.

2. Apply to More than One Position

If you didn’t apply to multiple positions or have multiple offers, you need to go to my job board and apply to other jobs. 

The reason is that it gives you options and it makes you not as desperate for that current job. If you end up getting a bad offer (and you very well could), you’ll have a fallback plan. 

3. Be Prepared to Sell Yourself

No employer will offer you more money than they have to, nor will they advocate for you. It’s your job to advocate for what you want and justify why you should be paid that much. 

You’ll Make More Money Later

Even though you probably won’t make more money, I think it’s good for you to learn how to advocate for what’s in your best interest. 

Let me know if you have any questions below. 

Have You Read These Yet?

If you thought this article was good, make sure to read some of our other articles on making more money and managing your money as a nurse. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, new grads should negotiate their wage on a job offer. Not because you’re going to be successful (as a recent graduate nurse, you lack a lot of the leverage needed), but because you need to start learning and getting into the habit of negotiating and advocating for yourself.

New grad nurses should ask for at least a wage within the range for new grad nurses in the area and specialty they applied for.

Once you accept a job, it’s a little late to try to negotiate. Instead, you should wait for the annual salary/employee review and ask for a raise.

Wait until you’re offered a job, but before you accept the job, to start negotiating your salary. You can’t really begin negotiating for a job you don’t have, so you don’t want to start negotiating during the interview process.

All nurses should consider negotiating their salary, but unfortunately, most nurses choose not to.

Negotiating your nursing salary helps make sure you’re paid what you’re worth as a highly-skilled medical professional. On top of that, what determines your subsequent pay increases will be your last salary. So by not negotiating over a long period, you’re leaving a lot of money on the table.

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