As a new nurse, you might feel the pinch of student loans or other financial challenges.

Even if you’re not, who wouldn’t want to make a little more money? This is why I’m sharing 10 ways you can make more money as a new grad nurse.

How to Make the Most Money as a New Nurse

New Nurse Academy

Trusted by 430,000+ future nurses and new nurses everywhere. Check out the course that helps new nurses bridge the gap and transition smoothly to becoming nurses.

What does it cover?

  • IV Insertion
  • EKG Reading
  • How to Chart
  • How to Prioritize
  • Nursing Interviews & Resume

Just to name a few.

1. Choose a high-paying specialty

One of the best ways to increase your income as a new grad nurse is to specialize in a high-paying field.

Some of the highest-paying nursing specialties for new grads include critical care, neonatal, and perioperative nursing.

Each specialty involves working with specific patient populations and requires specialized training and expertise.

Critical Care Nursing

As a critical care nurse, you’ll be responsible for caring for patients who are critically ill or have life-threatening conditions.

This demanding specialty often requires quick thinking, exceptional clinical skills, and the ability to handle high-pressure situations.

Neonatal Nursing

Neonatal nurses work with infants with various medical issues, such as prematurity, congenital disabilities, or infections.

This specialty requires specialized knowledge in newborn care and the ability to support families emotionally during challenging times.

Perioperative Nursing

Perioperative nurses work in operating rooms and assist with surgical procedures.

They are crucial in ensuring patient safety and providing pre-and post-operative care.

This specialty requires extensive knowledge of surgical procedures, aseptic techniques, and strong critical thinking skills.

By focusing on a specialty with higher earning potential, you’ll be better positioned to achieve your financial goals.

Additionally, working in a high-paying specialty can lead to increased job satisfaction and opportunities for professional growth.


Depending on where you live, some specialties will be more in demand than others.

Check out platforms like to see what those specialties are.

2. Work in a high-paying geographic location


Your location can have a significant impact on your nursing salary.

Cities and states with the highest nursing salaries often have a higher cost of living, so you’ll need to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of relocating.

Research cities and states that offer the best salary potential for nurses, and consider making a move to boost your income.

Consider urban areas

Major metropolitan areas tend to have higher nursing salaries due to the increased demand for healthcare services and the higher cost of living.

Examples of cities with higher nursing salaries include San Francisco, New York City, and Los Angeles.

Evaluate regional differences

Nursing salaries can vary significantly by region.

For example, states on the West Coast and Northeast often have higher average nursing salaries than those in the South or Midwest.

Factor in the cost of living

While pursuing a higher-paying nursing job in a different location might be enticing, it’s essential to consider the cost of living in that area.

A higher salary might not be as advantageous if the cost of living is much higher than in your current location.

3. Pursue additional certifications


Earning additional certifications can not only make you more marketable but also increase your income potential.

These certifications demonstrate your expertise in specific areas of nursing and show employers that you’re committed to continuous learning and professional growth.

Consider obtaining certifications like the CCRN (Critical Care Registered Nurse) to enhance your skills and potentially boost your salary.

4. Consider travel nursing

nurse wearing bag

Travel nursing offers many financial perks, including higher pay rates, tax advantages, and housing stipends.

Working as a travel nurse allows you to explore new locations while earning a higher income than you might in a traditional nursing role.

1. Higher pay rates

Travel nurses often earn higher hourly rates than staff nurses in the same specialty.

This pay increase is due to the high demand for nurses in certain areas and the need to attract qualified candidates quickly.

2. Tax advantages

Travel nurses can benefit from tax advantages related to travel and housing expenses.

Be sure to consult with a tax professional to understand the tax benefits available as a travel nurse.

3. Housing stipends

Many travel nursing agencies offer housing stipends or furnished housing as part of your compensation package.

This additional perk can help offset the cost of living in a new area and contribute to your overall income.

5. Work overtime or pick up extra shifts

working night shift hospital

Working extra hours, including overtime and additional shifts, is a straightforward way to increase your income as a new grad nurse.

Just make sure to maintain a healthy work-life balance so you don’t burn out from the extra hours.

  • Overtime pay: Most nursing positions pay time-and-a-half for any hours worked beyond the standard 40-hour workweek.
  • Per diem or PRN shifts: Many hospitals and healthcare facilities offer per diem or PRN (pro re nata) shifts for nurses who are willing to work on an as-needed basis. These shifts often pay a higher hourly rate and can be a great way to supplement your income.

6. Negotiate your salary and benefits

Don’t be afraid to negotiate your nursing salary as a new nurse. This also includes benefits when before you accept a nursing position.

Research typical salaries for new grad nurses in your area, and be prepared to make a case for a higher starting salary based on your skills, experience, and education.

  • Know your worth: Familiarize yourself with the average salaries for new grad nurses in your location and specialty. This information will give you a solid foundation for negotiating your salary.
  • Highlight your skills and accomplishments: During the negotiation process, emphasize any unique skills, certifications, or experiences that set you apart from other candidates. These qualifications can help justify a higher starting salary.
  • Negotiate benefits: Besides negotiating your base salary, consider discussing other aspects of your compensation package, such as tuition reimbursement, paid time off, or a signing bonus. These benefits can contribute to your overall financial well-being.

7. Network and build connections

nurse team

Building a strong professional network can help you discover new job opportunities, negotiate better salaries, and stay informed about industry trends.

Actively engaging with fellow nurses, joining professional organizations, and attending conferences can all contribute to your career advancement and income growth.

  • Join professional organizations: Professional nursing organizations, such as the American Nurses Association (ANA) or the National League for Nursing (NLN), offer networking opportunities, resources, and job listings that can help you advance in your career.
  • Attend conferences and workshops: Participating in nursing conferences and seminars can expand your knowledge and skills while providing valuable networking opportunities. Meeting others in your field can lead to job offers, mentorship, and collaboration.
  • Stay connected with former colleagues and classmates: Maintaining relationships with the people you’ve worked or studied with can be an invaluable source of job leads, references, and advice.

8. Continue your education


Pursuing higher levels of education can lead to higher-paying positions and increased job opportunities.

Consider earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), or a nurse practitioner (NP) licensure to enhance your skills and open up new career paths.

  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN): An MSN can qualify you for leadership roles, such as nurse manager or clinical nurse specialist, often with higher salaries.
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP): A DNP can prepare you for advanced practice nursing roles or executive leadership positions, both of which offer increased earning potential.
  • Nurse Practitioner (NP): As an NP, you’ll have increased autonomy and scope of practice, which can result in higher salaries and a broader range of job opportunities.

9. Become a preceptor or mentor

nurses talking

Taking on a role as a preceptor or mentor to new nurses can not only help you develop leadership skills but may also lead to additional income.

Some facilities offer financial incentives or pay increases for nurses who serve as preceptors, as this role requires additional time and effort to guide and support new nurses.

  • Share your knowledge and skills: As a preceptor, you can pass on your expertise to new nurses, helping them grow professionally while reinforcing your knowledge.
  • Develop leadership abilities: Precepting can help you build essential leadership skills, such as communication, organization, and problem-solving, which can make you more attractive to employers and potentially lead to higher-paying positions.

10. Seek career advancement opportunities

As a new grad nurse, it’s essential to set long-term career goals and actively pursue opportunities for career advancement.

Some potential career paths include leadership roles, advanced practice nursing, or nursing education.

  • Leadership roles: Pursuing positions like charge nurse, nurse manager, or nurse director can lead to increased responsibility and higher salaries.
  • Advanced practice nursing: Becoming a nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, or nurse midwife can significantly increase your earning potential.
  • Nursing education: If you’re passionate about teaching and mentoring, consider pursuing a nursing instructor or nurse educator role.

Remember, your nursing career is a journey, and your income potential will grow as you gain experience and further your education.

Keep striving for growth, and always be on the lookout for new opportunities.

Ready to take your nursing career to the next level?

Check out the New Nurse Academy for resources, support, and guidance to help you excel in your nursing journey.

New Nurse Academy
Trusted by 430,000+ future nurses and new nurses everywhere. Check out the course that helps new nurses bridge the gap and transition smoothly to becoming nurses.

Have You Read These Yet?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *