Compared to many professional career paths, a career in nursing comes with more job security, job flexibility, and potential for salary growth.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic and the staffing crisis in hospitals nationwide, many healthcare systems have re-committed to supporting the essential work of nursing by creating programs and resources that provide financial benefits and promote the well-being and resiliency of nurses. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, an estimated 500,000 nurses will leave the workforce in 2022, bringing the overall shortage to 1.1 million nurses.
Examples of supportive programs that healthcare systems are now offering nurses include helping to pay back student loans, providing child-care and transportation, offering tuition reimbursement and training benefits, referral and retention bonuses, and programs that address physical and mental health.
In addition to potential employee benefits, nursing often comes with several not-so-obvious financial perks. Let’s take a look at some of these benefits and how you might take advantage of each one.
Regardless of career stage or specialty, nurses can typically take advantage of financial perks in these five different areas during their career.
Stability and predictability around salary means you can set clear goals and expectations for your income at each career stage. Nursing students that become RNs can begin earning salaries that typically exceed the overall average U.S. salary. Overall, RNs earn an average annual salary of $82,750, while the average annual salary breakdown for RNs in different careers stages are:
Note that factors such as location, practice setting, specialty, certifications, and experience can make nursing salaries vary significantly by state and metropolitan area, with some RNs earning more than $120,000. Board-certified RNs earn an average an annual income of $88,000 compared to non-certified RNs who average $77,000.
In addition to predictable salary growth, you have the potential to increase your salary further by specializing through advanced degrees and certifications. In recent years, RN salaries have increased significantly, with APRNs receiving the highest increases.
Generally, the higher the degree, the greater the compensation level. RNs who hold MSN degrees can earn an average of $23,000 more than individuals with BSNs. In 2020, the average salaries for APRNs were:
Increasing salary levels reflect responses to cost of living, higher turnover, and retirement in the nursing workforce. The COVID-19 pandemic and an aging population have intensified the need for skilled nurses, applying upward pressure on the salaries of specialized nurses.
Whether you’re employed by the government, a non-profit, the private sector or yourself, nurses have a variety of strategies for building wealth, investing for retirement, and saving for major financial milestones.
Depending on your employer, you may have access to retirement benefits such as a 401(K), 457(b), 401(a) or other fund. It’s never too early in your career to take time to understand the retirement plan options available to you through your employer or union. Learn more about How Nurses Can Save for Retirement here.
Nurses can also take advantage of savings on their favorite everyday products through programs like Laurel Road Perks! for Nurses. As a member, you can access exclusive discounts on premium brands, subscriptions, and services that save you time and money, and help keep you healthy at home or on-the-go.
Compared to 9-5 desk jobs with rigid schedules, the flexibility in scheduling that often comes with nursing can open the door to financial benefits that may not be so obvious. A condensed work week may give you the ability to pick up extra shifts and significantly increase your salary through accruing overtime hours.
Have a hobby or passion project you could monetize? The flexibility of a nurse’s schedule may give you larger swaths of time for small entrepreneurial pursuits.
A condensed schedule may also offer the possibility to save money on commuting costs and child-care or pet-care.
Compared with other healthcare professionals and specialties, RNs have the potential to take on less student debt and reach their earning potential within a few years of education and training. While APRN careers may require more years of training and potentially more student loan debt, there are still ways to maintain a lower DTI overall. Watch this quick-hit video to learn more about calculating your DTI. Carrying less debt overall can give you financial freedom to start “living life” sooner.
Plus, with additional programs such as loan forgiveness for nurses or student loan refinancing, you can manage and pay off your nursing school loans faster.
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