Negotiating Salaries Can Empower Nurse Candidates and Address the Wage Gap

How often do nurses negotiate their salaries? Not often enough, according to our most recent salary survey.

In the 2024 Nurse Salary and Job Satisfaction Report by, 36% of nurses across all license types revealed they negotiate their salaries always or most of the time. When compared to the 2022 report, only 18% of nurses of all licensures always negotiated their salary.

When it comes to the gender pay gap, not negotiating salary with prospective and current employers may be a contributing factor in why this gap still exists between male and female nurses.

A 2024 study of gender pay gaps in healthcare occupations uncovered that male RNs still outearn female RNs. The 2024 report revealed similar findings, with the median salary for male RNs being $6,000 higher than female RNs. Compared to our 2022 data (showing a $14,000 gap), this number is narrowing. But like other professions, this gap still exists.

As the demand for nurses continues to rise, the discussion of negotiating salaries in nursing has become increasingly important. With the gender pay gap being a prevalent issue in healthcare, it is crucial to understand the impact of negotiating salaries and how it can empower nurses and make pay more equitable in the profession.

Addressing the gender pay gap

Woman smiling in headshot
Alice Benjamin, FNP-C

Nearly half (40%) of male nurses negotiate their salary always or most of the time, compared to 36% of female nurses, according to our report.

The goal of attaining equitable pay among all nurses is possible. But achieving this goal involves actions from every level, from nurse leaders to staff nurses, according to Alice Benjamin, MSN, ACNS-BC, FNP-C, Chief Nursing Officer Consultant for

Benjamin has been in nursing for over 25 years and has worked alongside recruiters and other hiring staff to help provide onboarding, training, and orientation for new and experienced nurses alike. Supporting organizations in these areas allowed her to see through a different lens and understand the importance of pay equity in nursing.

Benjamin said nurses and staff at each level can advocate for change in the following ways:

  • Employers can implement transparent pay scales and conduct regular wage audits to ensure equity.
  • Nurse leaders can provide training in negotiation skills and advocate for fair compensation practices.
  • Nurses can engage in policy advocacy to support legislation aimed at closing the wage gap.
  • Mentorship programs should be established to guide nurses to help them navigate their careers and advocate for fair pay.
  • Collective bargaining through unions can be established to help standardize and improve wages across the board.

Salary negotiation empowers nurses

In the past, salary negotiations were not as commonly practiced, whether in nursing or other professions. This could be, in part, due to many factors, but a culture of job stability, a lack of awareness, or a lack of confidence in bargaining power may be the more common reasons, according to Benjamin.

However, this trend appears to have shifted. Forty-six percent of women and men, respectively, said they negotiated their salary for their most recent position, based on 2023 data published by Glassdoor.

“Today, nurses are more informed and empowered to advocate for themselves,” said Benjamin. “Increased awareness of the value nurses bring to healthcare teams, coupled with a growing focus on fair compensation, has encouraged more nurses to negotiate their salaries.”

Be open to negotiating salaries

In today’s job market, salary negotiations are an expected part of the hiring process and a normal conversation nurse recruiters and hiring managers engage in.

By negotiating salaries, nurses show their value as well as what they can bring to an organization. It’s important for them to show potential employers why they’re worth the investment.

“I didn’t always negotiate my salary in the early parts of my career,” said Benjamin. “It wasn’t until I gained a deeper understanding of my own value that I learned the importance of advocating for fair compensation. Negotiating can initially feel uncomfortable but practicing it has taught me to be confident, prepared, and persistent.”

Because recruiters are one the first interactions nurses have, it’s important to remain open-minded when these conversations arise.

Having initiated many salary negotiations throughout her career, Benjamin shared how recruiters and others involved in the hiring process can support potential candidates through these discussions.

She recommended:

  • Clearly outlining the organization’s compensation policies and any room for negotiation.
  • Being open to discussing not only salary but also other benefits and incentives.
  • Acting as an advocate for the candidate, presenting a strong case for hiring managers and leadership based on the candidate’s skill set, qualifications and market conditions.

Benjamin added that when both nurses and organizations willingly engage in these types of discussions it highlights the importance of clear communication and a broader understanding of market dynamics on both ends.

“Beyond financial benefits, negotiating has boosted my confidence, provided me with improved professional development opportunities, better work-life balance, and a greater sense of control over my career trajectory,” said Benjamin.

Gain more insights on how nurses feel about salary and other workplace issues in the Nurse Salary and Job Satisfaction Report. Download your free copy today.

Nurse Salary and Job Satisfaction Report