How to Make More Money as a Nurse: 17 Ways

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Written by Morganne Skinner, BSN Content Writer, IntelyCare
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Reviewed by Ayana Dunn, BSN Content Writer, IntelyCare
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Nursing is evolving. What was once a hospital-specific job has become a career overflowing with opportunity. Nurses provide hands-on direct care in long-term care facilities, in people’s homes, and in the community. Nurses work remotely, with technology, with insurance, with pharmaceutical companies, and even with lawyers.

Perhaps you found your dream nursing job, but it doesn’t pay as well as you hoped. Now you’re wondering how to make more money as a nurse. Luckily for you, there are many possible solutions.

What Can Nurses Do to Earn Extra Money?

You absolutely love being a nurse, but you can’t help but wonder how to make more money. As a nurse, you have opportunities to increase your income, from advancing your nursing degree to changing jobs to finding a side gig.

1.Optimize Your Shift Schedule

Want to know how to earn more money as a nurse without making many changes? For this route, all you need to do is optimize your work hours. Many hospitals will offer shift differentials. This means you get an additional hourly rate on top of your typical hourly rate. Shift differentials are offered for working in the evening, night, or weekends. You can also snag an increased hourly rate for working on holidays.

For example, a night shift differential may be an additional $5 per hour. So if you typically earn $34 per hour, working the night shift could increase your rate to $39 per hour.

2. Become a Charge Nurse

A charge nurse is a nurse who is responsible for the entire unit. They create nursing assignments, coordinate patient admissions and transfers, perform safety and quality checks on the unit, and assist nurses at the bedside. Many facilities provide an increase in hourly rate for working as a charge nurse.

3. Work in Acute Care

Do you want to know how to make more money as a nurse while staying with your same employer? Some facilities offer an increase in hourly rate for working in acute care, like the intensive care unit.

Of course, you could also see a bump in your salary by switching employers and entering acute care nursing. For example, the average school nurse makes $50,587 annually and a critical care nurse makes $82,400 annually.

4. Earn an Advanced Degree

Generally speaking, an advanced degree means a larger paycheck. For example, becoming a nurse practitioner could result in making $124,680 a year, which is about $50,000 more than the average RN salary.

5. Become Certified

Earning a nursing certification can boost your self-esteem, confidence, and salary. Some facilities offer a bonus for obtaining nursing certifications.

6. Work PRN

Consider working per diem shifts in addition to your current job. In exchange for benefits, you can get a higher hourly wage and flexibility.

7. Start Freelance Nurse Writing

Do you love the education and research side of nursing? If so, nurse writing might be a wonderful field for you to explore. Many companies want nurses to write their healthcare content or develop practice nursing exam questions.

8. Tutor Nursing Students

Make use of your nursing experience and knowledge to help future nurses succeed in nursing school. This can be a great option for those working full-time, as the hours can be variable and flexible.

9. Become a Travel Nurse

If you’re wondering how to make more money as a nurse and have an adventurous spirit, this may be the job for you. Travel nurses tend to make more money than staff nurses do. Keep in mind, travel nurses need recent nursing experience in the specialty they will be working in. Learn more about how to become a travel nurse.

10. Pick Up Extra Shifts

Consider working an extra shift a few times per month. Even if it’s just one here or there, it will increase your overall earnings. Bonus: You may even get an overtime shift differential.

11. Ask For a Raise

You know what they say — you don’t know if you don’t ask. One of the easiest ways to increase your income is to ask for a raise. A survey of over 30,000 workers found more than half of those who asked for a raise got one. Those are pretty good odds.

12. Negotiate Your Salary

Similar to asking for a raise, negotiate your hourly rate or salary when you first receive a job offer. Know your worth. Find out what the average hourly rate is for nurses in your area, with similar experience, doing similar work.

13. Precept New Nurses

A preceptor is an experienced nurse who trains a new nurse to a specific unit or job. Employers often increase your hourly rate during your shifts as a preceptor. Ask your employer about upcoming opportunities to be a preceptor.

14. Become a Nurse Consultant

You have knowledge other people want and need. Nurse consultants use their years of experience to help advise others. Use your past work in a nursing specialty to your advantage, and take on consulting projects.

Examples for nurse consulting include:

  • Legal nurse consultant
  • Critical care nurse consultant
  • Pediatric nurse consultant

15. Start Your Own Business

Your options for starting a business are seemingly endless. As a nurse, you already have the time-management skills, autonomy, and work ethic required for becoming an entrepreneur.

Consider these options:

  • Mobile IV therapy clinic
  • Holistic health coach
  • Homecare agency
  • Concierge nursing
  • Fitness coach

16. Work in Flu Clinics

Pick up a few extra shifts in the flu clinics when flu season arrives. You’ll administer vaccinations, provide education, monitor the patient after they receive their vaccine, and ensure patient safety.

Shifts vary from a few hours to a full day, depending on if you are working in a pop-up clinic in the community or at a walk-in facility. Because of this flexibility, it makes a great side job in addition to your current work.

17. Move Locations

If you absolutely love your nursing specialty and do not want to switch it up, consider moving. You could perform the same job and duties, just in a higher-paying location.

For example, a registered nurse in California makes an average of $133,340 per year. If you are currently living in South Dakota, where the average RN makes $64,500 per year, a move to California could double your income.

Inspired to Make a Job Change?

If you’re wondering how to make more money as a nurse, IntelyCare can help you find per diem shifts that fit your schedule. Ready to get started? Check out the great nursing jobs available to you right now.