How To Negotiate A Nursing Salary in Georgia

How To Negotiate A Nursing Salary

The Complete Guide For Georgia Nurses  

When it comes to factors that influence a nurse’s job satisfaction, salary always tops the list. Nurses in Georgia who earn their value tend to be much happier than those who earn less. However, over 30% of skilled healthcare professionals do not negotiate a nursing salary when they start a new position.  

Settling for a nursing salary that is below expectations – or worse- below your fair market value can lead to job dissatisfaction and a lifetime of earning less than your counterparts. While negotiating a nursing salary may be unformattable, it’s always worth shooting for more. If you’re interested in learning how to negotiate your nursing salary, use this guide to help you earn your worth.   


Why Should You Negotiate Your Nursing Salary?

Healthcare professionals in Georgia who don’t negotiate their nursing salaries when accepting a new job or even a promotion could be leaving a significant amount of money on the table.   

Many nursing job seekers tend to think that the salary they are offered is what they should accept, and this is especially true for women. According to a recent salary report, men are more likely to negotiate their salary in the nursing field, and nearly 50% of all male nurses surveyed said they negotiate salary either most of the time or every time they are considering a new nursing job. This is one of the reasons why men make more money than women in the nursing field.  

People who do not negotiate nursing salaries can leave as much as one million dollars on the table over the course of their lifetime, according to CBS Moneywatch.  So while negotiating salary can be stressful and difficult for some people, it’s worth it to negotiate before accepting a nursing job in Georgia.   


Is It Normal For Nurses to Negotiate Salary?

It is very normal for nurses to negotiate salaries in Georgia. People tend to think that salary negotiations are only common for upper-management and leadership roles, but negotiations are normal at levels of the nursing profession.  

It is so common, in fact, that nurses should never feel they are offending an employer by negotiating salary. Georgia employers have a salary range in mind when offering you a nursing job, and they tend to offer at the lower end of that scale, and the assumption is you’ll either accept the initial offer or negotiate. By offering the lower end of the range, they provide themselves room to negotiate with you, which is why you should never hesitate to at least try negotiating your salary as a nurse.  

Don’t forget that negotiating your salary means advocating for yourself and your family if you have one or are planning on having one. Accepting a low offer today will impact your lifetime earning potential.  


When Should Nurses Negotiate Salary?

The short answer to when a nurse should negotiate salary is every time you’re offered a job.  

If a nursing salary offer is lower than you expect, you should attempt to negotiate up to your desired salary. If the employer doesn’t want to work with you on salary, or they are unable to meet your needs, don’t accept the offer. This can be hard to do if you receive an offer from a facility you’ve always wanted to work for or if you’re trying to get out of a bad situation, but remember that starting low means staying low, even if you are given raises throughout the course of your tenure at that healthcare facility. The higher you start, the more you will earn over the course of five, ten or 40 years.  

If you’re unsure about when to negotiate salary, err on the side of doing what’s best for you, and that’s attempting to earn your fair market value – or more.  


How To Answer Nursing Salary History Questions

Typically, in any salary negotiation, the person who puts out the first number “loses” in the end. Employers often attempt to get you to make the first move by asking about your nursing salary history during the interview process.  

If you make less than you’re worth now, the employer likely won’t jump too much higher if you give them the number immediately. However, you never want to lie about what you’re currently earning as a nurse because those numbers are easily verified during background and employment verification checks.  

So what can you do when you’re faced with answering nursing salary history questions? Some states and cities have laws or regulations barring employers from asking this question as it can lead to the perpetuation of income disparity.  

The State of Georgia allows employers to ask about salary history, but the city of Atlanta does not. If you are applying for a nursing job in Atlanta proper, you should never be asked about salary history, but the question is still fair game in other municipalities.  

You can answer nursing salary history questions honestly, without boxing yourself in by keeping a few tips in mind:   

  • You can always flip the question back on the interviewer by asking, “what is the range you typically pay for this position?” 
  • Give a range rather than a hard number. Make sure that the low end is what you make now.  
  • State that the job you are applying for is unique from your current nursing position, and your past salary isn’t representative of what you should be making at the new job.  
  • Be ready with research about the going rate for the type of position you are applying for in that area. Then state a range that works for you – making it as wide as possible – and noting that you do factor in perks like bonuses, benefits, and paid time off.  


The way you word your responses is important in walking the nursing salary history tightrope. Always be positive and upbeat and be able to give hard evidence about the value you bring to the job.  


Tips For Negotiating A Nursing Salary In Georgia

Negotiating a nursing salary isn’t easy. It’s not natural for many people, and some nurses just don’t feel comfortable making the ask. However, it’s important to remember that the worst thing a healthcare facility can tell you is “no,” but odds are higher that you’ll get a bump in the offer and possibly even a few more perks tossed in if you make the ask.  

So how can you prepare to negotiate your nursing salary in Georgia?   

  1. Know your market value: Your market value is the money you should be making based on job title, credentials, experience, and location. Starting salaries for the same nursing job titles can vary significantly based on whether you live in an urban or rural location in Georgia and even the type of facility you’re interviewing with. You can get salary information from sites like, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and resources provided by BOS Medical Staffing, the premier nurse employment agency in Georgia. 
  2. Wait for the employer to make their offer: Don’t begin to negotiate until you have received a written offer from the employer.  
  3. Have an exact number in mind: To get the number you want based on your research, you’ll want to ask for more, just as you would in a house sale negotiation or car sale negotiation.  
  4. Be prepared to show your value: When negotiating a nursing salary, you will want to prove to your employer that you are worth the money. Be ready with a list of how your skills, experience, and qualifications will allow you to not only meet job requirements but exceed them.  
  5. Negotiate perks: Sometimes, perks are more valuable than salary. It may be worth it to you to get an extra week of PTO or childcare assistance and a slight bump in pay as opposed to the whole bump you were looking for, for example.
  6. Don’t give up too soon: The person you negotiate with may not have the final say in what they can offer you, so don’t be upset if they have to take time to sell your offer to the person or people who do have that power.  


What About Sign-On Bonuses For Nurses?

Facilities that struggle to keep nurses on staff, that are expanding, or that have demanding work environments often offer sign-on bonuses for nurses. These can be tempting because they can often be quite high but remember that this is a trade-off, so make sure to study your numbers.  

If the salary offer is in the correct range, this may not be a big deal. But offering a one-time $2,000 nursing sign-on bonus in lieu of offering $2,000 more annually isn’t good for your long-term bottom line. Always try to negotiate a higher base, even if it means foregoing that bonus payment.  


Can New Nursing Graduates Negotiate Pay?

According to industry experts, new nursing graduates don’t have room for pay negotiation. That’s why you want to work hard to find a good job out of school that pays you a good rate to begin with. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.  

New nursing graduates can negotiate pay and should if they have worked as an LPN or even as a nursing assistant for a period of years. While this isn’t RN experience, it is experience in facilities and dealing with patients, and working as an integral part of a healthcare team. If you have previous nursing experience prior to becoming an RN, you should have a bit of wiggle room to negotiate pay if you aren’t totally happy with an offer.  

If you can’t negotiate pay, make some considerations. Facilities sometimes pay night shift nurses slightly more for the inconvenience of working nights, and sometimes they pay swing shift nurses a little more since their schedules are never the same. While these types of schedules may not be the most attractive, the pay can sometimes be worth the inconvenience for your first few years on the job. 


Do You Negotiate Salary Differently Based On The Facility?

There is one important factor to keep in mind if you are interviewing with a hospital or a large healthcare system for your nursing job.  

Hospitals and large systems often calculate salaries based on years of experience and something called internal equity. Internal equity means that the facility or system won’t hire new nurses for salaries that are higher than what the nurses working there currently make. This isn’t a universal practice, but it is common, and it is something to keep in mind as you think about negotiating your nursing salary.  


Can You Negotiate a Nursing Salary After You’ve Started A New Job?

Unfortunately, you can’t negotiate a nursing salary once you’ve started a new job. Even if you find out that another new nurse with similar experience was hired for the same job at the same time and makes more than you, you can’t go back to the drawing board.  

Advocate for yourself during the hiring process and attempt to earn your value because once you sign on the dotted line, you must live with the salary you agreed to.  


When Can You Skip Salary Negotiations As A Nurse?

Talking about money can be very uncomfortable, and even if you’ve done your research and taken all the necessary steps to prepare to negotiate, it’s easy to just accept the offer when it is made and avoid the potentially awkward conversations.  

However, this is a way to find a fantastic nursing job that pays your worth without the struggle of negotiating on your own.  

If you are a nurse looking for a new job in Georgia, work with the expert nursing recruiters at BOS Medical Staffing. When you work with a recruiter, you’ll talk to him or her upfront about your salary requirements. If you are honest and upfront about your needs, that recruiter will know what types of jobs and facilities can and will pay you at an appropriate rate. They won’t waste your time bringing you positions that don’t meet your needs or standards.  And, on the off chance that an employer comes back to the recruiter with a low offer, that recruiter can take on the task of negotiating salary. 


Are you ready to earn your value? Browse the open job at BOS Medical Staffing in Georgia today. You can apply online via our job board or, if you don’t see something you like today, you can send your resume for future opportunities. We look forward to helping you achieve your nursing career goals. 

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