August 22, 2017
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What You Need to Know About Salary Negotiations

Lately it seems that salary negotiation is in everyone’s minds. I’ve even checked out some post on a few Facebook groups that I am part of, and not surprisingly many NPs feel totally unprepared because it wasn’t really taught during NP school. But don’t worry, I’m here to help address the issue, and explore the why, how and when of NP salary negotiations.

Negotiating anything can be intimidating, it takes you out of your comfort zone, and there is a feeling of loss of control that you may experience, but in truth you are in much more control than what you may think.

Why is negotiating your salary important? Well, it certainly helps pay your bills and student loans, but here are a few more reasons why you should.

  • It will really impact your job satisfaction in the long run
  • It will help other NPs in the future have a higher starting salary, therefore helping the NP profession in the marketplace.
  • The higher your salary, the higher your take home pay will be, even with those pesky taxes.
  • Because 87% of all NPs are women, and in 2017 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017) the pay gap in median weekly earnings was 18 percent, and 20% in salaried earnings.

So why is this so difficult for NPs to do?

Well, if you are a woman you are or have probably struggled with guilty emotions, lack of assertiveness, imposter syndrome, and just an overall feeling of undeservedness. This tends to show in your speech, words like “should”, “just”, “ I wish”, “I hope”, “I have to” should be banned from everyday speech. It shows ambiguousness, and can downplay your skills and what you bring to the table during an interview/salary negotiation process.

So what can you do about it?

Well, acknowledging where most NPs stand is a great starting step, and will help prepare you for the best outcome possible. Is not that you are trying to put on a facade, or lie about yourself, but instead practice how you wish your employers to see you.

As a valuable addition to their team NOT as a new NP that they’ll have to train

(even though the latter is also true)

When you sell your value first, and showcase your resume and cover letter as the answer to your prospective employer’s needs, you are not only setting the stage for future negotiations but you are strategically positioning yourself to succeed. In addition, when you start seeing yourself with new confidence, your speech, your stance and your interview results will show it.

Most commonly, this is the course that most new NPs take when applying for a job:

Internally they are often burn out or exhausted after getting through 700+ hours of clinical rotations and 2+ years of intense studying and no life. They graduate and study for the boards and pass it, then get very very excited about the prospect of working right away. Soon, they realize that the process is lengthier than anticipated, you have to wait for your state license, your DEA, apply for jobs, go through the interview process, get credentialed, get oriented before you finally start working. This can take anywhere from 6-9 months. In my personal experience, I graduated in December of 2012 and started my first job in October of 2013, even though I had been licensed and board certified since March of that same year.

Since most NPs expect the process to move a little quicker,  it can be very tempting to start feeling desperate, which is disarming in nature, and a huge disadvantage when approaching any interview or salary negotiation process.

These same NPs go through the interview process, and when asked what they expect for compensation they say something like “I am willing to negotiate”, which immediately tells your prospective employer that the ball is in their court and you are likely to accept whatever they throw at you within a few thousand dollars.

Few NPs have done the research of what they should be paid in the particular field and area they are applying to, so when they get a quote, they usually accept the job less than <$3,000 from the original offer. This is due to the effects of “anchoring”, a terminology used while salary negotiating, which means that in general you won’t go far from the initial quote.

But what if, instead of following the above mentioned formula you were prepared with an answer? For example, what if when they asked you what you expect for compensation you tell them something like “I have been looking at similar jobs in this field and with my skill set I am looking at ……” (which is 5-10% above from your target compensation), Not only does doing it this way puts you in a position of strength but ultimately the ball remains on your court.

As a less experienced salary negotiator your goal is to reveal your counterpart’s salary range so you know what you are working with. This works well when dealing directly with recruiters. I have used this technique myself and if I highballed the price I usually hear something like “other NPs in the system range from XXX to XXX”. Bingo! Now I know how high they are willing to go, which helps me make a decision whether this particular job is right for me or not.

When dealing with employers directly, such as owners of their own private practice, these conversations tend to be sprung up on you and catch you by surprise, it may be super casual or even be mentioned in the first interview. In this case, if the employer is a fellow medical professional, they are probably only doing these kinds of interviews a handful of times per year (if that many), or when necessity dictates it. You are probably right to assume that they don’t really know how to navigate those murky waters of salary negotiations and really just want to gauge your response. Either way, under no circumstance should you give them your quote right then and there! Instead you can deflect by saying something like “Let me think about it and get back to you later on today”,

Why? Well, this answer still keeps the ball on your court but buys you more time to consider all the factors (some of which you may still be learning during your interview) before you make a decision.

Also, because when discussing money human beings tend to get awkward and if you are still in the interview room trying to get your questions answered and answer theirs, this can impact how both parties feel. Lastly, because it is more comfortable to get back by email where you have time to chose your words and don’t have the pressure of a face to face interaction.

So there it is!, the do’s and don’ts of salary negotiation as a Nurse Practitioner! In the meantime I’ve included a few links where you can get more salary information about your particular area of practice! Are you ready to salary negotiate? You’ve got this!

P.S. Don’t forget to download the “Ultimate Email Negotiation Guide for Aspiring NPs”, a guide that includes email templates to help you in your negotiation process. Also, be sure to check out this video where I talk more about the topic!

Other useful websites:

AANP Nurse Practitoner Facts

Advanced NPs Salary Center


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Author Bio:

Liliet Gomez is a Family Nurse Practitioner practicing in NYC. She enjoys supporting Aspiring Nurse Practitioner in their NP journey through blog posts, videos and downloadable resources at

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