7 Tips for Mastering Nurse Contract Negotiation

You did it! You got an offer for a fantastic nursing job. Now what? How do you evaluate the salary being offered and you approach negotiations with your future employer?

We’ve got you covered. Our team at Nomad has gathered insights from both medical employers and our nurses alike to understand the best tactics that work to successfully negotiate compensation. Read on for the key seven tips recommended to make sure you’re getting the deal you deserve.

Tip #1: Be prompt.

Nursing is a fast industry, so don’t wait too long to send a response reinforcing your interest. As soon as you receive an offer, sent a prompt response saying:

Thank you for the offer! I am very excited about this opportunity. How long do I have to think it over?

In that period, take some time to read through it and make sure you understand what you’re signing up for. Research what is a fair negotiation amount and then make sure to contact the employer again within within the time they specify, or 48 hours if no specific time is given.

If you decide to negotiate, we recommend reaching out to request to meet over the phone. Speaking directly to the potential employer reinforces your commitment to the position and shows that you are serious about making the position work for both of you. If you decide to negotiate over email, make sure to keep your response friendly and polite. Make sure your thoughts are clear and complete. Here’s an example of a “Negotiate Offer” email:

Dear EMPLOYER NAME,

Thank you again for the offer! I would like to express again how excited I am to work at FACILITY NAME.

Before I can accept, I would like to discuss COMPENSATION (replace with whatever you plan to negotiate eg. travel stipend, work schedule, etc.).

[INSERT REASON FOR NEGOTIATION] Example: As we discussed in our interview, I have many years of experience as a Med-Surg nurse and have demonstrated my capabilities in my last two travel assignments. With my expertise, I’d like to negotiate a salary in the range of RANGE, a bit higher than your offer of OFFER.

I look forward to hearing back from you. Thank you for your time,

[NAME]

When you’re ready to accept the offer, here’s an example of an “Accept Offer” email:

Dear EMPLOYER NAME,

I would like to formally accept the offer! I’m looking forward to working with you. Please send me a final offer contract at your earliest convenience.

Thank you,

[NAME]

Tip #2: Stay on email.

Having a digital trail helps keep everyone on the same page and ensures that communication is clear and quick. If you do conduct part of the negotiation or accept the offer by voice, follow up with an email summarizing what’s been decided, to make sure all parties are aligned.

Whenever the final offer is decide, make sure to get it in writing for your own reference and theirs. This way, you can refer back to it if anything doesn’t go as expected.

Tip #3: Research average pay rates for your specialty.

Nursing salaries can vary widely based on speciality, geography, and seniority. Here is a breakdown of the highest paying nursing jobs and average pay:

  1. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA): $105,000-130,000 per year
  2. Nurse Researcher: $75,000-$95,000 per year
  3. Mental Health Nurse Practitioner: $70,000-$90,000 per year
  4. Certified Nurse Midwife: $75,000 per year
  5. Pediatric Nurse: $67,000 per year
  6. Orthopedic Nurse: Up to $120,000 per year
  7. Nurse Practitioner: $78,000 per year
  8. Clinical Nurse Specialist: $104,000 per year
  9. Geriatric Nurse: $75,000 per year
  10. Neonatal Nurse: $68,000 per year

Other good resources to see how you compare to the average are US News and All Nursing Schools.

Additionally, our Nomad Navigators stay up-to-date on what’s typical across all these metrics and are happy to help you determine where your offer falls. Reach out here.

Tip #4: Understand the true rate of pay.

Most hourly rates are combined with non-taxable items that are used to pay for lodging, meals and incidentals. Understand what the breakdown is to know how much money you are pocketing each week. This will help you with budget planning and other planning for the future.

On Nomad, we break it down in every job post so you know exactly how much you’re making each week and how much is going to provide you food and lodging. Here’s an example below.

Let’s walk through it:

  • What does total pay mean? The job post will list a compensation in the description. This example listed a compensation of $62 / hour. The total pay is then calculated based on the number of guaranteed hours per week. This job guarantees 36 hours per week, which comes out to a total pay $2,232 / week.

  • What is non-taxable income? This determines your stipend for lodging and meals and incidentals based on GSA standards by zip code. Each job will identify which county standard is being used, for example here it is the Bronx / Kings / New York / Queens / Richmond count. This comes in the form of a reimbursement.

  • What is taxable income? This is what’s left over after the non-taxable income is taken out. The amount shown is the gross amount you will receive, there will be a small amount taken out for tax so the net income you receive may be slightly lower.

  • What does per diem mean? Per diem is calculated based on GSA standards for the area to determine cost of living, meals, etc.

Tip #5: Have a clear understanding of what benefits are offered.

Most travel assignments will offer benefits on top of your salary but it isn’t always clear what that benefits are offered. Make sure to ask about these benefits and negotiate if you feel they aren’t sufficient.

The benefits offered to Nomad Nurses are included in every job post for reference:

  • Housing: Stipend provided. Best-in-class availability through our housing partner.
  • Travel: Up to $1000 reimbursement for travel to and from your assignment.
  • Medical: Major medical plans available from your first day of work.
  • Payroll: Weekly deposits direct to your bank account.
  • Professional: Reimbursements for all licensure and certification costs for your Nomad assignments.

The medical employer may also be able to offer additional benefits if you request and/or negotiate, including free continuing nursing education, 401K contributions, paid sick leave, dental health insurance, and more. If you can show that you have a benefit need that the medical employer may be able to accommodate (or does offer full-time employees), it will not hurt to inquire about your eligibility.

Tip #6: Calculate how much your travel will cost.

Depending on where you’re coming from and where you’re going, the cost of travel can vary widely for each assignment. Often assignments will offer up to $500 for travel reimbursement. Figure out exactly how much travel will cost you and ask for more if $500 isn’t enough.

There are many resources online to help you calculate this cost - Fuel Economy will help you estimate your fuel cost if you are driving based on the make and model of your car as well as the route you plan to drive. Hopper provides an Airline Fee Calculator to help compare airlines and find you the best deal.

At Nomad, we offer up to $1,000 to make sure our nurses are fully covered traveling to and from their assignments. The actual amount is calculated in accordance to GSA standards effective as of the date the assignment agreement is signed.

Tip #7: Start thinking about your next assignment early.

If you decide to accept your contract and end up loving it there and are interested in extending, start that conversation as early as you know you want to extend. Giving more time to negotiate and process extension will make sure you can continue your work seamlessly when your original assignment ends.

If you decide you want to pursue another opportunity after you finish, you should also start that search as early as you decide what you want to do next. Whether you want to move to another facility or another city altogether, starting your search early will help avoid any unwanted limbo time.



At Nomad, we’re here to help you at every stage of your search. If you still have questions about contracts and negotiations, don’t hesitate to reach out. Or Navigators are at the ready, and can assist with anything from salary range to contract details.

  • Schedule time here!
  • Email the Navigators at hello@nomadhealth.com
  • Shoot the Navigators a message through the blue chat bubble on the website.
  • Call 866-OK-NOMAD (866-656-6623)
  • Interested in texting? Email us and we’ll get you set up. Never lose another opportunity in your email inbox!

We look forward to helping you secure your next travel contract. Good luck!

The Nomad Team
nomadhealth.com