How One Nurse's Salary Changed Over 10 Years

Illustrations by Louisa Cannell.
In our series My Salary Story, women with at least 10 years of career experience open up about the most intimate details of their jobs: compensation. It’s an honest look at how real people navigate the complicated world of negotiating, raises, promotions, and job loss, with the hope it will give young women more insight into how to advocate for themselves — and maybe take a few risks along the way. Interested in contributing your salary story? Email us here.
We first talked to a 36-year-old New Yorker who works in media and took a big pay cut to make a career change. Next, we spoke to a 33-year-old woman working in real estate in Austin, TX, who briefly left the workforce for to care for her father.
Today, a 34-year-old nurse practitioner in New Jersey talks about how she learned to negotiate.
Starting salary: $30/hour
Current salary: ~$145,000-$160,000, depending on the number of shifts and productivity
Number of years employed: 10
Biggest salary jump: ~$80,000
Biggest salary drop: $8,000-$10,000
Biggest salary regret: "Staying so long at my previous job where I underpaid. Even though we got raises annually, they were only $0.25/hour raises — and no one ever explained what to do to earn more. I regret this job because I allowed someone to take advantage of me without fair compensation. I should have demanded more, showed them other rates for nurses, and gotten when I deserved — or left. As women, we take so much on and people don't realize it because that's just expected. Not to sound corny, but Drake was right when he said, 'Know yourself, know your worth.'"
Best salary-related advice: "You have to ask for what you want sometimes. I make great pay now but my job is very serious and I work a lot of long hours. I have asked for other things from my job to make my and my family's lives easier, including cheaper health insurance deductions from my paycheck (meaning my job pays for more), which they agreed to. I pay $200 biweekly for myself, my spouse, and our two kids, and [my job] pays about $800 biweekly. I couldn't afford to take care of all the family bills and pay $2,000 a month to cover us all for health insurance. Sometimes, I bargain with them when I work longer weeks, or when I pick up an extra shift; I'll ask for an additional differential — a "diff" — to my regular rate to make up for time lost with my family. The other girls I work with are never afraid to ask for what they want, seeing that makes me believe that it's okay to feel like you are worth more and to ask for it. The worst that can happen is being told no, but at least you asked — and hopefully you get a reason why."

More from Work & Money

Watch

R29 Original Series