Psychiatric nursing is a great way to get into the field of psychiatry without having to obtain your doctorate. As a psychiatric nurse you will assess new patients, learn their histories, symptoms, and illness patterns. You will also work with the doctor to determine if the medication is working well for those who have already been diagnosed. A psychiatric nurse salary is decent pay, there are ways to help increase your salary.
Know your area, is the first thing you need to make your salary the best it can be. As a psychiatric nurse, pay will vary from area to area. Some areas pay better than other areas even within the same state. Some states private institutions such as mental health hospitals pay better than doctors’ offices. Even still, in some areas the state institutions offer the best compensation package. It is important to know who offers the best pay and benefits package in your area.
Keep an eye out on the job listing boards for more information. By staying apprised of what the pay range in your area is, you can adequately negotiate for better pay when the time comes. If you know what other employers are offering, you can use that as a counter offer when you are discussing pay. Some areas or facilities will only be able to pay a certain amount no matter what someone else is offering but they may be willing to pay you more than what they originally offered if you know what the average rate of pay in your area is.
Don’t discount specialization, this can be the key to making more money as a psychiatric nurse. Psychiatric nursing is already a specialty in and of itself. Nevertheless, those who specialize even further, such as specializing in children and adolescents or geriatrics, can bring a greater pay. Some areas meet nurses that have specialized in these areas to fulfill job requirements and duties. Children and adolescents are much different than adults. Therefore, institutions or offices that specialize in helping children and adolescents with their mental illness will meet nurses that understand and are trained in that area.
While specialization is a good idea continuing your education to a masters or doctorate can also raise your salary. The higher the degree the better pay you’re going to be able to demand. All psychiatric nurse must have at least an associate degree in order to be licensed. However, a nurse with a Master’s degree can bring in a higher rate of pay. Nurses that decide to become nurse practitioners can demand even higher pay than those that hold a Master’s degree. This is because in some states nurse practitioners can treat and prescribed medications to patients. Additional training and education is required to obtain your nurse practitioners license. The mental health board must also certify nurse practitioners.
Even with a higher degree and specialization a psychiatric nurses pay is still going to be based on one major component: experience. A nurse who has not worked in the psychiatry field is going to make less than a nurse who has years of experience. Even if the nurse has a higher degree than the nurse with the higher experience that nurse with fewer years under her belt is going to make less. There is no substitution for experience.
There are many factors that will play into how well your salary as a psychiatric nurse is. On average a nurse with little to no psychiatric experience will make approximately $38,927 per year. This of course may be less or more depending on the area in which you live. A nurse with a higher degree and years of experience can make as much as an average of $80,114 per year. Again this is dependent not only on amount of experience you have with the area in which you live. The important things to remember in order to raise your salary is gain experience, gain education, and keep an eye on the job market in your area to ensure you are getting a reasonable wage.