If you want to become a nurse while pursuing FI, two things will be key to your success. First, you'll want to save as much money as you can on your education. Second, you'll want to find ways to increase your earnings potential. Nursing allows for both.
Nurses are in high demand. Nursing is expected to grow 15% between 2016 and 2026, that's over double the average job growth rate. Which means that Nursing can be a well paying, flexible career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average nurse earns $71,730 per year. Add to that there are all kinds of working environments, from fast-paced emergency rooms to calm doctor's offices. You will likely be able to find a position that fits your desired lifestyle.
Not convinced? Here are 25 reasons to become a Nurse.
How To Save Money On Your Nursing Education
There are lots of ways to save money on your nursing education. Here are a few ideas that could save you literally thousands of dollars!
1. Apply For Tuition Reimbursement for Advanced Degrees
After you've secured a job and are making money, you can begin to consider if an advanced degree is a good option for you. Below, we discuss some advanced degrees that could be worth your time and money.
If you decide that you want to pursue an advanced degree, there's a good chance your employer may offer tuition reimbursement.
Brent and his wife have both earned advanced degrees that were paid for by their employers.
“My wife's MBA was 100% paid for by her employer and my work towards my BSN has been 100% covered by my employer. Back when I was a new graduate, I received a $10,000 sign-on bonus from my first employer. RNs are in high demand and the benefits from employers continue to become more lucrative.”
In this way, nursing is a bit of an anomaly when it comes to options for cutting education costs. I can't think of many other fields that offer this many ways to help students save money.
Keep in mind, though, that tuition assistance often comes with a caveat. Most employers offering this benefit require a commitment to continue employment with them for a fixed amount of time (typically two years).
2. Work At A Critical Shortage Facility (CSF)
If you're already working as a nurse and you have student loan debt, don't worry. There are great options for you as well.
One option is to work at a Critical Shortage Facility (CSF) in order to qualify for the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program. A CSF is a public or private nonprofit health care facility that serves an area with a shortage of primary care or mental health professionals.
By working in a CSF, you can apply to have up to 85% of your unpaid nursing debt paid for. If you are accepted, the Nurse Corps will pay up to 60% of your loans over your first two years of work, with an option to add a third year and another 25% of your loans paid off.
3. Work At A Hospital That Qualifies For Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
While not all federal forgiveness programs will actually save you money versus the Standard Repayment Plan, Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is usually the major exception. If you are able to qualify for PSLF, it could save you a ton of money.
With PSLF, you can apply to have the remainder of your student loans forgiven after 10 years, or 120 qualifying payments.
The good news for nurses? A large number of hospitals qualify for PSLF. To qualify, a hospital simply needs to be a nonprofit or state-run facility. There's a good chance that you have a PSLF-qualifying facility in your local community.
If you accrued a lot of debt while earning your nursing degree, PSLF could help you wipe out a lot of that debt.
How To Kick Your Nursing Career Income Into Overdrive
Now that we've covered some ways that you can save money on your nursing degree and find student debt relief, let's look at ways to increase your RN earnings potential.
1. Take On An Extra Job Or Work Extra Shifts
Nurses often have a 12-hour shift schedule that allows them to work only three to four days per week. Because of this, ambitious nurses can significantly boost their income by taking on extra shifts or even working at two different hospitals.
In Naseema McElroy's interview with ChooseFI, she shared that it's common for nurses to have two jobs. There are few jobs with schedules that allow this kind of flexibility to add to your workload and increase your income by 50% or more.
Will it be hard to work five to seven 12-hour days a week? Absolutely! But if you're committed to reaching FI, it could make a huge difference.
2. Consider Pursuing An Advanced Degree Or Specialty Certification
There are several advanced degrees and extra certifications that could help you grow your nursing income. And as mentioned earlier, many hospitals will cover the cost of these programs.
Getting a master's degree in an advanced practice nursing (APRN) field could help you earn a lot more money.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that the median RN pay in the United States is $71,730, while APRNs like nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, and nurse practitioners earn a median pay of $113,930 per year.
Brent says that nurse anesthetists are in high demand right now and can make much more than even the BLS median pay indicates. He says:
“A registered nurse anesthetist can easily make $180,000 to $200,000 early in their career. Their salary has incredible growth and massive need.”
When it comes to nursing specialty certifications, here are a few you may want to consider:
- AIDS Certified Registered Nurse (ACRN)
- Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN)
- Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN)
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP-BC)
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
To learn more about what it takes to earn these certifications and the salary potential of each, check out the Nurse Journal's quick guide.
Here are 25 reasons to get a master's in Nursing. And if you are still on the fence, here are the advantages and drawbacks of getting your masters.
3. Start A Side Business
Again, because of the schedule that nurses follow, you could potentially have three to four available days a week that you could devote to a side gig.
When we interviewed RN Timika Downes on the podcast, she shared how she was able to pay down over $90k of debt by building up a six-figure side hustle.
Her side hustle was quite unique. She bought a lice clinic. And then she taught herself how to blog and code so that she could market and grow the business into what it is today.
And remember, she did all this while still working full-time as a nurse. No matter what your passions or strengths are, nursing is a great field for people who also want to build a side business.
Working as a registered nurse is not for everyone. There tends to be lots of bodily fluids, verbally abusive patients, back-breaking tasks, thankless days, and mentally-numbing situations.
You'll see people at their most vulnerable, but you'll also have the opportunity to make a positive impact on their lives. If a career in healthcare interests you, look for alternative ways to get into nursing without the large upfront cost of an expensive bachelor's degree and find ways to kick your income up a few notches.
Any nurses out there who know other ways to hack an RN degree or make more money?