When considering a career as a nurse it is important to understand not only the role but what benefits and salary you could be expecting as you progress up the ladder. To help you navigate through the process we are exploring everything you need to know about the benefits and salary for a nurse in the UK.
Average nursing salary ranges
Most medical professionals in the UK are employed by the National Health Service (NHS), which offers banded salaries for all its employees using the ‘agenda for change’ pay scale. This considers the level of expertise of the role, responsibilities, skills, abilities, and years of experience.
A nurse’s starting salary begins in band five and can increase to band nine with further qualifications and experience in the field. This applies to specialist nurses too, with mental health nurse salaries and paediatric nurse salaries also beginning in band five.
The annual average salary brackets for nursing roles in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are:
Band 5 nurse salary: Newly qualified nurses can earn from £25,655 to £31,534
Band 6 nurse salary: Nurses with more than five years’ experience or deputy ward managers, health visitors and specialist nurses can earn from £32,306 to £39,027
Band 7 nurse salary: Nurses who have undertaken further training and a master’s degree to progress toward ward managers, emergency nurse practitioners or clinical specialists can earn from £40,057 to £45,839
Band 8 nurse salary: Modern matrons and chief nurses can earn from £47,125 to £90,837
Band 9 nurse salary: Nursing consultants, who are considered an expert in the field and work to educate others can earn from £93,735 to £108,075
Nurses can also qualify for enhanced rates depending on if they work a bank holiday, weekend, or night shift. They also have the opportunity to earn more if they take on extra shifts. Likewise, extra pay is given to those who work in areas where living costs are high, such as London.
Salaries outside of the NHS may vary depending on the organisation and sector.
Nurse salaries in Scotland
NHS salary bands in Scotland are slightly different from those found in other UK nations. The annual average salary brackets for nursing roles in Scotland are:
Band 5 nurse salary: £26,104 - £32,915
Band 6 nurse salary: £33,072 - £40,736
Band 7 nurse salary: £40,872 - £47,846
Band 8 nurse salary: £50,965 - £92,424
Band 9 nurse salary: £105,635 - £110,468
Annual leave entitlement
As the NHS is an institution that provides care every day, all-year-round, nurses work on a rota basis that consists of 37.5 hours a week, which is usually divided into 12-hour shifts, with three days on and four days off.
Nursing staff that work full-time hours are entitled to receive 27 days annual leave, plus eight bank holidays when they first start with the organisation. After five years within the service, this increases to 29 days, plus eight bank holidays and finally after 10 years working for the NHS nurses are entitled to 33 days and eight bank holidays.
As well as salary, the NHS offers its nurses the following benefits:
Enrolment on the NHS pension scheme, which follows a final salary programme that pays out on the average career earnings when you retire
Access to the NHS discounts platform
Childcare facilities within hospitals and support with costs
Opportunities to take study leave
Access to occupational health and counselling services
When pursuing a career in nursing, professional development is key. Nurses must continue learning the latest techniques and be competent in the latest technology to successfully provide quality care to patients. It is also vital to career progression for those that want to climb the ranks.
Additionally, in the UK all nurses must undertake continuing professional development (CPD) every three years to be revalidated as a nurse – and ensure all training is refreshed and up to date as part of a standardised process across the country. Some activities that fall within this particular training are peer reviews, mentoring, in-person or virtual group meetings, conferences, and structured learning.
Similar to other medical professions, many people who choose to become a qualified nurse aim to move up into more senior roles within a hospital setting, such as managers, specialists, or matrons. However, nursing can also lead to other medical roles with further training, such as a midwife, health visitor, practice nurse, or even progress into teaching and research opportunities.
To find out more about salaries for roles across a variety of sectors, download our salary guides now.