Richard Cresswell

Considering a career in nursing? Everything you need to know about nursing pay rates

Nursing Agency Nurse

People are attracted to a career in nursing for many reasons. One of the most common is a strong instinct to care for and make...

People are attracted to a career in nursing for many reasons. One of the most common is a strong instinct to care for and make a real difference in the lives of others.

But nursing professionals also need to pay the bills. If you’re considering a career change, it’s important to weigh up financial considerations before committing yourself, especially to a new career that involves some years of training.

So, let’s take a look at nursing pay rates in the UK, including typical starting salaries for 2021 and other pay-related considerations. 

Nursing pay rates for the NHS

The pay you can expect to receive as a newly qualified nurse depends whether you work for the NHS or the private sector.

Newly qualified Band 5 nurses generally start on a salary of around £25,000, increasing to just over £30,000. This is before tax and other deductibles, and it’s also a minimum – so you could receive more, along with expenses or extras such as pay for anti-social working hours. If you’re working in London, you can expect to receive something known as a high-cost area supplement.

As you gain experience, you may be able to earn a higher salary as a Band 6 nurse, earning between £31,365 to £37,890.

The next steps up are:

  • Band 7 - £38,890 to £44,503
  • Band 8 - £45,753 to £87,754
  • Band 9 - £91,004 to £104,927.

The average annual salary for an NHS nurse is estimated to be between £33,000 and £35,000.

And there are also the non-salary benefits to consider. NHS nurses receive a good pension package, plus sickness and maternity benefits. You may also be eligible for non-repayable funding support of up to £8,000 to put towards your studies as you train.

Salaries for nursing agency and private sector roles

As private sector nursing salaries are unregulated, they can vary considerably from employer to employer. It’s likely that you’ll earn a similar, or slightly higher, salary than an NHS employee if you work as a private sector nursing professional.

Another option for nurses is to sign up with a nursing agency, such as Health Recruit Network. Agency work can offer a greater degree of flexibility, and more potential for higher earnings – which can compensate for the lack of NHS benefits. It all depends on your circumstances, and what kind of role you’re looking for. 

Again, salaries for nursing positions can vary depending on the role and the employer. But according to Adzuna, the average agency nurse salary is around £49,297. This is around 42% higher than the average advertised salary for an NHS nurse.

The area you live and work within can also make a difference to your pay as an agency nurse. For example, the average nursing agency salary in Norfolk is around £62,712, while in Lancashire it’s estimated to be around £47,752.

If you’re considering a career in nursing, or a chance to earn more as an agency nurse, find your perfect new job here at Health Recruit Network. Register here to search hundreds of nursing agency jobs and receive personalised job alerts.