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Higher Qualification Allowance Rates for Nurses

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Registered nurses in Australia, especially those working in public health systems, are eligible for higher pay after postgraduate study. A higher qualification allowance is additional pay based on the highest postgraduate qualification held.

By advancing their education, nurses can significantly increase their earnings and expands career opportunities. Let’s see the financial opportunities available to nurses through further education.

Average Pay Rates by Highest Qualification

Postgraduate qualifications can lead to substantial financial rewards for nurses. On average, a registered nurse (RN) with a higher qualification earns an additional $4,299 annually (Source: Lerna Courses).

A Graduate Certificate in Nursing typically provides an extra $3,253 per year, while a Graduate Diploma offers around $4,312. Nurses who achieve a Master of Nursing degree can expect an average annual increase of $5,331.

These allowances are set out in the enterprise agreements for public sector nurses. The shortest eligible course is a Graduate Certificate in Nursing, which consists of four university subjects.

Which States Pay the Most?

Based on public service pay agreements in each state or territory, each region of Australia can be ranked by higher qualification pay rates.

1. Victoria

Victoria offers the highest Qualification Allowances in Australia. An RN with a Master of Nursing can see their salary boosted by up to $6,266 per year. Graduate Diploma holders receive $5,431 annually, while Graduate Certificate holders get $3,342.

2. Tasmania

Referred to as the Post Graduate Allowance, Tasmania follows with significant allowances, providing $6,158 annually for a Master’s degree. Nurses with a Graduate Diploma receive $5,337, and those with a Graduate Certificate get $3,284 each year.

3. Northern Territory

Known as the Post Graduate Qualification Allowance, nurses in the NT with a Master’s degree earn an additional $5,589 annually. Those with a Graduate Diploma receive $4,573, and a Graduate Certificate brings in $4,065 per year.

4. South Australia

In South Australia, the allowance is part of the Nursing/Midwifery Enterprise Agreement. South Australia offers attractive allowances as well, with $5,616 annually for a Master’s degree, $4,595 for a Graduate Diploma, and $3,574 for a Graduate Certificate.

5. Queensland

Queensland nurses receive a Qualifications Allowance under the Nurses and Midwives Certified Agreement. Nurses with a Master’s degree receive an extra $5,838 annually. Both Graduate Diploma and Graduate Certificate holders earn $3,715 each year.

6. Western Australia

In Western Australia, the allowance is specified in the WA Health System Nursing and Midwifery Industrial Agreement. WA provides $4,975 annually for a Master’s degree, $4,070 for a Graduate Diploma, and $3,166 for a Graduate Certificate.

7. New South Wales

Known as the Continuing Education Allowance, NSW offers $4,211 annually for a Master’s degree, $3,506 for a Graduate Diploma, and $2,332 for a Graduate Certificate.

8. Australian Capital Territory

In the ACT, the Qualification Allowance is detailed in the ACT Public Sector Nursing and Midwifery Enterprise Agreement. Nurses with a Master’s degree receive $3,998 annually, those with a Graduate Diploma get $3,271, and Graduate Certificate holders earn $2,544 per year.

General Salary Advantages

Health staff attempting to resuscitate patient

Given Australia’s strong healthcare system and the rising demand for specialised nurses, further education is a high-return investment. Postgraduate study is the clearest pathway to career advancement.

Average salaries for nurses with a Master’s degree are 6% to 65% higher than those for other nurses. (Source: Masters of Nursing Online in Australia). Education not only provides financial security but also creates opportunities in management, clinical consulting, and nurse training.

With the availability of online courses, nurses can complete courses without taking time away from work. FEE-HELP loans cover tuition fees, allowing nurses to start their studies without financial concerns.

Other Benefits of Postgraduate Courses

Postgraduate education in nursing offers numerous professional benefits beyond financial rewards. These advanced courses can significantly enhance a nurse’s skills, making them more effective and confident in their roles.

Here are some areas where nurses can advance their careers:

Acute Care

Focusing on managing rapid-onset and severe patient conditions, this specialisation is ideal for hospital nurses handling emergencies.

Advanced Nursing

Designed for nurses in challenging environments, these courses enhance applied skills and professional proficiency.

Advanced Practice

This area develops advanced patient care skills, emphasising safety and quality in clinical settings.

Clinical Nursing

Covering general knowledge and applied clinical skills, this specialisation is relevant to everyday clinical practice.

Critical Care

Specialised training in patient assessments and intensive treatments, essential for ICU nurses.

Emergency Nursing

Focuses on urgent clinical decision-making skills, critical for emergency department nurses.

Leadership and Management

Prepares nurses for managerial roles, developing their nurse leadership style and administration skills.

Related: Grad Cert in Health Management

Mental Health Nursing

Specialises in psychological and cognitive patient care, crucial for mental health nurses.

Nursing Education

Pathway into teaching and educational roles, enhancing skills for nurse training and professional development.

Paediatric Nursing

Focuses on child healthcare and development, ideal for nurses working with young patients.

Perioperative Nursing

Prepares nurses for surgical and perioperative patient care, ensuring safety and comfort.