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Nurse Qualification Allowance Rates in Australia

Find out how much nurses and midwives make from earning postgraduate qualifications.

Woman holding up a degree

Overview

In Australia, nurses and midwives are entitled to a Qualification Allowance, also known as a ANF Qualification Allowance, a Continuing Education Allowance in NSW, a Post Graduate Allowance in Tasmania, and a Post Graduate Qualification Allowance in the NT.

The allowance is a regular and ongoing payment for completing an advanced course beyond the basic credentials required to work as a nurse. The course of study should be relevant to your nursing job. The average payment for a registered nurse in Australia is $4,229 per year, ranging from $3,253 for a Graduate Certificate in Nursing to $5,331 for a Master of Nursing degree.

The payments are stipulated in the enterprise agreements for nurses in the public sector of each state and territory. Allowances are always available to registered nurses and usually to enrolled nurses as well. They are not cumulative; you will be remunerated for only a single qualification.

Payment Rates in Australia

Before examining the individual arrangements for each state and territory, let's do a quick snapshot for Australia. Table 1 shows the typical payment to a registered nurse (RN) in each state and territory. These are annual amounts you can receive based on the highest job-relevant qualification held.

Table 1. Annual payment for nurses by postgraduate qualification

Region Graduate
Certificate
Graduate
Diploma
Master of
Nursing
Average
Victoria $3,342 $5,431 $6,266 $5,013
Tasmania $3,284 $5,337 $6,158 $4,926
Northern Territory $4,065 $4,573 $5,589 $4,742
South Australia $3,574 $4,595 $5,616 $4,595
Queensland $3,715 $3,715 $5,838 $4,423
Western Australia $3,166 $4,070 $4,975 $4,070
New South Wales $2,332 $3,506 $4,211 $3,350
ACT $2,544 $3,271 $3,998 $3,271
Australia $3,253 $4,312 $5,331 $4,299

Sources: Extracted figures and estimated averages from enterprise bargaining agreements for public sector nurses and midwives. Timing: From 1 January 2024. The rates in each state typically increase once each year.

For registered nurses, the highest allowances are available in Victoria. An RN can bump up their annual pay by $6,266 by obtaining a Master of Nursing or similar degree. Victoria also has the highest payment for a Graduate Diploma, estimated to be around $5,431 per year. The Northern Territory offers the best return on a Graduate Certificate, with an annual payment of $4,065.

New South Wales

Nurses and midwives in NSW are eligible for a Continuing Education Allowance (CEA) upon gaining a higher qualification beyond their initial training. This is accessible to a range of nursing roles, including RNs and Midwives, Clinical Specialists, and Nurse/Midwife Managers.

Key specifics of the CEA include:

  • An EN with a Certificate IV receives a weekly allowance of $32.20, or $1,680 annually.
  • For an EN with an Advanced Diploma, the weekly rate is $40.50, equating to $2,113 per year.
  • An RN/RM with a Post-Graduate Certificate gets $44.70 weekly, or $2,332 annually.
  • Those with a Post-Graduate Diploma or Degree are paid $67.20 each week, or $3,506 per year.
  • A Masters Degree or Doctorate earns a weekly payment of $80.70, or $4,211 annually.

The allowance is payable only for the highest qualification relevant to the nurse or midwife's clinical duties and is not included in the base rate of pay. However, it is considered during periods of paid leave.

Source: NSW Public Health System Nurses and Midwives Award

Victoria

In Victoria, nurses receive a Qualifications Allowance for additional relevant qualifications. The payment is a percentage of the nurse's base rate of pay, according to their position within the nursing pay scale.

  • Hospital Certificate or Graduate Certificate holders receive 4.0% of the base rate.
  • Those with a Postgraduate Diploma, Degree, or Double Degree get 6.5%.
  • A Masters leads to a 7.5% rate.
  • A Doctorate or PhD commands the highest rate at 10%.

Enrolled Nurses also benefit:

  • A 6-month course results in a payment of 4% of the weekly rate for EN 1.6.
  • A 12-month course provides an extra 7.5% of the weekly rate for EN 1.6.

Additionally, all nurses who obtain a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment are entitled to a payment of 3.5% of the base rate per week.

Source: Victoria Nurses and Midwives Enterprise Agreement

Queensland

Queensland nurses at Grades 5 to 7 are eligible for a Qualifications Allowance when they acquire additional higher-education credentials relevant to their role. Key points include:

  • Qualifications like a Graduate Certificate, Diploma, or second Bachelor's Degree attract an allowance set at 3.5% of the wage rate of a Nurse Grade 5 at pay point 7.
  • Advanced degrees, such as a Master’s degree or PhD, increase the allowance to 5.5% of the same rate.

Grade 5 marks the starting grade for Registered Nurses in Queensland, while Grade 7 includes roles such as Clinical Nurse Consultant and Nurse/Midwife Unit Manager.

Source: Queensland Nurses and Midwives Certified Agreement

Western Australia

The Qualification Allowance for Registered Nurses and Midwives in WA is tiered according to the study level:

  • Level 1 (Graduate Certificate or equivalent): $3,166 annually.
  • Level 2 (Graduate Diploma or equivalent): $4,070 annually.
  • Level 3 (Masters or PhD): $4,975 annually.

Part-time staff receive a proportionate payment based on their working hours. This system supports nurses and midwives in their professional development and acknowledges the value of advanced education in healthcare.

Source: WA Health System Nursing and Midwifery Industrial Agreement

South Australia

The Qualification Allowance for RNs/Midwives and ENs in South Australia acknowledges ongoing professional development. The structure is as follows:

  • RN/RM with a Hospital or Graduate Certificate: $3,469.60 in 2024, $3,573.70 in 2025.
  • RN/RM with a Graduate Diploma: $4,460.80 in 2024, $4,594.60 in 2025.
  • RN/RM with a Second Degree, Masters, or PhD: $5,452.10 in 2024, $5,615.70 in 2025.
  • EN with post-enrolment courses (≥6 months): $2,542.80 in 2024, $2,619.10 in 2025.

Part-time staff receive pro-rata allowances, aligning with their higher qualifications.

Source: South Australia Nursing / Midwifery Enterprise Agreement

Tasmania

The Post Graduate Allowance in Tassie is applicable to Enrolled Nurses (ENs), Registered Nurses (RNs), Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners (NPs). Rates vary based on the qualification:

  • EN with an Advanced Diploma of Nursing or a specialist qualification in a relevant area: 4.0% and 2.0% respectively.
  • RN/RM and NP with a Graduate Certificate or Post Graduate Diploma: Allowances range from 4.0% for Graduate Certificates to 6.5% for Graduate Diplomas.
  • For advanced degrees like a Masters or Doctorate, the rate is 7.5%.

Payments are calculated based on the nurse's current salaried incremental point and continues as long as they are employed in a role relevant to their course of study. It incentivises higher education and the development of enhanced skills in specialised healthcare.

Source: Tasmanian State Service Nurses and Midwives Award

Australian Capital Territory

ACT nurses are eligible for a Qualification Allowance.

  • ENs completing a course of at least six months or 120 hours receive 3.5% of the minimum salary scale of EN Level 1.
  • RNs/Midwives with an Honours Degree, Conversion Degree, or Postgraduate Certificate receive 3.5% of the minimum salary scale of RN Level 1.
  • Those with a Postgraduate Diploma or Second Degree receive 4.5% of the RN Level 1 scale.
  • RNs/Midwives with a Masters Degree or Doctoral Degree are eligible for 5.5% of the RN Level 1 scale.

Hospital-based Midwifery Certificates are considered equivalent to a Postgraduate Diploma in the ACT. The allowance is paid fortnightly and does not factor into overtime or other entitlement calculations. Employees must demonstrate the relevance of the higher qualification to their current role to qualify.

Source: ACT Public Sector Nursing and Midwifery Enterprise Agreement

Northern Territory

In the NT, nurses are eligible for a Post Graduate Qualification Allowance, reflecting their level of post-graduate education. This bonus is for those who have gained additional credentials relevant to their work.

  • Nurse 1 (EN) with a course of at least 6 months or 120 hours: $3,164.
  • Nurse 2-8 (RN/RM) with a Conversion degree or Graduate Certificate: $4,186.
  • Nurse 2-8 with a Graduate Diploma: $4,710.
  • Nurse 2-8 with a Master’s Degree or Doctorate: $5,757.

The allowance is paid fortnightly, including to part-time nurses on a pro-rata basis. It is included during authorised paid leave and contributes to superannuation, but does not affect overtime or penalty rates. It is not payable during unauthorised leave or when performing duties outside the specified area.

Source: NT Public Sector Nurses and Midwives Enterprise Agreement

Eligible Types of Qualifications

Postgraduate nursing courses online

ANF Qualification Allowances are generally payable for recognised tertiary qualifications, including non-nursing bachelor degrees, graduate certificates and diplomas in nursing, and advanced degrees such as master's and doctorates. Certain TAFE or VET certificates and diplomas may also qualify, especially in states with provisions for enrolled nurses.

The qualification must be work relevant, which is typically the case with courses for nurses. Qualifications in healthcare, management, or education may also be eligible. You can be paid once you present evidence of completion, such as a certificate, diploma, or a transcript from the educational provider.

Graduate Certificate in Nursing

A popular study option for becoming eligible for a qualification allowance is a Graduate Certificate in Nursing. This is a relatively short course but offers high returns, with an average annual payment of $3,253 across Australia.

Key features:

  • Also called a postgraduate certificate and is equivalent to a hospital certificate.
  • Typically consists of only four subjects.
  • Option to choose a general or specialised study program.
  • May qualify you to become a Clinical Nurse Specialist or other higher-paying nurse designation.

A Grad Cert is often seen as a pathway course, as the subjects are normally drawn from a master's program. Graduates can opt to continue studying and use completed subjects towards a Graduate Diploma or Master's degree.

Related: Benefits of a Graduate Certificate in Nursing

Graduate Diploma in Nursing

A Graduate Diploma in Nursing consists of eight subjects and typically takes 16 months to complete through part-time study. You automatically gain a financial boost upon finishing. The average Qualification Allowance for a Graduate Diploma is around $4,312, which is about $1k more per year compared to a Graduate Certificate.

Programs are generally designed for RNs looking to expand their skills and knowledge in specific areas of nursing practice. A grad dip makes you more competitive for specialised and senior nursing roles.

Related: Graduate Certificate vs Graduate Diploma

Master of Nursing

A Master of Nursing program typically consists of 12 subjects. The Qualification Allowances for a Master's, averaging $5,331 per year across Australia, may not be proportionate to the amount of study required. However, the extra pay can be viewed as a bonus, considering the career advantages of an MN degree.

A Master of Nursing has the potential to significantly boost a nurse's salary. The pay premium is estimated to range from $5,639 to $56,648 annually, compared to the average RN salary. Advanced degrees open doors to higher-paying roles such as Clinical Nurse Consultant, Clinical Nurse Educator and Nurse Unit Manager.

Related: Master of Nursing Salary in Australia