Nurse’s Retirement: How to Make a Retirement Plan

Nurse’s Retirement: How to Make a Retirement Plan

Working in healthcare as a registered nurse, nurse practitioner, or nurse educator involves providing care and support to patients who are facing physical or mental health challenges. Nurses work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and community health centers.

They collaborate with other healthcare professionals to develop and implement care plans, administer medications and treatments, monitor patients’ progress, and provide emotional support to patients and their families. The nursing profession requires a high level of compassion, critical thinking, and excellent communication skills.

How to Create a Nurse’s Retirement Plan

Determine retirement income needs

The first step for a nurse in retirement planning is determining how much they will need. This can be done by estimating living expenses and factoring in additional costs such as healthcare and travel.

Maximize retirement account contributions

Nurses should aim to contribute as much as possible to their retirement accounts, such as a 401(k) or IRA, to maximize their tax-advantaged retirement savings.

Understand tax implications

Nurses should understand the tax implications of their retirement income, as retirement income is typically subject to income tax. They may also need to pay taxes on withdrawals from retirement accounts.

Consider other sources of retirement income

Nurses should consider other sources of retirement income beyond their retirement accounts, such as Social Security or pension benefits, to help supplement their retirement income.

Develop a withdrawal strategy

Finally, nurses should develop a withdrawal strategy for their retirement accounts, taking into account factors such as their age, tax bracket, and other sources of retirement income. This can help ensure that they are able to manage their retirement income in a tax-efficient manner and avoid unnecessary taxes or penalties.

What types of retirement options exist for nurses?


A pension is a retirement savings plan that provides a regular income to a person after they retire. In nursing, a pension might refer to a retirement plan specifically for nurses or a general term used to describe any retirement plan a nurse is eligible to participate in.

Many nurses are eligible to receive a pension through their employer or through a professional organization, such as a union. The specifics of a pension plan will vary depending on the plan and the terms of the agreement under which it is offered.


A 401(k) is a type of retirement savings plan that an employer sponsors. Many employers offer 401(k) plans as a benefit to their employees and may even match a portion of the employee’s contributions. Some nurses may be eligible to participate in a 401(k) plan through their employer. The specifics of the plan, including the employer’s contribution and the investment options available, will vary depending on the plan.


Some nurses may be eligible to participate in a 403(b) plan through their employer if they work for a tax-exempt organization or a public school.  Contributions to a 403(b) are made on a pre-tax basis, which means that the money is taken out of an employee’s paycheck before taxes are calculated. This can reduce the employee’s taxable income, which can result in a lower tax bill.

Roth IRA

A Roth IRA is an individual retirement account that allows an individual to save for retirement on an after-tax basis. Contributions to a Roth IRA are not tax-deductible, but the money in the account grows tax-free, and qualified withdrawals are also tax-free. Like all other workers, nurses may be eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA if they have earned income and meet certain income requirements. 

Traditional IRA

A Traditional IRA, or Individual Retirement Account, is a type of retirement account that allows individuals to make contributions on a pre-tax basis, meaning that the contributions are deductible from their taxable income in the year they are made. The funds in the account grow tax-deferred until they are withdrawn in retirement, at which point they are taxed as ordinary income.


A health savings account (HSA) is a personal savings account that is used to pay for qualifying medical expenses. HSAs are often paired with high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) and are designed to help individuals save for healthcare expenses on a tax-advantaged basis.

The money in an HSA can be used to pay for a wide range of qualifying medical expenses, including deductibles, copays, and prescription medications. Some nurses may be eligible to participate in an HSA if they are enrolled in an HDHP through their employer or have purchased an HDHP on their own.

When Should Nurses Start Saving for Retirement?

It is not too late to start if you are a nurse and have not yet started saving for retirement. You may want to consider speaking with a financial advisor or financial planner to determine how much you need to save to reach your retirement goals and to develop a savings plan that works for you. You may also want to take advantage of any retirement savings plans that are available to you, such as a 401(k) or a pension, as these can be powerful tools for building a secure retirement.

Financial planning can benefit your future by helping you pay off student loan debt from nursing school to helping you understand the total cost of living expenses and pay taxes. Caring for your finances does not have to be a full-time job.

Setting Retirement Saving Goals

Setting a retirement savings goal is important for nurses (and anyone else) because it helps them to ensure that they will have enough money to support themselves in retirement.

By setting a savings goal, nurses can better plan and manage their finances and ensure they are contributing enough money to their retirement accounts to achieve their desired retirement lifestyle.

Here are some steps that a nurse can take to help achieve their retirement savings goal:

Estimate retirement expenses

Start by estimating the amount of money you will need to cover your living expenses in retirement. Consider factors such as housing, healthcare, food, transportation, and entertainment.

Determine retirement income sources

Identify potential sources of retirement income, such as Social Security benefits, pension payments, and retirement savings accounts.

Calculate savings needed

Based on your estimated expenses and expected income, calculate the amount of money you will need to save in order to achieve your retirement goals. Use a retirement savings calculator to help with this calculation.

Start saving early

The earlier you start saving for retirement, the easier it will be to reach your savings goal. Take advantage of retirement savings accounts offered by your employer, such as a 401(k) or 403(b), and contribute as much as you can afford.

Consider additional savings strategies

In addition to retirement savings accounts, consider other savings strategies such as individual retirement accounts (IRAs), health savings accounts (HSAs), and other investment options.

Review and adjust regularly

Review your retirement savings plan regularly and make adjustments as necessary. This can help ensure that you are on track to reach your retirement savings goal.

By setting a retirement savings goal and taking steps to achieve it, nurses can help ensure that they will be financially prepared for retirement and able to enjoy their retirement years with peace of mind. 

How to Choose the Best Retirement Plan for A Nurse, the Pros and cons

Nurses can consider many types of retirement savings products, and the best choice will depend on the individual’s specific circumstances and retirement goals. Some options that nurses may want to consider include:

401(k) plan

Pros: Contributions may be tax-deferred; employer matching may be available.

Cons: Contribution limits may be relatively low; investment options may be limited.


Pros: Pensions often provide a guaranteed income for life; no investment risk.

Cons: Pensions may not be available from all employers; benefits may be reduced if the pension plan becomes underfunded.

Individual Retirement Account (IRA)

Pros: Contributions may be tax-deductible; many investment options are available.

Cons: Contribution limits may be relatively low; early withdrawals may be subject to penalties.

Health Savings Account (HSA)

Pros: Contributions are tax-deductible; money can be used to pay for a wide range of qualifying medical expenses.

Cons: HSAs may only be available to those enrolled in an HDHP; contribution limits may be relatively low.

How Travel Nurses Can Save For Retirement

Travel nurses can save for retirement in several ways. Here are some tips:

Participate in a 401(k) plan or similar retirement plan offered by your employer

If you work for a travel nursing agency, they may offer a retirement plan that allows you to save for retirement through automatic payroll deductions.

Open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and contribute regularly

Traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs are two popular types of IRAs. Consult with a financial advisor to determine the best option for your needs.

Set up a budget

This can help you manage your expenses and prioritize saving for retirement.

Plan your retirement with a professional

Consider working with a financial advisor who can help you create a personalized retirement plan and investment strategy.

Plan for the unexpected.

Ensure you have an emergency fund covering at least 3-6 months of expenses in case of unexpected job loss or other financial hardships.

Avoid debt and pay off any high-interest debt as soon as possible

This can help you reduce your overall financial obligations and save more money for retirement.

Early Retirement for Nurses

Early retirement for nurses is an option that may be available to those who have worked in the profession for a certain number of years and meet specific eligibility criteria.

Some employers offer early retirement packages that may include a combination of financial incentives, such as pension benefits or severance pay, and access to healthcare coverage.

Nurses considering early retirement should carefully evaluate their financial situation and retirement goals and the potential impact on their healthcare benefits and social security eligibility.

It is also important to consult with a financial advisor and/or human resources representative to fully understand the options and implications of early retirement.

Questions Nurses have asked us about retirement planning.

What is the average pension for a nurse?

The average pension for a nurse can vary widely depending on factors such as their years of service, retirement plan, and employer. In the United States, many nurses are covered by pension plans that are offered by their employers, such as defined employee benefit plans or 401(k) plans. According to a 2021 survey by the National Institute on Retirement Security, the median pension benefit for all workers in the US with a defined benefit pension plan was $9,675 per year.

What is the average retirement age for nurses?

The average retirement age for nursing careers varies depending on personal preferences, financial situation, and employer policies. In the United States, the earliest age at which a retiree can begin receiving Social Security retirement benefits is 62. However, the full retirement age ranges from 66 to 67, depending on the nurse’s birth year.

According to a 2019 survey by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, the average age of RNs who are no longer practicing nursing was 62.4 years. However, this does not necessarily mean that all of these nurses have retired, as some may have left the profession for other reasons, such as illness, family responsibilities, or career changes.

What are some ways for a nurse to accumulate wealth after retirement?

After retirement, nurses can still accumulate wealth and generate income from various sources. Here are some ways that nurses can accumulate wealth after retirement:

  1. Invest in the stock market: Investing in stocks and bonds can be a good way to generate income and build wealth over time. Consider working with a financial advisor to develop an investment strategy that fits your goals and risk tolerance.
  2. Real estate investments: Real estate can be a great way to generate passive income after retirement. This could include rental properties or real estate investment trusts (REITs).
  3. Start a small business: Starting a small business, either full-time or as a side hustle, can be a way to generate income and build wealth after retirement. Consider your skills and interests and look for business opportunities that align with them.
  4. Part-time work: Many retired nurses choose to continue working part-time, either in their nursing profession or in a new field. This can provide a steady source of income and help keep retirement savings intact.
  5. Social Security benefits: Nurses may be eligible for Social Security benefits after retirement. Consider working with a financial planner to help you maximize your Social Security benefits.
  6. Annuities: An annuity can provide a steady stream of income in retirement, similar to a pension. Consider working with a financial advisor to determine if an annuity is right for you.

Remember that accumulating wealth after retirement requires careful planning and consideration of your financial goals and needs. Consider working with a financial advisor to help you develop a retirement income strategy that fits your needs and helps you achieve your financial goals.


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