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Staff Nursing vs. Agency Nursing: Which is best for you?

Whether you’re a new graduate or have been a qualified nurse for years, fear of the unknown can always hold us back when it comes to making big career decisions. Both staff nursing and agency nursing are highly sought after in Ireland so it’s important to compare both and see which works better for you.

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What is Agency Nursing?

An agency nurse is a nurse that works temporarily in different locations, such as nursing homes, rehabilitation centres, or patients’ homes, through a recruitment agency. They aren’t directly employed by the institution they’re working in. There are many benefits to working as an agency nurse, and it may suit someone who likes to have more control over their schedule.

Main differences between Staff Nursing and Agency Nursing:


Staff nursing: Working in just one location means you will receive a stable, steady income. The starting salary for nurses in Ireland is, on average, €35,000, with opportunities to reach up to €60,000 through upskilling and development. As well as this, you also receive benefits such as paid-time off, health insurance, and a retirement plan.

Agency nursing: Working as an agency nurse means you will generally earn more than staff nurses. Usually agency rates are €5 extra per hour. You can earn between €20 to €50 per hour, depending on your experience and place of work. You could also be entitled to an unsociable hourly rate of pay which you received after 8pm.


Staff nursing: Your schedule as a staff nurse will most likely have very little flexibility. You will receive a schedule with set hours every week. While you can avail of paid time off, you won’t be able to take holidays whenever you please.

Agency nursing: You will have much more flexibility working as an agency nurse. Locuming allows you to pick your own hours, meaning you can work whenever it suits you. You can choose day, mid or night shifts, as well as taking time off for holidays. You also have the freedom to work in different locations and meet new people.


Staff nursing: Working in just one location gives staff nurses the opportunity to specialise in one area, be this paediatrics, palliative care, etc. You will have access to training and can build up your knowledge of this one field.

Agency nursing: Constantly moving around means that an agency nurse will gain experience in many different areas. Since their role is to help healthcare providers temporarily fill staffing shortages, they rarely specialise and instead, help where they’re needed.

Here at Clarity we want what’s best for you!

Our expert recruiters are always excited to help. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about agency nursing feel free to get in touch! We provide free, one-to-one career consultations where we can discuss your experience and career options. Email us today at: [email protected] or call 01 567 3123.


Posted on 18 February 2022 by Hannah Phipps
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