• early career;
  • job satisfaction;
  • measurement scale

Aim  To develop an early career job satisfaction instrument that is valid and reliable across the four UK nursing branches.

Background  Contemporary instruments are required to measure nurse job satisfaction and to explore potential links with quality of care and retention.

Method(s)  Factor analysis was used to explore and test the stability of job satisfaction components across branches and over time.

Results  Seven components (client care, staffing, development, relationships, education, work-life interface, resources) of job satisfaction were identified common to the adult, child and mental health branches that explained over 70% of the variance. The factor structure remained reasonably stable across time within each branch. Some differences between branches emerged at 6 and 18 months. The instrument has similarities and differences with existing generic and nursing facet job satisfaction scales.

Conclusion  Findings support a generic instrument that can be used to measure the job satisfaction of adult, child and mental health nurses in their early career.

Implications for nursing management  The instrument could be used for appraisal, annual staff surveys, for understanding retention locally and nationally, as an early warning system to identify organizational problems and to measure the impact of policies over time.