Doctoral Degrees in Nursing


How Much Can I Earn with a DNP?

Salaries for nurses with a DNP can vary by position, but you can make a good living whatever role you choose.

medical staff standing at table in discussion
medical staff meeting together


You can expand your opportunities to elevate your nursing career and increase your salary potential when you earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). As the highest degree in nursing practice, the DNP prepares you to qualify for clinical and non-clinical nursing roles, along with salaries that reflect a higher level of responsibility.

Your career path with a DNP will greatly influence your salary. Depending on the role, you can make anywhere from an a median wage of $83,000 to $180,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As leaders in every facet of healthcare, nurses with DNPs work to improve patient care. These nurses can remain in a clinical setting and continue to care for patients or move into management or administration, develop policy, or lead change at the institutional level.

With a dramatically high job growth rate, nurses with a DNP could be in high demand–and be courted with high salaries.

According to the BLS, a growing demand for healthcare services, fueled by an emphasis on preventive care and an aging population, will expand jobs for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners. These are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and, taken together, jobs for these roles will grow at a rate of 40 percent through 2031, according to BLS data.

A trend occurring across nursing also could affect salaries for many nurses, so a DNP could put you ahead of the game. Already, APRNs, who must have a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), are increasingly pursuing DNPs.

David G. Campbell-O’Dell, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, FAANP, president of the professional association Doctors of Nursing Practice Inc., explains how the demand for higher education is beginning to permeate nursing:

“Many organizations are requiring that the charge nurse of a given unit has a master’s instead of a bachelor’s and those who are going to be the CNO [chief nursing officer] or director of medical and surgical services, they’re going to need a doctorate degree,” he says. “Similarly, for advanced practice nurses, employers are going to be looking more and more at those who have a doctorate degree.

“It’s going to evolve in that direction, and there again those roles are going to gain on average salary.”

Earning Potential

The BLS differentiates U.S. salaries by occupation, not level of education, so determining what a nurse with a doctorate will make can be complicated. But having more education may give you an edge in reaching the top salary range for a position.

“From the surveys I have seen, a DNP-educated nurse makes more than a non-DNP-educated nurse,” but that’s probably not true in all cases, Campbell-O’Dell says. 

For example, a school nurse with a DNP probably isn’t going to make more than a certified registered nurse anesthetist, who routinely participates in medical procedures and surgeries and likely has much more responsibility.

Here are some of the top factors that could influence salary:

  • Your experience
  • Your level of seniority
  • Your specialty
  • Where you work
  • Where you live

Find out how salaries differ among a sample of nonclinical and clinical DNP-related roles.

Nonclinical DNP-Related Roles

Non-clinical roles typically involve behind-the-scenes positions that affect patient care through administrative processes or education. While these positions can support clinical roles and lead changes in the delivery of medical services, they don’t involve direct patient care.

Executive Nurse Leaders

Job Recap

Executive nurse leaders (ENLs) work in top administrative roles. They foster collaboration among nurses and other health professionals, create policies, and handle duties such as budgeting and measuring healthcare outcomes.

Salary

While the BLS doesn’t cite salaries specifically for ENLs, these positions align with roles categorized as medical and health service managers. For these roles, the BLS reports a median annual salary of $101,340. The top 10 percent of positions in this field pay as much as $205,000.

Clinical Educators

Job Recap

These nurses play a crucial role in educating future nurses and keeping practicing nurses sharp in the ever-changing healthcare field. Clinical educators update curricula, design courses, and use research to prepare nurses for more complex roles.

Salary

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for postsecondary nursing instructors and educators is $77,440. The top 10 percent of nurse educators earn median annual salaries of $125,930.

Training and Development Managers

Job Recap

DNP training and development managers plan and direct learning programs for an organization’s staff. Nurses in these positions help workplaces keep up with changing technology and nursing roles for better patient outcomes.

Salary

The BLS reports that training and development managers working in general medical and surgical hospitals earn a median salary of $129,690. The top 10 percent of positions across all industries pay $207,420.

Managers and Administrators

Job Recap

These nurses fill a wide range of roles, including clinical manager, health information manager, and nursing home administrator. Their roles can involve managing finances, ensuring a facility complies with changing healthcare laws and regulations, and improving services.

Salary

The BLS reports that medical and health services managers earn a median annual salary of $101,340. Positions in the highest 10 percent pay $205,620.

Clinical Roles

medical staff conversing over laptop in meeting

Nurses with DNPs on the clinical side are APRNs who direct and provide patient care, including diagnosing, testing, and treating patients. More and more, professional nursing associations are supporting the DNP as the entry-level requirement for some APRNs, and this trend could eventually drive salaries higher.

Certified Nurse Practitioner

Job Recap

Certified nurse practitioners (CNPs) provide primary, acute, and specialty patient care. Your scope of practice is determined by the state in which you practice, so the ability to work as an independent practitioner can vary.  

Salary

According to the BLS, CNPs earn a median annual salary of $120,680, with the top 10 percent earning $163,350.

Certified Nurse-Midwife

Job Recap

Certified nurse midwives are state-licensed APRNs who provide care for women through pregnancy. Many also provide primary care for women.

Salary

The BLS reports that the median annual salary for a CNM is $112,830, with the top 10 percent earning $166,170.

Clinical Nurse Specialist

Job Recap

A clinical nurse specialist (CNS) cares for patients in a specialty or subspecialty defined by population, medical setting, disease, type of care, and more. A CNS may also teach and train staff to ensure best practices and evidence-based care.

Salary

The BLS groups these APRNs with all RN salaries. The BLS reports that RNs earn median annual salaries of $77,600, with the highest 10 percent of positions paying $120,250.

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

Job Recap

A certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) administers anesthesia for surgery, diagnostic tests, newborn deliveries, pain management, and trauma stabilization. They work with a range of healthcare professionals, including surgeons and physician anesthesiologists.

Salary

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for CRNAs is $195,610.

Your Salary and Your Workplace

While your education and job responsibilities affect your earning potential, your work environment can also play a role. Here are examples of the average annual salaries in common work settings for clinical nurses with a DNP.

Certified Nurse Practitioner

Workplaces

Median Annual
Salary


Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals

$131,830

Home health care services

$133,170

Physicians offices

$114,870

Outpatient care centers

$129,190

General medical and surgical hospitals

$122,960

Certified Nurse Midwife

Workplaces

Median Annual
Salary


Local government services (excluding schools and hospitals)

$104,670

Outpatient care centers

$146,430

General medical and surgical hospitals

$119,900

Physicians’ offices

$113,920

Colleges, universities and professional schools

$107,130

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

Workplaces

Median Annual
Salary


Outpatient care centers

$254,180

General medical and surgical hospitals

$212,340

Specialty hospitals

$219,540

Colleges, universities and professional schools

$200,340

Physicians’ offices

$194,240

Your Salary and Where You Live

Your geographical location also can have a significant impact on how much you earn. Since an APRN’s scope of practice can vary by state and metro area, you could have different responsibilities and earning potential, depending on where you live.

Check out where you can earn the most money as an APRN.

Nurse Practitioner

Metro Area Median Annual Salary
Napa, CA $200,450
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA $176,500
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA $166,730
Yuba City, CA $162,800
El Centro, CA $162,440
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA $160,440
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA $157,890
Fresno, CA $152,380
Bakersfield, CA $150,300
Madera, CA $143,890

Certified Nurse Midwife

Metro Area Median Annual Salary
Charleston, WV $167,310
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA $166,730
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA $166,730
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA $166,170
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA $131,000
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA $129,820
Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH $128,700
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO $128,690
Tucson, AZ $128,190
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA $127,970

Nurse Anesthetist

Metro Area Median Annual Salary
Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY $207,230
Rochester, NY $206,720
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV $204,790
Florence, SC $204,210
Mansfield, OH $198,380
Hammond, LA $195,740
Winston-Salem, NC $195,730
Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY $195,730
Portland-South Portland, ME $195,610
Rapid City, SD $195,550

Ways to Earn More

With a DNP, you’ve already earned the highest level of education in nursing practice, but there’s always room to grow.

As an APRN, you have the option to specialize beyond your initial certification. Earning an additional specialty or subspecialty certificate can help narrow the focus of your practice to meet employer and patient demands, possibly positioning yourself for higher earning potential.

“Theoretically, it makes sense that the higher the degree, the more certifications, the better the job opportunity and by correlation, salary,” says Campbell-O’Dell.


anna giorgi

Written and reported by:

Anna Giorgi

Contributing Writer

With professional insight from:

David Campbell-O’Dell, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, FAANP

President, Doctors of Nursing Practice, Inc.