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.
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.
Current Trends Could Push DNP Salaries Higher
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.”
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Certified Nurse Midwife
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.