Nurse Practitioner Career and Degree Guide
How Much Does a Nurse Practitioner Make?
It’s no secret that nurse practitioners (NPs) often earn high incomes. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average NP salary per year is $107,480, with job growth continuing to outpace that of many other professions.
Nurse practitioners fill an important need in the healthcare system and serve as both primary and specialty care providers for a number of patient populations. Along with nurse midwives and nurse anesthetists, NPs are a type of advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) that hold a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) from an accredited school.
While states have different requirements, most NPs begin their careers as a registered nurse (RN) and then go on to earn an advanced degree and take a national certification exam.
Nurse practitioners can choose to focus on a specific specialty, which could affect their job prospects and potential salary.
Several other factors can influence nurse practitioner pay as well. Read on for a closer look at the nurse practitioner salary and overall job outlook.
The Average Starting Salary for Nurse Practitioners
Even nurse practitioners with little experience can earn a solid income, as the NP starting salary is often a competitive rate.
According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) Compensation Survey, NPs earned an average income of $105,546 per year, or $59.87 per hour.
Nurse Practitioner Salaries by Role
Nurse practitioner wage can also depend on your area of certification. The AANP Compensation Survey lists the mean income for a number of areas:
According to this data, the family nurse practitioner salary is noticeably less than the neonatal nurse, but still higher than the salary for diabetes management, which surveyed the lowest at $101,000.
What Kind of Salary Growth Can I Expect?
As you gain more experience as an NP, your salary could increase as well.
According to the AANP, the nurse practitioner yearly salary tends to rise along with experience level. Nurse practitioners with 0–5 years of experience earned a total mean income of $101,946, while those with 6–10 years of experience earned $111,616.
Salary levels continued to increase alongside years of experience, topping out at $121,427 for those with 16–20 years. However, NPs with 20 or more years of experience saw a decrease in annual income to $117,100.
Do Nurse Practitioners Get Benefits?
On top of bringing in a high salary, many full-time nurse practitioners also receive valuable benefits through their employer.
Of the NPs surveyed by the AANP, the majority received paid vacation, paid sick leave, professional liability insurance, health insurance, life insurance, a retirement plan, and reimbursement for licensure and certifications.
While benefits differ based on the specific employer, nurse practitioners can often get a variety of desirable perks.
States with the Best & Worst NP Salaries
Curious to know the nurse practitioner salary by state?
The BLS highlights several states that offer the highest annual mean wages for NPs:
- California: $126,770
- Alaska: $125,140
- Hawaii: $122,580
- Massachusetts: $120,140
- Connecticut: $118,500
In contrast, some of the lowest paying states include:
- Tennessee: $93,970
- Alabama: $94,880
- West Virginia: $95,000
- Arkansas: $95,230
- Kentucky: $95,450
Salaries also differ according to your exact location within a state. As you might expect, some cities and regions offer higher paying opportunities than others. For example, Florida as a whole has an average annual wage of $99,930, but the Palm Bay-Melbourne metro region has a much higher mean of $164,180.
Some other top-paying metro areas for NPs include:
- San Francisco-Redwood City, California: $151,660
- Spokane-Spokane Valley, Washington: $150,040
- Alexandria, Louisiana: $144,010
- Salem-Beverly, Massachusetts: $142,730
- San Jose-Sunnyvale, California: $141,930
How Do Nurse Practitioner Salaries Compare to Similar Jobs?
Here’s a quick comparison of how the median salary for nurse practitioners—$103,880—measures up against the median salaries for other related occupations:
- Registered nurse: $70,000
- Medical and health services manager: $98,350
- Nurse midwife: $100,590
- Physician’s assistant: $104,860
- Nurse anesthetist: $165,120
How Competitive Is the Job Market for NPs?
Although there’s a nursing shortage and nurse practitioners are in high demand, you may still need to compete with other qualified candidates to land the best job offers—especially if you’re in a geographical area with a higher number of NPs. Depending on the organization, employers might prefer to hire candidates who already have a certain level of experience or specialize in a particular area or patient population.
To stand out from the crowd, you may want to consider joining a professional nursing organization where you can meet other nurses and find potential mentors. You can also tap your school’s alumni association to identify promising opportunities or use LinkedIn to stay connected with professionals in your field.
What Kind of Institutions Hire Nurse Practitioners?
While physicians’ offices are by far the largest employer of nurse practitioners, NPs are needed in a variety of healthcare settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, residential treatment facilities, home health organizations, urgent care centers, retail clinics, Veterans Affairs facilities, and more.
The nurse practitioner pay scale also varies by type of employer. The BLS reports the following annual mean wages for NPs:
- General medical and surgical hospitals: $111,850
- Outpatient care centers: $111,690
- Offices of other health practitioners: $106,670
- Offices of physicians: $105,730
- Colleges, universities, and professional schools: $100,040
NP Job Growth Projections
The nurse practitioner job outlook appears exceptionally bright. The employment of APRNs, including NPs, nurse midwives, and nurse anesthetists, is projected to grow a whopping 31% through 2026. Compare that to an increase of 15% for registered nurses, and an average of just 7% for all occupations in the country.
The need for all kinds of nurses is expected to jump as the aging baby boomer population will require more healthcare services over time. NPs are especially needed in team-based models of care, where they can help provide preventive care and perform many of the same services as physicians.
Career Paths: Advancing Your Nurse Practitioner Career
While nurse practitioners must earn at least a master’s degree to practice, there are still more learning opportunities available that could lead to possible raises or promotions throughout your career.
NPs are often required to complete continuing education courses every few years in order to maintain their state licensure or renew their specialty certifications. By taking continuing education courses and staying up to date on the latest practices, you can gain new knowledge of the nursing field and make yourself more desirable in the field.
If you’re worried that your busy schedule won’t allow time to take courses, don’t worry. Many continuing education classes for nurses are offered online and sometimes only take a few hours to complete. You might also be able to earn continuing education credits at workshops, conferences, and seminars.
A word of caution: Before enrolling in an online continuing education class, check if it’s approved by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), an accrediting body that’s recognized by all state boards of nursing.
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