Nurse Practitioner Salary and Career Opportunities
Written By: Vonda J. Sines
A nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse (RN) who is also an advanced practice nurse. These professionals provide primary as well as specialty health care under the supervision of a physician. Their most common work sites are hospitals, outpatient facilities, and physicians’ offices. Some have their own practices. NPs perform many of the tasks physicians do. In some states, they even write prescriptions, Medscape reports.
The demand for nurse practitioners is escalating for several reasons. The cost of their services is less than that of physicians' services. According to the
Mayo School of Health Sciences
, NPs can furnish an estimated 60 to 80 percent of primary and preventive health care. Recent legislation and the graying of baby boomers have created escalating provider shortages.
Find open positions for Nurse Practitioners near you.
As advanced practice nurses, NPs are highly skilled and command salaries exceeding those of RNs. While the BLS cites 2012 median annual pay for RNs as $65,470, Forbes reports NP compensation of $108,643 from a recent salary survey.
What separates NPs from other healthcare providers, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners indicates, is their emphasis on wellness and condition of the whole patient.
Paths to Increase Nurse Practitioner Salary
Candidates begin by earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, then passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for RNs. After licensing by the appropriate state, a candidate can work as an RN.
An experienced RN becomes a nurse practitioner after completing a Master of Science in Nursing credential, according to Johnson & Johnson . The position of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing is that the preparation for advanced nursing practice should move from the master’s to the doctoral level.
The greatest opportunities and salaries are associated with certified NPs. The American Nurses Credentialing Center awards the Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner (CRNP) credential. It administers a number of specialty exam options, among them:
- Acute care NP
- Family NP
- Psychiatric-Mental Health NP
- Gerontological NP
An NP can increase compensation by specializing in a clinical area or opening a solo practice. Some, particularly those who earn doctorates, increase their salaries by becoming educators, healthcare researchers, or administrators of health-related organizations.
NPs can also boost their earnings by working as travel or per diem nurses, since there is a nationwide demand for their skills. Employers frequently provide financial assistance for housing and relocation expenses.
Experience in a number of other specialties can ease the transition to a nurse practitioner career:
- Clinical nurse specialists are nurses who work as expert clinicians in a specialized nursing area. They might specialize in acute care or in treating illnesses such as diabetes or cancer. Sometimes they work with a type of care, like rehabilitation. This clinical expertise is extremely valuable to an NP. See open clinical nurse specialist jobs .
- Emergency room nurses must act quickly to save lives. Some become certified. Experience dealing with acute care can help a nurse discern an interest in transitioning to an acute care nurse practitioner. ER nurses needed now on the web's #1 nursing job board .
- Community nurses have an emphasis on wellness and preventive care. They often focus on a particular age group, such as preschoolers or seniors. Their wellness emphasis is particularly useful to NPs. Experience with specific groups can help determine a potential NP specialization. Community nurses are in high demand. Find your next opportunity now .
Further Your Career
As the physician shortage continues, the demand for nurse practitioners will expand. NPs are highly skilled, versatile professionals who enjoy making care decisions. They can look forward to excellent compensation and a bright occupational outlook.
Vonda J. Sines is a freelance writer based in the Washington, DC area. She specializes in health/medical, career, and pet topics and writes extensively about Crohn's disease. Her work has been published at EverydayHealth, Lifescript, womansday.com, Yahoo! Health, Catholic Digest, Angie's List Health, and on many more sites.