In addition to being professionally and emotionally gratifying, becoming a nurse practitioner provides the security of knowing you’ve chosen a career that has tremendous job security and is also financially rewarding.
In this article, we’ll give you all the information you need to know about nurse practitioner salaries, from how much they make by specialty to which states and cities pay nurse practitioners the highest salaries.
Part One About the Nurse Practitioner Career
Though nurse practitioners often work collaboratively with physicians, they are also able to work independently and without the supervision or oversight of a physician in many states.
Their knowledge and clinical experience equip them with the decision-making skills to provide a far greater level of medical care than a registered nurse can, including performing physical examinations, prescribing medication, ordering laboratory and diagnostic tests, and performing many procedures.
Nurse practitioners report extremely high levels of job satisfaction, and U.S. News and World Report rank the career as the fourth-best in healthcare.
Part Two What is the Average Salary of a Nurse Practitioner?
Nurse practitioners earn a national average annual wage of $117,670 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2020, which places their income at more than double the average annual salary for all other occupations.
Salary Range for Nurse Practitioners
Even those compensated at the lowest end of the salary range for nurse practitioners are paid $84,120, at least $40,000 more than the average national income, while those being paid at the highest level of $190,900 are earning more than $80,000 more than the average national income.
Part Three Is the Nurse Practitioner Salary Worth it? Real Nurses Weigh-in
We asked the Nurse.org social community whether or not they thought becoming a Nurse Practitioner was worth the investment of time and money for the salary increase, here's what they had to say:
- "This is a hard conversation. Is it worth the debt no, is it worth the debt yes! You can’t compare RN money to NP money. As a DNP I make more working 9-5 off weekends, but there is no room to make one dollar more than what is offered not unless your employee offers productivity. (I don’t want to work like that). So now this is when RN’s make more because they work more “total hours”. Or “have another job”. I say go for it and don’t worry about the debt or the money. It’s worth the Autonomy." --kyuraesthetics
- "I have always worked in a clinic as an NP. Other than the actual cost of school and the possibility of a slightly less flexible schedule, I can’t think of any cons. I’ve never regretted my decision. My current schedule is extremely flexible, so that does exist, it just may not be as easy to find in the beginning." -- the.renegade.np
- "I am in DNP-FNP school right now. I made the decision to become a Nurse Practitioner so I can make change that would benefit the nursing community and the patients we serve. There is no price tag when it comes to years of injustice and frustration to do what is right for humanity and fighting systems that don't help human beings. I've been a RN in acute care for over 16 years." -- nursenarcy
Part Four Nurse Practitioner Salary Factors
There are numerous factors that impact how much a nurse practitioner can expect to earn.
NP Salary by Level of Experience
According to Clinical Advisor’s 2019 Nurse Practitioner and Physician Assistant Salary Survey, the positive impact that experience has on nurse practitioner salaries falls off after their first few years of work:
- <5 years experience - Average Salary of $100,634
- 6-10 years experience - Average Salary of $110,442
- 11-15 years experience - Average Salary of $110,828
- 16-20 years experience - Average Salary of $111,730
- >20 years experience - Average Salary of $112,989
The same survey revealed that more than two-thirds of nurse practitioners reported that they did not receive cost-of-living bonuses.
NP Salaries by Place of Work
Nurse Practitioner salaries also vary by where you work. Below are average salaries by place of employment for NPs according to the BLS.
- Hospitals - $124,660
- Outpatient care centers - $122,840
- Physicians offices - $114,570
- Offices of other health practitioners- $111,610
- Educational services - $111,400
Part Five Nurse Practitioner Salary by Specialty
When prospective nurse practitioners plan their educational path, one of the most important decisions they need to make is about their specialty area. The American Association of Nurse Practitioner’s 2019 National Workforce Survey: Practice indicates that the vast majority of nurse practitioners opt for the title of Family or Adult Nurse Practitioner, those who choose nurse practitioner specialty areas are often rewarded with significantly higher salaries.
NP Salary by Specialty
|General Nurse Practitioner||$115,800|
|Family Nurse Practitioner||$105,898|
|Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner||$90,102|
|Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner||$107,309|
|Pediatric Nurse Practitioner||$121,659|
|Acute Care Nurse Practitioner||$110,076
|Women's Health Nurse Practitioner||$91,454|
|Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner||$100,035|
|Emergency Nurse Practitioner||$113,840|
|Neonatal Nurse Practitioner||$124,756
Part Six Highest Paying Nurse Practitioner Specialties
According to the AANP’s 2017 Annual Salary Survey, the following are the highest-paid nurse practitioner specialties. Note that salaries listed below may differ from ones listed above as they are from different sources.
1.) Emergency Medicine Nurse Practitioner - $132,559
Emergency room nurse practitioners diagnose and treat patients with emergent or acute symptoms, usually in an urgent care or emergency room setting.
2.) Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner - $124,477
Psychiatric nurse practitioners treat patients suffering from a wide range of psychiatric and mood disorders including anxiety, ADHD, depression and schizophrenia.
3.) Surgical Nurse Practitioner - $126,289
Surgical nurse practitioners provide patient care throughout their surgery journey, including patient preparation pre-operatively, within the operating room and in the postoperative setting.
4.) Pain Medication Nurse Practitioner - $116,733
Works collaboratively with other members of the healthcare team to resolve patients’ chronic or acute pain.
5.) Critical Care Nurse Practitioner - $114,394 per year
Critical Care Nurse Practitioners care for patients suffering from acute conditions such as heart attack, shock or respiratory distress, as well as those recovering from major surgery. They generally work in critical care units, emergency rooms and operating rooms.
Part Seven Nurse Practitioner Salary by City and State
Though what kind of employer you work for as a nurse practitioner works plays a significant role in how much they are paid, the biggest factor in nurse practitioner salary is geography.
Source: BLS, Data extracted June 23, 2021.
|State||Mean Annual||Avg Hourly||Cost of Living|
|District of Columbia||$116150||$55.84||+49.20%|
Source: BLS, Data extracted June 23rd, 2021. Cost of Living reflects percentage above or below the national average cost of living.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these states have the highest annual mean wage for nurse practitioners:
Top 5 Highest Paying States for Nurse Practitioners
- California - $145,970
- New Jersey - $130,890
- Washington - $126,480
- New York - $126,440
- Massachusetts - $126,050
Metropolitan areas tend to provide higher compensation than more suburban or rural areas. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurse practitioners can receive the highest annual mean wage in the following cities.
Top 5 Highest Paying Cities for Nurse Practitioners
- Vallejo-Fairfield, CA - $188,070
- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA - $177,800
- Salinas, CA - $155,310
- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA - $153,240
- Napa, CA - $152,640
Part Eight 3 Ways to Increase Your Salary as a Nurse Practitioner
Nurse practitioners who want to increase their income have a number of options available to them.
Getting certified in the more highly compensated specialty areas is one of the best ways to increase your salary as an NP. But it’s not the only one.
2.) Administrative Duties
Surveys have revealed that nurse practitioners who take on administrative duties such as a director or manager role in addition to their clinical responsibilities report higher base salaries.
3.) Advance your Education
Additionally, pursuing additional education and earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree can have a significant impact on the salary that you command: the AANP’s 2017 NP Salary Survey revealed that nurse practitioners with DNP degrees earned on average $10,000 more per year than their counterparts who held MSN degrees.
Curious about what other healthcare professions pay? Check out these salary guides: