The average nurse practitioner salary is $110,030 in 2018-19, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Nurse practitioners are high-level nurses who play a crucial role in the healthcare system. Because of their advanced training and specialized education, nurse practitioners often earn relatively high incomes.
Nurse Practitioner Salary Range
The average nurse salary for nurse practitioners is a smart place to begin if you want to understand your earning potential as an NP. But wages for nurse practitioners vary based on multiple factors.
Below are the average nurse practitioner salaries in the United States, from the lowest-earning 10% of nurses to the highest-earning 10% of nurses.
- 10th percentile (lowest-earning 10% of nurse practitioners): $78,300
- 25th percentile (earning more than 25% of nurse practitioners): $90,760
- 50th percentile (median nurse practitioner salary): $107,030
- 75th percentile (earning more than 75% of nurse practitioners): $125,440
- 90th percentile (highest-earning 10% of nurse practitioners: $150,320
The lowest-earning 10% of nurse practitioners earn an average of $78,300 per year, while the highest-earning 10% earn an average salary of $150,320.
The median nurse practitioner salary—the number at which 50% earn more, and 50% earn less—is $107,030.
Average Nurse Salary by Location
Your salary as a nurse practitioner in the United States depends on where you live. States, cities, and rural areas with a greater need for advanced nurses often offer higher salaries than those with lower demand. Regions which have higher costs of living may also provide increased compensation.
Below are the highest-earning states and the highest-earning cities and rural areas for nurse practitioners, according to the BLS.
Top-Paying States for Nurse Practitioners
Average Annual Salary
4. New Jersey
5. New York
Top-Paying Cities for Nurse Practitioners
Average Annual Salary
1. New Bedford, MA
2. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
3. Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA
4. Sumter, SC
5. Vallejo-Fairfield, CA
Top-Paying Rural Areas for Nurse Practitioners
Nonmetropolitan (Rural) Area
Average Annual Salary
1. Big Thicket Region of Texas nonmetropolitan area
2. Central Louisiana nonmetropolitan area
3. Eastern Sierra-Mother Lode Region of California nonmetropolitan area
4. Coastal Plains Region of Texas nonmetropolitan area
5. Southwest New York nonmetropolitan area
Top-Paying Industries for Nurse Practitioners
In addition to where you live and work as a nurse practitioner, the industry or field in which you work makes a significant difference when it comes to your salary.
Below are the top-paying industries for nurse practitioners.
Average Annual Salary
1. Personal Care Services
2. Community Food and Housing, and Emergency and Other Relief Services
3. Religious Organizations
4. Computer Systems Design and Related Services
5. Residential Intellectual and Developmental Disability, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse Facilities
Average Advanced Practice Nurse (APRN) Salary
Nurse practitioners fall into the broader category of advanced practice nurses, or APRNs. Alongside nurse practitioners in this category are nurse midwives (NMs), nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), and clinical nurse specialists (CNSs).
To understand the average nurse practitioner salary, we can compare it to the salaries of other advanced practice nursing fields. In 2018, Medscape published their APRN Compensation Report, which sheds some light on how much nurses in each of these fields earn.
Below are the average salaries APRNs, according to Medscape’s report. The report incorporates salary information from 3271 advanced practice registered nurses.
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists: $192,000
- Nurse Practitioners: $112,000
- Nurse Midwives: $107,000
- Clinical Nurse Specialists: $103,000
According to Medscape, the highest-earning APRNs are CRNAs, followed by nurse practitioners.
The average nurse practitioner salary reported by Medscape ($112,000) closely reflects that reported by the BLS ($110,030).
After that, nurse midwives are closely followed by clinical nurse specialists.
Highest-Paying Nurse Practitioner Certifications
As a nurse practitioner, you have a variety of certifications from which to choose. The certification(s) you hold as a nurse practitioner affects your job prospects, as well as your salary-earning potential.
The BLS does not provide salary statistics for each of these individual nurse practitioner specialties. However, the APRN Compensation Report asked its respondents about their certifications to determine whether or not this impacted income.
Below are the top-paying certifications you can earn as a nurse practitioner, according to the Medscape Report.
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
- $120,000 average salary
- 7% of Medscape respondents hold this certification.
The certification that will allow you to earn the most as a nurse practitioner is a psychiatric certification.
As a Psychiatric -Mental Health Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (PMHNP-BC), you’re qualified to work in much the same capacity as a psychiatrist.
You may open your own practice (depending on your state’s laws) or work in a clinic, treating and counseling patients who suffer from psychiatric illnesses and mental health disorders.
Acute Care Adult-Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
- $117,000 average salary
- 7% of Medscape respondents hold this certification.
As an ACNPC-AG (Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Adult-Gerontology), you’re qualified to work with aging adults in emergency care settings.
Compared to the more general gerontological certification (below), this type of nurse practitioner is often more in-demand, and therefore, slightly higher-paid.
Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
- $115,000 average salary
- 12% of Medscape respondents hold this certification.
Alternatively, you can become an AGPCNP-BC (Adult-Gerontologic Primary Care Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified). This certification qualifies you to work with adults and the elderly as a primary care provider in non-emergency settings.
Gerontological nurse practitioners typically work with aging adults who come in for check-ups or require help managing chronic or minor illnesses.
Family Nurse Practitioner
- $110,000 average salary
- 55% of Medscape respondents hold this certification.
The designation of FNP-BC (Family Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified) is perfect for nurses who want to work in a wide variety of settings, or who are undecided on their ideal work environment. It is also the most popular certification for nurse practitioners, by a wide margin.
Most family NPs work in hospitals or medical offices, but they can also open their own medical practices, depending on their states’ laws. NPs work in much the same way as family doctors. They can diagnose and treat their patients, perform check-ups, and prescribe medication just as a family doctor may.
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
- $110,000 average salary
- 5% of Medscape respondents hold this certification.
A Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) specializes in patient care for women. A WHNP can diagnose and treat illnesses, but they usually focus on reproductive, gynecological, and obstetric care.
WHNPs differ from nurse midwives in that they can address a woman’s healthcare needs throughout her lifespan.
Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
- $108,000 average salary
- 1% of Medscape respondents hold this certification.
If working with children daily is your dream, a career as a pediatric nurse practitioner could be a perfect choice.
Similarly to family nurse practitioners, you can open your own practice or work in a broader healthcare environment as a pediatric nurse practitioner.
Your role in this specialty will be acting as the primary healthcare provider for children, from infants to teens.
Average Nurse Salary: Employed vs. Self-Employed
Nurse practitioners can choose to work for themselves or for someone else—a decision which can impact their salary.
According to Medscape’s 2018 Compensation Report, self-employed nurse practitioners earned slightly more than those who were employed:
- Self-employed/independent contractor: $113,000
- Employed by medical group or hospital: $112,000
- Employed by private nurse practitioner practice: $107,000
Most nurse practitioners—85% of those who responded to the Medscape survey—are employed by a medical group or hospital. Private NP practices employ 9% of NPs, and only 6% are self-employed.
The low number of self-employed NPs, despite self-employment offering a higher salary, is partly because many states require nurse practitioners and other APRNs to work with a collaborating physician.
The majority of nurse practitioners surveyed, at 79%, responded that their state laws require them to work with a collaborating physician, prohibiting them from working as independent contractors.
Average Nurse Salary by Education
To become a nurse practitioner, you need a Master’s Degree in Science. A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree isn’t always required.
However, completing additional education can increase your earnings as a nurse practitioner in any specialty. More nurses are earning higher-level degrees than in the past, so completing a DNP program can put you ahead of the competition.
The Medscape Compensation Report asked nurses about their education level in correlation to their average salaries and found that those with higher levels of education earned more.
Nurse practitioners who held only a master’s degree earned an average of $111,000 in 2018. Their counterparts who held a doctoral degree earned $116,000 on average.
Nurse Practitioner Salary by Experience Level
As with any career, the average nurse salary varies based on your level of experience. The starting salary for a nurse practitioner is lower than the salary of a highly-experienced NP.
The APRN Compensation report revealed the following NP salary differences based on experience:
- 1-5 years: $106,000
- 6-10 years: $111,000
- 11-20 years: $123,000
Beyond the 20-year mark, salaries no longer appeared to increase with experience.
Is Becoming a Nurse Practitioner Worth It?
Becoming a nurse practitioner is no small undertaking. Depending on the route you take from RN to APRN, and whether you earn a doctoral degree or only a master’s, the entire education process can take 5 to 8 years to complete.
This means that many nurse practitioners are left paying off student debt well after graduation.
Medscape reports that of advanced practice registered nurses surveyed who are aged 35 and younger, 65% are still paying off their student debt. Of respondents aged 35-54, 51% are still paying off their debt, and of those aged 55 or older, 18% are still paying off their debt.
The average student debt of a nurse practitioner varies a great deal because of the multiple pathways to finishing the required education. If you earn RN certification early on in your education, you can open up entry-level work opportunities that may help reduce debt. However, working during school will make your time to graduate significantly longer, in most cases.
If you’re determined to enter the medical field, becoming a nurse practitioner is a viable middle-ground between medical school and registered nursing. RNs make significantly less than NPs (an average salary of $75,510), while doctors take on substantially more debt in college.
Nurse Practitioner Career Outlook
Nurse practitioners perform many of the same services as physicians, and with an aging population, they’re an essential part of the healthcare industry. Where physicians are in low supply, nurse practitioners are often called upon to fill in the gaps.
The job outlook estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics reflects this demand for nurse practitioners and other APRNs. Advanced practice registered nurse employment is projected to grow 31% by 2026, which is more than quadruple the projected growth for jobs overall.
If you’re interested in a field with enormous growth potential, a high salary, and the ability to help people every day, becoming a nurse practitioner may be an excellent choice.
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