Nurse practitioners are highly sought in most area of the United States, and typically average salaries reflect this need. To become a nurse practitioner, students must first earn their degree as a registered nurse. Nurse practitioners go back to school for their master’s degree and can work more independently than registered nurses (exact duties depend on the state). Because nurse practitioners can do the diagnosing and treating work that many doctors do, hospitals hire them right out of school. There are plenty of jobs readily available for nurse practitioners in privately owned and community hospitals, doctors offices, home health care, nursing care locations, as well as in instructional facilities. Additionally, there are specialization fields that considerably affect a nurse practitioner salary.
Nursing Careers and Salary
In May 2013, the median annual nurse practitioner salary is $95,070 with some earning as much as $120,500 a year. There are various types of nurse practitioners and each type earns its own level of salary. Below are a list of the most popular nurse specialties and the potential average salary:
- Nurse Practitioner: A nurse practitioner (NP) receives advanced academic and clinical training. Nurse practitioners often specialize in either family practice or child pediatrics with board certification confirming their area of focus, and they make up most of the medical care community. Depending on the choice of practice NPs can earn $90,000 annually, according to recent reports from The Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Certified Nurse Anesthetist: A certified nurse anesthetist (CRNA) specializes in the administration of anesthesia. CRNAs must be certified by the National Board on Certification and Re-certification of Nurse Anesthetists. With proper training and certification, CRNAs prepare the prescribed solutions, administers anesthetic, and monitor patients’ vital signs. Salaries average around $104,000, according to recent reports from The Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Clinical Nurse Specialist: Clinical nurse specialists (CNS) play a unique role in the medical field. Along with specializing in certain types of diseases, CNSs work alongside other nurses to provide training and clinical expertise. A CNS is one of the most versatile of APRN careers and offers flexibility when it comes to practice. A CNS can work in an operating room, the ER, critical care, and various other practice areas. Salaries for a CNS typically start around $76,000, according to recent reports from The Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Certified Nurse Mid-Wife: A certified nurse mid-wife (CNM) focuses on both nursing and midwifery while pursuing their MSN degree. CNMs work closely with expecting mothers in hospitals, medical clinics, birthing centers, and also assist during at-home births. The expected salary for a CNM is about $94,000, according to recent reports from The Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Clinical Nurse Leader: A clinical nurse leader (CNL) is a new role in the healthcare field. This position focuses on the management and direction of care for a specific patient group. Other duties may include overseeing nursing staff and the day-to-day operations of all clinical services including assessing, planning, implementing, and evaluating patient care. CNLs salaries are around $76,000, according to recent reports from The Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Nurse Administrator: A nurse administrator takes the role of head nurse. Duties include supervising the staff and recommending policy and procedures for the department. Nurse administrators also serve as instructors and mentors to new nurses. The salary range for this position can start at $77,000, depending on the size of the facility and number of staff members, according to recent reports from The Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Nurse Educator: This position is designed for MSN degree holders with a passion for teaching and public outreach. Nurse educators prepare students for careers in the medical field. They can also be found working in the community, conducting health seminars in schools and clinics. The average annual salary for a nurse educator is roughly $73,000, according to recent reports from The Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Nurse Manager: A career as a nurse manager is similar to that of a nurse administrator with a few differences. Unlike nurse administrators, the fundamental responsibility of a nurse manager it to recruit new nurses and maintain patient medical files as well as balance the department budget. Nurse managers can expect to earn around $80,000 a year, according to recent reports from The Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Potential Influences on Salary
The top-paid nurses in the United States work for the motion picture industry, professional organizations, and the federal government. With all of these employers, the average salary in 2013 was well over $68,910 for a registered nurse — which translates to an even higher wage for a nurse practitioner. Where a nurse lives also affects the amount of money they could make as a nurse practitioner. In general, the most lucrative states for nurses are California, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Maryland, and New York. Below are various influences that could potentially affect a nurse practitioner’s salary:
- How many years on the job: Like most professions, experience often means higher wages. The longer you work for an organization and the more experience you have means the higher the paycheck. Putting in your time gives you seniority and leverage when requesting a raise or negotiating salary.
- Are you unionized? Some states require RNs to join the local nurses’ union. Being part of a union usually means higher rates of pay, especially when it comes to overtime. However, a union also adds additional levels of management so be sure to research the union status of each hospital to which you consider applying.
- Where you work: Nurses who live in larger urban areas often earn more than those in smaller cities. With more patients to see and a higher cost of living, nurses in New York or Los Angeles tend to earn higher salaries. Research each state’s salary information to determine how geography impacts your potential earnings.
- What time you work: Employers reward nurses willing to work the night shifts with higher wages. While the graveyard shift is often less desirable, putting in a few years of late nights works to your advantage when employers conduct performance evaluations.
- Who you work for: Hospitals in larger cities tend to pay more than most other employers. Nurses working in nursing homes or smaller clinics earnings can expect to earn less. Hospitals often demand longer hours and greater flexibility from their employees which can mean nurses need to be available at all hours of the day.
- What you specialize in: Specialized work typically commands a higher rate of pay. For example, a nurse practitioner who focuses on neonatal and pediatric care often makes more than a nurse practitioner in general practice.
Career Outlook and Beyond
Since the nurse practitioner salary is already deemed relatively high, the career prospects are also great. Most nurses start out in physician’s practices or medical centers, but can eventually move up to better roles with more compensation. In addition to doing work in health care practices or private hospitals, many of the other typical workplaces for nurse practitioners are assisted living facilities and home healthcare. The career outlook for all nurses is excellent, but those that have a four year diploma are likely to enjoy a better outlook compared to those with just a 2 year degree.
Along with great career prospects, one can see that there is a decent variety in the level of salary that each nurse practitioner receives, and this depends on a number of factors. The geographical location and the work setting affect your nurse practitioner salary, but the two most important aspects are your education and training, as well as your work experience as a nurse practitioner. Visit our list of accredited schools and degrees to find a MSN program that meets your needs, and begin your career training today.
Featured Nurse Practitioner Programs
Accreditation: HLC, NCA
- RN to MSN - Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
- RN to MSN - Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
- RN to MSN - Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
- RN to MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner
- RN to MSN - Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
Accreditation: HLC, NCA
Accreditation: HLC, NCA
- MSN to DNP - Nursing Leadership
- RN to MSN - Nursing Administration
- MSN to FNP
- BSN to DNP - Family Nursing Practice
- RN to MSN in Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
- MSN in Family Nurse Practice
- MSN in Nurse Administration
- MSN in Nurse Education
Accreditation: HLC, NCA
- MS in Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nursing Practice
- MS in Family Nursing Practice
- MS in Midwifery and Women's Health