DNP Salary in 2023

DNP Salary in 2023

Detailed Information About DNP Salary

Nursing is one of the most coveted professions in the medical field. There are many nursing disciplines to pursue as a career, including general nursing and mental health nursing. 


Nursing is a technical career, and it requires careful consideration before pursuing it. Therefore, you need to consult career experts and practicing professionals in the field to understand what it entails. The training involves long hours of study and technical tests. If you are not mentally prepared, you might find it hard to complete your training to become a nurse practitioner.


Advancing your studies is one of the essential steps in rising through ranks in the nursing career. The most advanced level of nursing studies is the doctorate of nursing practice degree or DNP. Becoming a DNP means you specialize in one area of practice. It is a step past a master’s degree and requires additional education and financial investment. A DNP degree sets you up for a wide range of opportunities in the nursing field. Work experience and a DNP degree open to door to many exciting opportunities.


To understand the advantages of a DNP degree and other things related to it, including the DNP salary, we explore the following:


  1. Salary expectations for Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) nurses
  2. Difference between a DNP nurse and a Nurse Practitioner (NP)
  3. Highest-paying medical facilities for DNP-educated nurses
  4. How DNP specialties affect salary

Salary Expectations for Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) Nurses

There are various disciplines of nursing, and which one you specialize in for your doctorate of nursing practice determines how much you earn. Consider your expected returns on investment when choosing a specialization. Specializations in the nursing profession spread as far as health care administration, a discipline that deals with the running of nursing institutions and policy formulation, to a nurse educator, which allows you to lead the next generation of nurses.


Various other factors determine the salary you receive as a DNP. They include:


  • Your Level of Practice

Like other careers, nursing institutions have various levels of practice. As an employee, you get paid depending on your title and position. In nursing, employees that hold administrative positions usually earn higher salaries than their counterparts who are working at the bedside providing patient care. Having a doctorate in nursing practice places you in a position to be promoted to managerial positions. The knowledge you acquire in a doctorate of nursing practice degree program allows you to formulate policies that aid in the operation of nursing institutions.

  • Your Employer

Many institutions employ nurses, and how much they pay varies from one to another. Employers in government organizations have access to a wide range of opportunities. Most of them are guaranteed permanent and pensionable employment positions. However, they earn less than those in the private sector and non-governmental organizations. How much you earn as a salary depends on the contract between you and the employer. As a DNP, you are usually positioned to negotiate a salary and compensation package.

  • Job Description

Your role in the workplace determines how much you get paid. Job descriptions vary depending on your specialization. Some places serve many types of patients, implying an intense and fast-paced environment. Such institutions usually pay higher salaries because the employees are expected to perform at a higher level. If you are required to perform complex duties, you could be paid higher than those performing simpler ones. When entering into an employment contract, it is essential to look at the job description. Job descriptions outline what roles you will be performing for your employer.

  • Specialization

As stated earlier, there are various disciplines of nursing. Specializing determines your career trajectory and how much you might make as a DNP degree holder. Some specializations are in high demand; this implies that you could earn more if you followed them. For instance, mental health and pediatric nurse practitioners earn more since they are in demand, so institutions often pay them better to stop them from looking for better opportunities. Most nurses in doctoral degree programs major in clinical practice. Although the field pays good salaries, you might have to work longer hours than nurses in other fields.


The above factors cut across all nursing career opportunities. The average salary of nurses varies from one state to another, depending on administration policies. As a DNP, you could make good money working in any state. State administrations often set the minimum wage to be paid to nurses. Other additional financial benefits such as housing allowances depend on the employer. Nurses in similar departments but different institutions within the same state could earn the same salary. The average pay for DNP nurses in most states is approximately $150,000 per year.


There is no maximum to what you can earn with a doctorate in nursing practice. A doctorate opens a wide range of opportunities that you can explore for financial gain. One of the best ways to earn a doctorate in nursing practice is to venture into independent nursing. You can start with few clients then grow your clientele. Creating your own practice will put you at the top of the career path and earn you more money. Some specializations are more conducive to independent nursing services, including mental health nursing. This discipline allows you to deal with individuals or families that live with mentally challenged individuals.


Nursing requires you to be passionate. In some cases, you might have to work in unfriendly environments. For instance, specializing in psychiatric nursing could get put you in prisons and rehabilitation centers. These environments are discouraging, and you might easily give up if your main aim for working is money. Loving your job makes it easier to adapt to intense working conditions and deliver the best service. The quality of service you provide impacts how much you earn as an independent nursing practitioner.

Difference between a DNP Nurse and a Nurse Practitioner (NP)

The nursing career is extremely diverse with various applicable levels of education. The credentials you attain determine your title and duties in the profession. The most common levels of advanced education for nurses are a doctorate of nursing practice, DNP, and a nurse practitioner, NP, degree. Although the degrees could apply to the same specialization, they are at different levels and therefore involve different responsibilities. Here are some common differences between DNP and NP nursing practitioners.

  • Certification and Education Level

Both nurse practitioners and DNPs must register with the nursing professional body. However, the difference is in the academic certifications they hold. Nurse practitioners need a master’s degree to practice, but they can continue on to pursue a doctorate, the highest level of education in the nursing profession. The academic qualifications for completing a nurse practitioner program are lower than DNPs. To get a DNP, you must do additional coursework and you might be required to submit academic research or a dissertation in your field of interest. The research you perform at this level is your contribution to the nursing field and is assessed for final credit in your DNP program.

  • Career Path

There is a significant difference in the educational requirements for DNPs and nurse practitioners. Each requires an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing as a foundation. To be a nurse practitioner, one must complete a master’s degree program. To be a DNP, you must go on to complete a doctorate. A common career path for a DNP nurse includes the BSN to DNP program, where you pursue your DNP degree without getting a separate MSN degree. MSN to DNP is another path to being a DNP nurse. With this path, you complete a BSN and then get your MSN degree before proceeding for the DNP. Other paths include RN to DNP, where you get the doctorate after getting an associate degree. Programs offering the RN to DNP path are very rare.

  • Job Descriptions

The level of expertise between DNP and NP nurses is very different. Consequently, their roles in nursing institutions are also very different. A nurse practitioner performs a wide range of duties depending on their specialization. In most cases, they are involved in direct patient care. DNP nurses, on the other hand, perform more specialized duties and at a higher level. An NP nurse could have the general knowledge and skills to work as a nurse midwife and a neonatal nurse. While a DNP specializing in this area is just as knowledgeable about providing patient care, their work often takes them away from the bedside. DNP nurses are also involved in managerial duties. Their knowledge and skill sets allow them to formulate policies for running institutions.

  • Potential Workplaces

Although both DNP and NP nurses practice in the same environment most of the time, NP nurses have a broader area to practice in. The specialization during a DNP degree program restricts you to a specific area of practice. In most cases, DNP nurses work in medical or nursing institutions. However, DNPs majoring in psychiatric nursing could work as independent nurses. NP nurses have a little more freedom to operate independently once licensed. Their level of skills is ideal when dealing with patients outside nursing homes.


There are many more differences between DNP and NP nurses. However, those named above are the main ones. The salary you get as a DNP nurse will be different from an NP nurse. However, various factors, including those mentioned earlier, determine how much you earn. The biggest advantage of being a DNP is that you have a wide range of employment opportunities. If you specialize in highly demanded disciplines, such as psychiatric nursing, you could make more than nurses in other fields. You can also work as a consultant with a doctorate in nursing practice, meaning you work with more than one nursing institution. Some institutions employ DNP nurses as resource persons. In such cases, their job description is mainly consultation services. They provide information to NP nurses on certain treatment procedures and diagnoses.


The difference in salaries between DNP and MSN nurses is not so big since the two levels are not far apart. However, a DNP nurse is likely to earn more based on their knowledge and skill set. In most cases, a DNP nurse works as a consultant for both NP nurses. MSN-prepared nurses are mostly involved with the internal management of nursing institutions. DNP nurses, on the other hand, are concerned with policy formulation at state and national levels.


Considering the nationwide nursing shortage, you’re likely to find a job anywhere, whether you’re an NP or DNP. Specialization makes you an expert in certain fields of nursing. During DNP degree programs, the specialty is covered in detail, making you more specialized and marketable. However, you might need additional certifications to practice at the international level. In such cases, you could work with non-governmental institutions seeking better health care in different parts of the world.

Highest-paying Medical Facilities for DNP-Educated Nurses

One of the main reasons for entering a career is financial gain. Having a DNP degree should earn you more than lower degrees. However, one of the main factors that affect how much you earn is your employer. The institution you work for sets the salary and job requirements for you. Pay close attention when choosing an employer to avoid being overworked and underpaid. Here are some of the medical facilities that pay the highest for DNP nurses.

  • General hospitals– There are many general hospitals around the country. All of these hospitals, whether private or public, need nurses for their operations. As a DNP nurse, you can specialize in anesthesia and become a nurse anesthetist. A nurse anesthetist plays an important role in operating rooms. They regulate the amount of anesthesia that patients undergoing surgery get. Working for private hospitals could earn you more than in public hospitals. However, job security is more reassuring in public hospitals. There are many other roles for DNPs in general hospitals, too, including in management and clinical practice.
  • Specialized hospitals– Due to risks involved when handling certain conditions, various specialized hospitals are set up around the country. These hospitals are owned by the government or private corporations and include maternity hospitals and pediatric hospitals. In maternity hospitals, DNP nurses play important roles in ensuring the survival of newborns and their mothers. As a DNP, you can specialize in neonatal care and become a neonatal nurse practitioner. Additionally, you can become a nurse-midwife to help mothers deliver successfully or participate in research or higher-level management.
  • Assistedliving facilities- There are many forms of assisted living facilities that care for a wide range of patients. DNP nurses are in high demand in such facilities and often manage and care for the entire patient population of a facility. Working in assisted-living facilities guarantees you higher earnings. In most cases, the environment and work involved is the reason behind higher salaries. For instance, you can work for a home for the elderly managing patient care, or acting as a director. Your duties in these institutions are to care for the physical and psychological needs of the residents by managing the bedside nurses and writing orders to ensure that every resident has what they need. Working in these institutions requires you to specialize in gerontological nursing. Specializing in psychiatric nursing allows you to work in homes for mentally challenged individuals.
  • Academic institutions– A DNP is the highest level of education in the nursing profession. With the knowledge and skills acquired at this level, you are considered an expert, which means you can work in academic institutions as a nursing professor. Work experience coupled with extensive knowledge of a nursing discipline could earn you good money as an educator. Your role in such institutions is to train individuals who want to be nurses. You can also be a supervisor for those pursuing DNP degrees or work on committees planning the curriculum for these programs.
  • Research institutions– Research is one of the essential fields in the nursing profession. As a DNP nurse, you can work as a research expert for healthcare institutions and universities. Institutions such as hospitals and global health organizations require research to develop new and better treatments. Being part of a research institution allows you to use your skills to unveil information that could be useful for the revolution of the health sector. The role of a DNP nurse in research institutions is analyzing collected data to come up with meaningful information and determining how to put it into practice.


The nursing hierarchy varies from one institution to another. Institutions with many departments have more posts for nurses, and in public hospitals, the hierarchy is very similar since the policies are formed from a central point. The demand for DNP nurses varies from state to state, depending on the population and specialization. However, the long-term demand outlook for nurses, in general, indicates an expected steady increase for more than five years to come. Specializations such as psychiatric nursing have a higher demand due to the increase in psychiatric patients. These complications are fueled by the growing population and changing lifestyles in the modern world.

How DNP Specialties Affect Salary

As stated earlier, specialties determine your career trajectory and hence your salary. There are many specialties in nursing that you can venture into. These include:

  • Pediatric Nursing

Pediatric nursing is one of the most demanded nursing specialties. In your DNP degree program, you can specialize in this field to become a pediatric nurse practitioner. The pediatric nurse salary depends on the institution you practice in and the level at which you practice. The demand for pediatric DNP nurses is fueled by the increased number of childhood infections in the modern world. Children are more exposed to risks of infections while playing or when they consume certain foods. Additionally, research institutions dealing with pediatric care require the services of a DNP pediatric nurse. You can work for one organization as a pediatric nurse while contributing to research in a different institution, boosting the cooperation of institutions in achieving the best pediatric health care.

  • Gerontology

Gerontology involves taking care of elderly people as well as all others that could be in assisted-living facilities. Getting a DNP degree in this specialty places you in a position to earn a higher salary. The specialty deals with a broad patient population, which includes those living with long-term diseases such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS. As a gerontologist, your role is to ensure that the mental and physical needs of patients are met. Such patients are susceptible to psychological problems such as depression and hypertension. Therefore, this specialty equips you with the necessary skills to identify and mitigate such problems. There is an increasing number of mental health issues globally due to lifestyle changes, implying that DNP nurses in this specialty are likely to be employed and earn more.

  • Neonatal and Midwife Nursing

This specialty is closely related to pediatric nursing. However, the fields of practice are very distinct. Neonatal nursing specialty involves taking care of newborn babies until they can survive outside a medical facility. At this point, they will be looked after by pediatric DNP nurses. Neonatal nurses play an essential role in reducing the infant mortality rate. Therefore, they are highly paid for their services in maternity institutions. Midwifery involves helping in the delivery of children. As a nurse-midwife, your main area of practice will be in the maternity ward. A nurse-midwife ensures the safety of the mother and the infant.

  • Anesthetics

Anesthesia is one of the essential specializations for nurses in both general and specialized hospitals. The role of nurse anesthetists is to regulate the amount of anesthesia a patient under surgery gets. Nurse anesthetists are a fundamental part of the surgical team. They administer general anesthesia to the patient before surgery and monitor their status throughout the procedure. Nurse anesthetists can also work in maternity wards and other specialty hospitals. Their role is to administer anesthesia in cases where mothers need to deliver through cesarean action.


Although there are many financial benefits attached to a DNP degree, it could be costly getting one. Therefore, financial considerations are essential when selecting a specialty to follow for the DNP degree. Various factors determine how much a DNP degree could cost. Some of the most common ones include:

  • The Institution You Study In- The cost of tuition varies from one academic institution to another. This creates a difference in how much you spend on your DNP degree. Institutions that have heavily invested in DNP programs tend to charge more tuition fees. The fee is used to manage the facilities owned by the institution for the specialty you choose. The location of the institution also affects how much you spend if you enroll in an on-campus program. Rent, food, commuting, and other expenses contribute to your expenditure on the DNP degree.
  • The Specialty You Choose- Everyone wishes to pursue a highly demanded DNP specialty. For this reason, the demand for specializations such as a psychiatric nurse practitioner is very high. Institutions charge a little higher for such programs to reduce the number of applicants. Some specialization requires you to buy other items for the program. These added expenditures take the cost of the degree a little higher.


There are many more factors that affect the cost of a DNP degree. These include the duration of the program, among others. In cases where the cost is higher than you can afford, seek financial assistance. Many organizations offer financial aid to students in DNP degree programs.

In Summary

Nursing is one of the most coveted professions in the medical field, in part because there are so many paths you can choose in the nursing discipline. The many disciplines in this career present a wide range of employment opportunities. Advancing your education places you in a better position to compete for opportunities in the nursing profession. The doctorate in nursing practice, DNP, is the highest education level you can attain in the nursing profession. However, various factors determine your success in pursuing the DNP degree. Financial considerations are an essential factor to consider when deciding to advance your education to a DNP level. Financial stability during your study period determines how comfortable you will be. Additionally, it helps you estimate whether the return on investment is worth it when all is said and done.


How much you earn as a DNP nurse depends on a wide range of factors. The main factor that affects your salary as a DNP nurse is your specialty. Some specialties are more in demand than others, meaning that employers are likely to pay more to retain their nurses. However, your job description also determines how much you earn. It is essential to know what is expected of you by your employer to avoid being overworked and underpaid. Although working for the government guarantees job security, it might not pay as much as private institutions. 

Additionally, those working in specialized institutions such as pediatric hospitals are likely to earn more. The cost of getting a DNP degree varies from one academic institution to another. Where you feel financially strained, you can seek financial assistance from various organizations that offer aid to DNP students.


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