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Nurse Practitioner Salary in 2021

Nurse Practitioner Salary in 2021

In addition to being emotionally and professionally gratifying, becoming a nurse practitioner gives you the security of knowing that you’ve gone with a career that has great job security and is financially rewarding. 

Even those who don’t have much experience can make a good earning as a nurse practitioner. This is probably because of all the education and certifications required to become a nurse practitioner and because it’s such an in-demand job. 

In this article, we will take a look at all the information you need to know about a nurse practitioners’ salary and what plays a role in their salary. Some of the things we’re going to look at are location, education, skills, and roles. These things play a huge part in determining the final salary that a nurse practitioner is paid. Keep reading to learn more about the salary of a nurse practitioner. 

Job Description of a Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners are trained registered nurses with an advanced scope of practice that lets them take on more duties. They typically pick a core area of expertise. They tend to take a more wellness and holistic-oriented approach to treatment through preventative care and education that lasts the entire life cycle. This makes them great choices for primary care provides for patients of all ages and all settings. 

Some typical responsibilities include: 

  • Providing guidance about medications, interactions, and side effects to patients
  • Examining and recording medical histories, diagnoses, and symptoms of patients
  • Designing treatment plans, teaching patients how to manage their health, and making recommendations
  • Conducting and ordering diagnostic tests
  • Writing prescriptions
  • Diagnosing and treating acute infections, injuries, and illnesses

The profession of a nurse practitioner is a very rewarding career that has a lot of opportunities for you to help others and take on a much-needed role in the healthcare industry. These days, nurse practitioners have a lot of options available to them, from what they focus on to where they work. 

Nurse practitioners can be found outside of hospitals and doctor’s offices and can be found inside clinics, schools, and even birthing centers. 

Nurse Practitioner Pay Difference by Location

It’s no secret that nurse practitioners make a lot of money. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average nurse practitioner salary per year is around $111,840, with job growth that appears to outpace many other occupations. 

Nurse practitioners play an important role in the healthcare system because they serve both specialty and primary care providers for different patient populations. Nurse practitioners, along with nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists, and nurse midwives, are a type of advanced practice registered nurse that holds a Master of Science in Nursing or even a Doctor of Nursing Practice. 

States have different requirements for nurse practitioners, but for the most part, they begin their careers as registered nurses and then go to earn an advanced degree and take a national certification exam. 

Several factors affect a nurse practitioner’s salary, including the degree you hold, your background, specialty, and location. 

What is the Average Starting Salary for a Nurse Practitioner? 

All nurse practitioners can earn a solid income, even those with little experience. According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) Nurse Practitioner Compensation Survey released in 2019, nurse practitioners with five or fewer years of experience can still earn a starting salary of $104,000. 

How Does Location Affect Nurse Practitioner Salaries? 

Throughout the country, you can find areas that pay nurse practitioners more than average. The highest-paying registered nurse roles are found most often in highly populated states such as New York and California, but you can also find high nurse practitioner salaries in Kansas, Georgia, and Minnesota. 

  • California: Average pay for nurse practitioners – $138,660
  • Washington State: Average pay for nurse practitioners – $126,920
  • New Jersey: Average pay for nurse practitioners – $123,810
  • Minnesota: Average pay for nurse practitioners – $122,850

You can also find higher-than-average salaries for nurse practitioners in cities outside of these states. Keep in mind that high salaries aren’t limited to just metro areas either because nurse practitioners are well paid in rural areas throughout the entire country. 

Some of the highest paying non-metro areas include: 

  • Eastern Sierra-Mother Lode Region of California non-metro area: $137,450
  • Central Louisiana nonmetro area: $136,910
  • Connecticut nonmetro area: $136,580
  • Middle Georgia non metro area: $133,800
  • Coastal Plains Region of Texas non-metro area: $130,480

How Competitive Is the Job Market? 

There’s a nurse shortage, but nurse practitioners are in high demand, so you may still have to compete with other highly qualified candidates to get the best job offers – especially if you’re in a location that has a higher number of nurse practitioners. 

Depending on the organization, employers may prefer to hire those who already have a certain number of years of experience under their belt or specialize in a particular area or patient population. By earning and holding a higher degree than what’s required for a nurse practitioner, you’re making yourself stand out even more. 

Other ways to make yourself sand out include joining a professional nursing organization where you can network with other nurses and find potential mentors or tap into your school’s alumni association. 

Job Growth Projection

The outlook for nurse practitioners is bright. The BLS projects that there will be a 14 percent increase in the nurse practitioner industry by 2029. That’s staggering when you think about how the projected job growth of all other occupations is four percent. 

So, what’s behind this projected growth? The need for all types of nurses is expected to jump as the aging baby boomer population requires more healthcare services. 

Nurse Practitioner Salaries by Role

Nurse practitioners work directly with patients and can diagnose and manage most chronic and common illnesses. They’re authorized to perform physical exams, order and interpret diagnostic tests, provide education and counseling, and write prescriptions.

The average salary that a nurse practitioner earns can also depend on their role. Some of the annual starting salaries for a number of nurse practitioner roles are as follows: 

  • Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner: $105,000
  • Adult Nurse Practitioner: $115,000
  • Oncology Nurse Practitioner: $119,000
  • Family Nurse Practitioner: $107,000
  • Psychiatric/Mental Health (Adult) Nurse Practitioner: $125,000
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner: $108,500
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner: $122,500

There are several more roles that a nurse practitioner can have, but these are some of the major roles that they hold. As you can see from the bullet list above, nurse practitioners make the most in specialized areas, such as psychiatry, while nurse practitioners in women’s health or family health make the least. 

Keep in mind that your salary will also be based on your location, education, experience, and other factors. 

How Can Nurse Practitioners Apply for the Specific Roles They Want?

One of the biggest benefits of becoming a nurse practitioner is that you can choose to specialize within a certain field and work in just about any medical area. Just as surgeons and doctors can have specializations, all nurse practitioners have a specialty. 

Almost every specialty area that a nurse practitioner can choose to work in requires at minimum a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, although you can go on and get your doctorate if you want.

Here is a list of some of the focus options available to nurse practitioners: 

  • Family Nurse Practitioner: Family Nurse Practitioners are the most common type of nurse practitioners. They act as primary care providers and give a wide range of healthcare services to patients of all ages throughout the entire family life cycle. They can also offer counseling and education to family members. 

 

  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner: Pediatric Nurse Practitioners work with kids ranging from a couple of months old to as old as teenagers. They help keep their patients healthy with wellness practices and education, conduct medical exams, and diagnose illnesses. 

 

  • Adult Nurse Practitioner: Adult Nurse Practitioners are similar to Family Nurse Practitioners. However, they mostly provide primary care to adults, including health education, prescriptions, and physical exams. 

 

  • Geriatric Nurse Practitioner: Geriatric Nurse Practitioners work with elderly adults. They focus on specific populations such as people with specific conditions, such as heart disease, or specific populations, like nursing home residents. They will also work alongside family members to counsel them about their patients’ special needs, such as exercise, medicines, and diets. 

 

  • Women’s Nurse Practitioner: As a Women’s Nurse Practitioner, you’ll provide comprehensive care emphasizing women’s gynecological and reproductive health. 

 

  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner: You’ll take care of newborns in standard labor and delivery units as well as in neonatal intensive care units. You may also work alongside new patients and provide counseling and education. 

 

  • Acute Care Nurse Practitioner: Acute Care Nurse Practitioners work in urgent care centers or hospitals and provide advanced care to patients experiencing severe injury or illness. 

 

  • Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner: Occupational Health Nurse Practitioners work to prevent and treat workplace injuries. They can also provide education to employees on wellness and health. 

What Kind of Degree Is Needed to Become a Nurse Practitioner?

Nurse practitioners are a type of advanced practice registered nurse. To become a nurse practitioner, you must be licensed as a registered nurse and then pursue an advanced nursing education. 

To become a registered nurse, you must hold either an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) before you can practice as a registered nurse. Most employers prefer hiring those with a BSN, but an ADN is a quick and cost-effective way to get into the nursing industry. A BSN will take around four years to complete, whereas an ADN will take around two years to complete. 

After graduating with your degree from an approved program, all registered nurses must take and pass the NCLEX exam, which is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). This test is used to determine if you’re prepared for entry-level nursing and includes a minimum of 75 questions. You’ll answer up to 265 questions if you haven’t reached a passing score after the first round. 

After passing the NCLEX exam, you can then apply for your registered nurse license in your state. Each state has its own requirements, fees, and length of time it takes to get your license, so you’ll have to do some research on your own to figure out what you need to do to obtain your license. 

At the very least, nurse practitioners must have an MSN, although there have been changes in the industry creating a movement toward a DNP the requirement to be a nurse practitioner. Right now, having a DNP is only a recommendation, not a mandate to become a nurse practitioner. But there is talk that by 2025, a DNP will be required. 

The school you go to for both your registered nurse and nurse practitioner degrees needs to be accredited by two main organizations: The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). When you get your specialized degree, you need to make sure that those schools are also accredited by organizations specific to that specialization. 

Do Nurse Practitioners with a DNP Make More Money? 

It depends. Because you can work as a nurse practitioner with an MSN or a DNP, the starting pay is typically the same. However, there are typically more opportunities available to you when you hold a DNP. For instance, if you want to be a chief nursing officer (CNO), you’re probably going to be required to have a DNP. 

If you want to be a nurse educator, then having a DNP or a Ph.D. is often required and preferred. Also, having a DNP can indirectly increase your pay because management positions tend to pay more in the long run. 

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner

The exact path you take to become a nurse practitioner will depend on your personal background and circumstances. However, there are a few standard steps that you’ll have to take. 

Step 1: Earn your Registered Nurse license

To even be considered for a nurse practitioner program, you must have a registered nurse license with a good standing. You can choose to pursue an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). 

Step 2: Earn your MSN or DNP

The minimum degree required to be a nurse practitioner is your MSN. You can apply to the standard MSN program if you already have a BSN. Those who have an AND can apply to RN-to-MSN bridge programs that allow you to earn a BSN with your MSN. You can also apply to DNP programs if you have your MSN or apply for a BSN-to-DNP bridge program if you don’t have an MSN already. 

Step 3: Take a certification exam in your area of specialty 

All nurse practitioners have a specialty. The exam that you will end up taking will depend on which area you decide to focus on. Certification organizations for nurse practitioners include the Pediatric Nursing Certification, the National Certification Corporation, the American Nurses Credentialing Center, and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program. 

Step 4: Apply for your license in your state

To get your license, you’ll need to submit your exam results along with transcripts to your state. In some states, you also need to apply for a separate prescriptive authority license; this license allows you to prescribe medication. 

Step 5: Maintain your license with continued education and clinical hours

To maintain your license as a nurse practitioner, you’ll need to take steps to keep your license active in your state. The steps that you’ll have to take will depend on your state requirements and the license you hold. Generally, you’ll have to take a set number of hours in continued education and clinical hours. 

Skills That Can Affect a Nurse Practitioner’s Salary

To be successful as a nurse practitioner, you need to be compassionate, have good ethics, and be great at problem-solving. 

To be successful, you should be: 

  • Good-natured
  • Dependable
  • Compassionate
  • A great listener
  • Be clear when communicating
  • Supportive
  • Analytical

You should have: 

  • Good interpersonal relationship skills
  • Good ethical standards
  • Computer skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Good decision-making skills
  • Problem-solving skills

All of these traits and skills are what make a nurse practitioner successful. If you have any of these skills, you might be a great candidate to become a nurse practitioner. 

How Can Educational Background Affect Nurse Practitioners’ Salaries? 

While nurse practitioners must have earned at least a master’s degree before they can practice, there are still various learning opportunities available to them that could lead to promotions or raises throughout their careers. 

Nurse practitioners are often required to complete continued education courses every couple of years to keep their license up-to-date or renew their specialty certifications. By taking these continued education courses and staying current with a new practice, you can obtain new knowledge in your specialty and field to make yourself more desirable. 

If you feel worried that your schedule will be too busy to allow time to take these courses, don’t worry. Most continued education courses for nurse practitioners are offered online and take only a few hours to complete. You might be able to earn continued education credits by attending seminars, conferences, and workshops. 

Before you enroll in any online continued education program, make sure that it’s approved by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). This is the accrediting body that all state nursing boards recognize. 

If you want to continue your education, you can even go for your DNP to boost your career. Earning this degree can help you apply for higher-level roles and help you stand out among other candidates.

How Does Work History Affect a Nurse Practitioners Salary? 

As you continue with your nurse practitioner career, your salary will increase. The yearly salary of a nurse practitioner tends to rise along with experience. 

Nurse practitioners who have zero to five years of experience report a median yearly salary of $104,000, those with six to 10 years earned $110,000. 

Salary levels for those with 11 to 20 years of experience have an average salary of $118,000, while the most experienced nurse practitioners – those with 20 or more years – earned an average of $121,000. 

How Nurse Practitioner Salaries Compare to Similar Jobs

Here’s a quick comparison of how the average salary of a nurse practitioner – $111,840 – measures up to the average salaries of similar nursing jobs, as listed by the BLS: 

 

  • Nurse Anesthetist: $174,790
  • Medical and Health Services Manager: $115,160
  • Physician’s Assistant: $112,410
  • Nurse Midwife: $108,810
  • Registered Nurse: $77,460

 

How Do Nurse Practitioner Salaries Compare in Clinical and Non-clinical Settings? 

The difference between non-clinical and clinical is fairly simple to understand. Just because you work in a hospital or clinic doesn’t necessarily mean that your job is clinical. 

The term has to do with whether you treat patients or provide direct care to patients, in which case your job is clinical. Non-clinical work might support patient care, but the work doesn’t provide a direct diagnosis, care, or treatment for the patient. 

Clinical roles tend to have face-to-face contact with patients so that a diagnosis, treatment, and care can happen. Some clinical professionals work behind the scenes, such as laboratory professionals who work to support the diagnosis or treatment. 

Non-clinical roles are those that don’t provide any medical treatment or testing. Some non-clinical workers will interact with patients, but they won’t provide any medical treatment. Non-clinical roles include nurse researchers, IT, transcriptionists, and more. 

The salary of a nurse practitioner will depend on if they work in a clinical or non-clinical setting: 

  • Outpatient Care Centers: $119,920
  • Professional Schools, Universities, and Colleges: $105,310
  • Specialty (Excluding Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals: $118,330
  • Offices of Other Health Practitioners: $108,660
  • General Surgical and Medical Hospitals: $115,790
  • Offices of Physicians: $108,930

How Do Nurse Practitioner Salaries Compare to Nurse Educator Salaries? 

Nurse practitioners and nurse educators are required to obtain their master’s degrees. Many nurses in these groups hold doctorates, and for nurse educators, a doctorate is often required for high-level positions such as the dean of nursing. 

Nurse educators teach nursing students of all levels. They can work in associate degree, diploma, and baccalaureate programs, which prepare students for entry into nursing, or in programs at universities that provide master’s degrees and doctorates. 

Other nurse educators teach or create continued education programs for practicing nurses or provide education for clinics and hospitals. 

Some nurse educators are generalists and teach basic nursing subjects, but others, like nurse practitioners, specialize in specific areas (i.e., mental health). Nurse educators will often work part-time in hands-on patient care to retain their clinical skills. 

On average, nurse educators earn an annual salary of $83,160, compared to a nurse practitioner who makes an annual average salary of $111,840. This is a huge difference in average annual salaries between a practicing nurse practitioner and a nurse educator. So, it’s no wonder that there’s a shortage of nurse educators. 

Final Thoughts

Nurse practitioners are in high demand because they’re so popular with healthcare staff and patients. Not only because they help serve the patient population but also because they ease the burden on strained physician’s time and are a less expensive healthcare option to a traditional medical doctor. 

To put it bluntly, nurse practitioners are cheaper to employ than physicians. Since nurse practitioners were registered nurses, they built relationships with other nurses and facilities to network into job openings. 

The future is bright for nurse practitioners, and the average salary that they make is bright too. Nurse practitioners, even those with no experience, can expect to make $100,000 on average annually, with it increasing as they continue to grow with their job and obtain more experience and education. 

Those who go on to obtain their doctorate can expect an even bigger increase in their salary because they will be more desirable to hospitals and clinics. However, earning a doctorate is a lot of work because you need to have the time, energy, and money to go back to school. But there are options for online or hybrid classes that will make earning your doctorate that much easier. 

Nurse practitioners that work in specialized areas, such as neonatal or psychiatry, make more than those that work in family health. This is because more certifications and education are required, making those positions in more demand. 

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Nursing Articles

Degree Finder
RNtoBSNProgram.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.