Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Salary

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Salary

Becoming a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner can be emotionally and professionally gratifying. Furthermore, it is a career that has great job security and is financially rewarding. In fact, because of all the education and certifications, even a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner who doesn’t have much experience can make a good living.

If you’re considering becoming a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, then keep reading to find out what your salary would look like and what it takes to earn more as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. We’ll also be covering what it takes to become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, what your day-to-day will look like, where you can find employment, what the job outlook is, and more.

The field of Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners is full of opportunities and rewards. As the need for top-quality mental health practitioners increases, so does their salaries as facilities are willing to pay high salaries for this in-demand position.

What is a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?

A Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner is an advanced practice registered nurse who is trained to care for patients that have mental health problems. In addition to being registered nurses (RNs), these nurse practitioners also have the education and experience necessary to take care of the mental health needs of their patients. Moreover, they are qualified to diagnose patients with mental health disorders and prescribe treatment as needed.

A Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner’s day-to-day responsibilities include anything from working directly with patients to educating other nurses. Some of their responsibilities include:

  • Diagnosing patients and communicating their condition
  • Conducting and interpreting mental health evaluations
  • Maintaining patient records and making referrals
  • Performing checkups and exams for physical and mental health
  • Giving psychotherapy for the treatment of conditions
  • Creating treatment plans and collaborating with a team
  • Prescribing medications and consulting with doctors
  • Adjusting treatment plans and medications for patients
  • Partaking in continuous education to learn about new medicines and treatments
  • Educating communities about mental health concerns

How can I become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?

Because they are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), you’ll need to complete a master’s program in nursing (MSN) or doctoral degree program (DNP) to become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner.

Before advancing to a master’s degree or doctoral degree, students will need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) from an accredited nursing program. Afterward, they’ll need to pass the NCLEX-RN to obtain licensure.

After these prerequisites have been completed, students will need to do the following to become Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners:

  1. Enroll in an MSN or DNP-level Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner program. Make sure you know what degree level you’ll be seeking before applying to programs. The right degree level for you will depend on your professional goals. MSN programs are great if you want to do clinical work in a hospital setting. DNP programs are a better fit for those who want to go into teaching or administration.
  2. Find a CCNE or ACEN-accredited Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner program. You should be able to find online, hybrid, and classroom-based programs.
  3. Meet all the admission requirements and complete the application.
  4. After completing the Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner program, take the certification exam and obtain proper Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner certification.

Your starting point will determine how long it takes to earn your MSN or DNP-level Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner degree. For instance, nursing students in a BSN program complete their bachelor’s in about four years, while RN to BSN students can complete theirs in about two years. From there, a BSN to MSN takes about two years, a BSN to DNP takes about three to four years, and an MSN to DNP takes about one to two years.

What is the job outlook for Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners?

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners are valuable members of their team as they approach patient care in a holistic manner. As a result, they make sure they meet the mental health needs of their patients. Physicians, medical staff, and patients appreciate Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners because they help improve access to mental health care.

While the U.S. Bureau for Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t have information that specifically focuses on Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners, they do have information on nurse practitioners (NPs). According to the BLS, there is a projection of a 52% increase when it comes to employment for nurse practitioners (NPs). Currently, there are more mental health patients than the system can properly care for and the numbers continue to grow. As a result, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners are in high demand. Moreover, the health care practice of NPs is expanding to improve access and care for all citizens.

When it comes to the field of psychiatry, it’s important that there is a shortage in psychiatric care. According to a March 2017 article by the National Council for Behavioral Health, there was a 10% decline in practicing psychiatrists from 2003 to 2013. As a result, mental health care has shifted back to primary care physicians and APRNs. Furthermore, the number of Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners is expected to increase from 13,815 to 17,900 by 2025. Because of this increase, patients that need psychiatric care will be able to get the necessary treatments.

Where do Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners work?

In addition to hospitals, there are various workplaces that welcome the help of Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about one in five U.S. adults experience a mental illness every year. Moreover, about 4% experience a serious mental health condition that inhibits at least one major aspect of their life.

Because mental illness can affect just about anyone, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners are an essential part of our healthcare system. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners can assess, diagnose, provide therapy, and even prescribe medications as necessary (depending on the state). Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner programs work to prepare their students to treat anyone from children to teens to adults.

Some of the most common workplaces that employ Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners include mental health clinics, psychiatric facilities, private psychiatric practices, and community mental health centers. However, these are not the only places where Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners can work.

Other options include correctional facilities, domestic violence shelters, residential substance abuse facilities, and schools.

Correctional Facilities

Compared to those who work in hospitals, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners who work in correctional facilities see three times as many mentally ill patients. Furthermore, about one in four inmates have both mental health and addiction disorders occurring simultaneously. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners work to counsel, evaluate, and provide crisis intervention services to inmates. They also provide help to those who need inpatient services.

Domestic Violence Shelters

Many victims of abuse exhibit psychiatric disorders. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners can help those who seek protection in shelters by assessing and diagnosing issues. They can also provide care for the victims while in a safe environment.

Residential Substance Abuse Facilities

Over 50% of the millions of people who have a substance abuse disorder also suffer from mental illness. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners are essential in residential substance abuse facilities as they can help them address their issues.


There is an increase in college and university students with mental health needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While students are diagnosed with mental health issues before college, more are able to attend school and find success due to the increased accessibility to mental health care on campuses. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners, along with other mental health counselors, are in high demand due to this increasing need for mental healthcare across the nation’s universities.

What do Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners do?

If you’re a nurse who enjoys practicing independently and wants to be able to diagnose and prescribe, then becoming a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner may be the right path for you. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners typically have the following characteristics:

  • Emotional intelligence
  • Emotional stability
  • Empathy
  • Patience

Because working with mental health patients can be emotionally draining, it’s important that Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners be able to recognize emotions and deal with them appropriately. Since some mental health patients are victims of violence and abuse, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners need to demonstrate empathy by understanding and sharing the feelings of others based on their frame of reference.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners should also be advocates for their patients while remaining vigilant as some patients may be unstable and act impulsively. Patients can experience both progression and regression during their treatment, so Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners should know how to reassess and adjust their treatment plan accordingly.

While some patients may have committed crimes or have an altered view of the world, it’s important that Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners be accepting and non-judgmental. They should set their personal thoughts and feelings aside so they can treat all their patients equally.

Finally, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners understand that it takes time to build trust with their patients. If you are unreliable or unavailable, you will have a hard time making progress as building trust is essential to the mental healthcare process.

What are the duties of a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners work with a variety of patients including children, adults, families, and more. Their responsibilities include:

  • Interviewing patients about their symptoms
  • Writing down their patients’ medical and psychiatric history
  • Assessing the causes of mental illness, including developmental issues, genetics, family dysfunction, and neurological trauma
  • Diagnosing mental illness
  • Working with patients of all ages
  • Working with patients who have behavioral, emotional, cognitive, or mental health disorders that range from mild to severe
  • Helping patients deal with chronic disability or disease
  • Treating and counseling patients who have experienced emotional trauma, stress, abuse, or have been the victims of crime
  • Managing patient care through education, behavioral modification therapy, and medication
  • Conducting counseling sessions for individuals, families, or groups
  • Tracking patient progress
  • Collaborating with physicians, psychiatrists, or psychologists to change a patient’s treatment plan if necessary

What are the working conditions for Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners?

Just like with any other profession, there are ups and downs when it comes to being a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. Because they may have to carry a heavy patient load, make multiple critical decisions, and diagnose various patients, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners can suffer from stress. This stress can be further enhanced as working with mentally ill patients can be emotionally draining.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners who work in a clinic can have regular business work hours, but those who work in acute care may need to be on-call or work the weekend, swing, or graveyard shift. Furthermore, some workplaces may be located in high-risk areas that expose employees to bloodborne pathogens, chemicals, or workplace violence. Because some patients may be unstable, they can act impulsively or violently. As a result, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners need to be on high alert to avoid injury.

However, not all Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners work in risky environments. For example, you may decide to focus on research and education. Regardless of the environment, workplace safety training is ongoing and mandatory as most organizations make it a goal to protect their employees.

What makes Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners so important?

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners are essential for the mental health field. Currently, the U.S. is experiencing a shortage in the health industry which includes psychiatrists and other mental health practitioners. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five adults in the U.S. experience mental illness every year. Moreover, one in 25 experience a serious mental illness each year according to their 2018 data. As a result, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners are necessary to help offload some of these demands and provide the comprehensive treatment these patients need.

What education requirements do I need to complete to become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?

Before enrolling in a graduate program, you may need to have a few years of clinical experience under your belt. However, some schools will allow you to work concurrently during their program. Regardless of what your program requires, it is essential that you obtain clinical experience in mental health to prepare you for your future responsibilities as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner.

In addition to clinical experience, you will need to complete general advanced-practice courses and courses specifically related to the Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner track. General courses will cover a variety of concepts such as health promotion and maintenance, advanced health assessment, advanced pathophysiology, and pharmacology for advanced practice nurses.

Courses specific to the Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner track will vary between programs. However, some common core concepts include individual and family psychotherapy, psychopharmacology, psychiatric-mental health nursing across the lifespan, and advanced assessment in psychiatric-mental health nursing.

What certifications and credentials are necessary to become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?

Once you complete an MSN or DNP program, you can obtain your certification in psychiatric-mental health. You can obtain your certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Before obtaining your certification, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Have a current RN license
  • Have a master’s, postgraduate, or doctoral degree from an accredited program
  • Worked a minimum of 500 supervised clinical hours within your Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners program
  • Completed courses in advanced health assessment, advanced pathophysiology, and advanced pharmacology
  • Studied content in differential diagnosis, health promotion/maintenance, and disease management including prescribing medications
  • Clinical training in at least two areas of psychotherapy

Certification is by exam and valid for five years.

The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board provides certification for nurse practitioners and helps prepare them to be Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialists (PMHS). To be eligible for testing, you’ll need to meet the following requirements:

  • Have a current APRN license
  • Have a current certification as an APRN in the role and population focusing in one of the following areas:
    • Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
    • Family Nurse Practitioner
    • Child/Adolescent Psychiatric & Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist
    • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Graduate from an accredited MSN, DNP, or post-master’s program with one of the following concentrations:
    • Primary Care PNP
    • Family Nurse Practitioner
    • Child/Adolescent Psychiatric Clinical Nurse Specialist
    • Child/Adolescent Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Completed a minimum of 2,000 hours of APRN pediatric developmental, behavioral, and mental health (DBMH) clinical experience within the last three years
  • Completed either one graduate-level DBMH course of at least two credits or 30 hours of DBMH continuing education within the last three years

It’s important to note that there is a difference between licensure and certification. Licensure means you are legally permitted to practice in the state of residence. On the other hand, certification means the Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner is able to perform care in a psychiatric setting. You can find the list of requirements for testing from your state nursing boards, as these will vary from state to state. Certified Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners can apply to their state board for licensure after meeting the requirements.

What is the average salary of a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners work closely with patients who have mental health disorders to help them with their conditions. After completing your program and obtaining licensure and certification, you will be qualified to assess, diagnose, and treat patients with psychiatric disorders using a variety of techniques such as pharmacological and psychotherapeutic treatments.

The average salary of a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner is $126,390 per year. Most will earn about $96,000 at their first job and can eventually earn more than $150,000 with experience. Here is a breakdown of a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner’s starting salary, experienced salary, and average salary by hourly, monthly, and annual rates:

  • Starting salary
    • Hourly: $46.27
    • Monthly: $8,020
    • Annual: $96,230
  • Experienced salary
    • Hourly: $75.96
    • Monthly: $13,170
    • Annual: $157,990
  • Average salary
    • Hourly: $60.76
    • Monthly: $10,530
    • Annual: $126,390

What states pay the most salaries for Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners?

The top 10 states that pay Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners the most per year on average are as follows:

  1. California: $149,070
  2. Alaska: $147,150
  3. Hawaii: $144,150
  4. Massachusetts: $$141,270
  5. Connecticut: $139,340
  6. New Jersey: $138,330
  7. New York: $137,830
  8. Minnesota: $136,580
  9. Washington: $135,520
  10. Wyoming: $133,240

1. California

Due to its great weather, outdoor access, and unlimited amounts of fresh produce, California sounds like a wonderful place to practice as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. Moreover, they offer the highest average salary for Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners at $149,070 per year. In addition to the higher salaries, California is home to a lot of great institutions such as the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA in Los Angeles, which ranks 8th in the country for psychiatric hospitals. You also have the option to work at mental health facilities like Capo by the Sea Holistic Treatment Center, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean.

2. Alaska

While Alaska may be associated with harsh winters, the truth is that during the summer, Alaskans enjoy almost 24 hours of daylight. These daylight hours can be used to explore the breathtaking wilderness around you. When winter arrives, you can go skiing, snowboarding, and ice fishing. Furthermore, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners can earn an average of $147,150 per year in Alaska. Most nurses work in one of Anchorage’s many counseling centers and acute psychiatric care facilities.

3. Hawaii

Known for its beautiful beaches, exciting Luaus, and incredible wildlife, Hawaii also pays its Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners a great salary. On average, they can earn an average of $144,150 per year. You can work at places like Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu, which has a great reputation for acute care. Furthermore, Hawaii is home to many addiction treatment facilities due to the warm weather and beautiful environment, which helps patients find empowerment and self-love.

4. Massachusetts

As one of the best states in the country for healthcare, Massachusetts is home to McLean Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, which rank #1 and #2 in the country for best psychiatric hospitals. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners in Massachusetts earn an average of $141,270 per year. Moreover, it is home to world-class colleges like MIT, Harvard University, and Tufts University.

5. Connecticut

This state is home to Yale School of Nursing, which has one of the top Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner programs in the nation. Furthermore, it’s home to Yale New Haven Hospital, which ranks 9th in the country for Psychiatry. Of course, the salary is not too bad either, with Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners making an average of $139,340 per year. Connecticut is also home to beautiful hiking trails and state parks that you can visit in your free time. Many New Englanders also love the fall foliage and the fresh seafood.

6. New Jersey

If you want to enjoy all the amenities that New York City provides but without the high cost of living, then New Jersey may be for you. Not only is it home to great diners, tasty bagels, and amazing beaches along the Jersey shore, but it’s home to Morristown Medical Center – a top-quality hospital. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners can expect to make an average of $138,330 per year in New Jersey.

7. New York

As one of the most popular states in the country, it’s no surprise that New York is home to some of the best hospitals. For instance, New York Presbyterian Hospital ranks 3rd in the country for Psychiatry and works closely with Columbia University and Cornell University. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners will make an average of $137,830 in New York. Because of the high demand for quality mental health professionals in NYC, you’ll have plenty of job opportunities. Moreover, you will have the chance to work in just about every type of care setting. If you’re not a big city person, don’t worry – the state is also home to wine country, woodland hiking, and beautiful fall foliage.

8. Minnesota

Another top state for Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners is Minnesota. Ranking 7th in the country for overall healthcare and 3rd for mental health care, you can expect to make an average of $136,580 per year as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner in Minnesota. Moreover, you have the flexibility to work at top facilities in Minneapolis, the suburbs that surround the city, or even in the calm wilderness of the North Shore area. Fun fact: Minnesota is home to the Mayo Clinic, a world-renowned hospital that is considered the best hospital in the nation.

9. Washington

There’s a lot to love about Washington: 2,500 miles of Pacific shoreline, breathtaking hiking in the country, world-famous Giant Redwood forests, and more. The state is also home to various “naturesque” mental health and addiction treatment centers near the ocean or in the forests. For instance, Lake Hughes Recovery treatment center is on a 100-acre Certified Organic Peach and Pomegranate Ranch. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners in Washington make an average of $135,520 per year.

10. Wyoming

Last but not least, Wyoming is not only a top-paying state for Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners, but it’s also one of the most affordable states to live in. In other words, if you want to get “more bang for your buck” as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, then Wyoming is the place to be. The average yearly salary for Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners here is $133,240. In addition, the state is home to the world-famous Yellowstone National Park as well as plenty of beautiful hiking destinations. It also ranks among the top states for overall health and wellbeing.

What are the lowest paying states for Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners?

The five lowest-paying states for RNs in the U.S. are Alabama, South Dakota, Mississippi, Iowa, and Arkansas. Because compensation depends on population rates, job availability, and cost of living, this could explain why these are some of the lowest-paying states for Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners.

What does each state pay Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners on average?

The following is a breakdown of the average salary of Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners for each state in the United States of America. It includes hourly, monthly, and annual averages.

Can Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners expect salary growth during their careers?

Currently, RNs have more experience and education than in past years. When it comes to being a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, or an RN, your experience will indeed lead to steady growth in salary.

According to the 2020 National Nursing Workforce Survey, the annual salary of an RN will increase by $10,000 by the fifth year of practice, an additional $5,000 up to year 10, and another $10,000 after 11 years. By earning a graduate degree and an APRN license, your compensation will increase even more.

How does a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner’s salary compare to other nurses’ salaries?

The following information comes from the 2020 National Nursing Workforce Survey. It compares Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner salaries to those of other popular nursing specialties. Based on the survey, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners report a higher median salary than the national average as reported by PayScale. Here is the breakdown:

  1. Neonatal Nurse Practitioner: $122,500
  2. Psychiatric/Mental Health Practitioner: $120,000
  3. Gerontology Nurse Practitioner: $119,000
  4. Hospice Nurse Practitioner: $116,000
  5. Emergency Nurse Practitioner: $114,000
  6. Pediatric Nurse Practitioner: $108,000

How can I increase my pay?

By gaining experience both in general and in certain specialty areas, earning certifications, and pursuing additional education, you’ll be able to increase your salary. Moreover, with the rise of telehealth services during the pandemic, there are more options for Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners to make a higher salary as well as for RNs. Here are three specific ways in which you can increase your salary.

1. Gain Specialty Skills

According to the BLS, an aging population with various health conditions (including mental health challenges) is one of the factors in the increased demand for mental health professionals. Furthermore, the pandemic has also resulted in more children seeking mental health assistance. By focusing on subspecialties like case management, gerontology, and pediatrics, you can make a strong average salary.

2. Explore Telehealth Opportunities

About half of all RNs provide telehealth services, which means there are ample opportunities for psychiatric nurses in the field. Virtual mental health services started emerging even before the pandemic as the future of mental health nursing.

3. Become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

If you’re an RN, you can see a significant jump in salary by studying to become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. After earning your MSN or DNP, you can make a six-figure salary by specializing in the mental health field. So what are you waiting for? Look for the best Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner program near you or online to start making your dreams come true.

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