Nurse Practitioners (NP) earn some of the highest wages of any specialty within the nursing profession. Known as Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN), there are approximately 166,300 in the United States and they hold either a Master of Science in Nursing or a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. The average NP salary in the United States is $107,030, but it can vary according to practice setting and geographic location. NP jobs are growing and will continue to do so as Baby Boomers age and access increased amounts of healthcare. If you are an NP, here is what you need to know about salaries in the U.S.
Salaries range across the U.S.
Salaries for nurse practitioners vary widely across the U.S. depending upon the state in which you practice, and whether you practice in a rural or metropolitan area. The lowest 10 percent of salaries average $75,000 annually or less. The top 10 percent of salaries average more than $125,000 per year. The average salary hovers around $100,000 a year.
Geography plays a major role in salary. For example, the lowest salary for NPs is paid in Tennessee at $93,970 annually. The highest annual salary of $126,770 is paid in California.
The top five highest NP salary states are:
- California: $126,770
- Alaska: $125,140
- Hawaii: $122,580
- Massachusetts: $120,140
- Connecticut: $118,500
States in the middle of the salary range include:
- Delaware: $105,380
- Arizona: $104,970
- Iowa: $105,130
- Vermont: $103,920
- Georgia: $103, 890
The five states with the lowest NP salaries are:
- Kentucky: $95,450
- Arkansas: $95,230
- West Virginia: $95,000
- Alabama: $94,880
- Tennessee: $93,970
Of all US states and territories, Puerto Rico has the lowest salary for NPs at $20,900.
Map image provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Within each state, there can be wide variations in salary. Rural areas always pay less then metropolitan areas. For example, although Tennessee pays the lowest NP salaries in the country, what you are paid depends upon where you practice. Oddly, you do not get paid more in areas where there are fewer nurse practitioners. If you work in rural Morristown, where there are only 70 nurse practitioners, you will earn $81,320 a year. However, if you work in metropolitan Jackson where there are 150 NPs, you will earn the highest NP wage in Tennessee of $96,150.
The highest NP salaries in the country
The highest salaries for nurse practitioners in the United States can be found in metropolitan areas. Of course the cost of living in those areas is also higher, so keep that in mind when deciding where to live and work. The metropolitan areas with the highest NP salaries in the US are as follows:
- San Franciso-Redwood City–South San Francisco: $151,660
- Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA: $150,040
- Alexandria, VA: $144,010
- Peabody-Salem-Beverly, MA: $142,730
- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA: $141,930
- Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT: $140,540
- Panama City, FL: $139,780
- San Franciso-Oakland-Hayward, CA: $138,380
- Vallejo-Fairfield, CA: $138,180
- Madera, CA: $135,070
If you decide you want to live in a non-metropolitan area of the country, here are the highest paying rural areas in the U.S.
- Big Thicket Region Texas, nonmetro area: $143,670
- Balance of Alaska nonmetro: $137,330
- Central Louisiana nonmetro: $131,950
- Southeast Alaska nonmetro: $131,110
- North and West Central New Mexico nonmetro: $129,020
- Mother Lode Region of California nonmetro: $129,000
- SW New York nonmetro: $124,590
- SW Minnesota nonmetro: $122,670
- Nevada nonmetro: $121,120
- Far West N. Dakota nonmetro: $119,950
Salaries vary by industry
Another variable that impacts salary levels for nurse practitioners is the industry in which they work. NPs can work in many different industries, ranging from traditional hospital settings to residential facilities. The top paying industries are not necessarily the ones with the highest percentage of NPs.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top paying industries for nurse practitioners include:
- Personal care services: $139,770
- Community food and housing, emergency and other relief services: $131,930
- Religious organizations: $126,650
- Computer systems design and related services: $121,490
- Residential, intellectual, and developmental disability, mental health, substance use facilities: $117,440
For the most part, nurse practitioners choose to work in traditional healthcare settings that are not necessarily the highest paying organizations. The industries with the highest concentrations of NPs, and the salaries they earn, include:
- Outpatient care centers: $116,550
- Home health care services: $115,650
- Specialty (except psychiatric and substance use) hospitals: $114,880
- General med/surg hospitals: $113,900
- Outpatient mental health and substance use centers: $113,180
- Hospitals, state government owned: $112,790
- Offices of other health practitioners: $111,520
- Offices of physicians: $107,530
Job security looks good
The outlook for job growth for nurse practitioners is excellent. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that part of the healthcare sector will grow at 31 percent and job openings will increase by 47,600 by the year 2022.
If you are currently a nurse and are looking for a new challenge or expanded career opportunities, consider advanced training to become an APRN. If you have achieved that level of training and certification, there are endless opportunities for you to find a place to live and work that challenges you professionally and brings high satisfaction personally.