Bridging the gap in healthcare provider shortages, nurse practitioners (NPs) provide care in various medical settings. The demand for healthcare continues to increase across the United States, along with the number of available nurse practitioner jobs. When researching NP jobs and estimating the average nurse practitioner salary, your location and specialty are two of the most important factors to consider. This guide provides an employment forecast for NPs in 2024, including why nurse practitioners are in such high demand.
Job Outlook for Nurse Practitioners
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that nurse practitioner demand will increase by 45% between 2022 and 2032, creating around 118,600 new jobs for these advanced practice providers. The demand for NPs should remain strong in 2024 due to the increased need for healthcare services and the growing aging population.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 census results, 55.8 million people, or 16.8% of the United States population, are 65 and older. This result reflects the fastest 10-year population growth for this age group since 1880 to 1890. The country’s expanding aging adult segment fuels the demand for geriatric and primary healthcare services. Currently, there aren’t enough healthcare providers specializing in geriatrics to keep up with this demand, leaving nurse practitioners to fill the gap. Thus, NPs providing these services should continue to see increasing job openings.
Additionally, many states are passing legislation granting NPs full practice authority (FPA), where NPs may practice independently without collaboration from a medical board or the supervision of a physician. This transition could potentially result in a greater number of available NP jobs in FPA states and territories.
Specialties with the Most Nurse Practitioner Jobs
Nurse practitioners have a challenging yet rewarding career and can choose from various specialties. Depending on your chosen specialty, it may impact the number of nurse practitioner jobs available to you. Reviewing data collected from Vivian in late October 2023, some specialties with the most staff NP job listings included the following:
- Psychiatric NP: 118
- Family Practice NP: 93
- Neonatal NP: 46
- Cardiology NP: 31
- Urgent Care NP: 25
- Pediatric NP: 23
Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs) have become more popular due to the increasing need for mental health services, magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. PMHNPs provide extensive mental health and counseling services through in-person visits and telehealth. According to the 2022 COVID-19 Practitioner Impact Survey presented by the American Psychological Association (APA), 79% of psychologists reported an increase in diagnosing patients with anxiety since the beginning of the pandemic. The APA survey also revealed that 66% of psychologists reported an increase in the number of patients with depression. The APA impact survey found that 6 in 10 practitioners are unable to accept new patients due to full schedules, potentially increasing the demand for PMHNPs.
The job outlook for NPs interested in family medicine and primary care remains strong, especially in states where NPs fill the same roles as doctors. Many primary care providers will retire within the next 5 to 10 years, leaving patients without someone to provide collaborative and continuous patient care. Nurse practitioners who specialize as family nurse practitioners (FNPs), geriatric nurse practitioners (GNPs), adult-gerontology nurse practitioners (A-GNPs) or other primary care specialties can help meet ongoing care needs.
Neonatal nurse practitioners (NNPs) provide highly specialized patient care for antepartum, intrapartum and postpartum periods for newborns and mothers. Many NNPs work in neonatal intensive care units and provide life-saving care to premature infants. According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), only 0.5% of NPs were certified in neonatal care as of November 2022, among the lowest of all specialties. With so few certified NNPs and the growing need for neonatal care, practitioners within this specialty should remain in high demand.
Many cardiology nurse practitioners are certified as acute care nurse practitioners (ACNPs) and provide inpatient and outpatient services. The issue of increasing patient acuity and the shortage of inpatient physicians has been a growing concern even before the onset of the pandemic. In this context, the role of ACNPs has gained significance in filling the gaps in medical care provision. ACNPs are trained to provide efficient acute management of medical conditions and perform life-saving procedures, thereby contributing to the overall quality of care. Since the cardiology and ACNP role is highly specialized, the demand for these specialists will likely increase.
Patients unable to schedule routine or follow-up appointments for several months due to staffing shortages may seek urgent care clinics. Urgent care has a broader scope of practice than some might realize, with most of these facilities having X-ray and lab services to expand the level of care provided. The demand for urgent care NPs should rise since these clinics need practitioners capable of treating a wide array of medical conditions, helping eliminate the need to wait in packed emergency departments or wait months to see primary care physicians.
The United States also has a shortage of pediatric physicians, especially in rural and underserved areas. Per May 2022 data from the BLS, 22,780 pediatricians work at physician offices, but this number of pediatric care providers doesn’t come close to meeting the demand for services. Pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) aren’t limited to practicing in an office setting; they can work in other areas like outpatient care centers or hospitals and can specialize in primary or acute pediatric care. The AANP reported in November 2022 that only 2.4% of nurse practitioners chose primary care pediatrics, and 0.6% chose acute care pediatrics as their specialty. These numbers are well below the 70.3% of NPs certified in family care, likely representing a demand for PNPs in the future.
Where Are Nurse Practitioners Needed the Most?
Location can significantly impact the number of nurse practitioner jobs available when looking for new employment opportunities. Based on data from the BLS in May 2022, the 10 states with the highest employment of nurse practitioners were:
- California: 19,130
- Texas: 18,820
- Florida: 18,530
- New York: 17,670
- Tennessee: 13,060
- Ohio: 10,730
- Georgia: 8,110
- North Carolina: 8,040
- Illinois: 7,990
- Pennsylvania: 7,560
As you might expect, several states with the highest employment are also some of the most densely populated in the nation. Although the above numbers reflect employment rates, there are several states where nurse practitioner jobs are abundant. The BLS reported that the top five states with the highest concentration and location quotients of nurse practitioner jobs in May 2022 were:
- Rhode Island
5 Key Drivers of Nurse Practitioner Demand
The shortage of primary care providers and the aging population of baby boomers (people born between 1955 and 1964) aren’t the only reasons for the increasing nurse practitioner demand. The demand for NPs is increasing across the nation for several reasons. Here are the top five key factors contributing to this trend.
1. Physician Shortages
The 2020-2035 projections from the Bureau of Health Workforce predict the demand for full-time physicians will surpass 1 million by 2035. Compared to the 2035 projected supply, this leaves an 8% deficit in the physician workforce. NPs can help fill the gap in patient care by providing medical services in a broad array of specialties.
2. Desire to Reduce Healthcare Costs
The American Medical Association reported that U.S. healthcare spending surpassed $4.3 trillion in 2021. Rising healthcare costs are a significant concern for patients, insurance companies and healthcare providers. NPs provide high-quality care at a fraction of the cost of what a physician charges. The cost savings are especially significant in states that grant nurse practitioners full-practice authority.
3. Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Compact
Currently, nurse practitioners must apply for a single-state or endorsement license in every state they practice. Recent state legislation and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing are proposing an APRN Compact similar to the Nurse Licensure Compact for registered and practical nurses. Once adopted, this Compact allows NPs to hold one multistate license and practice in participating Compact agreement states. The APRN Compact is crucial in providing greater access to medical care and will likely have a distinct impact on NP demand in participating states.
4. Availability of Telehealth Services
Although telehealth services have been available for some time, the COVID-19 pandemic drastically increased the use of video-based care to meet patients’ needs. Telehealth also provides access to care for people who live in rural or underserved communities with limited access to nearby medical care. Many healthcare organizations are providing telehealth services for primary and urgent medical treatment. As this demand continues and access to care increases, so should the number of nurse practitioner jobs.
5. Rural and Underserved Areas
The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 census reported that 20% of the population lives in rural areas. However, only around 11% of physicians practice in rural areas, as reported by the Association of American Medical Colleges, leaving limited access to much-needed medical services. While not all rural communities are considered underserved, the rate of hospital closures in rural areas has climbed tremendously over the past decade, according to Health Affairs.
Closure of what may be an area’s only hospital creates a gap in healthcare services and a potentially growing population of underserved communities. Residents in areas with limited local healthcare services may have to travel an hour or more to see a primary care doctor, receive specialty care or seek hospital admittance for inpatient care.
Nurse practitioner demand in many rural or underserved areas is exceptionally high, as NPs have the knowledge and skills to diagnose a wide range of medical conditions, develop comprehensive treatment plans and refer patients for specialty care when needed. NPs in rural areas provide much of the primary care available, ensuring that residents receive proper and equitable care.
Average Nurse Practitioner Salaries
The average staff nurse practitioner salary per Vivian Health on October 31, 2023, was $65.90 per hour. However, overall earnings heavily depend on your location and specialty. We pulled salary data from Vivian for the top states where staff NPs earned the most. The maximum hourly salaries by state were:
- New York: $78
- Texas: $76
- Maryland: $73
- District of Columbia (D.C.): $69
- Virginia: $68
On average, NPs receiving maximum hourly rates earned 18% more in New York, 15% more in Texas, 11% more in Maryland, 4.7% more in D.C., and 3.1% more in Virginia compared to average rates in the U.S.
We also analyzed salary data from Vivian on October 31, 2023, to compare the highest-paid NP specialties. The following seven specialties had an hourly range from $60 to $71 for NPs in staff roles and had the largest number of available jobs on the platform:
- Acute Care NP
- Cardiology NP
- Geriatrics NP
- Neonatal NP
- Psychiatric Mental Health NP
- Pediatric NP
- Urgent Care NP
With the numerous job openings and high-paying salaries, many nurse practitioners choose NP travel assignments. While staff FNPs earned between $66 to $70 per hour, with an average of $59.21, travel FNPs earned an average of $4,017 per week, while travel GNPs earned $2,604.
Explore Vivian’s Nurse Practitioner Career Guide to learn more about the NP role and this rewarding career path.
Editor Note: This blog was updated from the original version that appeared on September 2022.