The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that demand for nurse practitioners (NPs) will increase by 40% between 2021 and 2031. Due to the growing need for these specialized nurses, nurse practitioner jobs should be plentiful now and into the future. A thorough understanding of nurse practitioner salary trends can help you assess the competitiveness of wages and make decisions regarding a specialty to pursue and where to look for work.
How Much Does a Nurse Practitioner Make?
The average nurse practitioner’s hourly rate was $53.77 per hour on Vivian in mid-October 2022. The lowest-paid 10% of NPs earned $39.14 per hour or less, while the highest-paid 10% earned $73.16 per hour or more. However, your actual NP pay depends on various factors, including your geographic location, specialty, education, certifications and experience.
What Is the Highest Paid Nurse Practitioner Specialty?
Overall, NPs are some of the highest-paid advanced practice registered nurses. The following are some top-paying NP specialties based on average nurse practitioner salary information posted on Indeed and Vivian Health on October 20, 2002.
Family Nurse Practitioner
Average salary: $144,019
Salary range: $103,361 to $200,689
Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) deliver primary care to patients through all stages of life. They often work in physician’s offices, examining patients, making diagnoses, ordering tests and prescribing treatments. Preventative care is a key focus for practitioners in this specialty. They conduct wellness exams and educate children and adults on how diet, exercise and other lifestyle choices contribute to overall health. When patients require specialist care, FNPs make referrals and may coordinate care with physicians and other nurse practitioners.
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
Average Salary: $139,385 per year
Salary Range: $84,224 to $230,672
Psychiatric nurse practitioners diagnose and treat mental health disorders, working in private psychiatric practices, mental health hospitals, substance abuse rehab facilities, clinics and other settings. Their duties often include administering evidence-based therapy, prescribing medications and monitoring patient progress. Some psychiatric nurse practitioners also serve as educators and work to raise public awareness about general mental health topics and specific disorders.
Pain Management Nurse Practitioner
Average salary: $112,608
Salary range: $86,581 to $146,459
Pain management nurse practitioners care for patients dealing with acute pain due to injuries and surgical procedures and chronic pain due to conditions like osteoarthritis and multiple sclerosis. Some work in hospitals and long-term care facilities, while others deliver outpatient care through clinics and physicians’ offices. Nurse practitioners in this specialty may prescribe pain medications and/or introduce patients to other pain management methods such as mindfulness meditation, exercise, massage and hot-cold therapy.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
Average Salary: $104,319 per year
Salary Range: $77,868 to $139,753
Pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) provide care for infants, children and adolescents, typically seeing patients from birth until age 18 or 21. Most work in pediatricians’ offices and outpatient clinics, though children’s hospitals and schools also employ them. Pediatrics involves both primary and acute care. PNPs conduct well-child visits and administer screenings and assessments to monitor growth, development, vision and hearing. They educate parents on nutrition, childhood weight management and the importance of physical activity. When children are ill, PNPs perform examinations and order diagnostic testing to determine the cause and prescribe suitable treatments.
Where Do Nurse Practitioners Get Paid the Most?
Nurse practitioner pay rates vary by state. Generally, the average NP salary is higher in places where the cost of living is more expensive. Demand also impacts wages. The following table provides the average and maximum hourly rates for the highest-paying states posted on Vivian Health in late October 2022.
|State||Average Hourly Salary||Maximum Hourly Salary|
What States Employ the Most Nurse Practitioners?
Highly populated states tend to employ the most NPs due to their size. The table below shows the states that the BLS indicated had the largest number of nurses employed and the average pay rates in those states based on Vivian’s salary data.
|State||# Nurses Employed||Average Hourly Salary|
Comparing the number of NPs in a state to the total number of jobs gives you a clearer picture of which ones have the highest concentration of nurse practitioners. The following table lists the states with the highest concentrations based on information from the BLS.
|State||Highest Concentration of Jobs||Employment per thousand jobs||Average Hourly Salary|
What Is the Best Specialty for a Nurse Practitioner?
Each nurse has unique priorities, goals and aspirations. As a result, there’s no single best specialty for NPs. When deciding on a specialty, consider the following:
- Demand: Determining the largest employers of NPs in the area where you wish to work can help you predict which specialties are in demand. Check nurse practitioner job listings to get a feel for who hires NPs.
- Preferred work setting: Think about your ideal work setting. Do you prefer a fast-paced unit in a hospital, a private physician’s office, an outpatient clinic that serves vulnerable populations or a long-term care facility?
- Preferred population: Consider whether there’s a specific patient population you enjoy working with more than others. Do you find it easier to build rapport and an effective clinician/patient relationship with children, older adults or women?
- Interests: NPs can specialize in various areas of medicine, and you may find yourself drawn to a certain one, such as cardiac care, mental health or women’s health.
- Requirements: Generally, certification in any specialty requires an advanced degree, clinical experience and passing an examination. However, the amount of schooling and the number of experience hours vary. When comparing specialties, you may want to weigh how long it takes to be eligible for certification.
- Salary: Overall, nurse practitioner pay rates are higher than many other medical fields across specialties, but some NP positions pay more than others. Weigh average salaries based on specialty, work setting, location, etc.
NP Pay Compared to Similar Healthcare Jobs
Working as an NP requires advanced education and professional certification to care for patients with minimal supervision or complete autonomy, depending on the scope of practice in each state. As a result, nurse practitioner salary rates tend to be higher than the average pay for many other healthcare fields, but not all. Vivian’s salary data in mid-October 2022 showed that average NP hourly rates were higher or lower than the following healthcare professions.
|Profession||Average Hourly Rate||% Higher or Lower|
|Clinical Research Nurse||$43||-25%|
|Certified Nurse Anesthetists||$91||+41%|
How Can You Increase Your Nurse Practitioner Salary?
If your current rate of pay isn’t competitive, you can take steps to increase your salary by negotiating with your employer, focusing on your professional development or changing nursing jobs. The following are specific ways you can potentially increase your nurse practitioner wages.
Become a Travel Nurse
Travel nurses fill vacant roles in hospitals, clinics and other facilities on a temporary basis. They may work in different metropolitan areas, states or regions anywhere in the country with the proper credentials.
Generally, travel nurse practitioner jobs pay more than permanent NP positions because employers need experienced healthcare professionals to fill vacancies when faced with various staffing issues. Vivian’s average travel nurse practitioner salary was $2,707 per week in mid-October 2022, roughly 26% more than the average pay for permanent positions based on a 40-hour work week.
Besides a sizable pay increase, travel nurses enjoy more freedom and flexibility and experience new places while providing much-needed patient care. The temporary nature of travel nursing jobs also means less worry about workplace politics and stress.
Continue Your Education
Most NP certifications require a Master of Science in Nursing, but educational opportunities for nurses don’t stop there. Many accredited nursing schools offer post-graduate certificates and Doctor of Nursing Practice and Doctor of Philosophy degree programs. Gaining additional education opens the door to a higher-paying position or allows you to negotiate a raise with your current employer.
Gain Additional Certifications
Additional certifications can expand your career opportunities or enable you to take on additional responsibilities to increase your pay in your current position. Explore the requirements for related specialties. For example, if you already have Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, you might pursue the Board Certified Advanced Diabetes Management credential from the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists to focus on the care of older adults with diabetes.
Consider a New Setting
Moving to another city or state where nurse practitioner hourly rates are higher is one way to earn more money, but you don’t necessarily need to relocate to increase your pay. Shifting your practice setting may also lead to better wages. Use our NP salary info to determine who the top-paying employers are in your area. You may find that long-term care facilities, specialty hospitals and other institutions are paying more than your current wages.
Be Flexible with Your Schedule
Employers often have difficulty filling second and third shifts and pay more to NPs willing to work them. Volunteering to work rotating shifts also may result in a pay increase. Some hospitals and other healthcare facilities may also offer higher base pay for weekend and holiday shifts.
Take Total Compensation Into Account
More goes into your salary than just your wages. Your overall compensation also includes paid time off, holiday pay, employee benefits and retirement plans such as 401(k) plans. If your current employer’s budgetary restrictions prohibit a raise, you may be able to negotiate for more paid time off. When comparing offers for new jobs, factor in your out-of-pocket cost for health insurance and any contributions prospective employers may make to your retirement account, too. Looking at all the numbers helps you see the big picture of your total compensation.