What Is the Average Salary With a DNP Degree?

Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
Updated April 16, 2024
Edited by
This guide provides information on DNP salaries, including projection figures and geographic data.
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Employers and healthcare leaders agree that nurses with a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree stand out for their evidence-based practice, critical thinking, and leadership skills. But does a DNP mean a higher earning potential? DNP salary data reveals that a doctorate in nursing practice can pay off.

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How Does the Average Salary for DNP-Holders Compare to the Salaries of Other Nursing Degrees?

As nurses advance their education, they can increase their earning potential. Compared to professionals with other nursing degrees, DNP holders earn the highest salary.

Nurses with a DNP earn more for several reasons. They qualify for higher-paying roles, including advanced practice roles like nurse anesthetist. DNP holders may also bring more experience to their roles. The following table compares the average salaries for nurses by degree, including the average DNP salary increase.

Average Annual Salaries for Different Nursing Degrees Compared
Average Annual Salary $112,000$103,000 $94,000 $76,000
How Much More DNP Graduates Make +$9,000 +$18,000 +$36,000
Source: Payscale

DNP Salaries by Role

A DNP can qualify nurses for high-paying, advanced practice roles such as certified registered nurse anesthetist and nurse practitioner. DNP nurses often have greater autonomy along with a higher earning potential.

DNP salaries vary by role, experience, and degree. For example, a DNP may help advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) increase their compensation over APRNs with an MSN.

This section introduces some common roles for nurses with a DNP, including salary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, ranked from highest to lowest-paying median annual salary.

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

CRNAs are the highest-paid nurses and need a DNP. The median nurse anesthetist salary exceeds $200,000, with many states reporting even higher salaries. Factors such as experience and location affect a CRNA’s earning potential.

These APRNs administer anesthesia to patients undergoing surgical or diagnostic procedures. CRNAs specialize in pain management and work closely with patients to meet their needs safely.

  • Median Annual Salary: $203,090
  • Annual Salary Range: $143,870-$239,200
  • Highest-Paying States: North Dakota, California, Connecticut, New York, and Illinois

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners provide primary and specialty care, with several specialization options such as family nurse practitioner or psychiatric mental health NP. Their scope of practice includes diagnosing and treating health issues, and in some states, NPs can also prescribe medications.

The median nurse practitioner salary exceeds $120,000. Work setting, degree level, and location all influence an NP’s earning potential. Specialty also impacts salaries, with mental health NPs reporting the highest NP salaries.

  • Median Annual Salary: $121,610
  • Annual Salary Range: $87,340-$165,240
  • Highest-Paying States: California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Nevada

Certified Nurse Midwife

Nurse midwives specialize in prenatal, postpartum, delivery, and family planning care. They can deliver babies, treat sexual health issues, and provide primary and maternity care.

The median nurse midwife’s salary exceeds $120,000. While CNMs can practice with an MSN, earning a DNP can mean more job opportunities and higher compensation. Other factors that influence nurse midwife salaries include work setting and location.

  • Median Annual Salary: $120,880
  • Annual Salary Range: $77,510-$171,230
  • Highest-Paying States: California, West Virginia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Oregon

Nurse Administrator

Nurse administrators bring their clinical backgrounds to leadership roles in hospitals and other healthcare settings. They manage hiring and staffing, scheduling, and budgeting for their organization’s nursing units.

Jobs at the top of the nursing hierarchy typically require an MSN or DNP. The median nurse administrator salary reached $96,000 in 2024, with variations depending on the work setting and location. Earning potential also depends on the specific role nurses hold in nursing administration.

  • Median Annual Salary: $110,680
  • Annual Salary Range: $67,900-$216,750
  • Highest-Paying States: New York, Washington, D.C., Delaware, New Jersey, Massachusetts

Nurse Educator

Nurse educators train current and prospective nurses. They teach in hospitals, healthcare settings, colleges, and universities. Nurse educators cover key topics such as clinical skills, nursing practice, and patient care. Academic roles can either focus on teaching or incorporate research responsibilities with teaching.

The median nurse educator salary exceeds $78,000, depending on degree level, location, and job title. DNP-prepared nurse educators typically earn more because they can teach graduate-level nursing programs.

  • Median Annual Salary: $78,580
  • Annual Salary Range: $47,760-$127,290
  • Highest-Paying States: Massachusetts, Nevada, California, Washington D.C., New York

DNP Salaries by Work Settings

Work setting and job title both influence DNP salaries. DNP holders typically earn higher salaries in hospitals and outpatient care centers. Academic settings and offices of health practitioners, besides physicians, generally report lower salaries.

However, salaries vary greatly, and factors besides work setting and role also impact earning potential. For example, professional experience can mean a higher salary regardless of the work setting. Nurse administrators with more than 10 years of experience report annual salaries of $25,000 higher than those with 5-9 years of experience, according to Payscale data from January 2024.

Median Annual Salaries by Work Setting for DNP Holders
Work SettingNurse AnesthetistNurse PractitionerNurse MidwifeNurse AdministratorNurse Educator
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals$215,160$128,490$127,280$126,050$96,780
Offices of Physicians$189,290$114,590$118,730$99,440$115,670
Outpatient Care Centers$229,660$128,950$153,140 $101,890
Offices of Other Health Practitioners$107,120 $111,470$68,000 $91,620
Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools$196,770$108,920$109,330 $106,500$79,190
Source: BLS, May 2022

Note: The dash means no data is available for nurse educators in this work setting.

Note: BLS does not track nurse administrator data separately, so we used median salaries in each work setting for “health and medical services managers,” of which nurse administrators are one type.

DNP Salaries by State

DNP salaries vary by state. High cost-of-living states typically report higher salaries. For example, states like California and New York rank in the top five highest-paying states, while North Carolina and Louisiana report the lowest salaries by state.

Many of the highest-paying states are home to major cities with above-average salaries. Nurse practitioners earn more in California than in any other state, according to BLS data. The state reports an average NP salary of $161,540, along with the ten highest-paying metro areas, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Jose.

Frequently Asked Questions About DNP Salaries