What Is the Average Salary with a DNP Degree?

by NurseJournal Staff
• 5 min read

This guide provides information on DNP salaries, including projection figures and geographic data.

What Is the Average Salary with a DNP Degree?

The doctor of nursing practice (DNP) is the highest degree in advanced practice nursing. DNPs remain in demand for many healthcare roles, including teachers, administrators, and clinicians. Above-average salaries and high demand provide strong incentives to earn a DNP.

According to PayScale, the average annual doctor of nursing salary is $103,710 as of May 2021. Specialty areas deliver different salaries. For example, certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) earn the highest DNP salaries, with family nurse practitioners (NPs) typically earning less. Experience and geographic location also affect how much a DNP makes.

Frequently Asked Questions


How many years does it take to become a DNP?

It typically takes 6-8 years of college to become a DNP, four years for a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) and another two years each for the master of science in nursing (MSN) and DNP degrees. Nurses with ADNs but not BSNs can often qualify for bridge programs that take 6-7 years.

Do DNPs make more money than NPs?

DNP salaries are generally higher than NP salaries, reflecting their additional training. However, nurse anesthetists, even those with MSNs, often earn more than family practice DNPs. Individual salaries depend on specialty, location, experience, and many other factors.

Which is better: MSN or DNP?

This answer depends on your career goals and how much time you would prefer to spend in school. MSNs take less time and cost less, but many academic medical centers prefer to hire DNPs, especially for higher-ranking or supervisory roles. Also, DNP salaries are generally higher than MSN salaries.

What is the highest-paid NP specialty?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nurse anesthetists, including master's and doctoral level, earn the highest DNP salary with a median annual income of $183,580. Nurse midwives earn a median annual salary of $111,130 — still considerably higher than the median U.S. annual salary of $41,950.

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DNP Nurse Salaries in Common Industries

Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) with DNPs have the potential to earn the highest salaries in state, local, and private hospitals. Outpatient care centers; physicians' offices; other health practitioner offices; and state, local, and private educational services also offer comparable salaries.

APRN Nurse Salaries in Common Industries Average Salary
Hospitals; state, local, and private $124,660
Outpatient care centers $122,840
Offices of physicians $114,570
Offices of other health practitioners $111,610
Educational services; state, local, and private $111,400
Source: BLS, 2020

Top-Paying States for DNP Nurse Salary

How much does a DNP make in different states? While BLS does not distinguish between DNP and master's level practitioners, BLS data shows the state with the highest NP average salary is California, totaling $145,970. California also employs the most NPs of any state with nurse practitioner being one of the most common advanced practice specialties.

Please note that this data includes all NPs and CRNAs, including those who do not have a DNP.

Top-Paying States for Nurse Practitioners

State Average Salary
California $145,970
New Jersey $130,890
Washington $126,480
New York $126,440
Massachusetts $126,050
Source: BLS, 2020
Find Out More About How Much Nurse Practitioners Make

Top-Paying States for Nurse Anesthetists

State Average Salary
Oregon $236,540
Wisconsin $231,520
Wyoming $231,250
Nevada $223,680
Connecticut $217,360
Source: BLS, 2020
Find Out More About How Much Nurse Anesthetists Make

Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Nurses With DNPs

The metropolitan areas with the highest DNP salaries are all in California, near Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay areas. In these regions, the average doctor of nursing practice salary is at least $152,640, and the average salary rises even higher in the Vallejo — Fairfield area. However, these areas carry a high cost of living.

The metro areas with the most NPs are more geographically dispersed, including the Midwest, East, South, and the West. Similar to how DNP average salaries increase with high cost of living, areas with higher populations also employ more NPs.

Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Nurse Practitioners

Metropolitan Area Average Salary
Vallejo — Fairfield, CA $188,070
San Francisco — Oakland — Hayward, CA $177,800
Salinas, CA $155,310
San Jose — Sunnyvale — Santa Clara, CA $153,240
Napa, CA $152,640
Source: BLS, 2020

Top-Employing Metropolitan Areas for Nurse Anesthetists

Metropolitan Area Average Salary
Miami — Fort Lauderdale — West Palm Beach, FL $193,540
New York — Newark — Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA $218,380
Detroit — Warren — Dearborn, MI $194,710
Chicago — Naperville — Elgin, IL-IN-WI $175,560
Houston — The Woodlands — Sugar Land, TX $185,910
Minneapolis — St. Paul — Bloomington, MN-WI $213,570
Source: BLS, 2020

Salary and Job Growth for Nurses With DNPs

BLS projections indicate that employment for nurses with DNPs and other advanced practice nurses will grow by 45% from 2019-2029, much faster than the overall job growth rate.

Factors driving this figure include the growing need for healthcare workers as the United States population ages, a shortage of physicians, and employers hiring more advanced practice nurses to perform physicians' responsibilities. This demand helps to keep DNP salaries high.

How to Earn a DNP

DNP programs take 6-8 years of education, including four for a BSN, two for an MSN, and another 1-2 for the DNP. Most MSN and DNP programs require at least 1-3 years of clinical nursing experience. Prospective DNP students should also have at least a 3.0 GPA (more competitive programs may set a 3.25 or higher minimum), a current and unencumbered nursing license, and professional references. Administrative-track DNP programs may not look for clinical experience, a BSN, or an MSN, instead requiring a degree and experience in healthcare administration. Clinical DNP programs may require APRN certification and clinical experience.

Decide which type of DNP program is best for you
When choosing a DNP program, consider your preferred specialty and career, the school’s reputation for that specialty, and all associated costs.
Apply to DNP programs
Give yourself plenty of time to review your application and collect recommendations or alert your references. If the school offers it, schedule time with admissions staff.
Secure funding for DNP programs
Most schools offer grants, loans, or both. Some healthcare employers offer conditional financial aid. Professional associations, foundations, and corporations also provide scholarships.
Choose a specialization
Consider your career goals and DNP salary expectations, demand in the regions where you would like to live, and the kind of work that gives you the most satisfaction.
Graduate with a DNP and find a nursing job
Clinical jobs and some administrative jobs require APRN certification. Use your school and personal network to identify job opportunities in the field.

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