Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Salary

NurseJournal Staff
Updated October 3, 2023
Whether you're looking to improve your acute care nurse practitioner salary or want to know salary ranges, this guide helps you realize your financial goals.
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If you make excellent decisions under pressure and are an effective and inspiring team member, acute care nursing might be a great nurse practitioner (NP) specialty for you. Acute care nurse practitioners earn some of the highest NP salaries.

Read on for more about expected salaries for acute care NPs.

Average Salary for Acute Care Nurse Practitioners

Acute care nursing can be a stressful line of work, and the salaries reflect this. The median annual acute care NP salary is $120,000, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), compared to the median $110,000 for all NPs.

Only psychiatric-mental health and neonatal nurse practitioners earn more. Among all ARPNs, only nurse anesthetists earn more at $183,580, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Median Annual Salary

Source: AANP, 2019

Salary Range (25-75 percentile)

Source: AANP, 2019

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Highest Paying Cities and States for Acute Care Nurse Practitioners

While the BLS aggregates all nurse practitioners in its salary reports, overall NP salaries strongly indicate where acute care NP salaries are likely to be highest. Be aware that the cost of living is higher than average in these areas, so factor that into your considerations and salary negotiations.

States With the Highest NP Salaries
StateAnnual Average Salary/th>
New Jersey$137,010
New York$133,940

The highest-paying cities for nurse practitioners are all in California.

Highest-Paying Cities in California
CityAnnual Average Salary/th>
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara$197,870
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward$177,160
Yuba City$159,260

How Do Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Salaries Compare to Specialties?

Acute care NP salaries are higher than most other NP specialties, largely because of the high stress levels in acute care. This makes it one of the highest paying nursing jobs overall, with only psychiatric-mental health, neonatal NPs, and nurse anesthetists earning more.

According to the AANP, with a salary of $112,000, nurse practitioners in acute pediatric care earn more than those in pediatric care.

4 Ways to Increase Pay As an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

There are several options for increasing your acute care NP salary, including additional education, adding new responsibilities, or changing your practice environment. You can also negotiate a raise by demonstrating your effectiveness in the workplace.

Working in an underserved area can make you eligible for loan forgiveness if you are looking to manage student loan payments. While not technically a pay increase, it means you can keep more of what you earn.

  1. 1

    Travel Nursing

    Travel nurses go where the demand is highest, which results in greater pay. Placements can last for a week or two, or for several months. However, this can be more stressful because you have new colleagues and procedures to learn. Depending on how far you travel, it might also mean being physically separated from loved ones.

    As a travel nurse, you may not be eligible for benefits. Still, if you want higher wages and a chance to see the country, travel nursing is an excellent option.

  2. 2

    Nurse Administration

    To increase your acute care nurse practitioner salary, you can take on administrative and supervisory roles in either a full- or part-time administrative position. The American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) and American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) both offer nurse executive certification programs. (These are designed for registered nurses, not just NPs.)

  3. 3

    Earning a DNP

    A doctor of nursing practice (DNP) is the terminal degree in practical nursing. It can lead to a higher salary as a nurse leader or prepare you to teach nursing. A DNP can take several years to complete, requiring a major investment of time and money. Many DNP graduates find that having a doctorate gives them more authority, especially in a hospital setting.

  4. 4

    Work Settings

    According to the BLS, NPs working in hospitals earn a median $124,660, followed by outpatient care centers at $122,840, and physician offices at $114,570. These figures include all NP salaries, not just acute care NP salaries.

    You may be able to stay in your community and keep the same role and responsibilities, but still earn a higher salary by changing work settings.

Frequently Asked Questions About Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Salaries

question-mark-circleAre acute care nurse practitioners in demand?

All NPs are in high demand. The BLS projects that NP jobs could grow 52% between 2020 and 2030, with 114,900 new NP job openings. This growth could likely drive acute care NP salaries even higher.

question-mark-circleIs now a good time to become an acute care nurse practitioner?

Because the most common conditions that acute care NPs treat are hypertension, heart failure, and diabetes, acute care NPs are going to stay in demand, as these conditions are growing within the population.

question-mark-circleWhat degree is required to become an acute care nurse practitioner?

You must have at least an MSN degree to become an acute care NP. If you don’t have a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), you can still earn an MSN through an RN-to-MSN program.) You can either specialize in acute care during your MSN program or earn a post-graduate certification in acute care.

question-mark-circleWhat are the most valuable skills for acute care nurse practitioners?

Acute care NPs must be able to act quickly and decisively under stress, collaborate with other healthcare team members, and communicate effectively with patients. Respondents on Payscale report that critical care, intensive care unit (ICU), oncology, cardiology, surgery, and pulmonology skills are associated with higher acute care NP salaries.

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