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As one of the fastest-growing occupations in the country, family nurse practitioners (FNPs) are in high demand. Being the most popular nurse practitioner specialization with an excellent average salary when compared to their registered nurse counterparts, becoming an FNP can be quite rewarding.
Throughout this guide is an overview of an FNP's salary compared to other nurse practitioner specialties and tips that can help them improve their annual wage.
Median Salary for Family Nurse Practitioners
The salary for an FNP depends on many factors, with the main one being geographic location. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), nurse practitioners who work in California earn the highest average salary ($145,970), while those in Tennessee earn the lowest ($99,370).
The practice setting also influences pay, with nurse practitioners employed by outpatient care centers and general and surgical hospitals earning the highest salaries.
Highest Paying States for Family Nurse Practitioners
While salary and demand for FNPs varies by location, the highest-paying states are mainly along the East and West Coasts. While the BLS does not provide detailed salary information for FNPs specifically, they provide information for NPs overall. Those who practice in California earn the highest average salary, with New Jersey ($130,890), Washington ($126,480), New York ($126,440), and Massachusetts ($126,050) rounding out the top five.
Despite the higher salaries, Massachusetts, New York, and California rank 47th – 49th when it comes to the cost of living, with New Jersey at 42nd and Washington at 39th. Therefore, despite the above-average salaries, the high cost of living may encourage nurses to look elsewhere for work.
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How Do Family Nurse Practitioner Salaries Compare to Other NP Specializations?
Compared to other NP specialties, FNP compensation is on the lower end. The median salary for the most common specialties is around $115,000, with FNPs' salaries around $107,000. One of the highest-paid NP specializations is acute care which earns a median of $120,000.
3 Ways to Increase Pay as a Family Nurse Practitioner
There are many ways for FNPs to increase their salary depending on their professional goals. The highest pay increases are mainly connected to their setting, responsibilities, and education.
1. Change Practice Setting
Where FNPs practice can have a significant impact on their salary. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) reports that those who choose to work within Veterans Affairs earn the highest salary, with $124,000 as their median wage. While those working in home behavioral health/addiction ($120,000), home healthcare ($119,000), and hospital intake ($115,500) follow close behind.
For those looking to increase their FNP salary, a different practice setting can improve their wages.
2. Pursue Administrative Roles
There are many nonclinical roles FNPs can fulfill, specifically in a nurse administrative capacity where they typically manage staff, complete performance reviews, and develop training and personnel procedures. Before working in an administrative role, FNPs must have leadership experience, understand legal regulations and healthcare procedures, and become knowledgeable of basic budgeting and financial reporting.
Most nurse administrators are employed in a hospital setting, yet they do not work directly with patients. They can also manage multiple hospitals within a system or work for larger medical facilities.
With demand for nurses continuing to grow, the job outlook for nurse administrators remains positive. Working as an administrator has the benefit of an increased salary compared to some NP roles while also providing a more predictable schedule, as most work weekdays from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
3. Earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree
Going back to school to earn a DNP provides FNPs with an additional route to increase their salary. DNP programs can take anywhere from 3-6 years to complete depending on the status of the student (full time vs. part time). Nurses with a DNP earn a median salary of $113,000 annually, while those with a master's earn $108,000.
Nurses with a doctoral degree also benefit from more career advancement opportunities, which is another way to increase their salary.
Frequently Asked Questions About Family Nurse Practitioner Salaries
Is being a family nurse practitioner worth it?
FNPs enjoy a level of autonomy other nurses do not. They also benefit from one of the highest projected increases in employment, which the BLS ranks as 4th among all other occupations (both medical and nonmedical). When considering the independence, demand, and six-figure average salary, becoming an FNP can be personally and professionally advantageous.
What nurse practitioner specialty is the highest paid?
The highest-paid NP specialty is a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP). According to AANP, the median annual base salary for PMHNPs is $125,000, which is almost $18,000 more than an FNP salary.
What are the most common types of nurse practitioners?
According to the AANP, FNPs account for over 65% of the NP workforce. The only other specialty that reaches double digits is adult NP at 12.6%. Gerontology primary care (7.8%), acute care (5.5%), and pediatric primary care (3.7%) round out the top five.
Are family nurse practitioners in demand?
The demand for all nurse practitioner specialties is especially high. The BLS projects that the employment of NPs will grow 45% between 2020 and 2030. This projected employment growth is significantly higher than the 8% average growth rate for all occupations.
Overall, due to the aging population and the need to fill positions due to retirement, there will be on average 29,400 openings each year over the next decade.
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