mini logo

What is the Average Salary for a Psychiatric Nurse

mini logo
Advertisement NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

Whether you're looking to get your pre-licensure degree or taking the next step in your career, the education you need could be more affordable than you think. Find the right nursing program for you.

As the demand for healthcare expands, nurse practitioners (NPs), who perform many of the same services as physicians, have assumed an important place in the nursing field. While only 1.8% of NPs specialize in psychiatric mental health, these NPs find many lucrative employment opportunities working with diverse populations in an array of healthcare settings. The psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) has become an essential team member in hospitals and outpatient clinics, community health centers, correctional facilities, veterans’ agencies, home healthcare, and schools, while many pursue careers in private practice.

PMHNPs’ responsibilities include assessing, treating, and diagnosing mental health and substance issues. They provide acute and chronic psychiatric care, evaluate treatment efficacy, and prescribe medications.

According to a 2019 compensation survey by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, psychiatric nurse practitioners, as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), rank among the highest paid nursing professionals. They earn a median annual income of $131,500, including base salary, bonus and incentive payments, and other compensation.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How much does a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) make?

    Salaries depend on many factors, including credentials, work setting, and experience. PayScale data reports that the average annual salary for PMHNP is about $108,500. You can find more information about psychiatric nurse practitioners’ salaries with this resource.

  • What is the highest paid nurse practitioner?

    An AANP survey reports that acute care NPs working in ED settings and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners report an annual median base salary of $116,500. Full-time NPs in this certification make a base median salary of $125,00 which increases to $135,000 with bonuses and incentive payments.

  • Are PMHNPs in demand?

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates a phenomenal 45% job growth rate for all APRNs from 2019-2029, including a projected annual increase of 24,200 NP positions in this period. Although demand varies greatly by geographic location, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services projects an 18% growth rate for psychiatric nurse practitioners through 2030.

  • How much do PMHNPs make an hour?

    The majority of respondents to the AANP compensation survey held salaried positions, while more than half of the NPs who worked part time earned hourly wages. In comparison to the $58 hourly rate for all NP specialties, the median hourly wages for all psychiatric, mental health nurse practitioner certifications range from $64.50-$68.00.


Top Paying Industries for Nurse Practitioners

While data for PMHNP salaries by industry are unavailable, the BLS supplies aggregate data on the overall top paying industries in the U.S. for NPs, which includes PMHNPs. NPs employed in community food and housing, and emergency and other relief services sectors earn the most, offering an annual mean salary of $139,140.

The other highest paying industries for all NPs include religious organizations; residential intellectual and developmental, disability, and mental health facilities; grantmaking and grant services; and outpatient care centers. The average annual salaries in this group range from $119,920 for outpatient facilities to $128,970 for religious-sponsored organizations.

Top Paying States for Nurse Practitioners

NP salaries across the fifty states reflect demand and cost of living. California offers NPs a mean annual salary of $138,660, ranking first among the five highest paying states for these professionals. The second top paying state, Washington, offers NPs a mean salary of $128.920, followed by Hawaii, where NPs enjoy a yearly mean income of $124,000. New Jersey, with an average annual NP income of $123,800, ranks fourth among the top paying states. Minnesota ranks fifth for NP salaries, at $122,850.

The states with the highest levels of NP employment also boast the largest populations. The top five state employers consist of New York, California, Texas, Florida, and Ohio, with mean salaries ranging from just over $100,000 to $138,000 annually. The northeastern states surrounding New York also boast high employment levels, with Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Jersey offering yearly average salaries from $115,000-$123,000.

Top Paying Metropolitan Areas for Nurse Practitioners

The nation’s highest populated urban regions feature the most robust job markets and the highest NP salaries. Three regions in the northeast U.S. rank among the five metropolitan areas with the highest NP employment levels.

The urban center comprising New York, Newark, and Jersey City that includes parts of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania provides the highest level of employment, offering NPs a mean annual salary of $128,720. The Boston-Cambridge-Nashua region in Massachusetts and New Hampshire pays NPs $123,690 yearly. NPs working in the metropolitan region that connects Philadelphia, Camden, and Wilmington in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland can expect a variety of employment opportunities and a very competitive yearly income of $170,250.

The top paying NP salaries in urban centers range from $143,00 to just over $175,000 annually. California boasts five of the top 10 paying metropolitan areas for NPs, reflecting the demand for these professionals and the relatively high cost of living.

Salary and Job Growth for Nurse Practitioners

BLS projections indicate a promising employment outlook for all APRNs over the next decade. NPs in particular can anticipate an unprecedented 52% job growth rate through 2029. NPs’ expanding role reflects the nation’s increasing demand for healthcare services, especially as an aging population deals with chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. An emphasis on preventive care throughout the lifespan also drives demand.

Within this changing healthcare environment, PMHNPs can find lucrative careers in a variety of settings. Besides traditional placements in hospitals, primary care, and mental health clinics, these NPs find rewarding positions in residential psychiatric centers, school counseling services, correctional facilities, and private practice.

According to the AANP compensation survey, PMHNPs currently represent a small percentage of certification areas, but the demand for their services makes them among the highest paid of all NPs.

How to Become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

All APRNs must have a valid RN license, hold a graduate or doctorate degree from an accredited program, pass a national certification exam in their specialty, and qualify for a state APRN license. According to the AANP compensation survey, around 81% of NPs hold a master of science in nursing degree (MSN), compared to 13% who completed doctor of nursing programs (DNP).

DNP-holders earn an annual base salary of $113,000, compared to $108,000 for those with MSN degrees. The highest degree available in the nursing profession, the DNP leads to broader career opportunities in administration, education, and clinical practice.

Most APRN graduate programs prefer to admit candidates who already hold a bachelor of science in nursing, although RN-to-MSN programs exist for RNs with associate degrees or nursing diplomas. While some direct entry programs admit students with non-nursing undergraduate degrees, most require some nursing work experience.

Prospective PMHNPs should make sure that they enroll in an MSN or DNP program that offers psychiatric mental health concentration areas. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) administers the required national certification exams for the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (Across the Lifespan) certification. Each state establishes its own additional licensure requirements for APRNs.

Reviewed by:

Karen Luu, MSN, PMHNP-BC

Karen Luu, MSN, PMHNP-BC
Karen Luu is a board-certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. Luu holds a master of science degree in nursing from Azusa Pacific University as well as an undergraduate degree in public health science. She has seven years of nursing experience, which includes working at the Level II Trauma Center, community hospitals, mental health urgent care, and private practice. Luu is currently working at a private practice which specializes in bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and PTSD. She emphasizes the importance of incorporating the recovery-based model in her everyday practice.

Advertisement NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

Whether you’re looking to get your pre-licensure degree or taking the next step in your career, the education you need could be more affordable than you think. Find the right nursing program for you.