How Much Does a Nurse Practitioner Make?

Maura Deering, J.D.
Updated October 3, 2023
This guide covers what you need to know about nurse practitioner salaries, including average NP salary and variations based on practice area, education, and geography.
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Highly trained nurse practitioner (NPs) rank among the highest-paid nurses, typically earning salaries exceeding $100,000. With licensure as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), these professionals care for patient populations within their specialty areas.

This guide uses 2020 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), along with select surveys, to break down nurse practitioner salary information by degree level, geography, specialty focus, and workplace. Check out our rankings of the best nurse practitioner programs.

Fast Facts About Nurse Practitioners

  • In 2020, the median salary for full-time nurse practitioner careers reached $110,000.
  • Most full-time NPs see a minimum of three patients per hour.
  • Most NPs have been in practice for an average of 11 years.

Average Salary for Nurse Practitioners

According to a 2020 Clinical Advisor Salary Survey, most responding NPs (73%) hold master of science in nursing (MSN) degrees. Many NPs continue to earn doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degrees, as well.

As the graphic below shows, DNP degree-holders experience a significant jump in their average annual salaries. While the MSN remains the current minimum educational requirement for NPs, the requirement may soon shift to the DNP.


Doctor of Nursing Practice

SOURCE: Clinical Advisor Salary Survey, 2020

COVID-19 Effects on NP Salary and Employment

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected NPs’ work lives. About 20% of APRNs cited in Medscape’s 2020 Compensation Report said they worked fewer hours in 2020 because of COVID-19, and nearly 75% of 2020 Clinical Advisor Salary Survey respondents worked 31-50 hours per week. Before the pandemic, most NPs worked an average of 40 hours per week. According to the Medscape report, 8% of APRNs were furloughed or lost their jobs, while others transitioned to different practice areas.

Just over 40% of NPs reported earning more in 2020, with a similar percentage of respondents expecting their salaries to remain the same next year. Over 50% of NP respondents did not experience reduced salaries, but of the NPs and physician assistants (PAs) who did see a drop in salary, nearly 30% were NPs.

Nurse Practitioner Salaries by Specialization

Nurse practitioner pay also varies by specialization area, as shown in the chart below. Psychiatric NP careers earn the highest average salaries, making nearly $40,000 more than NPs who focus on pediatric nurse practice.

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What Kind of Salary Growth Can NPs Expect?

Nurse practitioner salary rates and growth projections depend on several factors, including certification, education level, clinical focus, and practice setting, along with whether NPs hold administrative or leadership roles.

Experience also greatly affects NP salaries, with average annual incomes increasing almost 35% following the first five years in practice and climbing 9-18.5% afterward. The graphic below shows average nurse practitioner salaries rising with experience levels.

Average Annual Salary of Nurse Practitioners by Experience

Highest-Paying States for Nurse Practitioners

Geography also plays a big role in how much an NP makes. NPs in the Western U.S. earn an average salary of $127,120, followed by those in the Northeast at $114,560 and the South and Midwest at close to $108,370.

Compensation also varies at the state level. The top-paying states follow the regional trends, with two in the West and three in the Northeast.

Top-Paying States for Nurse Practitioners

StateAverage Salary
New Jersey$137,010
New York$133,940
Source: BLS

Highest-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Nurse Practitioners

Aspiring NPs should also consider how salaries vary among metropolitan areas. Northern California boasts the five top-paying metro areas for NPs, with most located in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Employment level statistics also indicate strong job opportunities for NPs. The BLS ranks the top five metro areas for highest employment level as New York — Newark — Jersey City, Boston — Cambridge — Nashua, Los Angeles — Long Beach — Anaheim, Chicago — Naperville — Elgin, and Dallas — Fort Worth — Arlington. Large urban areas offer the most options for NPs.

The top-paying metropolitan areas for nurse practitioners are:

Highest-Paying CitiesAverage Salary
San Jose — Sunnyvale — Santa Clara, CA$197,870
Napa, CA$184,700
Vallejo — Fairfield, CA$180,380
San Francisco — Oakland — Hayward, CA$177,160
Yuba City, CA$159,260
Source: BLS

Highest-Paying Workplaces for Nurse Practitioners

NP salaries also vary by workplace settings, but the most common industries that employ NPs, including physicians’ offices, hospitals, and higher educational institutions, do not necessarily offer the highest salaries. Job-seekers hoping to earn top dollar may want to explore the workplaces listed in the table below.

Workplace SettingAverage Salary
Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping, and Payroll Services$148,980
Business, Professional, Labor, Political, and Similar Organizations$133,800
Home Health Care Services$133,170
Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals$131,830
Outpatient Care Centers$129,190
Source: BLS

How Do Nurse Practitioner Salaries Compare to Other Nurses?

With a mean annual wage of $118,040, NPs earn significantly more money than registered nurses (RNs) and clinical nurse specialists (CNSs). The chart below compares RN, CNS, and APRN salaries, along with pay for nurse administrators, anesthetists, and midwives.

Physician assistants, also listed below, perform similar duties as NPs. These professionals follow a different educational path and credentialing process that requires more practical experience and clinical hours. Certification, education, and specialization areas also affect NP compensation.

4 Ways to Increase Pay as an NP

According to BLS data, NPs can expect a general salary range of $79,470 for the lowest 10% and up to $163,350 for the highest 10%. Within this range, however, several factors influence NP salary levels, such as certifications, education level, years of experience or experience type, and practice setting.

Key ways for NPs to earn higher wages include:

Frequently Asked Questions: NP Salaries

What nurse practitioner specialty is the highest paid?

NPs who specialize in psychiatric nursing earn the highest average salary of $138,450 on average. Psychiatric NPs care for patients with mental health challenges by diagnosing their conditions, managing medication, and referring patients to psychotherapists and other mental health professionals.

Who gets paid more, PAs or NPs?

Physician assistants earn a median annual salary of $121,530 compared to $123,780 for NPs. NPs and PAs fill similar roles in physicians’ offices, hospitals, and clinics. They both must earn graduate degrees and certifications, but each PA needs to log at least 2,000 hours of clinical experience to maintain their certification, compared to the 500-hour NP requirement.

How much is the starting salary for a nurse practitioner?

The starting NP salary averages $104,440 per year, but compensation rates vary with education level, certification, practice specialty area, workplace setting, and geography. NPs in California will likely earn higher starting salaries than their peers in Kentucky, and psychiatric NPs earn more than family nurse practitioners, on average.

How much do NPs make an hour?

NPs earn a mean hourly wage of $56.75. The median wage estimates show a range of $38.21 an hour earned by the lowest 10%, increasing to $ 8.54 for the top 10%. The highest hourly pay goes to NPs in accounting and other payroll services.

Learn More About Nurse Practitioners

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