What do you want to learn today?

How Much Do Nurse Practitioners Make?

Nurse Practitioner Nursing Profession
Reading time icon Reading time 15 minutes

If you are thinking about or working towards becoming a Nurse Practitioner, the thought of an increased salary has probably crossed your mind. Advancing your nursing career not only can have a positive impact on your job satisfaction, but also tends to positively impact your pay. When I was a broke college student, I would obsess about my future and how much money I would be making as an NP. While money should not be the only factor to consider – it is an important one! Besides – Grad school costs a lot of money – it better be worth it on the other end.

When I would constantly try to figure out how much money I would be making as a future NP, I had trouble finding the right answers that I was looking for. Online forums gave inconsistent answers. Some salaries would seem much too low, and others seemed so high it was unrealistic. I needed an open, honest answer – and I honestly feel as though I never really found it.

Now that I am a practicing NP, I hope to be able to give exactly what I was looking for as a future NP – an honest answer! Not only will I tell you how much I make as an NP, I am going to highlight 4 factors which can help you determine how much you can make as a new graduate NP in your specific situation.

I also made a YouTube video about this above – if you’re not into reading articles the video might be more your style!

Four Factors in Determining NP Salary

Many variables will determine your salary in the healthcare field. I attempt to simplify these into four factors that can help you determine a good estimate on just how much you can get paid as an NP.

1. Experience

This one is pretty much a no-brainer. As in all professions, the more experience you bring to the table – the more value your company will perceive. This tends to mean higher pay. You have put in the work, you company recognized your experience and knowledge, and they reward that.

Glassdoor will tell you that the average NP salary with 0-5 years of experience is approximately $105,000 per year. At the same time, NPs with greater than 15 years of experience make approximately $122,000 per year. This is a $17,000 per year difference. While Glassdoor is a great way to estimate salary, it shouldn’t be looked at alone. Medscape released a 2018 NP Compensation Report which actually supported these numbers. Average NP with 1-5 years of experience had a salary of $106,000, whereas those with 11-20 years of experience had an average salary of $123,000.

This can sometimes be a little frustrating when those who have “put in their time” do lower quality work than you – who might be new but who works very hard. Unfortunately, this is life. You too can reap the benefits in 10-20 years down the road. While the above numbers are great averages to go by, these do not factor in anything other than experience. Instead of how long you’ve been working as an NP, what type of work you do will impact your salary even more.

2. Clinical Setting

Where you work as a nurse practitioner – as in which type of clinical setting – will have a major impact on your salary as a Nurse Practitioner. Acute hospital settings – such as the Emergency Department or Inpatient care – have the highest salary of all the clinical settings. These sites tend to have less desirable hours, higher stress levels, and a worse schedule overall. At the same time – they bring in more revenue. Due to this, Nurse Practitioners working within these acute settings tend to have higher pay. According to the same MedScape Compensation report, in 2017 NPs in these settings made an average of $120,000 per year, whereas those in non-hospital affiliated outpatient offices made an average of $108,000. Even lower paid are academic professionals (education or research), who make $105,000. The lowest setting appears to be college health, which makes $95,000. In general, if you are planning on working for outpatient offices you can estimate $10-15,000 less than you would make if working ED/inpatient.

Each clinical setting has its pros and cons. College health may have the lowest paying salary, but they also tend to have great hours, holiday breaks, and tuition assistance perks. Knowing which clinical setting you want to work in will definitely help you estimate how much you can make as an NP. However, another important factor to consider is what area you will be working in.

In some instances, pay may be higher in rural areas who have trouble maintaining staffing – so keep that in mind.

3. Location

Where you work – as in what geographical location – is another major factor to consider in determining your NP salary. According to MedScape, the best areas for the highest NP salary is the Pacific coast, where it averages $130,000. The more central, generally the less pay you can expect. The lowest paying area is East South Central, which includes Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Alabama – averaging $103,000.

Something to keep in mind is that where you work will also determine your cost of living. When I used to work as a Nurse in Western Pennsylvania, my 1-bedroom apartment cost me $435/month. Now I live in Urban New Jersey, 1 hour south of NYC. That same 1-bedroom apartment would cost me TRIPLE what it did in rural PA. Food, drinks, property taxes, and events (such as weddings) can all add up. So while you may be making a higher salary, you may not be earning more effective income.

4. Contract

What type of employee you are will definitely play a part in your overall pay. Full-time employees have standard pay, but they also have many benefits which increase their overall package. They often receive Paid Time Off (PTO) for vacations and holidays, Medical, dental, and vision insurance, malpractice insurance, Continued Medical Education allowance, life insurance, retirement, license reimbursement, etc. These all really add up. As a Part-time employee, you may receive some of these benefits, but your pay will likely not increase.

As a Per-Diem employee, your hourly pay will likely be somewhat more than Full-Time employees. This is because the company is not contributing any benefits to you, but you basically just work occasionally. Locum Tenens, which is basically just a temporary travel NP, has the greatest opportunity to make money. Rates can be $75-150/hr – however the latter being more rare. These usually require you to be willing to travel often, be very confident in your skills, and to be comfortable working alone. Many critical access hospitals will pay big bucks for you to be the solo Provider for a limited amount of time.

How Much Do I Make as an NP?

I hope the above information you found useful and can use to help you determine your future NP salary. To give you some reference, I will share my salary as an NP.

When interviewing for jobs last year, I had offers of about $100,000/year plus benefits for outpatient primary care offices. However, I ended up taking a job as an inpatient hospitalist working nightshift. I work in urban NJ, three 12-hour shifts per week, 7P-7A, and do receive shift differential. I do get paid hourly, but my yearly salary ends up being between $110-120,000/year. This is great pay for a new graduate NP. Keep in mind though that I do live and work in a high-cost area and I work in the acute inpatient setting. These two factors are really the main reasons why my salary is what it is. I am a FT employee and do receive hospital benefits as well.

I hope you found this article useful! I just know that when I was an aspiring NP, reading something like this would have been motivational and would have offered clarity and perspective. Hopefully this can do the same for you!