Highest Paid Nurse Practitioners – How Much Do NPs Make?
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Nurse practitioners (NPs) may be one of the best-paid jobs for masters–prepared registered nurses (RNs). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that nurse practitioners are the fastest-growing occupation, with a current projected growth rate of 46 percent and a median annual salary of $120,680 annually. With a master’s degree, doctoral degree, or post-master’s certificate, these APRNs can earn annual salaries that are more than double the national average for all occupations ($58,260). In fact, the BLS (May 2021) reported that NPs make an average annual salary of $118,040.
Beyond being the fastest-growing, becoming a nurse practitioner is an excellent science-based, patient-facing career option. The U.S. News & World Report (2023) ranks nurse practitioners #1 on its list of “Best Healthcare Jobs” and #2 on its list of “Best STEM Jobs”. Interestingly, the U.S. News & World Report’s median annual salary for nurse practitioners is $111,680, similar to the two sources referenced in this guide: the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and Salary.com.
It’s important to note that the BLS has two datasets to represent similar occupations. The first includes an expanded trio of occupational titles:
- Nurse practitioners
- Nurse anesthetists
- Nurse midwives
The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) represents all three nurse practitioner careers. By comparison, data from the Occupational Employment and Wages (OEWS) is nurse practitioner-specific information from May 2021—the latest data available as of January 2023. Both sources will be referenced in this guide to provide the fullest perspectives of the highest NP salary data.
This NP salary guide compares data from two reputable sources:
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2021)
- Salary.com (2023)
The BLS updates its Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) annually, based on mail-in surveys for more than 800 occupations and over 400 industries. BLS data is collected by a government organization, and its figures reflect employment data which are calculated as economic growth indicators. By comparison, Salary.com sources its information from human resources offices in healthcare and includes a geographic differential to factor in differences in pay based on location.
Read on to learn more about the earning potential of becoming a nurse practitioner, including salary percentiles, top-paying locations and industries, and the best-paying nurse practitioner careers.
Salary Percentiles for Nurse Practitioners
The BLS calculates the average yearly compensation by multiplying the mean hourly wage by 2,080 hours (the number of full-time working hours in a year). For occupations where there is no hourly wage published, the annual compensation has been directly calculated from the collected survey data.
Below is a table comparing and contrasting national annual salary percentiles for nurse practitioners from data reported from public (BLS May 2021) and private (Salary.com 2023) sources.
The highest-paid nurse practitioners are above the median in the 75th and 90th percentiles, while the lowest-paid nurse practitioners fall into the 10th or 25th percentiles.
|US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)||Salary.com|
|50th percentile (median)||$120,680||$116,558|
|Source||BLS (May 2021)||Salary.com (Jan. 2023)|
A nurse practitioner’s salary percentile is influenced by various factors. Experience and education are the two biggest considerations. For example, a new nurse practitioner may get paid around the 10th or 25th percentile, whereas those with more experience or credentials could reach the 75th or 90th percentile.
Furthermore, location largely determines where a salary falls within the wage spectrum bracket. The choice of employer industry impacts earning potential, as does the geographic location of residence and employment.
Read on for location-based salary data for nurse practitioners.
Top-Paying Cities for Nurse Practitioners
Behind education and experience levels, location is one of the key influential factors which affects how much a nurse practitioner can expect to earn.
Here are the top-paying cities for nurse practitioners (BLS May 2021):
|Metropolitan Area||Hourly Mean Wage||Annual Mean Salary|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||$ 95.13||$ 197,870|
|Napa, CA||$ 88.80||$ 184,700|
|Vallejo-Fairfield, CA||$ 86.72||$ 180,380|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA||$ 85.18||$ 177,160|
|Yuba City, CA||$ 76.57||$ 159,260|
|San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA||$ 73.70||$ 153,300|
|Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, CA||$ 73.58||$ 153,050|
|Santa Rosa, CA||$ 73.15||$ 152,150|
|Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA||$ 72.25||$ 150,280|
|Fresno, CA||$ 71.04||$ 147,760|
Top-Paying States for Nurse Practitioners
The BLS keeps statistics on salary data and ranks the following as the top-paying states for nurse practitioners (BLS, May 2021):
- California: $151,830 per year
- New Jersey: $137,010
- New York: $133,940
- Washington: $130,840
- Massachusetts: $129,540
A critical factor when considering salary offers is how much the cost of goods and services are in a particular area. To help shed light on this financial reality, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC) shows that these areas cost more to live in than most places in the United States. For example, Massachusetts is the third most costly state to live in, followed by California and New York, which ranked fourth and fifth most expensive states.
By comparison, here are the top five most expensive states to live in according to the MERIC cost of living index score from September 2022. For reference, the median cost of living index score is 100; anything below 100 is considered below average, while anything above 100 is considered higher than average.
|State||MERIC Cost of Living Index Score|
|Hawaii||189.9 out of 100|
|District of Columbia||154.5|
This data is provided with the intent to illustrate a real-world correlation for job seekers when they are considering where to work, weighing salary offers against the cost of housing, utilities, groceries, healthcare, transportation, and so forth.
Top-Employing Industries for Nurse Practitioners
Nurse practitioners work in several work environments with general or specific patient populations. The overwhelming majority of NPs work in physician offices or hospitals.
Here are the top-employing industries for nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and nurse midwives (BLS 2022):
- Office of physicians: 47 percent
- Hospitals; state, local, and private: 25 percent
- Outpatient care centers: 9 percent
- Offices of other health practitioners: 5 percent
- Educational services; state, local, and private : 3 percent
Top Paying Industries for Nurse Practitioners
Depending on clinical specialty and other factors, nurse practitioners trained in specific areas of healthcare can command higher pay compared to others. Here are the top five paying industries for nurse practitioners (BLS, May 2021).
|Industry||Hourly Mean Wage||Annual Mean Salary|
|Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping, and Payroll Services||$ 71.62||$ 148,980|
|Business, Professional, Labor, Political, and Similar Organizations||$ 64.33||$ 133,800|
|Home Health Care Services||$ 64.03||$ 133,170|
|Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals||$ 63.38||$ 131,830|
|Outpatient Care Centers||$ 62.11||$129,190|
Best-Paying Nurse Practitioner Careers
More money means increased responsibility. Fortune Education shows that registered nurses with a master of science in nursing (MSN), doctorate of nursing practice (DNP), or post-master’s certificate are well-qualified and positioned for clinical specialties and nurse administration roles that require knowing how to serve specific patient populations best and how to lead nursing teams while paying greater-than-average salaries.
Here are the best-paying nurse practitioner career options for RNs with a master’s degree or higher, according to Salary.com (2023).
Cardiac Nurse Practitioner
Cardiac nurse practitioners (CNPs) are nurses with advanced training in caring for patients with cardiac conditions such as heart disease and blood disorders. They work closely with cardiologists and other cardiac healthcare providers to provide comprehensive care for patients. Cardiac NPs use various diagnostic and treatment tools to help their patients improve their cardiac health. They also educate their patients and their families about cardiac health and help them manage chronic cardiac conditions.
According to Salary.com (2023), cardiac nurse practitioners earn $120,449 per year, while top percentiles earn $128,511 annually.
Emergency Room (ER) Nurse Practitioner
Emergency room nurse practitioners or ERNPs work in emergency rooms alongside physicians to provide ER care for patients. Patients visiting the ER are typically under physical, mental, and financial duress, and emergency room NPs must be able to assess a patient’s condition in these stressful environments and make decisions about their healthcare. ER nurse practitioners must be able to communicate effectively with other members of the healthcare team, as well as with patients and their families.
According to Salary.com (2023), ER nurse practitioners earn $125,288 on average, with a top percentile of $139,337 per year.
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
Neonatal NPs are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who provide care for newborn infants up to 28 days old. They work in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), caring for sick and premature babies. Neonatal NPs also work with families, providing education and support. In some states, neonatal NPs may prescribe medications.
Like all nurse practitioners, neonatal NPs must be registered nurses (RNs) and complete a graduate-level program with a specialization in neonatal nursing. Some employers may require neonatal NPs to pass a national neonatal certification exam before they can practice.
Data from Salary.com shows neonatal NPs earn $131,393 on average, with a top percentile of $142,061.
Oncology Nurse Practitioner
Oncology nurse practitioners are nurse practitioners specializing in cancer patient care. Oncology NPs provide primary and specialty care to cancer patients, including treating symptoms and side effects related to cancer and its treatment. Oncology NPs work with patients to prevent, detect, and manage cancer. Common employers include outpatient clinics, hospitals, and cancer centers. Educational requirements for oncology NPs include a master’s degree in nursing; some employers may require oncology certification.
According to Salary.com, oncology NPs earn average annual salaries of $119,114 per year, with the top percentiles earning $123,492.
Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner
Orthopedic nurse practitioners (NPs) are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who specialize in diagnosing and treating patients with musculoskeletal disorders. Feet and hands are some of the most common treatment areas sought out by orthopedic patients.
Orthopedic NPs work closely with orthopedic surgeons to provide comprehensive care for patients of all ages, from infants to the elderly. A common credential for this profession is the Orthopedic Nursing Certification (ONC), a nationally recognized certification. Orthopedic NPs must have a minimum of a master’s degree in nursing from an accredited program.
Data from Salary.com shows that orthopedic nurse practitioners earn $119,168 per year, and the top earners take home close to $126,711 per year.
Rachel Drummond is a freelance writer, educator, and yogini from Oregon. She’s taught English to international university students in the United States and Japan for more than a decade and has a master’s degree in education from the University of Oregon. A dedicated Ashtanga yoga practitioner, Rachel is interested in exploring the nuanced philosophical aspects of contemplative physical practices and how they apply in daily life. She writes about this topic among others on her blog (Instagram: @racheldrummondyoga).