In 2022, nurse practitioners (NPs) saw an average salary increase of 6% over the previous year, according to the Medscape 2023 APRN Compensation Report that was released in November 2023. If this weren’t enough evidence that NPs are needed now more than ever, NPs are also the fastest-growing profession in the U.S., according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But demand isn’t everything when it comes to compensation, and many other factors also affect pay. Read on for the highlights of this year’s NP compensation report.
NP income increases across all practice settings
NP compensation has increased across the board, with nurse practitioners reporting an average income of $121,000 in 2022. That said, salaried employees tend to out-earn their hourly counterparts by a small margin, reporting an average income of $127,000.
Where an NP works has an outsize effect on how much they’re able to earn. Like the previous year’s surveys, those who work in hospitals doing inpatient care tend to earn the most. NPs in this practice setting reported an average salary of $139,000 in 2022 — a large increase over 2021’s earnings of $126,000.
NPs who work in hospital-based outpatient clinics earned slightly less in the same year, with an average compensation of $128,000 — up from $123,000 in 2021. Those who work in a non-hospital-based medical office or urgent care clinic tend to earn the least, bringing in an average of $123,000 in 2022. Still, this is higher than reported incomes in 2021 which amounted to $119,000.
NP income by practice setting
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Psychiatric mental health NPs continue to rank highest in compensation
With an ongoing shortage of mental health practitioners, nurse practitioners — empowered with prescribing authority — are stepping in to provide needed psychiatric care to patients. This assistance is also earning NPs who choose to work in psychiatric specialties the highest average salary at $134,000 in 2022.
That said, NPs who work in gerontology, both acute and primary care, have also seen their incomes increase to $132,000 and $129,000 respectively. The continued aging of the baby boomer generation will only serve to increase the need in this area, and NPs should expect to continue receiving above-average compensation in this specialty.
Family practice NPs averaged an income of $124,000, similar to the overall NP average for 2022. With over half (56%) of NPs working in this area, it’s likely their pay will remain close to average in the coming years as well.
NP income by specialty certification
Doctorate degrees no longer guarantee NPs a higher salary
Interestingly, in 2022 there was no difference in earnings between NPs who had acquired a master’s degree or a doctorate. Both types of degree-earners reported an average income of $134,000.
NP income by highest degree
This change — in 2021, those with a doctorate degree earned only about 4% more than master’s degree holders — demonstrates that education is no longer a surefire way to increase earnings in the nurse practitioner profession. Rather, demonstrating exceptional ability and professionalism, as well as years of experience, is likely to garner higher earning power.
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Nurse practitioners working on the West Coast earned the highest salaries
NPs located in the West Coast states of Washington, Oregon, and California, along with Alaska and Hawaii, reported average earnings of $159,000 in 2022. This is an increase from $140,000 in 2021 when they also earned the top spot when it came to regional comparisons.
Those in the Mid-Atlantic region (including New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland) earned the next-highest salary at $143,000 annually. NPs in the East South-Central region, comprising Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, reported earning the lowest salary at $131,000.
NP income by region
Despite earning higher compensation in some regions, it’s important to take the cost of living into account when deciding where to live and work. For example, while Mississippi ranks toward the bottom of this list, it ranks as the seventh highest-paying state for NPs when the cost of living is included.
Only half of nurse practitioners feel fairly compensated
While only 50% of NPs report feeling fairly compensated for their work, this number has increased slightly from 48% in the year prior. Still, the fact that half of NPs don’t feel they’re receiving adequate compensation is worrisome — especially when compared to other nursing specialties, where between 55% and 68% said they feel fairly compensated.
Do NPs feel fairly compensated?
If you’re one of the NPs who is currently unhappy with your current salary, this report can provide ideas for how to increase your income. These may include:
- Switching to a different specialty or earning an advanced practice certification
- Working in an inpatient hospital setting
- Moving to a new area, though be mindful of cost-of-living adjustments
Another option is to look into working locum tenens. Whether you’re interested in traveling more as a full-time locum or taking on extra shifts over the weekend, locum tenens can provide you with a better work/life balance, increased pay, and a more flexible schedule.
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