Nurse practitioners are an integral part of the healthcare system. They are autonomous practitioners who are able to diagnose, prescribe medications, and order diagnostic tests. If you are thinking about pursuing a career as a nurse practitioner one of the burning questions you might have is what kind of salary can you expect?
National Nurse Practitioner Salary Estimates
The nurse practitioner salary varies from state to state and even region to region. Taking all these numbers into account, the mean nurse practitioner salary for 2016 in the USA according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics was $104, 610 with an hourly wage of $50.30.
The nurse practitioner salary varies between industries. The highest paid industries are in hospitals with a mean salary of $109,030. Physician’s offices come in a close second at $103,030, and Colleges are the third highest at $96,750. Salaries also increase with further specialization. While nurse practitioners working at specialty hospitals have a mean salary of $117,120, the highest paid nurse practitioners of all are those working in personal care services with a mean salary of $136,280.
Nurse Practitioner Salary by State
The nurse practitioner salary varies significantly from state to state. If you are not bound to a specific area of the country, it may pay to move to a location that has a higher salary. Many of these areas, however, also come with a higher cost of living so keep that in mind when looking at overall salaries.
The highest paying state is California with a mean annual salary of $124,330, and Alaska is a close second with a mean salary of $121,250. These states also have some of the highest costs of living in America. Rounding out the top 5 are Massachusetts, Hawaii, and New Jersey with mean annual salaries of $117,860, $117,180, and $115,230 respectively.
But what are the lowest paying states? The state with the lowest mean annual nurse practitioner salary is Oklahoma with a salary of $85,920 followed by Arkansas at $89,440. Montana, Alabama, and West Virginia are the final three of the lowest paying states with salaries all within the $92,000 mark. Again, these states carry quite a low cost of living, so the difference in salaries may balance out.
Metropolitan Areas vs. Rural Areas
Are you a city dweller at heart or do you love country roads? The nurse practitioner salary also varies between metropolitan areas and rural areas as the cost of living is often vastly different.
If you are a city slicker to the core, you are in luck as the nurse practitioner salary is significantly higher in metropolitan areas compared to rural areas. Interestingly enough, the metropolitan area with the highest mean annual salary (and also the highest overall salary) is Altoona, PA with a whopping salary of $180,520. With a low cost of living, this sounds like the ideal place to work! The bad news, however, is that they only employ 50 nurse practitioners, so job prospects may be slim.
The second highest nurse practitioner salary is in San Francisco with a mean salary of $158,050. Since San Francisco is the city with the second highest cost of living in the US, this salary would be balanced out by the incredibly high cost of rent.
The third is the district of Peabody, Salem, and Beverly, MA with a mean salary of $155,320. This area is also quite an expensive place to live with an associated high cost of living.
Not everyone enjoys the city lights, and rural areas still provide excellent salaries, but nurse practitioner salaries in rural areas are significantly lower than in metropolitan regions. The highest rural salaries are in Texas with a mean annual salary of $161,840. The next highest is Northern New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Alaska with mean yearly salaries of $137,430, $136,430, and $134,370 respectively. All these areas are associated with a lower cost of living and offer a slower pace of living that may be a better fit.
Nurse practitioner salaries vary by location and by industry, but by and large, it is a very well-paid career with many opportunities. If this is a career that catches your eye, you can rest assured that the salary you can earn after graduation will be excellent, making the transition to a nurse practitioner a logical and financially viable one.
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