10 Highest Paying Nurse Practitioner Specialties of 2013

While location, the job market and years of experience certainly affect how much nurse practitioners are paid, the most important factor affecting NP salaries is specialty.  Choosing a career in neonatology over women’s health, for example, could net you an additional $20,000 per year.  Which nurse practitioner specialties are the most lucrative?

1. Emergency Department Nurse Practitioner ($106,591)

Emergency department NP’s work in the fast-paced setting of the ER treating patients of all ages and levels of acuity.  An ER job typically requires working overnight, evening, weekend and holiday shifts,  a trade-off for being the highest earners of the NP profession.

2. Neonatal Nurse Practitioner ($105,220)

Neonatal NP’s care for full-term and pre-term infants and newborns who are critically ill.  The neonatal setting requires that NP’s be able to work in high stress situations managing both the patient and family.  Most neonatal nurse practitioner programs require RN experience before applying.

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3. Psychiatric/ Mental Health Nurse Practitioner ($101,444)

Psychiatric/ Mental Health nurse practitioners provide acute and chronic care to individuals and families affected by mental illness.  NP’s in this field manage medications, provide case management services and and offer crisis intervention.  Psych NP’s salaries are on the rise evidenced by a jump from the number seven spot on last year’s highest paid list to a lofty number three in 2013.

4. House Call Nurse Practitioner ($99,149)

House call NP’s are in increasingly high demand.  New Medicare legislation has spurred healthcare companies to hire nurse practitioners in large numbers to care for patients recently released from the hospital.  Nurse practitioners make sure these patients are compliant with their treatment regimens and address concerns or complications that may develop to prevent patients from being re-admitted to the hospital.

5. Gerontology Nurse Practitioner ($98,932)

Gerontology nurse practitioners assess, manage and treat both acute and chronic conditions in the older adult.  Most NP’s in this field are employed by nursing homes and assisted living facilities to provide care for their residents.

6. Hospital-Based Nurse Practitioner ($98,152)

Hospitals of all sizes hire NP’s to manage admitted patients.  Nurse practitioners in the hospital setting diagnose and manage illness as well as create treatment plans for patients throughout their hospital stay.

7. Surgical Nurse Practitioner ($96,923)

Surgical nurse practitioners assist physicians in surgical procedures as well as manage patients post-op.  They round on surgical patients throughout their hospital stay addressing any complications and monitoring healing.

8. Dermatology Nurse Practitioner ($96,440)

Dermatology nurse practitioners work in out-patient dermatology clinics treating skin conditions.  While the average salary for derm NP’s is just under the six-figure mark, there’s a lot of room to increase one’s salary in this field.  Clinics offering aesthetic procedures such as Botox typically pay NP’s much more than the average mark.

9. Oncology Nurse Practitioner ($92,977)

Oncology nurse practitioners are responsible for managing the treatment of cancer, usually in collaboration with a physician.  They monitor side effects of cancer treatment as well as address survivorship and wellness issues.

10. Retail Health Nurse Practitioner ($91,353)

Retail clinics are booming and therefore so are career opportunities for NP’s employed in retail health.  Retail health nurse practitioners treat minor illnesses and injuries.  Many retail health clinics have recently implemented chronic health management programs as well.  NP’s employed in retail health must be able to work independently as they usually practice solo at clinic sites.

While average salaries can give you an idea of how much nurse practitioners practicing in different specialties can expect to make, it’s important to remember they are just that, averages.  Nurse practitioner salaries can vary greatly based on practice location and the specific employer.


Note: This data is based on survey results originally published by Advance for NP’s and PA’s

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3 thoughts on “10 Highest Paying Nurse Practitioner Specialties of 2013”

  1. I have 3 interests: home care NP, Surgical NP or Oncology. All sound like something I would like. Nos for a mentor??? Any suggestions. I live in Salem, IL.

  2. To specialize in a certain area for NP do you do that after the program or you can specialize while you are in the program. I am thinking about doing an accelerated RN to NP program as I majored in psychology, but my main interest is being a psychiatric NP. Any thoughts?

  3. Hi Marisa, 

    You choose a nurse practitioner specialty when you enter school, for example psychiatric NP or family NP. Some nurse practitioners specialize further, usually with on-the-job training after they graduate. 

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