How Much More Can Nurses Earn as Nurse Practitioners?

If you’re thinking about going back to school to become a nurse practitioner, salary is obviously part of your decision making process. Do the dollars and cents add up when is comes to the time and expense required to enter a new career path? Nurses earn a good living and so before returning to school you’ll want to make sure the numbers crunch favorably. 

Salaries for nurses and nurse practitioners vary greatly depending on location and specialty. Today, we’ll look at salary differences for RNs and NPs based on the general setting in which they practice. Gathering salary specifics by setting is difficult, but can be used as a general barometer of what you can expect. We’ll use data gathered by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to get the most consistent, accurate information possible. 

If you’re a nurse considering a nurse practitioner career, the following table shows just how much more you can expect to earn working as an NP: 

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Overall, if you are currently working as an RN, you can expect to earn between $36,000 and $40,000 more each year in the NP role depending on the setting in which you’re employed. Nurses transitioning to a nurse practitioner role in the outpatient setting stand to make higher salary gains than their counterparts employed by educational institutions with salaries increasing by $39,460 and $37,390 respectively.

So, what does this nurse practitioner salary data mean for you? If you’re a nurse, you will substantially increase your earning potential by furthering your education to become an NP. Yes, taking the steps to make the transition will be costly, but the expenses you incur in school will be quickly outweighed with a higher salary. 

Note: RN and NP salaries vary by specialty and region. It’s important to do further research about the cost of furthering your education as well as how much you can expect to earn as an NP given your own personal circumstances. 

Did you see your salary jump when you became a nurse practitioner?


10 thoughts on “How Much More Can Nurses Earn as Nurse Practitioners?”

  1. Please recall an earlier missive regarding the dearth of NP jobs in urban America. Remaining NP jobs are in rural America. Further, NP salaries are trending down. An additional consideration is the lack of employment opportunities in rural America for your spouse.
    Yes, much more research is required

  2. But also you come out with 60,000 or more in loans and a higher tax bracket. So if you take home 25,000 of the 36,000 yearly you will have to put all of your extra income for the next 4-5 years paying that back.

  3. Not always. I graduated in 2000, starting salary was above a floor nurse but I went back to the ICU because I was able to work 3, twelve hour shifts that were more family friendly. For every 15 min over I earned overtime. Weekend and night differential plus holiday pay added up . I made significantly more as a floor/ICU nurse which for me was important since I had 2 kids in college and 2 ore about to go. Also as a Primary Care Provider I worked unpaid (salaried) hours 5 days a week to finish paper/computer work, follow-up with patients and lab review.

  4. I find it comical how even when the author states that rates can vary by location and specialty, people feel the need to say “No way! You are wrong because . . .” As it says, do your own research and see if it would be a good move for you.

    As for $60,000 plus in loans, I’m 3 months away from graduating with my FNP and will graduate with zero debt. I picked an affordable school, worked my butt off, and lived within my means. Even if you had to take out loans, pay them off in 3-4 years and then enjoy the rest of your time as a nurse practitioner making more money.

    Finally, people don’t understand how the tax bracket system works. You are only taxed at the higher rate of tax on the portion of your income that exceeds the previous tax bracket. For example, if you make $68000 now as a nurse and are taxed at 22% for the portion that is between $38,701 to $82,500 as it is for a single person with the 2018 tax brackets, you would only pay the increased tax rate of 24% on every dollar you made over $82,501. So on average if you made the $105,000 given as the average NP salary, you would only pay an additional $450 dollars in taxes for your new tax bracket compared to if you stayed in the lower tax bracket. Seems silly to worry about $450 dollars more in tax for an additional earning of $37,000 per year (minus the extra $450 in taxes. . .)

    If it is a good idea for you to go to NP school, do it. If not? Then don’t do it and don’t worry about those who decide it is a good idea.

  5. Yes, as others have stated, please do your research. Like others, I currently make more than NPs coming out of school. As a RN(FA) at an urban hospital operating room, I make over $110,000.00 a year. And the added bonus?! No paperwork! Do I have and take call? Yes, but so do most NPs. I have my Adult-Gero primary care NP degree, but haven’t taken and passed my boards because of the pay differential. When I can find that NP job that pays more than I am currently earning, then I shall apply for said position and if hired, enjoy the new job.

  6. The Law of Small Numbers goes something like this: “If it applies to me, it must be true of everything else”.

  7. Agreed, there are many aspects to consider in deciding to become a Nurse Practitioner. At age 50, I made the step because for the remaining 15-20 years of my career I wanted to work independently in a more natural-minded atmosphere. My husband is a Chiropractor and our services complement each other as I specialize in IV vitamin therapy, nutrition, and detoxing. I will prescribe medications and antibiotics if patients prefer the conventional route. My patients seem refreshed to finally hear what lies at the root of their health problems. I’m not making bank, yet, but I am very passionate about what I offer and enjoy going to my office every day, or to house calls if needed. I have a cash only practice. I do not make as much as I did working as an RN in my private practice (1 year) although I I started in a clinic for $35K more as a new NP. My goal is to make $150-250K/year and I believe I will reach that goal within 3-5 years. Good luck in whatever you decide!

  8. I’ve been a NP for about 20 yrs. now. I worked ICU at the hospital for many yrs. while going to school. Graduated w/o loans as I paid as I went, applied for grants and did almost whatever it took to get my degrees ( 5 including a PhD). I started out not making much more than an ICU nurse as a weekend warrior and make good money at the time. But over the years now own my practice (free and clear) with about 7,000 patients. Have 13 employees including a physician along with an NP who I make sure gets paid well (well above average and with benefits including profit sharing). I make considerably more than average income (several times over) and believe that you have to determine what you want and what you are willing to sacrifice to get it. As long as you’re working for someone else you are not getting paid what you are worth. As has been already stated research your goals, your expectations and your path to success.

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