Nurse Practitioner vs. Physician Assistant: Who Has the Better Salary?

So you want to become a nurse practitioner….. or a physician assistant.  The lines between these two professions are becoming increasingly blurred, however some differences do exist.  How do you choose?  I will begin to discuss the differences between these two professions in a series of blog posts.  Lets start with the $$!

Advance for NP’s and PA’s published an excellent comparison of 2011 NP and PA salaries. The following is a review of their findings.  From 2010 to 2011, both nurse practitioner and physician assistant salaries declined but at significantly varying degrees. Nurse practitioner salaries declined by just $187 while physician assistant salaries were reduced by $2,006.  Career expert Renee Dahring believes this is because PA’s have been traditionally overrepresented in specialty fields.  NP’s are beginning to enter specialty practice in higher numbers.  The influx of nurse practitioners into this job market has resulted in depressed salaries for physician assistants.

Nurse Practitioner vs. Physician Assistant Salary Comparison

In 2011, the average full-time salary for nurse practitioners was $90,583 while the average salary for physician assistants was $94,870.  The average hourly rate for nurse practitioners was $47.63/ hour versus $50.52/ hour for physician assistants.

Practice Setting Salary Comparison

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The most important factor in determining nurse practitioner and physician assistant salaries is practice setting.  Practice setting can account for an over $45,000/ year salary differential.

The takeaway?  Both the nurse practitioner and physician assistant professions provide excellent salaries.  Although physician assistant salaries are currently higher than those of nurse practitioners, physician assistant salaries are decreasing at a faster rate.  I predict the salaries will continue to reflect each other more closely.  Check out Advance for NP’s and PA’s for further salary comparison charts.


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