Salary Comparison: NP vs. PA vs. MD

Have you ever wondered how much less you as a nurse practitioner make than a physician practicing in your same specialty?  What about a physician assistant?  I receive a lot of questions regarding salary differences among different types of medical providers but have never taking a close look at the hard data.  Yesterday I did some number crunching and researched the average salaries of medical providers practicing in different specialties.

Based on national salary averages, here are my findings:

Keep in mind these numbers are based on national averages.  Salaries can vary significantly by region.  In some areas where nurse practitioners are more prevalent that physician assistants, salaries among NP’s may be higher than for PA’s and vice versa.  In other regions, salaries among nurse practitioners and physician assistants may be almost exactly the same.  Even within specialties and professions, salaries vary.  Dermatology clinics, for example, focusing primarily on aesthetics typically pay more to providers of all types than clinics sticking to a more medical model.

Do these salary figures fit your personal observations?

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32 thoughts on “Salary Comparison: NP vs. PA vs. MD”

  1. I’m assuming those numbers are for NP’s & PA’s who work for physicians. NP’s in private practice make quite a bit more than the national average of NP’s who work for someone else.

  2. These numbers are based on overall national averages and can vary significantly.  Yes, NP’s working in a successful provate practice would make more!

  3. Great website and article. As someone who recently changed paths academically, I just want to say your website has offered TONS of useful information. I remember reading somewhere that the pay difference is greater on paper than it is in reality. Supposedly, because they make about double, they pass an income bracket meaning they pay more taxes. Also, their malpractice insurance is suppose to be much more expensive compared to an NP. So, IF what I read was true, the difference in take home pay isn’t as great as it appears. However, feel free to correct me if I am wrong!

    1. In general NP’s aren’t sued as much as MD’s are resulting in lower malpractice rates for NP’s. Many patients when asked after seeing an NP for their primary and even specialty care prefer the NP approach to the MD approach to care. This is most likely a result of education differences. Of course there are many variants such as time, predominantly female vs male providers, and confusion of the role expectations to name a few, that may explain at least partially why patients may prefer one over the other. My opinion as to why one is preferred over the other finds the basis in education and training of the NP and the MS. The individualized patient care nursing model vs the medical model focused on disease management starts at the basics of their educational experiences. The minimal time planned for the exam part of the patient visit and the EMR which most of us feel has turned providers into data entry personnel has grave effects on the one to one interaction time or shall I say lack of face to face interaction in the exam room. The salaries here in California in general show a difference in salary Md’s make 80-100,000 more than NPs or PA’s. There are many dichotomies that need to be explored.

  4. I’m a psych NP in AZ and make more than the physician pay rate listed so I know the numbers are off here and there. Still even if I make a lot less, I have no student loans. That in itself is worth a lot to me.

  5. Similar info was presented in my grad program. Historically, PA = males > females; NP = females > males. Gender gap hangover a possible factor?

  6. I own my own practice in Primary Care and pain management. I do make more than the doctors pay mentioned above. It is a trade off though…I make more but I also have to do a lot of “business” work for the company. Basically, I get paid for the NP job and the extra I make is from running the business. At least, I can call my own shots and I stopped giving others my income where I didn’t repeat any benefit. Go into practice on your own! It is worth it!

    1. Good point and another issue for sure. In general males are paid more than female, males will stand up for themselves re salary issues and other issues whereas females in general no insult meant to us women but we do tend to take salary issues as a given.
      As to opening your own practice California does not allow that believe it or not. We have a nursing board that will not support the legislation it takes to make that happen. Many Ca nursing consultants from our universities have consulted to help state legislators in Washington state, Oregon, Alaska to change the language in their statements but cannot get that to happen in Ca!

  7. This is interesting. I’ve been in Dermatology as a PA for 10 years. In Texas, working 4 days a week, seeing 30 patients a day, both NP’s and PA’s make between $130,000-$150,000. If you do more cosmetic, you make more around $180,000. I’m in Colorado now and see lower salaries across the board, even though cost of living is greater. If the mid-level is working for a doctor, I have not seen a difference in pay between PA’s and NP’s. There are definitely not more male PA’s than female PA’s. In my class of 30, there were 3 guys. I know very few male PAs. At the conferences, I would estimate about 30% max are male. I think the statistics say PAs are around 70% female. I had no idea you made so much in Psych!!!! I think the real benefit of being an NP is you can own your own practice. A real advantage! Thanks for posting this! We have to work to represent ourselves and get paid what we’re worth!

  8. So when we see a patient they bill us at 85% of the physician rate, don’t you love that they pay us 30%-50% of physician pay. Boy are we stupid, no wonder they love us so much.

  9. Here in AZ, NP’s do not require to work under physician. However, why wouldn’t nurses make more than PA’s when they have to work as a RN first and PA’s do not have any medical background. PA’s should be making less than NP’s.

  10. I am an fnp student and all your comments have encouraged me to keep going. I was getting frustrated with securing a clinical place. If anyone is in denver co area please help.

  11. I work as a PA, Behavioral Health with less than 2 years experience and earn as listed MD.
    For the person questioning why same pay to PA as NP….it is true that I was previously an engineer, not medical…however, to get into PA school I had to get the medical hours and experience, I also had to take many “pre-med” classes and PA school was full time. My fellow NP co-workers always comment on my training and they seem surprised on how intense the training is.

    NP and PA, we are both valuable, just a different way we got here 🙂

  12. I work for a healthcare staffing organization with all these specialties and I know these numbers are extremely low for median numbers. I negotiate these rates with clients when going to market for them and they are aware of the benefits to hiring new grads, conversely they are also well aware of the risk associated with direct supervision of someone not quite experienced enough to make major health-related decisions in a very litigious industry.

  13. I am an NP and have a private practice in Washington state, Seattle area. I see patients usually 4 days a week and grossed 387k. last year. I lost half of that to overhead, but still cleared about 191k. I am an adult gero NP and see mostly elderly in asst living facilities and adult family homes. Like being a home health nurse, but I give the orders, not call for them. It is independent practice here. It would appear I make more than many doctors. Ok with me!

  14. Mary Lou your comment was offensive and demonstrates why PAs make more than NPs. Correct, you were a RN first and you always will be meaning you are not educated in the medical school curriculum. We are trained like docs and we think more along the same lines so in my experience, prefer PAs. You think you know so much but you know so little. I had ten yrs experience as a Firefighter paramedic, BS degree in Psych, 30 plus hrs premed sciences w 4.0. I did very well and have made over 130k since 2007 in a Hospitalist setting. In my class, we had RNs, EMTs,RT, PT, docs from India and yes some straight out of college with only 500 pt contact hrs. Yet they all passed and did well. We complete rotations w 3rd yr med students and add 4th yr education on top of that. I know some great NPs but they were all critical care RN so they “get it.” You however, DO NOT

  15. Easy Kirk nurses are under appreciate and not treated with respect they deserve. I would hate to work with you ego !

  16. I think we all have our paths and experience. Each one’s knowledge is unique, and there is always someone who knows more about something as well as someone who knows less. We just need to respect each other, support each other, unite and take care of patients as health care team members. Neither one of us is capable of doing or knowing everything, nor utterly incapable. 🙂

  17. I’m a nurse practitioner in WA state. My base salary is $110k however I earn RVU bonuses of approximately $20,000 per quarter so I’m closer to $190k before taxes.

  18. I am shocked to see Baccalaureate level PA’s making more than Master’s prepared PMHNP’s. I am constantly being asked if I am a PA, and I say, “If I wanted 4 years less education, which is one less certificate and less my Master’s degree, Id be a PA.”

  19. Self employed and working in long term care. Collected 315k in 2017, I have a low over head, put 280k in the bank. Not bad for NP.

  20. I am a physician; I do not make near what is listed in this chart nor do I make near what you people are posting (yes – primary care). I think what you all get paid for the level of training you have is egregious.

  21. Everyone should be respectful of each profession. I am a master’s prepared FNP. I am currently working towards my doctorate. A DNP doesn’t get me more money; I get me more money. I want the doctorate to provide the best care to my patients. It is my understanding that Physician Assistants require a masters degree, not a Baccalaureate. As far as the patients we see, we are all about the same. We are the ones they look to for there healthcare needs. I am proud to be an FNP. Yes I am a nurse first, that is why my patients love me. Nurse practitioners handle patient holistically and not just treat disease processes. This survey is just that. I think salary is dependent on the individual. Each professional decided to follow the path for there own personal reasons, it doesn’t make one better than the other.

  22. Well that is really good money for Psych NP therefore, I made the decision to go back and get mt psych NP certificate. JKS what state are you working as a psych NP.

  23. To the anonymous physician who is so disturbed by the money that midlevels are making, that’s on you my friend. Do not begrudge those who have worked hard to position themselves to earn a good living. The individual making $20k quarterly bonuses based on RVUs, they are obviously working quite hard. Quite honestly, I don’t know a primary care physician who works even moderately hard who doesn’t make the kind of money described here.

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