Top 10 Highest Paying Nurse Practitioner Specialties

Despite having the title “nurse practitioner” in common, NP’s in different specialties have very different incomes.  Who makes the most money?

1. Emergency Department Nurse Practitioner ($103, 722)  Emergency department nurse practitioners work in the fast-paced setting of the ER treating patients of all ages.  These NP’s deal with varying levels of acuity and therefore often require experience before landing a job in this specialty.

2. Neonatal Nurse Practitioner ($99,810)  NNP’s care for both full-term and pre-term infants and newborns who are critically ill.  As an NNP, one must be able to work in high stress situations managing both the patient and family.  Most neonatal nurse practitioner programs require at least two years of RN experience before applying.

3. Retail Health Nurse Practitioner ($96,800) Retail health is an expanding business and nurse practitioners in this field are paid accordingly.  Retail health nurse practitioners treat minor illnesses and injuries.  Many retail clinics are considering offering chronic health management in the near future.  NP’s in this field must be able to work independently as they usually practice solo at their clinic sites.

4. Hospital Based Nurse Practitioner ($96,124) Hospitals are employing nurse practitioners in increasing numbers to manage admitted patients.  Nurse practitioners in the hospital setting diagnose, manage and create treatment plans for patients throughout their hospital stay.

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5. Gerontology Nurse Practitioner ($94,485) Gerontology nurse practitioners assess, manage and treat both acute and chronic medical conditions in the older adult.  Most nurse practitioners in this field are employed by nursing homes and assisted living facilities to provide care for their residents.

6. House Call Nurse Practitioner ($93,785)  As a result of new Medicare legislation, hospitals and independent healthcare companies are currently hiring nurse practitioners in massive numbers to make house calls.  These visits are primarily for homebound patients or patients recently released from the hospital.  NP’s seek to make sure patients are compliant with their treatment regimen and address concerns or complications that may develop to prevent patients from being re-admitted to the hospital.

7. Psychiatric/ Mental Health Nurse Practitioner ($92,396) Psychiatric NP’s provide acute and chronic care to individuals and families affected by mental illness.  NP’s in this field are able to manage mental illness with pharmacotherapy and methods such as case management and crisis intervention.

8. Surgical Nurse Practitioner ($91,023) Surgical nurse practitioners assist physicians in surgical procedures.  For example, following a surgery, the nurse practitioner may be asked to suture a surgical wound.  NP’s may also see surgical patients at post-op visits and round on them during their hospital stay addressing any complications.

9. Oncology Nurse Practitioner ($90,862) Oncology nurse practitioners are responsible for managing treatment of various cancers in collaboration with a physician as well as addressing survivorship and wellness issues.  This career can be very emotionally taxing.

10. Cardiology Nurse Practitioner ($90,370)  Cardiology NP’s diagnose, manage and treat heart conditions such as CHF and arrhythmias.  These NP’s help patients make necessary lifestyle changes, prescribe medications and manage recovery after cardiac surgery.

It is important to remember that these salaries are averages.  Nurse practitioner salaries can vary greatly depending on the state in which you practice and if you practice in a rural or urban setting.  These rankings also are not divided by nurse practitioner program specialty.  For example, either a family nurse practitioner or an acute care nurse practitioner would be able to practice in a cardiology clinic.

Should you choose your specialty based on income?  Income is worth taking into consideration, however these top 10 salaries only vary by about $13,000/ year.  It may not be worth sacrificing practicing in a specialty you enjoy for some extra cash.

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

89 thoughts on “Top 10 Highest Paying Nurse Practitioner Specialties”

  1. Whats the malpractice rates on average for NPs? Such as ER? Also, doesn’t the dermatology NP make the most from what I’ve read online?

  2. Hi Shawn,

    I am actually not sure about malpractice rates.  Malpractice insurance is typically paid by the employer and therefore will not be taken out of the NP’s salary.  Good pick up on missing the Derm NP!  This information was taken from a survey on Advance for NP’s and PA’s.  I have done some research and it looks like the average NP working in dermatology/ skin care/ aesthetics makes an average of $102,547/ year…right up there with ER.

  3. Yes, NP’s can work in pain management and do trigger point injections.  I’m not sure if they midlevel providers can do facet blocks- it may depend on the state where they practice. 

  4. I’m not sure!  I have a friend working for a cardiology practice that gets paid $1,000 per weekend she is on call.  Anyone know the answer or have experience as an on call hospital NP?

  5. Hi Cara,

    I don’t have any exact numbers on pulmonology.  I would guess it would be similar to cardiology which pays an average of $90,370

  6. Hi Jeff,

    GI NP’s aren’t necessarily new but I do think specialists are hiring nurse practitioners in larger numbers so they are becoming more prevalent.  I was unable to find exact data on the salary for GI NP’s, but would expect it to be other specialties like cardiology and pulmonology at around $90,000/ year.

  7. So I looking into NP school and I am confused at this point. How do you go with these specialities? I only see FNP, women’s health, peds. So do they have FNP degrees and then get hired somewhere and specialize?

  8. Hi Heather,

    GREAT question!  NP’s who work in specialized practices typically get a general degree, ex. FNP or Acute Care. Then, they simply choose to apply for jobs in specialized practices ex. Cardiology or ENT.  The employer trains you further to work in a more specialized setting.

  9. Actually Derm FNPs make more than MD Family Physicians, around 154000 – 195000 after few years of experience.

  10. Hello, Great blog! I am looking into the ADN-MSN/FNP track. I live in Kansas City. I have worked as an RN for 15 years. I have searched the web for schools that offer the FNP track and are not coming up with many. I find Graceland, kind of pricey and a bit slow. Frontier Nursing, interesting website, program comes off as being touchy feely and “simplistic”. Lastly a Med Tech school in Massachusettes MSCHPS, having a hard time understanding their tuition. I want the perfect “affordable, fast and quality.” Any ideas? I am open to hybrid school in my area or all-online. Thank you so much!!

  11. Hi Amy!

    If you have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing in addition to your RN, check out Allen College and Drexel University.  Both programs are offered online.  If you do not have a bachelor’s degree in addition to your RN, look into the Wheeling Jesuit University and Concordia University programs.  Both are online but make sure they accept students in your state as some schools have regulations for out-of-state students.

    Good luck!

  12. What a great blog! Can you describe the different roles, duties, and responsibilities of CRNA versus DNP/ARNP (any specialty),a s well as their limitations. For example, as far as I know, a CRNA usually cannot work in maternity because they are not allowed to do epidurals.

  13. Any idea of how much an NP in Neurology makes? I’m interested in working with neuromuscular diseased patients. Also what about neurosurgery salary?

  14. Hi Eric,

    Neurosurgery NP’s can expect to make about 100K, maybe a bit more depending on their location.  Neurology NP’s can expect to make a bit less, usually around 90K, maybe a little more depending on where they live. 

  15. Can you explain the difference between a doctor and a nurse practitioner? I just switched my major from Pre-Med to nursing but it sounds to me like they have pretty much the same responsibilities, not to mention around the same amount of schooling.

  16. Hi Jessica,

    MD’s actually have quite a bit more schooling than NPs.  Medical school is longer than nursing school.  Following medical school, MD’s complete a residency which is a few years of hands-on training.  This means that MD’s can do more.  For example, you might see a nurse practitioner assist in a surgery but they won’t be the one doing the surgery.  Medical school is usually more specialty focused ex. cardiology, dermatology while NP programs are typically more general ex. acute care.

    In some real world settings there isn’t a big difference between what MD’s and NPs do.  For example in primary care clinics, there isn’t much difference.  But, as a whole, MD’s complete more schooling and are therefore able to perform more procedures, become more specialized in school and treat sicker patients.  With experience, NPs can certainly become more specialized and treat higher acuity patients but we don’t learn all of these skills in our nurse practitioner programs. 

  17. Erin,
    This is a great blog! I am quite impressed with what I have read here so far. Your facts and numbers are very reliable which is remarkable for an online website.
    Keep it up! Are you an NP?

  18. Hi…in response to Stephanie…
    In most states, CRNAs DO work in OB and DO insert, manage, and control labor analgesia such as epidurals and continuous spinal infusions and intermittent injections. We are educated to be total providers of anesthesia care with or without an anesthesiologist. Some statutes vary from state to state, but there is no law in ANY state that requires a CRNA to work with an anesthesiologist. I own my own private practice group in Ohio and employ 3 other CRNAs. We provide full service anesthesia to our hospital and are the only providers of anesthesia care…there are no anesthesiologists. We work in collaboration with surgeons, obstetricians, podiatrists, dentists. We preoperatively evaluate our patients, choose our anesthesia techniques (including OB epidurals, emergency cesarean sections, and newborn stabilization), implement the anesthetics, manage post operative recovery, and are often called on to manage airways and hemodynamics in arrest or emergency situations in the ER or other areas of the facility. We are members of our facility’s medical staff and sit on medical staff committee. Just a little overview of what we do as CRNAs. We are APRNs in Ohio too.


    Can you please give me some advice on how to break into Dermatology as a Nurse Practitioner? I am still in school for my LVN and will be continuing my education. How do I get surgical experience if I am a new graduate? (I heard dermatologists want someone who has surgery experience, which I am nervous about)

  20. Hi Beckie,

    I know Vanderbilt has a highly reputable dual degree program.  If there is a certain school you want to attend you can also choose either an ACNP or FNP program then add on a second specialty.

  21. Hello! I am very interested in pursuing a career as a NP. I see a lot of blogs posted by NPs here and I was wondering If anyone could “dumb it down” for me and provide me with insight
    On what kind of basic college courses I need to expect to take and how many years it will take me to earn a Masters in Nursing? I’m just interested in any information anyone is willing to provide me with.

  22. Such a great blog. So very appreciated
    I am a RN in Canada looking to study in the States. In Canada, schools offer either MSN(Master of Science in Nursing), Nurse Practitioner certification or concurrently.

    What schools in US with concurrent programs would you recommend ?

    Also, what are the main differences between Acute and Family NP ?

  23. Hi Bunny,

    Both NPs and PAs can be successful in dermatology and most clinics will hire either. Usually, a preference for an NP over a PA or vice versa is a result of state laws regulating the professions differently or the culture/tradition of a certain clinic or hospital system.

    Look at websites for dermatology clinics in the area where you anticipate practicing. Do most employ NPs or PAs? Or, are they equal? This will tell you which profession might serve you best in your area.

  24. A great informative site. I am doing my rn and have a bachelor in chem. I am having difficulty choosing np speciality. Also I heard you have to work for few years before getting to np programs. Do you know any schools that don’t? Than you

  25. Hi Ben,

    There are many schools that don’t require experience. Often, this also depends on which specialty you choose, even within a school. For example, acute care NP programs are more likely to require experience than family nurse practitioner programs. Which states are you looking at as far as NP programs? Let me know and I can recommend some specific programs.

  26. I am starting NP school soon, and would like to look into Infectious Disease. Any comments or insight about this specialty and salary? Thank you!

  27. Hi Jen,

    Infectious Disease sounds interesting! Since there aren’t very many NPs practicing in that area, I don’t have specific information. But, I would estimate that the salary for an NP working in Infectious Disease is about the same as that of internal medicine or hospitalist. 

  28. Thank you for this wonderful blog! great information
    I have 17 years experience as a nurse and was looking into Georgetown university for their gerontology/critical care NP on line program The program looks great- however, the price tag is shocking at around $80,000
    In your opinion …it is worth it or am I throwing money away if there is another program out there that is just as good with out the astonishing price tag

  29. Hi Elizabeth,

    Some NP programs can be very expensive! There are plenty of less expensive options out there that will lead to the same career. You can attend another, less expensive online Acute Care NP program that is less expensive and get the same result, especially with 17 years of nursing experience. 

  30. Looking for the easiest possible NP job that pays over 80,000, no weekends, rounds or on call, see maybe 5-6 pts per day. Tired of staying after work for 4 hrs dictating notes, running back and forth from clinic to OR as well as see pts in ICU/ floors. Every surgeon I’ve worked for so far appears to be socially inept. It’s all business, only have 2 min per pts, triple book every 15 min for clinic, and when the persons not a surgical candidate they get pissed as if it was a waste of time. Any thoughts?

  31. Try retail health. While most clinics require weekends, if you work PRN you could still get in 3 12-hour shifts/week working PRN if you live in or near a city. You wouldn’t have to take call. If you want some help in the job search process, check out the new ThriveAP Career Advisor Program

  32. I am an RN 8 years if experience ER in Indiana. I want to go back to school but I’m afraid the market for NP will be flooded by the time I get finished. I want this to be cost effective and I am older (45) so cam I make this work?

  33. Hi Bridgitte,

    The job market totally depends on where you want to work. Some states/cities are saturated, other states/cities are not. If you are willing to relocate once you finish your program you should be able to find a job relatively easily. If you want to stay put, then you are subject to the whims of one job market.

    Cities that have a lot of NP programs get saturated quickly. Rural areas, and other areas of the country need NPs badly. Get an idea of the job market in your area by looking at job postings and talking to other NPs. This should help you decide. 

  34. Is there an infectious disease specialty for NPs? I have a BS in a health related field and am
    Going back to get my BSN and would eventually like to be an NP and specialize. I am really enjoying my microbiology course so this is why I ask! Thanks for this great site! It’s been very belpful 🙂

  35. There isn’t a formal infectious disease specialty. I have, however heard of NPs working in travel clinics that deal with infectious disease. Also, there could be opportunities to work in infectious disease within a hospital system. 

  36. Walden university offers RN-MSN programs completely online in both ACNP and FNP. I have a couple of coworkers who absolutely love the program and i will be starting soon as well.

  37. Hi, I plan on starting and FNP program in a couple of months and I want to specialize in preventative medicine, focusing on weightloss and nutrition, education, and health promotion. Do you know what speciality that will fall under, or can I can starts wellness clinic offering those services?

  38. Hi Nena,

    The Family Nurse Practitioner specialty is perfect for this focus In fact, preventative healthcare is really at the core of the FNP education. You can start a wellness clinic as an FNP. Depending on where you live, state laws may require that you have some level pf physician oversight in opening a clinic, treating patients etc. 

  39. In the state of Hawaii, is it possible to independently/autonomously make house calls/home visiting, as ones own business? I have 30 years of experience and would like to go out on my own within the “black bag” model

  40. Hello!

    This is such a great website with very valuable, hope-inspiring information! Are there any downfalls to being in an Adult-Gero DNP program b versus an FNP in the job market? Is one more likely to earn more because of the limitations in pediatrics? Or can I work in the ER regardless?

  41. Thank you for your response. I just read your repky. I was finishing my RN program! I am in Philadelphia. I know drexel is cool but pricey.
    And I decided to stick with FNP to be safe. But the price, $40 G is absurd.

  42. Im a nurse with 33 years experience in ERs and ICUs working in a registry for 20 of those. I was recently hurt and can’t lift and maneuver pt’s around like I used to. Frankly I have always wanted to go on in my practice but we are a one income family and with two kids in college and 2 more to go I didn’t see a way of doing this. We were dependent to my 60 hour weeks. Are there any financial aid programs for people with dependants and remaining on workers comp/ light duty? Is. there financial support for promotion of third world health care. I am interested in developing an agency to coordinate support for and improving third world clinics. I am looking at several agencies and nonprofit organizations and see the potential of coordinating support for them. I have a unique idea and believe if I am able to practice I could be of further service. My bachelors degree is in business so I am being pulled between a masters in international business and NP. If I can get tuition assistance maybe I can do both and just take longer. Well I know I’m no spring chicken but I have a lot of life yet to live and give. I intend to not only make a difference but encourage others to do so as well. I would appreciate assistance in finding financial support for my education and hopefully this may be available to others who are willing to work in developing countries. “Let us see how we can encourage others to love and good works”. I would appreciate a dialog with you regarding this. I am not asking just for myself but for others who want to look back on their career and realize they really did make a difference. Thanks Jeff

  43. I want to become an NP and work in a hospital setting. In order to be a cardiology NP, should I go for FNP or acute care NP?

    Also, if I did acute care NP, could I later transition to NICU?

  44. Hi Brianna,

    If you want to become a cardiology NP, you could become either an FNP or ACNP. I would say the ACNP option is the best fit for cardiology provided that you want to work with adults.

    Unfortunately, acute care NPs (unless you do pediatric acute care) cannot treat children. So, they cannot work in the NICU setting. If you want to work in the NICU, you would need to complete a neonatal nurse practitioner degree. 

  45. I want to become an family nurse practioner, majority working with children but not limited to adults either. Is it possible that I can receive an specialty in epilepsy/seizure, and Parkinson Disease

  46. Hi Greg,

    If you want to work with seizure and Parkinson patients, obtaining a family nurse practitioner, adult nurse practitioner or acute care nurse practitioner certification is your next step. From there, you can find a job working in neurology. This will include the types of patients in which you are interested.

    If possible, complete a neurology rotation in your NP program. Or, get some RN experience in neurology as well. 

  47. “Income is worth taking into consideration, however these top 10 salaries only vary by about $13,000/ year. It may not be worth sacrificing practicing in a specialty you enjoy for some extra cash” Always consider the impact of the specialty with your lifestyle & the none cash perks.

  48. Why is the title midlevel branding this forum? The title is a slang term created by the insurance industry to demoralize the profession. If a NP is midlevel then, does that make the physician top level and the bedside nurse low level? This term along with extender should no longer be tolerated.

  49. Hi Erin,

    First of all I love your website and find it very helpful. I am a new grad NP that is currently studying to take boards. My question is….If I feel that I may not be that prepared after my brief period of clinicals, is there a way to develop more experience before I find a new job. I thought of volunteering at one of our low income clinics. I just want to feel more knowledgeable before I search for that perfect job.


  50. Hi Rhonda, 

    Thank you for reading!

    Yes, there is a way for you to get more experience post-graduation. ThriveAP is launching a new program this year, Midlevels for the Medically Underserved (MMU). MMU is similar to a residency program for nurse practitioners. It helps facilitate the transition from education to practice. 

    We are currently accepting applications for the Fall 2016-2017 class. You can request information and an application packet here

  51. I’ve been in the ED as an NP for about 9 years and while I work a lot, I gross well over $200k/year (usually about $230k/year) working about 230hr/month.

  52. I’ve specialized as an oncology RN for 22 years (RN for 24). I’ll be graduating FNP school next June and I’m thinking I’ll stick with oncology because I am so familiar with the specialty. My question is whether prospective employers take into consideration past RN specialty experience when a salary is to be negotiated. My fear is that I’ll become an NP and my salary will remain relatively the same.

  53. Hi Jill, 

    Employers do take RN experience into account, however not to the same extent as NP experience. 

  54. Hi Sara, 

    Either specialty will work. If you are certain you want to work in the hospitalist setting with adult patients, acute care will be the best suited to prepare you for work as a hospitalist nurse practitioner. 

  55. I am in Florida and looking for a FNP program online that is affordable and also reputable that will also allow me to specialize in Pain Management or Dermatology? not sure if this exists…I havent seen them in my research at least…thanks for the guidance

  56. I work in long term care and make $200k between salary and visit reimbursement. Everyone is worried about salary and not total comp, not to be confused with benefits, talking money being aid. All of my FT colleagues that are NPs make between 130-260/yr depending on how they run their days with the avg around 150. We also have some of the best patient outcomes out there for all of the nay sayers so you an make money and give great patient care.

  57. Hello, Acute Care NP’s that work as hospitalists on call in southern California can expect salary of about $115,000 to $130,000 depending on compensation agreement, bonus, hospital setting, and experience. I know of those with experience who are paid much much more than that. Hope that helps provide a general idea.

  58. Hi!

    I am interested in pursuing a career as Primary Care Pediatric NP. Does anyone know how the hours are and what the salary would be? Are there jobs out there available for primary care in pediatrics? I’m living in Philadelphia currently, but will be moving to a surrounding suburb soon.

  59. I am a FNP but have no or experience, contemplating getting my surgical first assist, any data or input on the difference in salary between a NP working with a surgical team and a non surgical NP , currently I am a hospitalist NP in NY and want to make sure its worth it financially to put the time and money into pursuing this change

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