Nurse practitioners are nurses who have obtained specialized graduate training -- usually a master's degree or doctoral degree. Nurse practitioners often practice primary care, but may also practice specialized medicine. As of 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that nurse practitioners earned, on average, $91,450 a year. But some NPs make more than others.
Pay by Work Setting
By work setting, the BLS reports that nurse practitioners employed by scientific and technical consulting services earned the highest average salary in 2012, $106,620 per year. Specialty hospitals paid the second-highest average salary to NPs, $104,550 per year, and manufacturers of professional and medical equipment paid NPs an average of $101,730. NPs employed by hospitals also earned a mean annual salary of $95,470, above the national average for the profession.
Regionally, nurse practitioners working in the West and Northeast earn the highest average salaries, the BLS reports. The highest-paying state for NPs was Alaska, where they made an average of $112,090 a year. Those in Hawaii reported the second-highest average pay, $104,690 per year. Other states where NPs earned an average salary of $100,000 or more included Oregon ($103,280), Massachusetts ($102,340), and New Jersey ($101,030). The highest-paying metropolitan areas for NPs were the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metropolitan area of California ($125,450) and the greater Texarkana area of Texas and Arkansas ($124,680).
According to a 2012 salary survey by medical industry website ADVANCE, full-time nurse practitioners who worked in emergency rooms were the highest-paid specialty among NPs, earning an average of $106,591 per year. Close behind were neonatal NPs, with an average salary of $105,220. Other relatively high-paid NP specialties were mental health ($101,444), home health services ($99,149), gerontology ($98,932), veteran's health NPs ($97,396) and surgical NPs ($96,923).
Salary by Degree
A higher degree is one factor that can improve a nurse practitioner's chances of receiving a higher rate of pay. In 2011, ADVANCE reported that nearly 90 percent of nurse practitioners held a master's degree and earned an average of $90,250 a year. Those who held a doctoral degree made significantly more, earning an average of $97,566 per year. Among NPs with doctoral degrees, those who had a Ph.D. averaged $95,449, and those who held a DNP made an average of $98,826.