What Are the Highest Paying Nurse Practitioner Specialties?
The healthcare industry and nursing profession have significantly shifted over the last year. Due to burnout at the bedside or job loss, many registered nurses are considering career changes. The nursing field provides a plethora of opportunities in various roles, but how does one decide what to do?
Some nurses are looking to specialize and remain in the same position, while others are hoping to further their education. For the nurses who are ready for increased responsibilities regarding patient care and treatment, applying for a nurse practitioner program is a lucrative option.
After deciding that you want to become a nurse practitioner, how do you determine which nurse practitioner specialty is right for you?
Unlike physician assistant (PA) programs, nurse practitioners must choose their specialty before applying for their formal education program. The selection process heavily depends on the nurse’s experience and their future goals. However, the potential salary may also influence their decision.
Is there enough of a difference between your current pay and potential new wage to compensate for the cost of graduate school?
Let’s discuss the most common nurse practitioner programs and their average salary and employment opportunities.
Highest Paying Nurse Practitioner Specialties
Ranked in order of highest paying nurse practitioner specialties, the most common nurse practitioner programs are:
- Psychiatry and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)
- Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP)
- Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGNP)
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
- Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP)
Average Annual Salary: $125,000
Psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs) care for patients of all ages. They evaluate, treat, and prescribe medication for behavioral problems and mental health disorders, using both medication and therapeutic measures.
PMHNPs can work in both acute and primary care environments and are typically employed at primary care clinics, community health centers, mental health centers, hospitals, and telehealth clinics.
Average Annual Salary: $123,000
Neonatal nurse practitioners (NNPs) are advanced practice nurses who are trained in the acute care of newborns. These individuals rarely work in primary care settings. They have comprehensive education around caring for ill newborns and infants under 28 days old. NNPs evaluate and treat patients for prematurity, congenital anomalies, respiratory distress, low-birth weight, and genetic disorders.
They can also further subspecialize by condition or body system. Intensive care units, delivery rooms, emergency rooms, specialty clinics, and medical transport services are the most common environments where NNPs work.
Average Annual Salary: $110,000
Pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) are certified in the care of children from birth to young adulthood, which is typically 18-21 years old. This group of APRNs can practice in either primary or acute care and typically select an acuity before entering their graduate program. PNPs may also further specialize by body system or service. For example, they can work in pediatric oncology or surgery.
As with many APRN degrees, PNPs can work in various environments including hospitals, pediatric medical offices, specialty clinics, community healthcare clinics, and telemedicine clinics.
Average Annual Salary: $96,000
Adult-Gerontology nurse practitioners (AGNPs) are highly educated in caring for patient populations from adolescence through geriatrics. This group of APRNs can practice in either primary or acute care and typically select which acuity before entering their graduate program. They can also choose to specialize by body system and services, such as working in adult gastroenterology or surgery.
AGNPs can work in a range of work settings, including primary care clinics, specialty clinics, community health centers, student health centers, telehealth services, health insurance companies, and hospitals.
Average Annual Salary: $94,000
Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) are APRNs who are trained to care for patients of any age. They can care for the patients in primary or acute care settings and have the option to specialize or subspecialize by patient age, body system, or service. They can subspecialize even further by working in two realms of specialties such as, adult neurology or pediatric pulmonology.
FNPs work in a diverse set of environments including primary care clinics, specialty clinics, community health centers, student health centers, telemedicine clinics, hospitals, and health insurance companies.
Average Annual Salary: $91,000
Women’s health nurse practitioners (WHNPs) are APRNs who are well-trained in the care of women throughout the lifespan. It’s important to note that WHNPs are not the same as a certified nurse midwife. While both focus on women’s health, certified midwives specialize in pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
Most women’s health nurse practitioners center their care around obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive health. Although WHNPs are typically based in primary care clinics, they can also work in community health centers, student health centers, telemedicine clinics, and hospitals.
Other Factors Affecting Annual APRN Salary
In addition to the specialty itself, a nurse practitioner’s collective experience, subspecialties, and work environments can also impact their salary. The more experience that a nurse practitioner has under their belt, the higher their average salary will be.
High-acuity subspecialties also typically have higher annual wages than lower acuity or outpatient specialties. Finally, inpatient nurse practitioners typically make more than those in outpatient settings and physician’s clinics.
Along with the factors mentioned above, the state and city that you practice in may also affect your income. California, Minnesota, Washington, Hawaii, and New Jersey have the highest annual salaries for nurse practitioners across the APRN specialties.
Ultimately, several components can play a role in the average annual salary for APRNs. While the amount of pay should not solely determine which specialty you choose, it is vital to evaluate this aspect when exploring the idea of furthering your education.
Specifically, consider whether the cost burden or debt will be worth the increase in annual salary. Additionally, understanding average wages and contributing factors will allow for better support during contract negotiations and beyond!
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