How Much Do FNPs Make in Your State?

As health care evolves and our aging population grows, Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) are playing an increasingly critical role. In fact, while state-to-state scope of practice laws vary, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently issued a final rule that provides full-practice authority to FNPs and other Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) that work anywhere within the VA system. Moves such as these highlight the value these professionals bring to the table, and compensation for advanced practice work has come to reflect that. Citing growth rate and projected salaries, U.S. News and World Report named Nurse Practitioner (NP) the second best job in the nation for 2017.

In a 2014 post, we highlighted the top cities for Nurse Practitioner earnings. In our update below, we provide state-specific data for NP salaries, including a comparison to the annual average wage for all occupations. 

Salary Trends for NPs

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual wage for Nurse Practitioners — $104,610 — is significantly higher than the mean annual wage for Registered Nurses without advanced degrees, which is $72,180.

Although data from the BLS indicates that there are more than 150,000 NPs working in the United States, many more are needed to help bridge the anticipated gap in primary care providers in the years ahead. According to a report by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the U.S. faces a major physician shortage by the year 2025, with the deficit of primary care physicians predicted to be as high as 31,000. With their advanced education and expanding roles, NPs will increasingly be in demand to improve access to the quality primary care that’s needed.  

Geographic Wage Discrepancies

While NP salaries are competitive overall, they vary from state to state. As our graphic below notes, California, Alaska, and Massachusetts top the list, while Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Montana rank the lowest when it comes to pay. At the high end, California NPs earn about $124,000 on average annually, and those in Alaska and Massachusetts have average salaries of a little more than $117,000 and $121,000. On the lower end of the spectrum, the average salary of NPs in Montana is just over $92,000, and NPs in Oklahoma and Arkansas earn close to $85,000 and $89,000.

There are a variety of factors that may play into location-based wage disparities. As the BLS notes, geographic factors such as local demand and the regional cost of living have an impact on wages. Some experts also note the influence of innovation hubs and metropolitan areas that have higher concentrations of college graduates. This creates a multiplier effect that impacts wages for everyone in those locations. 

Despite these differences, NP salaries are generally much higher than salaries for other occupations, regardless of location. At the top of the list, the difference between the mean annual wage for all occupations and the mean annual wage for NPs is more than $67,000 for Hawaii and California, while Wyoming has the third largest difference at about $66,000. In the three states with the lowest annual average NP salaries, NPs still make more. The difference in Oklahoma is more than $43,000, in Arkansas it is more than $49,00, and in Montana it is about $50,000.

To provide a comprehensive picture, we’ve created the graphic below that showcases the average annual wage NPs make in each state relative to that state’s average wage for all occupations.

Read the text-only version of this graphic.

A Promising Career Path

The career path for advanced practice nurses offers great promise for several reasons. The U.S. has a rapidly growing population of older adults with increasing health care needs. The physician shortage ahead, particularly in primary care, means there will be a shortage of providers available to meet those needs. The expanding role of Nurse Practitioners in the care paradigm will continue to create demand for these highly trained and well-paid professionals. Factors such as these equate to a career path that enables its practitioners to envision a sustainable future for both themselves and their families.