What is a Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioner (also known as Adult Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Geriatric Nurse Practitioner, Oncology Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner) is a registered nurse who has advanced training and education. They specialize in diagnosis and treatment, prescribing medications and ordering tests usually for minor ailments and diseases.

Read More: Nurse Practitioner Job Duties

Where do Nurse Practitioners Work

Like other registered nurses, almost 50% of nurse practitioners work in privately or state owned hospitals. You may find others working in physician offices, nursing homes, government agencies, schools, universities, correction facilities, and many other types of healthcare facilities. A small percentage of nurses may have to travel often to aid other places with insufficient healthcare providers, either within US or in third world countries.

Nurse practitioners work in close contact with patients in hospitals as the result they are exposed directly to those with infectious diseases. Proper procedures and handling of hazardous substances and equipments are extremely critical to ensure the safety of both the patient and the nurses themselves.

Work Schedule

Nurse practitioners working in hospitals and long term care facilities may work long hours and are usually expected to work evenings and overnight shifts. Some may even be “on call”, which means they are expected to work when they are called upon at any times of the day. On the other hand, nurse practitioners working in physician offices and schools generally work during normal business hours. At any rate, registered nurses are known to have extensive  work hours which puts tremendous amount of stress and physical strains on themselves.

Watch Video: A Day in the Life of a Nurse Practitioner

How Much Do Nurse Practitioners Make

The average annual nurse practitioner salary is $95,070. This figure found by adding the total wages earned by all nurse practitioners and dividing this number by the total number of individuals employed in this profession. The lowest 10% of nurse practitioners earn less than $66,960 whereas the top 10% of nurse practitioners earn more than $126,250 each year. The mean nurse practitioner hourly salary is $45.71.

Nurse Practitioner Salary Per Hour and Yearly: Quick Summary

2013 Mean Salary$95,070 per year
$45.71 per hour
Top 10% Salary$126,250 per year
$60.69 per hour
Bottom 10% Salary$66,960 per year
$32.19 per hour
Number of Jobs, 2013113,370

Nurse Practitioner Job Outlook

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, job outlook for nurse practitioners is expected to rise 34% from 2012 to 2022, which is an extremely promising statistic for new graduates. In comparison to the over 2.5 million registered nurses currently employed in the United States, there are just over 100,000 nurse practitioners. Because becoming a nurse practitioner involves between 6 and 8 years of schooling, these individuals are in high demand to help diagnose and treat a variety of illnesses in various healthcare settings.

There is an increased need for physicians, resulting from the rapid surge in retiring baby boomers. Due to the strain on available physicians, hospitals are looking elsewhere for qualified healthcare practitioners, namely nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Thus the job outlook for nurse practitioners is highly optimistic.

Factors affecting the Salary of a Nurse Practitioner

The specialized educational certification of nurse practitioners makes them an essential member of any healthcare facility, allowing them to properly treat patients while performing basic tasks of physicians as well. The increase in salary for this profession is quite encouraging as well. Over the past 10 years, the mean average salary of nurse practitioners has risen from $69,203 to $95,070 as of May 2013.

Currently, there are 113,370 nurse practitioners employed throughout the United States that contribute to this most recent data on the mean annual salary. However, to understand salary fluctuations more clearly we must examine the following components including: experience, industry, state, and metropolitan areas.


Experience is everything when it comes to increases in a nurse practitioner’s salary, especially because areas of distinct expertise are those that have the highest payouts. Therefore, advanced schooling and experience can directly correlate with higher paying positions, all of which naturally comes with more experience as well.


Experience is highly related to which industry a nurse practitioner works in. None of the most concentrated industries, particularly those employed in physician’s offices, are represented in the top paying market sectors. This suggests that the expertise required for management, scientific, and technical consulting services as well as work in specialty hospitals pays the most because these individuals have a unique, in-demand skillset that allows them to fill these positions.


Not surprisingly, high concentrations of nurse practitioners in larger states such as California, New York, Florida, and Texas are inversely related to those with the top paying salaries. This makes the small number of nurse practitioners in these smaller states in higher demand, securing the highest earning positions for Alaska and Hawaii.

Metropolitan areas in high population states are those that indicate the highest salaries for nurse practitioners. These bustling metropolitan areas place high demand on nurse practitioners for the multitude of healthcare centers, allowing them to collect higher salaries in comparison to states with less of a need for these professionals. In contrast, top paying nonmetropolitan areas are found in a large variety of states, all of which employ 80 or less nurse practitioners, placing them in higher demand in these areas as well.