Average Salary with a DNP Degree

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Becoming a registered nurse provides you with many different and rewarding career paths. One of the most financially rewarding career paths is that of an advanced practice nurse. These types of nurses are highly educated and often have a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.

Some of the most popular advanced practice nursing positions with approximate salaries for DNP holders are:

  • Nurse practitioner (NP): Working directly with patients in primary and speciality care. Prescribe medication and work with other healthcare professionals to improve health outcomes for all patients. Expect a salary of approximately $95,000.
  • Certified nurse anesthetist (CRNA): Provide anesthetic services to patients for all types of medical procedures. Work closely with anesthesiologists to provide the best surgical procedure care. They also help to set up IVs, monitor patient vital signs carefully and adjust anesthetic as needed. Median salary is $135,000.
  • Certified nurse midwife (CNM): Provide comprehensive healthcare services to women, as well as pre- and post-natal care. Usually help mothers make decisions about best form of childbirth for them. They may work for large health care employers but many states allow them to run their own midwifery clinics.
  • Clinical nurse specialist (CNS): Provide advanced clinical care for many specific diseases and conditions. CNS professionals may also work in research as they translate research findings into better patient care. Median salary is $85,000.
  • Nurse educator: Train nurses of the future in best patient practices. Also accumulates data and uses it to better understand many different health issues that affect the population. This work helps them to come up with new healthcare programs, initiatives and activities. Median salary is $95,000.

The common path in years’ past to move into these professions was with a Master of Science in Nursing, and some nursing professionals still take this path. However, there is a move towards requiring many advanced practice nursing professionals to earn their DNP.

So, if you want to become an advanced practice nurse, you may eventually need to earn your DNP. While this will take several years longer than earning an MSN, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, as the industry moves to requiring the DNP degree, there are more universities offering BSN-to-DNP degree programs, which is effectively incorporating the MSN curriculum.

Second, earning your DNP degree means that you will have the opportunity to earn a high salary. Let’s take a close look at average salaries with a DNP degree.

Salary Overview

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), advanced nursing practice professionals earn some of the highest salaries in the profession, short of becoming a physician.

BLS tells us that the median annual wage for CRNAs, CNMs and NPs was $104,740 in 2015. BLS does not break down the degree level of those professionals, but if you earn a DNP, you can expect to earn an excellent salary. BLS notes that the top 10% of professionals in these fields earn a salary of over $170,000 per year. Many of those professionals are likely to hold a DNP degree.

BLS also provides a more specific breakdown of median salaries per occupation:

  • Nurse anesthetist: $157,000
  • Nurse practitioner: $98,150
  • Nurse midwife: $92,500

Further, BLS reports that the wages for advanced nursing degree holders varies depending upon the place in which they work:

  • Local, private and state hospitals: $111,000
  • Doctors’ offices: $104,000
  • Outpatient care: $102,800
  • Other healthcare offices: $98,600
  • Educational services: $95,700

Best States to Work for Advanced Nursing Degree Holders

If you are earning your DNP, you may want to know that there are better states for you to work in than others, in terms of regulations, which in the end affect how much money you earn. Laws governing what some advanced nursing practice professionals can do will vary by state.

Some of the best states in which to work with your DNP degree are:

  • Washington state: You do not need to work with a doctor to be an NP in Washington. It also is the first state and one of the few that allows an NP to prescribe medical marijuana.
  • New Mexico: The governor of New Mexico likes to support the work of advanced practice nurses, so the laws here are quite liberal. NPs in this state can work on their own.Also, the state is aggressive in recruiting NPs to come to New Mexico. New Mexico has been known to try to encourage NPs from other states, such as Texas, to relocate due to more favorable laws. This state also offers NPs who work in rural areas a $3000 tax credit.
  • Oregon: The state has allowed NPs to prescribe controlled substances since 1979, one of the first. NPs can work here without physician oversight.
  • Alaska: Nurse practitioners and other advanced nursing professionals can diagnose, treat and prescribe for patients without doctor oversight. NPs also may start to practice right after they graduate, even if certification exam results are pending.
  • New Hampshire: NPs may practice independently, and NPs who have not passed their exam yet can still practice before they sit for the test.