Outlook for PhD in Nursing Salary

Research has shown that less than 1% of all nurses in this country hold a doctorate degree, whether that is a Ph.D. or the DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice). However, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has released The Future of Nursing Report, together with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in which they have set the goal of having twice as many doctoral nurses in the workforce by 2020. To achieve this, they are pushing to have 10% of all newly qualified bachelor’s degree (BSN) registered nurses (RNs) into a master’s degree (MSN) and then Ph.D. or DNP within no more than five years after they graduate.

There is a huge demand for nurses with a doctorate degree, not in the least because there is such a shortage of nurse educators. If the stock of nurse educators is not replenished, there will be no way to educate tomorrow’s nursing workforce either. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) have therefore put out a call to all nurses to commit to furthering their education.

The outlook for Ph.D. in Nursing graduates is incredibly strong. Exactly how strong, however, will vary depending on what they plan to do after graduation. Different positions are available to them, each of which attracts a different salary. As such:

  • Nurse Researchers can expect to earn around $95,000 per year. They can also increase this by speaking at events and conferences, consulting, teaching, and writing books.
  • Nurse Practitioners, who continue to work directly with patients in a clinical role, can expect to earn around $98,826 per year. They may also be able to prescribe medication.
  • Clinical Nurse Specialists, who mainly work in an advisory role for various conditions, can earn as much as $120,000 per year.
  • Nurse Anesthetists, working alongside the anesthesiologist in surgeries, can expect to earn around $81,162 per year.
  • Nurse Midwives, who help in antenatal and postnatal care, as well as during deliveries, can earn as much as $102,670 per year.
  • Nurse Educators, who train tomorrow’s nursing workforce, earn in excess of $111,870 per year.

There are various other factors, besides exact role, that affect the expected salary of a Ph.D. in Nursing graduate, however.

#1 Your Job Location

Once you have completed your DNP or Ph.D., you will be responsible for problem solving in your workplace, as well as educating the rest of the workforce. You can do this in:

  • Surgical and general medical hospitals, where you can influence the treatment plans of patients. At the same time, you are likely to conduct research and drive policy so that health care outcomes are improved.
  • Public health offices, where you will be responsible for influencing national and local health officials and policy makers, ensuring that they find solutions to health problems that are smart and based on research.
  • Research facilities, which are particularly suitable for those with a Ph.D.. In this role, you will generally research the various health and medical issues that today’s people face. You may also try to uncover new solutions and cures for these health problems.
  • Independent practice, whereby you will have the flexibility of determining when you work and who you work with. Furthermore, you are the end responsible for the treatment you feel is appropriate for your patients.
  • Physicians’ offices, where you can manage other nursing staff and essentially work independently, but without the stresses of starting your own practice.
  • Universities, whereby you can teach the next generation of nurses.

Each of these types of jobs attracts different levels of pay. However, it is not uncommon for Ph.D. in Nursing graduates to earn a six figure income, regardless of where they work.

#2 Geographical Location

The geographical location of your work also has a significant impact on how much you can earn. Generally speaking, larger metropolitan areas attract far higher salaries than rural areas. Certain states also traditionally pay more than other states. However, in general, the areas that attract higher salaries also often have a higher cost of living. Hence, you do need to work out whether you will actually be earning more in terms of your disposable income.

Statistics on Doctorate Educated Nurses

A number of pieces of research have been completed on the salaries of nurses, particularly in comparing doctorate degree nurses to MSN nurses. The American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) 2013 Salary and Compensation Study for Nurse Leaders found that:

  • Executive leadership nurses can earn between $120,000 and $300,000 per year.
  • DNP nurses earn an average of $7,689 per year more than MSN degree holders.

The outlook for Ph.D. in Nursing graduates is incredibly positive, as you can see, so much so in fact, that employers are fighting over each other to attract any nurses who hold this advanced degree because there are so few of them. This puts you in a unique position of being able to negotiate not just on your annual salary, but also your other benefits. These include things such as retirement plans, medical and life insurance, childcare support, paid vacation, bonuses, commissions, and more. While it is certainly true that obtaining a Ph.D. in Nursing takes a significant investment of both time and money, most would agree that it is an investment worth making.