Income for Advanced Practice Nurses on the Rise

December 13, 2016

Annual income for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) rose 2.8% on average in 2015 to hit $109,000, according to the 2016 Medscape APRN Salary Report.

That's $31,000 more than the average income for registered nurses in 2015.

The highest earners among APRNs were certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), who took home $176,000, a 3.5% increase over 2014. Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) were on the low end at $95,000.

Two thirds of the 3016 APRNs who completed the survey were nurse practitioners (NPs). They earned $103,000 in 2015, up 1% from the year before.

Table. APRN Earning Power Improved in 2015

Nurse Category 2014 ($) 2015 ($) Change (%)
All APRNs 106,000 109,000 2.8
CNSs 95,000 95,000 0.0
CRNAs 170,000 176,000 3.5
Nurse-midwives 99,000 104,000 5
NPs 102,000 103,000 1


Although the overall pay trend was positive, not every APRN was along for the ride. Sixty-four percent of survey respondents reported higher income in 2015; 7% said they earned less, and 28% said their income stayed the same. The most frequently cited reason for higher income was a merit or cost-of-living raise (62%), followed by working more hours (14%).

For NPs, the Medscape salary report broke down income by workplace. NPs earned the most in a hospital inpatient setting ($109,000), although practicing in long-term care facilities ($107,000) or in the government or military ($107,000) paid almost as well. Compensation was lowest ($94,000) for NPs serving in school and college health services and those teaching at the university level.

Gender is another variable in the earnings picture. Men represented 11% of APRNs in the survey but on average earned more than their female counterparts — $21,000 more for male CRNAs and $11,000 more for male NPs, CNSs, and nurse-midwives combined. These are full-time compensation figures, so the gender gap doesn't arise from men being more likely to work full-time. Survey data point to another explanation. Male APRNs tend to work more overtime than female APRNs (58% vs 49%), and when they do, they're more likely to log more overtime hours per week.

Are APRNs okay with their pay? Sixty-three percent said they were fairly compensated. CRNAs (72%) and CNSs (54%) were the most and least content, respectively.

Survey respondents by and large were veterans in their careers; 64% had practiced 21 years or longer. Two-fifths were 55 years of age or older. Eighty-four percent had earned a master's degree, while another 11% had a doctorate.

Those advanced degrees don't come cheap. Not surprisingly, 37% of full-time APRNs — and 41% of full-time NPs — were still paying off student loans. And these were not just 20- and 30-somethings under this burden. Twenty-three percent of APRNs paying off educational loans have been practicing 21 years or longer.

The full survey results are available here.

Follow Robert Lowes on Twitter @LowesRobert


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