The outlook is good for Nurse Practitioners who want to enrich their career and increase their income. According to Medscape’s 2018 APRN compensation report, compensation for NPs is still on the rise. Data pulled from over 20,000 participants shows the average annual income for NPs has increased from $106K in 2016 to $112K in 2017. Also, 61% of the respondents reported an increase in income from the prior year. How can you increase your income as an NP this year? Consider four key factors that predict earning potential for NPs across the board.
1. Your practice setting matters
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NPs can practice in a variety of settings, from college health services to urgent care to inpatient care. While income has increased for NPs in various practice settings across the board since 2015, the data reveals that not all practice settings are created equal. As reported by Medscape, NPs working in acute care hospitable settings earned the highest pay annually ($120,000) while those working in school or college health service settings earned the lowest ($95,000).
The top five most profitable practice settings for NPs in 2017 were:
- Hospital-based inpatient care ($120K)
- Skilled nursing facility/other long-term care ($116K)
- Hospital-based outpatient setting or clinic ($111K)
- Non-hospital-based medical office/urgent care clinic ($108K)
- Public health setting/community health setting ($105K)
In addition to practice settings, geography also plays a significant role at predicting income.
2. Consider your location
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NP earnings differ by region. The highest earning states include:
- New Mexico
NPs practicing in Pacific states earned the most, with an average annual income of $130K. This offers an advantage to locum tenens NPs, who are licensed to practice in multiple states. It’s important to note that because cost of living can vary dramatically by location, higher earnings do not necessarily equate to a higher standard of living.
3. Your certification makes a difference
Another important factor to consider as an NP is your advanced practice certification. According to the report, NPs that hold a certification in psychiatric primary care earn an average of $120K a year, while NPs certified in pediatric primary care earn $108K a year.
The top-earning NP certifications include:
- Psychiatric mental health ($120K)
- Adult-gerontology acute care ($117k)
- Adult-gerontology primary care ($115K)
This data suggests that you can increase your annual income by acquiring a more specialized advanced practice certification.
4. Independent contractors make more
According to the report, NPs that are self-employed or independent contractors make on average more than NPs who are employed by a medical group, hospital or private practice. Working as a locums certainly pays off. NPs can benefit from short-term assignments that allow them to supplement their incomes at oftentimes higher rates than salaried staff.
Locum tenens NPs can earn from $65 to $85 an hour on average depending on specialty, certifications, geographic location, and demand.
Renee Watson, an NP who specializes in cardiovascular surgery and critical care, worked in a permanent position at the University of Maryland before transitioning into locum tenens full time.
She states, “My pay is nothing to complain about. It is much higher than what I was making as a permanent staff person. The high pay, in addition to the benefits that are afforded to me, makes locums a very attractive option.”
Strategic planning can increase NP earnings
Whether you’re considering a career as an NP, or you’re already seasoned in your practice, understanding the variables that impact your income can help you make strategic decisions on how to get ahead. Of course, working locum tenens as an NP offers more than financial benefits. You also have the opportunity to explore new settings, develop diverse skills, and travel to unique locations.
As NP Patricia Gambrell explains, “It’s a great opportunity to see parts of the country that you haven’t seen, it’s a great opportunity to make a really good financial living, it’s a great opportunity to get experiences outside of what you’re used to and to learn something new, and it’s a great opportunity to meet people that you wouldn’t have any opportunity to meet in your life.”