Accurate DNP salary information is difficult to come by, for two main reasons. First, the DNP degree is fairly new, and not yet the standard. Second, all nursing salaries vary greatly by location, experience, specialty, and practice setting. Despite these challenges, helpful information about how much a nurse with a DNP degree can earn is important to help nurses (and potential nurses) decide whether to invest the time and money to pursue a DNP degree. Fortunately, there is some useful information out there.
As an initial matter, it is helpful to be reminded that nurses continue to be in short supply and in demand. This underlying trend should keep upward pressure on all nurse salaries, including those for DNPs. And since the Doctor of Nursing Practice will soon be the highest-level degree for practicing nurses, it should command a salary at the high end of the range for all nurses.
Indeed, a recent survey suggests that this is the case. The monthly journal Advance For NPs & PAs conducts an annual survey of thousands of practicing nurses, including detailed questions about type of certification, level of education, location, type of job, and salary. In its 2011 survey results, the journal reported that the average DNP salary among nurses who responded to the survey was $98,826 per year. In contrast, the average salary of a nurse with a master’s degree was $90,250; the average salary of a nurse with a bachelor’s degree was $84,451; and the average salary of a nurse with an associate’s degree was $84,695. The average DNP salary was also higher than the salaries associated with other doctoral nursing degrees (for example, the average 2011 salary among respondents with a PhD was $95,449).
Over the course of a career, the extra salary conferred by a DNP degree could be quite substantial, though of course it must be weighed against the cost of obtaining the degree. And ultimately, an individual’s DNP salary expectations (whether they are likely to earn more or less than the average reported above) must be adjusted based on individual factors such as experience, specialty, practice setting, and location.
You can review the full report on the survey described above on the journal’s website, which includes detailed information broken down by geography and work setting. The information is free, but registration is required.