Women’s health nurse practitioners (WHNPs) are advanced practice nurses focused on providing care to women throughout their lifespans. Similar to other NP specializations, women’s health is expected to be a high-growth and high-paying career into the future. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS Dec. 2015)—the main data organization of the Department of Labor—projected a 35 percent increase in job openings for NPs across the country between 2014 and 2024; to put that figure into perspective, this is five times the average growth expected across all occupations during that same decade (7 percent). With the anticipated addition of 44,700 fresh opportunities for NPs nationwide—many of them in the women’s health specialization—there will be a wealth of opportunities in the years to come.
Furthermore, WHNPs command relatively impressive salaries. Before moving into the specialization-specific analyses, many data sources found that NPs across all subfields enjoyed a high annual average salary, more than double that of all US occupations. As proof of the point, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP Oct. 2016) reported that the average base salary for NPs was $102,526. Similarly, the BLS (May 2015) found an average annual salary of $101,260, significantly higher than the mean salary across all US jobs at $48,320 (BLS 2015).
The AANP (2016) stated that 5.8 percent of all NPs work in women’s health (primary care), mainly concentrated in the OB/GYN clinical focus area. Luckily for these healthcare professionals, there’s a vibrant professional community to support them in their work: the Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health (NPWH) organization. The NPWH was established in 1980 and offers legislative advocacy, education, conferences, networking, scholarly research, and other resources to people in this NP specialization. WHNPs take on varied duties, providing acute, chronic, and preventative healthcare for women; some of these responsibilities include recording detailed health histories; conducting physical assessments, diagnostic exams, and other physiological analyses; treating various illnesses and conditions (e.g., STDs, pregnancy, infertility, menopause complications, etc.); taking a holistic approach to healthcare; making referrals to physicians and other professionals; and providing education to women and their families on all aspects of care. And for all of these services and more, WHNPs receive relatively generous salaries.
This detailed guide offers an overview of how much WHNPs typically earn, including wage variations by source of data, experience level, region, and practice setting.
According to AANP's 2015 National Compensation Survey of more than 2,200 NPs, women’s health nurse practitioners make an average annual base salary of $90,981. This jumped to $101,787 when bonuses were taken into account. While this is somewhat lower than the top-paying specialization—neonatal care with a base salary of $112,893—these differences tended to shift among clinical foci. By clinical practice area, here were the average annual base and total salaries in branches relevant to WHNPs:
There were also differences by source of data. In fact, Payscale (Jan. 2017)—an aggregator of self-reported salaries across US occupations—found that its 292 WHNP respondents’ total annual salaries ranged from $71,001 to $107,546. Here were the salary percentiles of those same WHNPs:
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2015) does not keep data on specific NP specializations, it provides the most detailed salary data on NPs as a whole. The BLS found that the 136,060 US NPs across all subfields earned an annual salary of $101,260 and enjoyed the following annual wage percentiles:
Put into hourly figures, these wages became:
Salary.com (Jan. 2017) reported slightly different percentiles for NPs as a whole:
Also, Clinical Advisor’s 2016 annual salary survey was based on 2,139 NPs and found that NPs made an average annual salary of $101,989, roughly on par with the BLS mean in this career. Not surprisingly, the WHNP salaries across the country also tended to vary by level of experience, degree achieved, and geographic region.
According to the aforementioned 2015 National NP Compensation Survey, NPs with more years on the job tended to earn higher average salaries. While the data wasn’t differentiated by specialization, here were the average annual base salaries among NPs of different experience levels:
When bonuses and other extras were taken into account, these average salary estimates became:
The Advance Healthcare Network’s (AHN) "2015 NP Salary By Degree & Experience" found a similar trend with respect to experience level with one key difference; NPs at the upper echelon of the scale had a slight dip in their mean salaries:
Payscale (Jan. 2017) also maintains detailed wage data based on years of experience. For all of its WHNP respondents, here were the average annual salaries:
Not only did WHNP salaries vary by years on the job, but they also varied by academic experience (i.e., degree achieved). In the aforementioned AHN survey, non-DNP doctoral degree holders (i.e., PhDs) enjoyed the highest annual salaries among the NP respondents:
Finally, there are also substantial differences in pay according to geographic region. As previously mentioned, while the BLS (May 2015) doesn’t distinguish between NP specializations, it found the following top-paying states for NPs across the country:
Notably, six of the ten top-paying metropolitan regions for NPs were concentrated in California:
Also, AHN’s “2015 NP Salary By Region” found that NPs in the west tended to command the highest mean annual salaries:
It’s important to add that while the salary prospects for NPs look bright in the Golden State and other regions, the cost of living also tends to be higher in those lucrative areas. By illustration, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2016) found that the five US states (or regions) with the highest cost of living were:
Lastly, in addition to geographic region, there were also variations in average pay for NPs according to work environment. In fact, AANP’s (2015) National Compensation Survey for Nurse Practitioners found that psychiatric centers, retail clinics, and VA facilities commanded some of the highest annual salaries for all NPs. Here is a breakdown of average base and total salaries (i.e., with bonuses) across various employment settings for all NPs:
Echoing these findings, AHN’s “2015 NP Salary by Specialty and Setting” reported the following annual mean salaries in various environments where WHNPs may work:
Above all, WHNP salaries can vary by many factors including degree achieved, experience level, practice setting, geographic region, and other variables.