The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS Dec. 2015)—the federal agency which reports employment data including job numbers and pay—found that of the 20 fastest growing occupations, 13 were directly related to healthcare. Number seven on this list of professions was nurse practitioner, a career which is expected to see openings swell 35 percent nationally between 2014 and 2024, five times the average growth projected across all jobs during that same decade (7 percent). With the expected addition of 44,700 NPs around the country—many of them in the adult-gerontology specialization—these advanced practice nurses should have a wealth of job opportunities in the years to come.
Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioners (AGNPs) must have at least a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree in order to achieve national certification and state licensure in their specialty area. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP Oct. 2016), a professional organization of NPs, reports that the average full-time base salary for US nurse practitioners was $102,526; those specializing in adult primary care or adult-gerontology comprised 20.8 percent of all individuals employed in NP fields. AGNPs care for young adult, adult, and elderly patients throughout their lifespans and AGNP programs often focus on one of two main areas:
The scope of practice of all AGNPs varies greatly from state to state. The AANP provides a list of states which grant NPs ‘full practice’ authority (e.g., Washington, Nevada, Arizona, Maine) and the others that only allow for reduced or restricted practice (e.g., Texas, Florida, California, Virginia). NPs with full practice authority exercise the greatest autonomy on the job while those working in states with restricted practice may not be able to practice to the complete extent of their education and training.
Regardless the state’s scope of practice environment, AGNPs command relatively lucrative salaries. This guide gives an overview of how much an AGNP can expect to make in the US according to experience, region of practice, and other factors.
The BLS (May 2015) reported that the annual average salary for the 136,060 NPs nationwide was $101,260, more than double the $48,320 average salary for all occupations (BLS 2015). In more granular terms, here is a breakdown of the wage percentiles for American NPs across all specializations:
In hourly figures, these salaries equated to:
Not surprisingly, these wages tended to vary based on factors such as source of data, experience of practitioner, region of practice, and other factors. Here is an overview of nurse practitioner salaries.
A study conducted by the AANP shows that not surprisingly, more experience generally results in higher pay. In fact, AANP’s 2015 National NP Compensation Survey of more than 2,200 nurses across the country found the following variations among all NPs based on years of experience:
The difference became even more pronounced once bonuses and other extras were taken into consideration for total compensation. For example, those with up to five years experience earned $101,946, but those with 16 to 20 years earned an average of $121,427.
While the AANP survey is not broken down by specialty, Payscale (2017), a site which aggregates self-reported wages across occupations, echoed the positive correlation between experience and pay. Its data from 71 gerontological NPs shows the following salary averages:
While the BLS (May 2015) does not provide regional information for nurse practitioners by specialty, it does list information on generalized NP pay throughout the country. Among the top paying states for the NP field were:
In the same analysis, the BLS’s (May 2015) top-paying metropolitan regions for NPs were mainly concentrated in the Golden State:
Living in an area with higher compensation for nurse practitioners may be desirable, but could come with a higher cost of living. As proof of point, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2016) found that the five most expensive states (or areas) in the US were Hawaii, the District of Columbia, California, Massachusetts, and Alaska. Therefore, two of the top-paying states for NPs also incur some of the highest costs of living.
Data is also available on NP pay when viewed from broader regions of the country. The Advance Healthcare Network shows in its 2015 NP Salary Survey Results: By Region that working in the West or South as an NP could be more lucrative than working in other areas. The AHN reported the following regional average salaries:
Finally, the Advance Healthcare Network (2015) also provides information on geographic differences in terms of urban, suburban, or rural settings. In its “2015 NP Salary Survey Results: Salary By Specialty & Setting,” the AHN found the following average annual salaries among different types of living environments:
Please note that updated 2016 figures should be available by the end of January 2016.
Various factors such as years of experience, certification, and even location can impact how much adult gerontology nurse practitioners earn. In fact, the AANP (2015) does specify earnings by specialty in its most recent National Nurse Practitioner Compensation Survey. It found that among the 28 respondents working in adult-gerontology acute care and the 55 respondents working in adult-gerontology primary care, the base salaries were:
These did increase when bonuses and other earnings were added. These same respondents reported that with benefits their overall compensation increased to:
Similarly, Payscale (2017) reported the average earnings for adult gerontology nurse practitioners to be quite high, ranging between $65,436 to $120,755 (including bonuses). Moreover, the average bonus for responding AGNPs was $12,500. With salary broken down by percentile, the 29 AGNPs earned:
The Advance Healthcare Network’s 2015 Salary by Specialty and Setting reported salaries among specialty areas and settings for NPs, including psychiatry, urgent care, oncology, and women’s health. Notably, areas where many acute care practitioners work tended to garner the highest pay relative to primary care settings. Among the practice environments most relevant to AGNPs, the survey found the following annual average salaries nationwide:
As mentioned in the introduction, job opportunities for all NPs are expected to explode in coming years. The need for AGNPs arises from the aging Baby Boomer generation, the expansion of medical care ushered in by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and a growing demand for healthcare services in rural areas, among other forces. In sum, pursuing a career as an AGNP can help fill the expansive demand for NPs across the country.