Nursing Salaries: How Much Does a DNP Make?

Earn a DNP to demand one of the highest salaries in nursing. Qualify for CRNA certification or become a healthcare administrator with a DNP.
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  • DNPs can qualify for the highest-paying advanced nursing specialties.
  • A DNP degree can also lead to higher-paying careers in executive administration.
  • Some DNPs become CRNAs, among the top earners of all nursing specialties.
  • DNP salaries vary by state, though overall salaries far exceed the national average.

A doctor of nursing practice (DNP) holds a terminal degree in advanced nurse practitioner skills. DNPs not only qualify for practitioner roles including nurse anesthetist but they can also pursue higher-paying jobs in administration.

Doctoral-educated nurses can become nurse executives or nursing professors at a college or university — although professors' salaries are not as high as other DNP careers.

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What Is the Average DNP Salary?

DNPs can earn median annual salaries ranging from $77,000 to more than $195,000. The following are just some of the most common DNP careers and their respective salaries, as of May 2021.

What Are the Highest-Paying DNP Specialties?

The highest-paid DNP jobs may require additional licensure, such as CRNAs or other advanced nurse practitioners, in addition to a terminal degree in this field. The table below represents the most lucrative DNP specialties.

Highest-Paying DNP Specialties
DNP Specialty Average or Median Annual Salary
Nurse Anesthetist $195,610 as of May 2021
Nurse Practitioner $120,680 as of May 2021
Nurse Midwife $112,830 as of May 2021
Nurse Manager $101,340 as of May 2021
Nursing Professor $77,440 as of May 2021

Data from the BLS and Payscale

How Much Do DNPs Make in Your State?

Nurse practitioners (NPs) and managers in each state earn well over the national median household income. Nursing professors also exceed the national median in some states. Of these occupations, nurse anesthetists out-earned other NPs, nurse managers, and nursing professors nationwide.

Overall, geographic salary trends for DNPs favor the East Coast, with states like Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York paying the highest wages, though these figures are relative. All of these states also rank in the top-eight-most-expensive places to live in the United States.

Median Salary for DNP by State (2021)

Data sourced from the BLS

The Highest-Paying States for DNPs (by Median Salary, 2021)
Nurse Anesthetist Nurse Practitioner Nurse Manager Nursing Professor
Connecticut
New Jersey
Illinois
California
New Jersey
New York
New York
District of Columbia
Massachusetts
California
Massachusetts
Hawaii

Data sourced from the BLS

Job Growth for DNPs

Job growth for DNPs in all of the above careers is projected to soar from 2020-2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Nurse anesthetist is one of the highest-paid DNP careers with the highest job growth projections. Jobs for these professionals are projected to increase by 45% from 2020-2030, according to the BLS. Jobs for medical and health services managers, including nurse managers, are projected to grow by 32% during this period.

Postsecondary teachers' projected job growth is 12% overall from 2020-2030. However, nursing professors specifically are projected to see the second-highest job growth rate (22%) of all subjects. The BLS cites a growing demand for healthcare nationwide and a retiring/shifting workforce for this increase.

What Nursing Field Pays the Most?

Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) earn the highest salaries in their field. APRNs include nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners, who require such specialized and advanced clinical skills they sometimes outperform — and outearn — primary care physicians.

Of these positions, nurse anesthetists are the highest paid, earning a median annual wage of nearly $200,000, and the most competitive, requiring a master's or DNP and CRNA certification.

Other jobs with higher DNP salaries include:

Frequently Asked Questions About Nurse Practitioner Salary

Is a DNP the same as a nurse practitioner?

No, a DNP is a terminal degree that can be pursued by anyone who has completed a master of science in nursing (MSN) — including APRNs and MSNs with a leadership or education focus.

A DNP possesses skills beyond those required of NP occupations. As of 2022, nurse practitioners must obtain a master's degree and meet didactic and clinical education requirements to enter the field. They can qualify for jobs in which they provide direct patient care, whereas DNPs may also qualify for careers in nursing education or management.

Beginning in 2025, NPs aspiring to become CRNAs will require a DNP (instead of the current MSN requirement) to earn certification in this specialty.

What is the difference between a doctor and a DNP?

While doctors and DNPs sometimes perform similar duties, they must meet different education and licensure requirements to treat patients. Doctors must attend medical school, perform clinical rotations, and earn licensure in their area of specialization. DNPs may also pursue certification to practice a particular specialty such as nurse anesthesia.

DNPs also differ from doctors in their career opportunities. DNPs can also qualify for nonclinical roles including nurse manager or postsecondary professor of nursing.

Which is better DNP or Ph.D. in nursing?

Students may pursue a DNP or Ph.D. in nursing for different outcomes. A DNP suits aspiring APRNs, or managers or educators in nursing specialties. Alternatively, a Ph.D. emphasizes research, especially in chronic illness, and nursing systems and policy.

DNPs and Ph.D. candidates receive different training to prepare for their career. For example, DNPs obtain clinical experience while Ph.D.s focus on research. Ph.D. candidates conclude the degree with a lengthy dissertation, typically not required of DNPs.

How long does it take to get a DNP?

Most DNPs require 1-2 years of full-time coursework, though completion times vary depending on entrance qualifications and experience. Applicants who hold an MSN may take less time to complete a DNP than a student who applies with only a bachelor of science in nursing degree.

Earning a DNP typically requires completion of 35-94 credits and at least 500 clinical hours.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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