Navigating the Numbers: A Look at Average NP Salary and Compensation

Vanessa Pomarico, Ed.D, APRN, FNP-BC, FAANP

To many graduate NPs, those returning to the workforce, or those looking for an increase in salary, the concept of negotiating a salary can be daunting. Many nurses have never had to negotiate a contract, much less a salary. Knowing the average NP salary and what other benefits are offered in your area is a good place to start researching before you agree to compensation. 

Recommended course: Negotiate Your Employment Offer: Strategies to Obtain the Best Contract 

What to consider before negotiating an NP salary 

A great deal of detail goes into negotiating a contract and obtaining a desirable salary and benefit package. Doing some homework ahead of time will help alleviate any disappointment down the road. As the potential employee, it is imperative that you do your research on comparative salaries for the area where you intend to practice.  

Two questions you need to ask are:  

  1. What is the employer offering in terms of compensation (salary and benefits)
  2. What is the job description and the exact job duties? Will you have to cover the RN or any other support person when they are on vacation, thereby pulling double duty?  

It is also important to understand that benefit packages are independent of salaries. Employers are looking at the entire package of both salary and benefits. Negotiating NPs need to come prepared to justify what they are asking for, both in terms of position and salary. In some cases, both parties cannot reach an agreement. That is when you will need to decide to accept what has been offered or walk away and continue your job search.  

Navigating average NP salary packages 

How do you navigate through the salary package that was offered to you? First, look online for the average NP salary in the area where you plan to practice. Be sure to check more than one resource. Some good places to start are the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, Salary.com, and Glassdoor. Once you’ve collected several sample salaries, take an average or a median. 

Recommended course: Employment Search & Interview Strategies 

What to expect during NP salary negotiations 

When you go into the negotiations, bring a pad of paper with you and keep the top page blank. On the following page, jot down your salary range so you have something to reference if your nerves get the better of you. You can always use the top page to take notes during the negotiation meeting. The top page serves to keep your information private so as not to disclose anything prematurely by others who might be within viewing distance.  

Never make the first offer. Wait for the potential employer to make one. If the employer asks what salary you are looking for, ask what the position is paying. Decide in advance what you are willing to accept. Since you have already done your research on salaries, you will know if the offer is fair or if you need to negotiate.  

Though the employer might ask what your current salary is, there is no obligation to disclose your current salary or compensation. In cases such as these, you may consider saying that your current salary has no impact on what you are going to bring to the practice and is therefore irrelevant. 

Be mindful that salaries are set in some institutions usually by policy, grade scales and commensurate experience. Even so, you can still make a counteroffer if the first offer is too low. Most employers leave a margin for negotiations.  

In some cases, the institution may not be willing to negotiate. It is always good to find out if there is an NP or APP council within the institution that represents the interests of NPs. If there is no representative leadership, you may want to consider forming a committee to increase the visibility of NPs and their worth.  

Average NP salary ranges in the United States 

Average NP salaries in the United States vary depending on geographic area. However, generally, salaries for NPs in the United States can range from $106,000 (10th percentile) to $144,000 (90th percentile), with a median NP salary of $124,000 annually. These salaries are independent of benefits and productivity bonuses.  

When evaluating a salary offer, always ask if the position is salaried or hourly. Be prepared to do the math if it is an hourly position and what that will translate into for your annual income. Consider questions like: 

  • How many hours will you see patients?
  • Do you get any administrative time to review labs, call patients and write your notes?
  • Will the job demand that you work above and beyond the 40-hour clinical time? 

Clarification of these points early on is critical before you move ahead to avoid any disappointment after you have been hired. A 40-hour per week may easily turn into a 50, 60, or 70-hour work week, with the additional unpaid hours coming out of your own time. 

Reaching an agreement 

If you are within $5,000 of your asking salary and cannot reach an agreement, ask yourself if the position is worth walking away from for what averages out to be $96 per week. Remember that NPs are the fastest growing profession in the country. Experts expect our profession to increase 45% by 2032. Salaries have increased due to what we now bring to the table in terms of cost-effective care, experience and responsibilities that impact productivity, all translating into increased financial income to the practice. 

  

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