Crunching the Numbers: What Is the Average DNP Salary?

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DNP poses in her scrubs in a hospital hallway.

The DNP is a practice-based doctorate in nursing and one of the highest degrees in the field, providing graduates with the skills and training required to become leaders in the nursing profession. DNP graduates are expected to take on larger roles in problem-solving and advocacy capacities. They can also act as a bridge of communication between the clinical medicine field and other areas of the health care industry such as pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturing.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) DNP salary information indicates that graduates are expected to complete an advanced degree to take on an operational role at any medical facility. The DNP and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) are functionally at the same level in terms of advanced degrees for nursing students. While the DNP is more practical in its application, the Ph.D. tends to focus more on research and scholarly publication.

Advanced Nursing Roles Available Through a DNP

The DNP is the next step in qualification after a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). Some Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Public Administration (MPA), or Master of Public Health (MPH) students choose to complete their DNP coursework while working in the medical field, specializing in administration or education. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who make it to the doctoral level have a blend of economic, organizational, clinical, and leadership skills that enable them to achieve excellence in practice.

Skills That a DNP Holder Demonstrates

DNPs require many talents, but a few of those are critical proficiencies for successfully performing an APRN’s or administrative leader’s duties:

  • Problem-solving. Medicine and nursing are ever evolving and thus graduates need to incorporate new knowledge into their work. Having problem-solving skills enables DNP graduates to both deal with issues as they arise and apply new techniques to old problems to come up with more efficient, research-based solutions.
  • Clinical instruction. DNP graduates are expected not only to perform as nursing professionals but also to pass on what they know. Clinical instruction is necessary to communicate the essential details of dealing with patients to new trainees as well as to impart any relevant experiences.
  • Executive leadership. DNP graduates are expected to know how to handle themselves in leadership positions. They’ll need to use their training and experience to develop innovative, sustainable care programs to positively impact patient health.
  • Improving existing patient outcomes. In administrative positions especially, DNP graduates are well poised to help bring about change for the better in dealing directly with patients by offering a methodology to deal with patient needs and pushing for new research.
  • Raising the level of nursing practice. DNP graduates need to be able to adapt to change in the nursing profession as it occurs and introduce new ways of doing things into their work spaces. The economic and administrative challenges of implementing new methodologies fall squarely on DNP graduates’ shoulders.
  • Interpersonal communication. Communication — between medical practice members and also between DNP graduates and patients — is a vital skill that can impact how well DNPs perform their jobs. Communication can ease trepidation and provide conflict resolution that benefits both DNP graduates and their organizations.

Certification Requirements for DNP Graduates

DNP graduates who choose to follow the APRN career path may be required to sit for one or more certification tests. Different boards offer certifications, including the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, American Academy of Nurse Practitioners National Certification Board, American Nurses Credentialing Center, National Certification Corporation, and Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. Depending on their focus, graduates should seek certification from the relevant board.

What Is the Average DNP Salary?

According to PayScale, the average annual salary for DNP holders is $102,000 as of 2019. The DNP salary varies by specialization. ARNPs, for example, earn $94,961 annually on average, with the highest paid averaging $119,000 and the lowest paid averaging $79,000.A family nurse practitioner within the field of family medicine can earn an average salary of up to $92,540 while a psychiatric nurse practitioner with a doctoral degree can earn $102,629 per annum on average.

According to data gathered by the BLS for 2018, advanced practice nurses working in hospitals earn a median salary of up to $120,540, while nurses working in outpatient care can earn up to $115,720. At the lowest side of the scale, advanced practice nurses working in educational services earn a median salary of $104,310.

The BLS projects that employment for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners will grow by 31% between 2016 and 2026. A reason for this is an aging population with a need for elderly care professionals. The BLS also notes that states are now allowing ARPNs to widen the range of primary care services they can offer to patients, increasing the marketability of any individual with a DNP degree.

Learn More

The Regis College online BSN to DNP program is a valuable resource for students who’ve completed their BSN and are looking to bolster their professional qualifications. The online program is just as in-depth and demonstrates the same values as the on-campus program, enabling distance learning students to have the same learning outcomes as on-campus students.

Regis’s program covers nursing theory and practice basics, but it also offers the following specializations:

  • Pediatrics (PNP)
  • Women’s Health (WHNP)
  • Psychiatric Mental Health (PMHNP)
  • Family (FNP)
  • Adult Gerontology (AGNP)

Students who wish to expand their knowledge in the nursing profession, make themselves more employable, and rise up the ranks in their careers can benefit from this degree, offering both practical skills and theoretical knowledge. Explore the Regis College online BSN to DNP program today.

Recommended Reading
How Does Nursing Influence Health Care Policy?
Nursing Facts: 8 Things You Should Know About the Nursing Profession
The Key Traits of an Educated Nurse

American Association of Colleges of Nursing, DNP Essentials
American Association of Colleges of Nursing, DNP Fact Sheet
National Center for Biotechnology Information A critical examination of developments in nursing doctoral education in the United States
PayScale, Average Family Nurse Practitioner (NP) Salary
PayScale, Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Degree
Payscale, Average Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) Salary
Payscale, Average Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (NP) Salary
Payscale, Family Nurse Practitioner (NP) Salary
Regis College, 5 Indispensable Nursing Skills That DNP-Educated Nurse Practitioners Possess
Regis College, Online BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners
U.S. National Library of Medicine, “A Critical Examination of Developments in Nursing Doctoral Education in the United States”