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Your Advanced Practitioner Salary Guide

Here’s What You Needs to Know About Salary Growth

Part of any successful career plan is knowing the going rate for your specialty, experience and region. Demand for healthcare is growing, and we are seeing rises in physician salaries as healthcare organizations compete to attract top talent.

In any industry, there are many factors that influence how much an employee makes. The same is true for medical professionals. Jackson & Coker analyzed and compiled advanced practitioner salary reports from key industry sources for the top specialties.

Use this guide as an aid for your career strategy – and as a way to justify your salary expectations when applying for a role.

Physician Shortages: Why Advanced Practitioner Salaries Are Going Up

What’s behind the salary increases? There is a growing demand for physicians throughout the United States. The Association of American Medical Colleges projects a shortage of more than 100,000 doctors by 2030, as America’s population ages, demanding more medical care. Concurrently, our physician population is aging and a large percentage of physicians will retire soon. More than one-third of active physicians will be 65 or older in the next 10 years.

As healthcare organizations compete for a dwindling number of physicians, you can expect that these facilities will recruit Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants as one of the strategies they use to fill open physician roles.

Nurse Practitioners: Filling the Provider Gaps

The Nurse Practitioner market is booming. There are more than 248,000 NPs currently licensed in the U.S., a number that has more than doubled since 2007, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

What’s behind the NP growth rate? The same factors contributing to America’s physician shortage. The lack of available Primary Care physicians can be counteracted by services offered by NPs.

Medical Clearance of Psych Patients in the ED

Psychiatric complaints prompt an estimated 4.9% to 6.3% of all emergency department (ED) visits in the United States. This number is increasing for various reasons, including a shortage of psychiatrists, closure of state mental hospitals, and reduced funding for community mental health care.

Lawmakers across the U.S. are seeking loosened restrictions for NPs to give them greater autonomy when caring for patients, avoiding the need for physicians to supervise. Last year, the Veterans Administration decided to grant full practice autonomy to NPs, CRNAs and clinic nurse specialists.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 31% job growth for NPs by 2024, outpacing growth for both Physician Assistants and Physicians. The occupation ranks #4 for 100 Best Jobs in 2018 by U.S. News & World Report.

The Best States for Nurse Practitioners

The top states for NP salaries 2017 are California, Alaska, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Compare that with states with the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients: Tennessee, Mississippi, Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.


States With Highest Annual Mean Wage for NPs

1. California, $126,770

2. Alaska, $125,140

3. Hawaii, $122,580

4. Massachusetts, $120,140

5. Connecticut, $118,500

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics



States With Highest Location Quotient for NPs

1. Tennessee

2. Mississippi 

3. Maine

4. Massachusetts

5. New Hampshire

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics


States with high location quotients have higher concentrations of Nurse Practitioners. On a more granular level, the top paying metro areas for NPs are (looking at annual mean wage) are Palm Bay, San Francisco, Spokane, Alexandria, and Peabody-Salem:


Top Paying Metro Areas for NPs

1. Palm Bay, FL area, $164,180

2. San Francisco, CA area, $151,660

3. Spokane, WA area, $150,040

4. Alexandria, LA area, $144,010

5. Peabody-Salem, Massachusetts area, $142,730

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics



Starting Nurse Practitioner Salaries

Nurse Practitioners with more than 20 years of experience made $107,000 in 2017 versus $105,000 for 11-20 years and $102,000 for 6-10 years of experience.


Physician Assistants: A Booming and Necessary Role

Physician Assistants are poised to grow at a much faster rate than other occupations. Physician Assistant employment is projected to grow 37% by 2026, according to the BLS, making it the fifth fastest growing occupation. PAs will continue to play an integral part in our healthcare system as the demand for healthcare services grows.

The median annual wage for Physician Assistants in 2017 was $104,860. Of course, the type of your facility impacts PA salaries, with those in employment making more than those in physician offices.



PA Media Annual Wage By Employment Type

1. Employment services, $114,780

2. Outpatient care centers, $111,740

3. State, local and private hospitals, $108,250

4. Offices of physicians, $102,890

5. Educational services, $101,730

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics



The Best States for Physician Assistants

Physician Assistants salaries vary by state. In 2017, the states where PAs make the most are Washington, New Jersey, Nevada, North Dakota and Hawaii. States with the best job opportunity are Alaska, South Dakota, New York, Maine and Montana.



States With Highest Annual Mean Wage for PAs

1. Washington, $120,200

2. New Jersey, $119,260

3. Nevada, $119,210

4. North Dakota, $117,500

5. Hawaii, $116,600

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics



States With Highest Location Quotient for PAs

1. Alaska

2. South Dakota

3. Maine

4. New York

5. Montana

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics



When we look at cities, the top metro areas for PA salaries (by annual median wage) are Cedar Rapids, West Palm Beach, Olympia, Spokane and Mount Vernon.



Top Paying Metro Areas for PAs

1. Cedar Rapids, IA area, $146,870

2. West Palm Beach, FL area, $143,750

2. West Palm Beach, FL area, $143,750

4. Spokane, WA area, $137,240

5. Mount Vernon, WA area, $136,900

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics





What to Know About Benefits for Advanced Practitioners

Beyond base salary, you’ll need to take benefits into account when considering a new position.

Employee benefits cost U.S. employers an average of $11.55 per hour, according to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, making up about 30% of employees’ total compensation. So, if you make a salary of $299,000, you can expect to receive about $90,000 in standard benefits.

A strong basic benefits package includes medical and dental insurance, cost sharing, disability insurance, life insurance, paid time off, retirement funds, CME dues and malpractice coverage, according to SullivanCotter, a firm that provides healthcare benefits strategy.

Of course, as organizations try to woo a small pool of physicians, many are offering non-traditional benefits like relocation expenses, student-loan repayment and sign-on bonuses which can reach into six figures.


We expect Physician Assistant salaries will continue to rise as demand for their services increases. Many facilities are turning to PAs to help ease physician staffing shortages, reduce physician burnout and provide services at a lower cost.