Employment of nurse practitioners is projected to grow 26 percent from 2018 to 2028, mainly because of the increased importance of preventive care and the growing need for healthcare services for our aging population. Never before has the demand or opportunity for Nurse Practitioners been as strong as it is now. U.S. News and World Report names Nurse Practitioner as #5 in its Top 100 Best Jobs in America. NPs are stepping in to fill the gap left by the shortage of physicians over the past ten years. 

While the average salary for a Nurse Practitioner is a healthy $109,000, depending on the specialty or subspecialty one chooses, salary opportunities grow from there. Currently the top two nurse practitioner specialties with the highest salaries are Psychiatry (PMHNP) and Neonatal (NNP). Let’s take a closer look at these NP specialties. 

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners 

Psych Nurse Practitioners work with patients of all ages with mental health needs. Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the US lives with mental illness. With the Affordable Healthcare Act and the acceptance and regularization of mental health issues like depression, anxiety and PTSD, there is a marked increased demand for mental health professionals. This demand is reflected in the average salary for a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, which is between $123,000 and $132,000. 

PMHNPs assess, diagnose, and treat patients, developing and prescribing plans of care that involve medication and psychotherapy. Congruent with nurse practitioners’ complete approach to healthcare, Psych NPs instruct and advise patients and their families about mental health issues and steps they can take to improve their care. 

Duties characteristic for a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner include evaluating and diagnosing mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, bipolar disorder, and dementia. Other mental health issues they deal with can include grief and anger, trauma and stress-related disorders, and eating disorders. Diagnosing these issues can include getting a patient’s verbal history, physical exam, and ordering diagnostic testing. Once a diagnosis is made, the Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner develops and oversees a patient plan, consisting of medication and/or psychotherapy treatment as necessary. Patients can be treated in group settings, one-on-one, or along with family members. 

Neonatal Nurse Practitioners

The need for Neonatal Nurse Practitioners (NNP) is growing due to an increase in neonatal intensive care units (NICU). As technology continues to improve and flourish, NICUs across the US will expand along with it, fueling the need for NNPs. The demand is evident in the average salary for Neonatal Nurse Practitioners, which is $123,000.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioners are experts in neonatal care, that provide focused care to pre-term and full-term newborns and infants in need of specialized attention. The needs they are responsible for include low birth weight, infectious disorders, genetic issues, heart and congenital abnormalities, and respiratory distress, among many others. While most NNPs work under direction from a neonatologist, they take on the total care and responsibility of their patients’ health, using their expertise and judgement to assess, diagnose and employ care plans and procedures. 

NNPs can work in an array of settings that include delivery rooms, neonatal intensive care units, and specialty clinics. In addition to their clinical responsibilities they often instruct medical staff and provide education and support to family members, perform research, and act as consultant on specialized matters. 

Average Salaries for Nurse Practitioner Specialties 

The great news is that while these specialties are at the top end of the spectrum, even at the low end of the range, a nurse practitioner in any specialty pulls in a salary significantly higher than the national average, and this will only be moving upward. 

Average Salaries by Specialty for NPs

Psychiatric / Mental Health – Family: $132,115

Psychiatric / Mental Health – Adult: $129,13

Psychiatric / Mental Health: $123,360

Neonatal: $123,041

Gerontology: $121,614

Hospice and Palliative Care: $111,202

Acute Care: $111,083

Adult-Gerontology, Acute Care: $109,700

Oncology: $108,668

Adult: $108,047

Family: $107,917

Adult-Gerontology, Primary Care: $105,922

Pediatrics: $102,492

Women’s Health: $101,787

Diabetes Management-Advanced: $101,000