15 Highest-Paying States For PMHNP Graduates – 2024


Written By: Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH


Psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners are among the most highly paid nurse practitioners. This is partly because there are so few of them: According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, PMHNPs only comprise 6.5 percent of the NP workforce. But in part, PMHNP salaries reflect the escalating need for mental health and behavioral services in post-pandemic America, where it’s been estimated that 20 percent of American adults—equivalent to some 50 million individuals—are affected by a mental illness or disorder. What are the highest-paying states for PMHNP graduates? This article will tell you all you need to know about the 15 highest-paying states for PMHNP graduates in 2024.



What is the Average Salary for PMHNP Graduates in the United States?


On average, graduates of psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner programs in the U.S. earn $68.87 an hour, $2,755 a week, $11,940 a month, or $143,240 a year.

Hourly$68.87
Weekly$2,755
Monthly$11,940
Annual$143,240
(Source: Nursingprocess.org)


What are the Highest-Paying States for PMHNP Graduates?

(Based on the latest average salary data from NursingProcess.org, the following are the 15 highest-paying states for PMHNP graduates in 2024.)


STATE #1: California

In California, psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners earn $87.34 an hour, $3,494 a week, $15,140 a month, or $181,670 a year, which is 27 percent higher than the national average. Demand for mental health services in the Golden State is high: One in 10 adult Californians have a substance use disorder, and one in 20 is affected by a mental illness so serious it impacts their ability to carry out the routine activities of everyday life. The underlying issue is provider access: The Golden State has 578 federally designated MHPSAs (Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas), the highest number in the nation.

California is a full-practice state for PMHNPs who’ve completed three years or more of clinical practice, which makes these practitioners effective substitutes for more highly paid physician psychiatrists. However, only approximately 7 percent of California’s nurse practitioners are psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners, so supply is limited. This dynamic makes the Golden State the highest-paying state for PMHNP graduates.

Hourly$87.34
Weekly$3,494
Monthly$15,140
Annual$181,670



STATE #2: New Jersey

PMHNPs are highly sought after in New Jersey, and high salaries are the incentive employers use to attract and retain them. New Jersey’s mental health crisis has worsened significantly since the COVID-19 pandemic: Nearly 28 percent of the adult population report chronic symptoms of depression and/or anxiety. The Garden State has a robust network of community mental health programs for residents who can’t access private-sector mental health programs. These community mental health agencies are primarily staffed by independent contractors such as psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners. However, New Jersey PMHNPs can only prescribe medications in collaboration with a supervising physician. New Jersey psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners average $79.12 an hour, $3,165 a week, $13,710 a month, or $164,570 a year.

Hourly$79.12
Weekly$3,165
Monthly$13,710
Annual$164,570



STATE #3: New York

Psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners in New York command salaries of $78.14 an hour, $3,126 a week, $13,540 a month, or $162,530 annually. Since the Empire State is a full-practice state, PMHNPs can be utilized in a variety of practice settings, and the public and private sectors compete for their services, which drives salaries up. Additionally, New York City, where 65 percent of the Empire State’s residents live, is in the throes of a severe mental health crisis as a result of decades of disinvestment in its mental healthcare system. This has increased the demand for psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners, which also acts to boost wages.

Hourly$78.14
Weekly$3,126
Monthly$13,540
Annual$162,530



STATE #4: Massachusetts

The shortage of qualified mental health professionals in Massachusetts is so severe that nearly 20 percent of the state’s inpatient psychiatric beds can’t be filled because of staffing shortages. Concomitantly, the average wait time for an initial outpatient mental health assessment in the Bay State is longer than two months. Psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners offer a solution to this problem, which is why the Bay State is one of the highest-paying states for PMHNP graduates: State aid is used to boost PMHNP salaries and ramp up recruiting efforts. In Massachusetts, PMHNPs earn $76,61 hourly, $3,064 weekly, $13,280 monthly, or $159,350 annually.

Hourly$76.61
Weekly$3,064
Monthly$13,280
Annual$159,350



STATE #5: Oregon

Members of the PMHNP workforce in Oregon make $75.25 an hour, $3,010 a week, $13,040 a month, or $156,530 a year. All but two counties in Oregon have been designated mental health professional shortage areas by the federal government. In 2021, the Oregon state legislature allocated $1.35 billion toward behavioral health services, including substance abuse and mental health treatment. PMHNPs in the Badger State are licensed, independent practitioners, so psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners offer the most cost-effective solution to heading and staffing these services. Oregon is among the best-paying states for PMHNP graduates because high salaries are an effective way to recruit and retain these much-needed professionals.

Hourly$75.25
Weekly$3,010
Monthly$13,040
Annual$156,530



STATE #6: Nevada

Nevada is the worst state in the nation for access to mental health services, and every county in the Silver State has been identified by the federal government as having a significant shortage of mental health providers. Nevada employers pay psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners $75.25 an hour, $3,010 a week, $13,040 a month, or $156,510 annually on average in an effort to attract and maintain its much-needed PMHNP workforce. Psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners in the Silver State operate under a “full practice” regulatory structure, which means PMHNP can provide services to the full extent of their clinical training. This makes PMHNPs the most cost-effective solution to Nevada’s severe shortage of mental health professionals.

Hourly$75.25
Weekly$3,010
Monthly$13,040
Annual$156,510



STATE #7: Washington

Thirty-five of Washington State’s 39 counties are federally designated MHPSAs (Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas). Since the Evergreen State allows psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners to utilize their full training without physician supervision, PMHNPs are the most economical way to provide access to prospective clients who live in those MHPSAs. Washington State’s psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners make $74.89 hourly, $2,996 weekly, $12,980 monthly, or $155,770 annually. Insurance companies are driving the utilization of PMHNPs in the state’s private and public mental health sectors because PMHNP services can be reimbursed at a significantly lower rate than psychiatric services.

Hourly$74.89
Weekly$2,996
Monthly$12,980
Annual$155,770



STATE #8: Connecticut

Psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners in Connecticut average $72.63 an hour, $2,905 a week, $12,590 a month, or $151,060 a year. Fifty-two percent of Connecticut’s population (nearly two million people) lives in a federally designated mental health professional shortage area, even though visits to the state’s hospitals for mental health-related reasons rose by 32 percent between 2010 and 2015. Though PMHNPs can only practice under the terms of a collaborative agreement with a supervising physician, they are still considered a vital part of the strategy the state is implementing to improve access to mental health services. Workforce development, including high salary incentives, is critical to the state’s plan for onboarding new hires and managing turnover.

Hourly$72.63
Weekly$2,905
Monthly$12,590
Annual$151,060



STATE #9: New Mexico

New Mexico is among the best-paying states for PMHNP graduates because of its comparatively unique network of statewide primary care clinics that provide access to mental health services among the types of other care they offer. These clinics are largely staffed by nurse practitioners permitted to practice without physician oversight to the full extent of their training under state law. Many of these clinics are in remote rural areas where it might be challenging to attract PMHNPs and other NPs if salaries weren’t as high. PMHNP earnings in the Land of Enchantment come to $71.56 an hour, $2,863 a week, $12,400 a month, or $148,850 a year.

Hourly$71.56
Weekly$2,863
Monthly$12,400
Annual$148,850



STATE #10: Hawaii

In Hawaii, psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners make $70.87 an hour, $2,835 a week, $12,280 a month, or $148,410 a year. If PMHNPs weren’t paid so much in the Aloha State, it’s likely many of them would not be able to afford to live there since Hawaii is one of the most expensive states, with a cost of living index that’s 66 percent higher than the U.S. as a whole. Hawaii also faces a serious shortage of mental health providers even though nearly 30 percent of the state’s residents report that they or a family member need mental health services. Hawaii is a full-practice state for PMHNPs, so PMHNPs are crucial to providing better access to mental health and behavioral health services there.

Hourly$70.87
Weekly$2,835
Monthly$12,280
Annual$147,410



STATE #11: Iowa

Even though the Iowa state code has mandated a community-based, person-centered mental health and disability services network to provide regionally managed, locally delivered services, more than 1.8 million Iowans live in areas with insufficient access to mental health professionals. Regional governments, as well as healthcare employers in the private sector, are recruiting psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners as a cost-effective solution to the Corn Husker State’s access challenge since PMHNPs in Iowa are free to practice independently without physician oversight. In Iowa, PMHNPs make $70.80 an hour, $2,832 a week, $12,270 a month, or $147,260 a year.

Hourly$70.80
Weekly$2,832
Monthly$12,270
Annual$147,260



STATE #12: Minnesota

Employers pay Minnesota-based psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners $70.79 an hour, $2,832 a week, $12,270 a month, or $147,240 annually. More than 28 percent of Minnesotans report symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, but more than 27 percent of Minnesotans live in a federally designated Mental Health Care Health Professional Shortage Area. PMHMPs are well-equipped to help alleviate this service gap since the Land of Lakes has granted its psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners full practice authority. Many of Minnesota’s MHCHPSAs are in rural areas, however, where it can be problematic to recruit and retain healthcare professionals. High salaries are offered as an incentive to overcome this challenge.

Hourly$70.79
Weekly$2,832
Monthly$12,270
Annual$147,240



STATE #13: New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners enjoy independent practice and prescription privileges as well as average salaries of $69.47 an hour, $2,779 a week, $12,040 a month, or $144,500 a year. Only 45 percent of the state’s need for mental health professionals is currently being met, so demand is high for PMHNP services within the state’s hospital system and its network of 10 community healthcare centers. Salaries, stipends, and spot bonuses are among the incentives employers throughout the Granite State are using to attract PMHNP talent.

Hourly$69.47
Weekly$2,779
Monthly$12,040
Annual$144,500



STATE #14: Rhode Island

Tiny Rhode Island offers its psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners an average salary of $69.18 an hour, $2,767 a week, $11,990 a month, or $143,890 a year. Part of the reason that Rhode Island is one of the highest-paying states for PMHNP graduates is that the majority of its residents live within the Greater Providence Metropolitan Area, and large cities typically pay healthcare professionals higher salaries. But Rhode Island also has a well-documented shortage of mental health professionals, particularly in Newport and Washington Counties, both federally designated as MHPSAs. Rhode Island is a full-practice state for PMHNPs, so PMHNPs are well-suited to provide diagnosis and treatment to the 40 percent of Rhode Island residents affected by stressor-related diseases and mental disorders.

Hourly$69.18
Weekly$2,767
Monthly$11,990
Annual$143,890



STATE #15: Texas

Psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners in Texas earn $68.86 an hour, $2,754 a week, $11,940 a month, or $143,220 annually, fractionally less than the average PMHNP salary throughout the U.S. More than 80 percent of the Lone Star State’s counties are designated Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas. However, since Texas PMHNPs can only diagnose, treat, and prescribe under the oversight of a supervising physician, they can’t be effectively deployed in under-served rural areas that don’t have some kind of psychiatrist presence. But the job market for PMHNPs is fiercely competitive in cities like Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth, which drives up PMHNP earnings.

Hourly$68.86
Weekly$2,754
Monthly$11,940
Annual$143,220



My Final Thoughts


This article answered the question, “What are the highest-paying states for PMHNP graduates?” and analyzed some reasons why psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners may make more money in one state than in another. If you’re looking for ways to optimize your earnings as a PMHNP, though, consider pursuing additional training and certifications rather than relocating to one of the 15 highest-paying states for PMHNP graduates in 2024 since many of the highest-paying states have high costs of living, which will affect your total purchasing power negatively.


Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH
Pattie Trumble is a nurse who worked in both California and New York for many years as an emergency room nurse. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley, and an Associate Degree in Nursing from the Samuel Merritt Hospital School of Nursing. After 10 years of providing direct care, she went back to school and earned concurrent Master’s degrees in both public policy and public health from the University of California, Berkeley. Thereafter, she worked for various public health agencies in California at both the community and state levels providing economic and legislative analysis.