Nurse Practitioner Starting Salary in 2021
Written By: Lauren Jacobson MS, RN, WHNP-BC
For healthcare professionals, 2021 has been quite the year. As you look at the nurse practitioner starting salary, there are some important considerations to take into account. What state will you be working in? Will you be working in an urban or rural area? Are you interested in working for a private practice or in public health? All of these factors will influence your salary to some degree. Here we will go over the starting salary for nurse practitioners in general, but also in each state.
What Does an Entry-Level Nurse Practitioner Do?
As an entry-level (new) nurse practitioner you will provide care to patients in the population focus group
you were trained and certified in. You will likely start with a decent amount of autonomy in providing routine preventative care, and you will ideally work with your supervisors and clinical team to plan what types of cases you are comfortable seeing independently and what things you would like more training or assistance with. What you will be doing depends largely on the clinical setting. If you are in an outpatient setting you will be seeing patients for routine preventative visits or problem visits. Depending on the clinic you may do small procedures. If you work in a hospital you will do more rounding and treatment planning as well as procedures when indicated.
What is the Average Starting Salary for Nurse Practitioners in the United States?
As mentioned, the starting salary for nurse practitioners in the United States varies depending on experience level, state, clinic type, patient population, and whether you work in a rural or urban setting. When starting you can expect to be paid on the lower end of average in line with your experience. The median nurse practitioner starting salary is about $81,410 annually or $39.14 per hour. Monthly, the starting pay is about $6,780.
What is the Salary Outlook for New Nurse Practitioners?
As a nurse practitioner, you can expect your salary to grow with your work experience. According to the Bureau for Labor Statistics
in 2019 the median pay for nurse practitioners was $109,820 annually. The lowest-paid 10% of nurse practitioners earn around what nurse practitioners starting will make, less than $82,460, and the highest-earning 10% make more than $184,180. They also projected a 28% increase in jobs for nurse practitioners between 2018 and 2028. As you gain experience not only do you become more marketable, but you can also gain skills that may enable you to work in certain specialty clinics where you can earn a higher salary. Keep in mind that even if you are starting off, certain states will have higher salaries than others, and so will urban environments compared to rural ones.
Nurse Practitioner Starting Salary by State – Based on BLS Data
Following is the Nurse Practitioner Starting Salary (Listed in Alphabetical Order) for all 50 states.
In Alabama, as a new nurse practitioner, you can expect to make about $34.45 per hour or $71,660 annually. State laws affect how nurse practitioners can practice. Some states like Alabama have reduced practice
for nurse practitioners which can limit some aspects of what you can do independently.
At $29.58 per hour and $61,530 annually, Alaska nurse practitioner salaries are low compared to some other states. Being the largest state in the country, however, means you may have more job opportunities in rural towns where the cost of living is less than in Anchorage.
Starting as a nurse practitioner in Arizona you will make approximately $31.52 an hour or $65,560 per year. While this may seem low, when comparing Phoenix, Arizona to Boston, Massachusetts, consumer prices including rent are 37% lower. Arizona is also a full practice state
. This means that your nurse practitioner license permits you to fully care for patients without supervision or a collaborating agreement. In these states, it may also be possible to own your practice.
Arkansas is another reduced practice state. They offer competitive starting salaries for new nurse practitioners with hourly rates of about $39.83 and annual salaries of $82,840.
The nurse practitioner starting salary in California is $104,890 annually and $50.43 per hour, which is high compared to many other states. Just remember that cost of living and taxes are in line with the salary projections. San Francisco, California has a comparable cost of living to New York City. California is also a restricted practice state
. This means that you will be required to have supervision or team management by another healthcare provider for the duration of your career.
| Hourly|| $50.43 |
| Annual|| $104,890 |
Colorado is becoming a popular place for people to move to as it is known for its outdoor activities. With a starting salary of $72,890 annually and $35.04 per hour, you can expect to live a good life in Colorado.
| Hourly|| $35.04 |
| Annual|| $72,890 |
In “The Rich State” as Connecticut is known, you will not find the highest costs of living or the highest starting salaries. You will be able to live comfortably at $37.40 per hour and $77,800 annually while being nestled between New York City and Boston.
| Hourly|| $37.40 |
| Annual|| $77,800 |
For a small state, Delaware has a great starting salary for nurse practitioners. Here you will start off making $40.26 hourly or $83,740 per year.
| Hourly|| $40.26|
| Annual|| $83,740 |
The Sunshine State is an attractive living location for people who love beaches, warm weather, and a low cost of living. From vibrant cities like Miami to rural towns desperate for health care, you will surely have a good job outlook. Don’t let the starting salary for nurse practitioners deter you. At $29.93 per hour and an annual salary of $62,250, you need to remember that you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck in Florida.
| Hourly|| $29.93|
| Annual|| $62,250|
In Georgia, you have mountains, beautiful beaches, and a cost of living that is about 50% lower than that of New York City. The starting salary of nurse practitioners in Georgia is $76,410 annual or $36.74 per hour. At this rate, you’ll be living more than comfortably. Georgia does have restricted practice
but keep in mind that what this means on an individual level varies per job. So just do some investigating at your interviews.
| Hourly|| $36.74|
| Annual|| $76,410|
Hawaii is a dream state with its gorgeous beaches and tropical mountain ranges. Here you can start off making $36.20 per hour and $75,300 annually. The cost of living is higher than many other states in the US but remember, the nurse practitioner job market is expected to grow.
| Hourly|| $36.20|
| Annual|| $75,300|
In the Rocky Mountain foothills, you find Idaho. If you are looking for nurse practitioner jobs here, you can expect your starting salary to be $22.00 per hour or $45,750 annually. While low, living costs in Boise, Idaho are half that of New York City.
| Hourly|| $22.00|
| Annual|| $45,750|
In Illinois, your starting nurse practitioner salary is $78,940 a year and $37.95 per hour. With the popular city of Chicago nestled on Lake Michigan, you will live a good life on this salary as living costs are much lower than some other popular US cities. Job opportunities in larger cities are also more readily available and you’ll likely be able to choose which position is right for you.
| Hourly|| $37.95|
| Annual|| $78,940|
Indiana offers a competitive salary for new nurse practitioners with a starting annual salary of $83,180 and an hourly rate of $39.99. Also in the great lakes region, Indiana offers ample opportunities for urban and rural outdoor activities as well as nurse practitioner employment.
| Hourly|| $39.99|
| Annual|| $83,180|
This midwestern state has ample opportunities for those seeking jobs in healthcare and as a new nurse practitioner, you will make a good starting salary of $84,540 annually or $40.64 per hour. Here you will have full practice rights.
| Hourly|| $40.64|
| Annual|| $84,540|
Kansas will pay a new nurse practitioner $30.61 per hour or $63,670 annually. While it may not seem like much, Kansas is a very affordable place to live in and it is likely to experience an increased need for healthcare professionals like the rest of the country.
| Hourly|| $30.61|
| Annual|| $63,670|
Bordering the Appalachian Mountains, you will have ample outdoor activities in Kentucky. As a starting nurse practitioner, you can expect to make $32.94 hourly or $68,510 annually.
| Hourly|| $32.94|
| Annual|| $68,510|
The Louisiana Nursing Workforce Demand Report
showed an increase in job demand for both nurse practitioners and registered nurses. In Louisiana, as a starting nurse practitioner, you will make around $32.14 per hour and $66,850 yearly.
| Hourly|| $32.14|
| Annual|| $66,850|
the number of nurse practitioners in Maine has been steadily increasing. Not only will you be paid well with a starting salary of $82,080 annually and $39.46 per hour but you can expect to have continued job growth.
| Hourly|| $39.46|
| Annual|| $82,080|
Maryland is home to Baltimore and situated close to the nation’s capital. As a new nurse practitioner here, you will start making $39.04 per hour or around $81,210 annually.
| Hourly|| $39.04|
| Annual|| $81,210|
Massachusetts is the center of medicine in the US with the Boston area being home to more than 20 high ranking hospitals. Nurse practitioners in Massachusetts have restricted practice but also have access to some of the best mentors and specialty clinics. Being home to numerous nursing and medical schools the healthcare job market can sometimes be oversaturated so be patient during your job search. The starting salary for nurse practitioners in Massachusetts is competitive at $89,680 annually and $43.11 per hour.
| Hourly|| $43.11|
| Annual|| $89,680|
Michigan is another place offering new grad nurse practitioners a competitive salary. Here you will start off making around $40.66 an hour to $84,560 annually. Michigan also has restricted practice
but the cost of living in its major cities is much less than those in states like Massachusetts or New York.
| Hourly|| $40.66|
This midwestern city has a lot to offer. From a competitive nurse practitioner starting salary of $91,870 per year to $44.17 per hour as well as full practice
, Minnesota is a great place for new nurse practitioners to start. Bordering Canada and Lake Superior, as well as being home to the Twin Cities, you can live a comfortable and exciting life in Minnesota.
| Hourly|| $44.17|
Mississippi offers a pretty average starting salary for nurse practitioners, but with a low cost of living. Here you can expect to start making around $37.52 per hour and $78,040 annually.
| Hourly|| $37.52|
Missouri is another restricted practice state, but they also have a high demand for nurse practitioners. You will start making a decent starting salary of about $81,630 per year and $39.25 per hour. Additionally, the rent prices in the state capital Jefferson City are 86% lower than that of New York City.
| Hourly|| $39.25|
This geographically diverse state starts off paying new nurse practitioners a competitive salary of $84,070 annually or $40.42 per hour. Here you can also experience full practice
rights as a nurse practitioner.
| Hourly|| $40.42|
With the exciting university town of Lincoln and ample rural areas, Nebraska offers starting nurse practitioners a variety of work environments. On top of that, you can expect to make $39.88 per hour or $82,960 annually when starting.
| Hourly|| $39.88|
Home to Las Vegas, Nevada offers starting nurse practitioners a competitive salary of $41.58 per hour or $86,480 annually. Nevada is another full practice state giving you more autonomy as you develop your nurse practitioner career.
29. New Hampshire:
| Hourly|| $41.58|
Located in New England, New Hampshire is home to many hiking mountains and close to the city of Boston. Here you will start off making $39.57 per hour or $82,310 annually as a new nurse practitioner.
30. New Jersey:
| Hourly|| $39.57|
New Jersey is a great place for new nurse practitioners to work. Close to Philadelphia and New York City as well as offering a high starting salary of $92,780 per year and $44.61 per hour, you are likely to have a high quality of life in New Jersey.
31. New Mexico:
| Hourly|| $44.61|
New Mexico offers new nurse practitioners a starting salary of $84,270 annually and an hourly rate of $40.52 in addition to full practice rights
32. New York:
| Hourly|| $40.52|
Home to the famous New York City as well as the mountains in upstate, New York is an attractive place to live. With a competitive starting salary of nurse practitioners in New York of $41.12 per hour or $85,520 annually, New York will offer you a nice life as you jump into your nurse practitioner career. The diverse city of New York also offers numerous jobs in private practices as well as community health clinics in need of healthcare providers.
33. North Carolina:
| Hourly|| $41.12|
From the beaches to the Appalachian Mountains, North Carolina is a lovely place to start your career. The starting salary for nurse practitioners in North Carolina is around $39.93 per hour or $83,060 annually. Nurse practitioners are also one of the top growing jobs in North Carolina.
34. North Dakota:
| Hourly|| $39.93|
North Dakota offers starting nurse practitioners a high salary for a low cost of living. Here you will make about $40.48 per hour or $84,190 annually and will have rent prices in major cities that are about 77% lower than New York City.
Bordering Lake Erie and with major cities like Columbus and Cincinnati, this 10th most populated state in the US is a rewarding place to find your first nurse practitioner job. The starting salary of nurse practitioners in Ohio is competitive at $80,780 per year and $38.84 hourly.
Oklahoma has an affordable cost of living and offers new nurse practitioners an attractive annual salary of $85,000 and an hourly rate of $40.87.
This popular state in the Pacific Northwest is home to some of the best outdoor activities in the country. As a starting nurse practitioner in Oregon, you can expect to make $40.59 per hour or $84,420 per year.
Home to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, as well as ample rural farming communities and the Appalachian Mountains, you will have your choice of working in a rural or urban environment. Whatever you choose, you will live comfortably with a salary of $75,940 annually and $35.07 per hour.
39. Rhode Island:
The smallest state in the country will treat you well by paying you $42.77 per hour or $88,970 per year as a new nurse practitioner. In Rhode Island, you will also get to experience full practice rights.
40. South Carolina:
This southern east coast state has a competitive salary and attractive cost of living. In South Carolina, you will earn around $38.86 per hour and $80,820 annually for a starting salary.
41. South Dakota:
Rent prices in Rapid City South Dakota are more than 70% lower than New York City, and you will still make a starting salary of $80,920 annually and $38.91 hourly. Plus, you’ll experience full practice rights and expected job growth like the rest of the country.
Home to the vibrant city of Nashville, Tennessee has a lot to offer. With a low cost of living $29.76 per hour or $61,900 per year will afford you a decent quality of life. With national demand for nurse practitioners expected to increase, you can also be reassured by knowing that you will have job security.
The second-largest state by both population and geography means that you will have no shortage of job opportunities as a nurse practitioner. Additionally, the nurse practitioner starting salary in Texas is competitive. As a new nurse practitioner in Texas, you can expect to make $40.79 per hour or $84,830 annually.
Nestled in the west of the country Utah provides a competitive salary for its low cost of living. The starting salary for nurse practitioners in Utah is $69,970 annually and $33.64 per hour.
This popular New England state will provide you with full practice rights and a starting salary for nurse practitioners of $81,320 per year and $39.10 per hour.
Virginia is home to the University of Virginia, one of the best nursing schools in the country. Additionally, you can live and work within commuting distance to Washington DC, in the city of Richmond, or a more rural area. The average starting salary for a nurse practitioner in Virginia is $39.81 per hour or $82,800 annually.
Washington state is becoming an increasingly popular place to live due to the growing and vibrant city of Seattle as well as its prime location in the Pacific Northwest. Salaries for new nurse practitioners are competitive here. Working in Washington you will experience full practice rights and an annual salary of $86,620 or an hourly rate of $41.65.
48. West Virginia:
The starting salary for nurse practitioners in West Virginia is $37.29 per hour or $77,560 annually. Increasing preventative healthcare and an aging population means that the demand for nurse practitioners is expected to grow as suggested by the Bureau for Labor Statistics
Wisconsin offers a high starting nurse practitioner salary of $88,460 annually and $42.53 per year. Wisconsin is a reduced practice state and with both popular cities like Milwaukee and Madison, as well as abundant rural areas, you can expect jobs to continue growing for healthcare professionals like nurse practitioners.
This Western state offers a starting salary of $84,970 per year and $40.85 per hour for new nurse practitioners. As the least populous state in the country, there may not be as many job opportunities as other locations, but you will be allowed full practice rights.
Here are some Important Tips to Help You Negotiate a Higher Starting Nurse Practitioner Salary
As you negotiate your starting nurse practitioner salary remember to research the average starting salary of the state you will be working in. Take into consideration the cost of living as well as what else will be included in your hiring package. Do you get reimbursement for continuing education? Will they reimburse you for your DEA license as well as nurse practitioner license renewal? What about vacation time and paid sick leave? These are all points that should be discussed and negotiated. Do not shy away from asking for a higher salary either. In professional roles, employers are expecting prospective employees to negotiate. Advocate for yourself and it will make it easier for you to continue doing so throughout your career.
The Bottom Line
The starting salary for nurse practitioners varies a lot depending on the state you are looking at. Additionally, the job market varies from state to state, and the cost of living should be taken into consideration. State practice regulations may also be important to you, so be sure to research these so that you know what to expect. Regardless of where you choose to work, the nurse practitioner demand is expected to increase nationally over the next 8 years. You can be reassured that you will have a level of job security as a nurse practitioner. Don’t be afraid to negotiate your salary and additional benefits that you will get as a part of your job. Good Luck!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Which state pays the highest nurse practitioner starting salary?
California pays the highest starting salary for nurse practitioners in the Nation - $104,890 a year.
Which State in the Northeast pays the highest nurse practitioner starting salary?
New Jersey pays the highest starting salary for nurse practitioners in the Northeast region - $92,780 a year.
Which State in the Southeast pays the highest nurse practitioner starting salary?
North Carolina pays the highest starting salary for nurse practitioners in the Southeast region - $83,060 a year.
Which State in the Midwest pays the highest nurse practitioner starting salary?
Minnesota pays the highest starting salary for nurse practitioners in the Midwest region - $91,870 a year.
Which State in the Southwest pays the highest nurse practitioner starting salary?
Oklahoma pays the highest starting salary for nurse practitioners in the Southwest region - $85,000 a year.
Which State in the Western Region pays the highest nurse practitioner starting salary?
California pays the highest starting salary for nurse practitioners in the Western region - $104,890 a year.
Lauren Jacobson MS, RN, WHNP-BC
Lauren Jacobson is a registered nurse and women’s health nurse practitioner who is passionate about global health and gender-based violence prevention. She is Editor and an Advisory Board Member for the Global Nursing Caucus and volunteers with Physicians for Human Rights as a medical evaluator for asylum seekers.