Doctor of Nursing Practice Salary in California

California is in the midst of a critical nursing shortage in many parts of the state, according to 2018 research conducted by the Healthforce Center at the University of California San Francisco. Significant shortages are projected for the Central Coast, San Francisco Bay, and Central Valley regions.

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Not surprising, the RNs remain the largest licensed health profession in California, at 4,000 professionals. According to the Healthforce Center, experience in specialized care remains one of the major concerns about nursing shortages. While there are enough new graduates to replace open positions, many times, graduates do not possess the skills or education of those they are replacing, thus highlighting the need for nurses who hold advanced degrees, such as the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).

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Fortunately, many California RNs are rising to the occasion and pursuing advanced levels of education to satisfy the growing need in California. For example, 2017 statistics from the California Health Foundation reveal that the supply of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) in the Golden State has risen steadily in recent years, with many showing double-digit growth since between 2012 and 2016:

  • Nurse Anesthetists: 15.1%
  • Nurse-Midwives: $3.8%
  • Nurse Practitioners: 21.2%

While the MSN remains the minimum educational requirement to become an APRN, many nurses are choosing to pursue the DNP to broaden their professional opportunities and boost their earning potential.

According to the 2018 Advance Healthcare Network salary survey, California led the nation for its pay of nurse practitioners, with an average, full-time salary of $106,000. The same salary also revealed that nurse practitioners with a DNP earn about 7% more their MSN counterparts.

Statewide Salary Data for DNP-Educated APNs and More in California

DNP-educated nurses in all their various roles are consistently recognized for earning top salaries (California Employment Development Department, 2018):

  • Nurse-Midwives – $175,310-$198,050
  • Nurse Administrators and Executives – $153,740-$200,340
  • Nurse Practitioners – $155,780-$191,090

Salaries for DNP-Educated Nurses in the Major Cities of California

The California Employment Development Department provides salary information for DNP-educated advanced nursing professionals in the state’s most populated cities (2018):


  • Los Angeles – $164,570-$188,520
  • San Francisco – $186,570-$203,230

Nurse Administrators and Executives:

  • San Francisco – $171,540+
  • Sacramento – $156,820-$198,780
  • Los Angeles – $149,640-$190,570
  • San Diego – $151,270-$197,680

Nursing Instructors:

  • San Diego: $125,680-$167,250
  • San Francisco: $135,390-$181,260
  • Sacramento: $124,060-$153,020

Nurse Practitioners:

  • San Francisco – $182,880+
  • Los Angeles – $161,640-$194,180
  • Sacramento – $156,930-$191,010
  • San Diego – $131,500-$157,090

An Overview of Hourly Wages for California’s DNP-Educated Nurses

A 2019 Medscape Compensation Report found that 78% of APRNs are paid overtime, which highlights that these professionals are most often paid an hourly wage. It’s therefore beneficial to also view wages for these professionals on an hourly basis to account for overtime opportunities that can dramatically supplement pay.

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The California Employment Development Department provides hourly wages for DPN-educated nursing professionals, as of 2018:

  • Nurse-Midwives: $84.28-$95.22
  • Nurse Practitioners: $74.89-$91.87
  • Nurse Administrators and Executives: $73.91-$96.32


Salary and employment data compiled by the California Employment Development Department in May of 2018 – ( Salary data represents state and MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) average and median earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.

All salary and job growth data accessed in December 2019.

This page includes salaries that fall within the 75th and 90th percentiles for each nursing role to account for the fact that DNP-educated nurses are recognized as earning more than master’s-prepared nurses in the same roles.

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