How Much More Can I Earn with a DNP?

DNP nurses enjoy greater professional opportunities, more respect and recognition within interdisciplinary health teams, and with all of that also comes greater earning power.

If a higher salary  is what you’re after, then earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice to advance your career is definitely something worth considering. In fact, earn a DNP and you’ll earn, on average, about $6,000 more than your MSN counterparts and a staggering $42,000 more than your BSN-prepared RNs.

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While a DNP may go beyond the minimum requirements for most nursing positions, including nurse practitioners and other advanced practice RNs (though it’s worth noting that nurse anesthesiologists will be required to hold a DNP for national certification by 2025), there has been a steady movement toward the doctorate replacing the MSN as the new minimum requirement for APRN certification and licensure.

But in the meantime, by earning the DNP you’ll be more than qualified for some of the highest level nursing positions in both clinical care and systems-focused roles– most of which also happen to come with some of the highest salaries in the field.

Earn the DNP and you’ll enjoy more recognition among your doctorate-prepared colleagues and within the interdisciplinary health team…more varied professional opportunities, including coveted executive roles and nursing leadership positions…and an annual salary that is, on average, about $6,000 more than nurses with an MSN and $42,000 more than nurses with a BSN, based on 2019 statistics from Medscape.

How Do DNP Salaries Compare to MSN Salaries for NPs and Other APRNs?

The average salary for a DNP-prepared APRN was $122,000, according to a 2019 Medscape survey, which was about $6,000 more than the average salary for an MSN-prepared APRN, that’s about a 5%  bump.

In all cases, DNP-prepared APRNs earn more than their MSN-prepared coworkers in the same roles:

  • Nurse practitioner: $107,000 (MSN) … $114,000 (DNP)
  • Nurse-midwife: $106,000 (MSN) … $108,000 (DNP)
  • Nurse anesthetist: $188,000 (MSN) … $195,000 (DNP)
  • Clinical nurse specialist: $102,000 (MSN) … $104,000 (DNP)

How Do DNP Salaries Compare to MSN and BSN Salaries Among Nurse Leaders?

A 2016 survey by the American Organization for Nurse Executives identified salary trends among nurses with different educational levels and confirmed that nurse leaders with the DNP – including CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, consultants, directors, managers, specialists, APRNs, and more – took the lead when it came to earning power every time.

For example, according to the survey, 47% of nurse leaders with doctorate degrees earn more than $160,000 per year, compared to just 33% with master’s degrees and only 1% with bachelor’s degrees as their highest degree.

Here’s how the numbers break down:

  • The highest number of respondents with doctorate degrees (12%) reported earning $250,000 or more, followed by those earning between $140,000 and $149,999 (8%).

For comparison, here’s what nurses with a BSN or MSN are earning:

  • The largest number of nurse leaders with master’s degrees (37%) reported earning between $100,000 and $139,999, with those earning between $120,000 and $129,999 making up the largest group (10%).
  • The largest number of nurses with bachelor’s degrees (20%) earned between $100,000-$109,999, followed closely by those earning between $90,000-$99,999 (18%) and $80,000-$89,999 (14%).