Given the similarities in tasks between Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Physician Assistants (PAs), many individuals contemplating both healthcare vocations are intrigued about the compensation disparity. Both professions are capable of prescribing medication, performing diagnostic procedures, and evaluating patients. Both practices need considerable education, with NPs enrolling in nursing school and PAs enrolling in medical school. Given the difficulty and expense of various degree programs, compensation may play a significant role in determining which vocation to pursue.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the typical annual salary for Nurse Practitioners in 2018 is approximately $140,000, or $53 per hour. In comparison, the median annual salary for Physician Assistants in 2017 was nearly $108,000, or $52 per hour. It’s worth noting that salaries vary significantly per state. California, Alaska, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and New York are the highest-paying states for NPs, with mean annual wages ranging from approximately $118,000 to $127,000.
Alabama, South Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee pay the least for NPs, with median annual salary ranging from approximately $95,000 to $96,000.
By comparison, the highest-paying states for PAs are Connecticut, Washington, Alaska, New Jersey, and Nevada, where the mean annual compensation ranges between around $119,000 and $126,000.
Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Rhode Island, and Kentucky are the lowest paying states for PAs, with a median annual salary of approximately $90,000 to $94,000.
Along with the predicted income, it is critical to consider the job forecast for each position. Between 2018 and 2028, the BLS projects a more than 25% increase in employment for NPs and a more than 30% increase in employment for PAs. This is significantly quicker growth than the average for all jobs. With a higher need for advanced-degree healthcare workers, a greater emphasis on preventative care, and an aging population, both vocations appear to have a bright future.