Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Salary and Career Outlook

Psychiatric nurse practitioners help promote wellness, prevent mental health struggles and care for those with psychiatric disorders. Keep reading to learn more about psychiatric nurse practitioner jobs and salaries.

What Does a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) Do?

In a psychiatric nurse career, you may perform patient intakes, assess and diagnose conditions, prescribe medication, and provide psychotherapy. You also may help educate and inform patients about mental health, counseling them on how to improve their well-being. PMHNPs work with patients who have a range of conditions, from anxiety, depression, and substance abuse to grief, behavioral and personality disorders, dementia, and more. According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), a national organization for NPs, the most common health conditions psychiatric nurse practitioners treat are anxiety, depression, dementia and insomnia.

If you want to become a PMHNP, one educational path is to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program with a nurse practitioner speciality. However, everyone’s career journey is different. You may consider looking into other healthcare degrees instead.

Where Do Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners Work?

Where does a psychiatric nurse practitioner work? Psychiatric nurse practitioner jobs may be found in work settings such as hospitals, treatment facilities, educational settings, physicians’ offices and psychiatric mental health facilities, which the AANP notes as the main practice setting for certified PMHNPs. Psychiatric nurse practitioners also may work with a range of patients from children to older adults. Below we explore possible work settings for psychiatric nurse practitioners.

  • Primary care health clinics: PNPs may see patients with illnesses or injuries in a primary care setting, such as a health clinic. These patients may be dealing with mental health concerns, which may cross over into physical symptoms.
  • Hospitals: As patients and their doctors deal with physical problems requiring hospitalization, psychiatric NPs may help them deal with the psychological aspects of their condition.
  • Psychiatric facilities: In outpatient facilities, psychiatric nurse practitioner jobs include seeing patients, evaluating their conditions, prescribing medicine, providing care and providing support to patients and their families. In inpatient facilities, they may have the same responsibilities but focus on both daily and long-term care of a specific population of patients.
  • Substance abuse facilities: In these facilities, psychiatric NPs carry some of the same responsibilities as in psychiatric facilities, but the patients’ symptoms or conditions likely arise from alcohol or substance abuse.
  • Government facilities: These facilities are usually part of court systems or mental health boards. Psychiatric NPs see patients who have been committed, focusing not only on their care but also on government regulations.
  • Veterans services: More than 1.7 million veterans were treated in a VA mental health program in 2019, the Department of Veterans Affairs reports. VA mental health services help treat veterans experiencing PTSD, depression, anxiety and other conditions. The VA has both physical and telehealth facilities where nurse practitioners may work.
  • Public health organizations: In addition to patient care, psychiatric NPs in public health may work in health departments, schools, universities, home health or clinics.
  • Prisons: Psychiatric nurse practitioner jobs in prisons may include caring for mentally ill prisoners and helping them deal with challenges as they arise.
  • Private practice: Psychiatric NPs may open their own office or offices in conjunction with other mental health care providers.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the category of nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives to grow 45% from 2019 to 2029. This growth is much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment of nurse practitioners specifically is expected to increase by 52% in the same time period, the BLS reports. That’s equivalent to 110,700 jobs. The BLS attributes this growth primarily to a growing focus on preventive care and demand for healthcare services for the aging population.

In 2019, the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) released a report detailing the national shortage of mental health professionals. The report notes that psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners are the fastest-growing non-physician specialty in health care. Even 10 years earlier, a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information showed that 96% of U.S. counties had unmet needs for mental health providers who could prescribe medicine.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports these mental health statistics:

  • 1 in 5 Americans experience a mental health illness in a given year.
  • 1 in 25 Americans has a serious mental illness like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
  • A little more than 20% of children have had a debilitating mental disorder.

What Can Affect Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Salaries?

Many things may affect psychiatric nurse practitioner salaries. We analyzed the results of a 2019 nurse practitioner and physician assistant salary survey from Clinical Advisor, a journal for primary care NPs and PAs, to better understand some of the factors that may affect psychiatric nurse practitioner salaries.

Based on the Clinical Advisor survey, below are some factors that may affect general nurse practitioner salaries.

  • Experience: In general, the more experience you have, the more you can earn. NPs with fewer than five years of experience had an average salary of $100,634, while NPs with more than 20 years of experience had an average salary of $112,989 in 2019, Clinical Advisor reports.
  • Workplace: Your work setting may impact your psychiatric nurse practitioner salary. For example, the Clinical Advisor survey reported an average NP salary of $103,352 in stand-alone clinics and $122,598 in hospitals.
  • Location: NPs in the western United States made more than those in the Midwest, Northeast and South, also according to the Clinical Advisor survey. Additionally, NPs in urban areas earned more than those in suburban and rural areas.
  • Education: Education is another factor that may affect your psychiatric nurse practitioner salary. NPs with a certificate of completion earned an average of $92,153 in 2019, according to the Clinical Advisor survey. Those with master’s degrees earned $107,348, and those with doctorates earned $114,910.
  • Gender: The wage gap is a factor; male NPs earned about $11,000 more than female NPs, according to Clinical Advisor’s data.

Now that we’ve covered what may affect NP salaries, we’ll talk about what you may expect from a psychiatric nurse practitioner salary in the next section.

How Much Does a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Make on Average

The median annual salary of full-time certified PMHNPs in 2019 was $125,000, according to the 2019 National NP Sample Survey from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

Psychiatric nurse salary may also vary by state or based on your work setting. The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides the following breakdown of 2019 advanced practice registered nurse (nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners) salaries by work setting.

IndustryMedian annual wage
Hospitals
$122,420
Outpatient care centers
$118,530
Physicians’ offices
$113,190
Offices of other health practitioners
$112,590
Educational services
$108,790

Try These Cities for Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Jobs

The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides salary data for nurse practitioners by location. Below are the metropolitan areas with the highest concentration of nurse practitioner jobs in 2019, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You may consider checking these cities for PMHNP jobs or to start your PMHNP career.

Metropolitan areaEmployment per thousand jobsAnnual mean wage
Jonesboro, AR
6.98
$98,690
Hattiesburg, MS
4.33
$130,360
Johnson City, TN
3.99
$99,810
Florence-Muscle Shoals, AL
3.70
$92,650
Jackson, MS
3.60
$108,300
Knoxville, TN
3.57
$100,140
Jackson, TN
3.47
$88,630
Albany, GA
3.39
$89,710
Ithaca, NY
3.32
$104,310
Cleveland, TN
3.31
$81,020

Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the following top-paying metropolitan areas for nurse practitioners in 2019.

Metropolitan areaEmployment per thousand jobsAnnual mean wage
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA
1.03
$175,060
Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA
1.64
$160,110
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
0.78
$157,150
Longview, WA
0.82
$150,520
Sumter, SC
1.39
$147,210
Redding, CA
1.10
$145,690
Salinas, CA
0.57
$145,060
Rochester, MN
Estimated not released
$144,980
New Bedford, MA
1.52
$144,450
Modesto, CA
1.08
$143,530

Explore These States for Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Jobs

Below are the states with the highest concentrations of nurse practitioner jobs in 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You may consider these states as you start your psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner career.

StateEmployment per thousand jobsAnnual mean wage
Mississippi
3.01
$110,740
Tennessee
2.61
$96,510
Maine
2.27
$106,960
Kansas
2.00
$100,550
Alabama
1.92
$99,570

When searching for psychiatric nurse jobs, salary is an important factor to consider. Below are the top-paying states for nurse practitioners in 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

StateEmployment per thousand jobsAnnual mean wage
California
0.80
$138,660
Washington
1.17
$126,920
Hawaii
0.67
$124,000
New Jersey
1.58
$123,810
Minnesota
1.38
$122,850

If you’re interested in a nursing career but aren’t sure whether psychiatric nurse practitioner jobs are best for you, there are other areas in which advanced nursing degrees are valued and well compensated. Below are some related jobs you may consider pursuing.

  • Acute care nurse practitioners (ACNPs) may specialize in a specific area, such as gerontological acute care or pediatric acute care.
  • Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) are advanced-practice nurses who specialize in specific medical areas, such as pediatrics, orthopedics, cardiology or oncology.
  • Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) often work as primary-care professionals who work with all ages concerning wellness visits, illnesses and injuries that come up in daily life.
  • Women’s health nurse practitioners (WHNPs) manage female patients through all stages of life, from adolescence to childbearing and menopause.
  • Certified nurse midwives (CNMs) provide primary care, including gynecological, family planning, prenatal, pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum care.
  • Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA) work with surgeons and anesthesiologists to assist in administering anesthesia and in monitoring patients before, during and after surgery.
  • Doctors of Nursing Practice (DNPs) may work in clinical or administrative settings, often in leadership or organizational roles.

Is a PMHNP Career Right For You?

If you’re intrigued by the idea of a nursing degree and mental health, you may enjoy a career as a psychiatric nurse practitioner. This career may also be a good fit for you if you have strong communication and interpersonal skills, as well as a sense of compassion. These skills may be beneficial as you assess, diagnose and treat patients; support patients’ families; and work with your greater nursing team.

Last Updated February 2021