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2012 NP & PA Salary Survey Results

A big increase for PA salary, but just a nudge for NPs

Editor's note: Click here to view the 2013 National Salary Survey results.

Unlike the falling salary numbers of 2011, nurse practitioners and physician assistants have regained momentum, reporting increased salaries and hourly wages across the board. In 2012, one profession made significant gains over last year's wages.

The 2012 National Salary Survey of NPs & PAs found that the average full-time salary for PAs increased more than $7,000. NP salaries rose by less than half that amount, with an increase of about $2,500.

The results were particularly impressive for PAs given the decrease in salary the profession experienced from 2010 to 2011. During that period, the average salary for PAs dropped by $2,006. In just 2 years, PAs saw an overall increase of $5,289. NPs earned an average of $2,262 more in 2012 compared to 2010, with a dip of $187 in 2011.

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Survey Methods

We conducted our annual survey using an online questionnaire created with software from Zarca Interactive, a Virginia-based company specializing in online data collection. The survey was live from June 1 through Oct. 31, 2012.

The 2012 survey drew a larger response than our two previous surveys in 2011 and 2010. We collected 4,851 responses from 3,723 nurse practitioners and 1,128 physician assistants.

Full-Time Salaries

In 2012, the average physician assistant working full time earned a salary of $102,165 and the average nurse practitioner working full time earned $93,032 (Table 1).

For PAs, this change marks a $7,295 increase over 2011 average wages of $94,870. NPs also saw an increase in 2012, earning $2,449 more than the 2011 average full-time salary of $90,583.

Although both professions experienced an increase in salary, PAs continued to outearn NPs in 2012, with a difference of $9,133 for full-time practice. In 2011, this difference was $4,287.

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Part-Time Rates

The 2012 National Salary Survey of NPs & PAs also collected information on the hourly rates paid for part-time positions (Table 1). In 2012, the average physician assistant working part time earned an hourly wage of $55.16, an increase of $4.64 per hour over 2011.

Nurse practitioners also received an increase in hourly pay, though it was less significant than that for PAs. In 2012, NPs working part time earned an hourly wage of $48.49, an 86-cent increase over 2011's average rate.

Physician assistants working part time outearned nurse practitioners by $6.67.

Gender Gap

In both professions, men still earn more than women in both full-time salary and hourly wages (Table 2). For PAs, the gender gap narrowed in 2012, with men earning $106,833 to women's $97,002. The difference is $9,881 or 10.19%, compared to $13,327 or 15% in 2011.

PAs who are women reported the highest increase in salary among all respondents.

Physician assistants who are women earned $8,107 more in 2012 than in 2011, a 9.12% increase. Physician assistants who are men earned $4,661 more in 2012, a 1.15% increase.

NPs who are women also earned more last year, but they were outearned by their male counterparts by $11,781 or 12.86%, a wider gap than the year before.

In 2011, the difference between salaries for men and for women was $7,396 or 8.2%. In 2012, NPs who are women earned an average of $91,613, a 1.86% increase over 2011. NPs who are men earned $103,394, an increase of 6.23% over 2012.

The gender difference documented in the 2012 survey is linked to the demographics of the professions. Of the 1,128 physician assistant respondents, 57% were women and 43% were men. Of the 3,723 nurse practitioner respondents, 91% were women and 9% were men.

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What's Next?

We will share additional data from the 2012 National Salary Survey of NPs & PAs on our website in coming months.

Visit our site often to view and download detailed reports on salary by practice setting, geographic location, academic degree and more.

To receive notification of these focused reports as they become available, sign up for our free enewsletter using the form posted in the upper right corner of our homepage at

A Note About Privacy

ADVANCE for NPs & PAs values reader and respondent privacy, and we will never share or inappropriately use personal data obtained during the salary survey data collection process.

In the comment box posted at the end of our salary questionnaire, several respondents voiced concerns about the personal information required to participate in the survey.

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We collect city, state and gender information to present an accurate view of the demographics of the respondents (state and city reports to be posted later).

We collect email addresses so that we can contact respondents whose answers might need clarification.

Our goal is to present the most accurate and representative data about salary and workplace issues for NPs and PAs.

We thank the 4,851 respondents who took the time to complete the 2012 survey, and we hope for even higher participation in 2013.

Data collection for this year's survey opens June 1 at

Kelly Wolfgang is the assistant editor of ADVANCE for NPs & PAs. Reach her at

Related Content

2011 NP & PA Salary Survey Results

Find out how 2011's results compare.


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While I think it is interesting to discuss differences in NP/PA salaries and the unique characteristics of each program, the real question is how we get 60-70% of physician income when we perform at least 80-90% of what MDs perform at least if not better.

L Miller,  Psychiatric January 29, 2014
Cary , NC

I am a medical assistant and I am looking to further my education. Money shouldn't be the main factor in the medical field, it's really about the love of helping others and learning new things about the body each and every day. I really want to be Physician Assistant because they have a wider scope of practice and can be in any specialty out there. The reason why they get paid more than NPs plus they go through more rigorous training. I am going to get my Registered Nursing Bachelor's degree and get my Masters in Physician Assisting.

Yesenia dB,  Medical AssistantOctober 30, 2013
Atlanta, GA

Thanks for the info and comments below. I can easily say that working with both NP's and PA's, it's a toss-up. I've experienced other PA's who are better than some NP's and NP's who are more finely attuned than PA's. Furthermore, the aforementioned salary is "okay," but sadly does not measure up to either's education investment. I recently ran into a previous colleague of mine who has very little education aside from an 8 month long "arrhythmia institute" certification. He landed a >$90k salary with Biosense Webster. He has absolutely NO other medical background history or other medical education. I'm a PA, just graduated from school a year ago, and was floored at what little intelligence and effort it took for him (this guy isn't terribly bright, but has "charm") versus the sweat and hours I put forth, let alone the loans I now have to pay back on top of all the others. I know that it's not all about salary, but it's frustrating when comparing my ROI to some bumbling idiot who has the audacity to think that his short run of medical knowledge is commensurate to a cardiologist's.

Anonymous Medical Professional,  PAOctober 08, 2013

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