RN vs. NP vs. PA pay: Key comparisons to know

The national average annual salary earned by registered nurses, physician assistants and nurse practitioners varies by $36,260, depending on credentials, according to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics employment survey

There are 3,072,700 actively practicing registered nurses, compared to 258,230 nurse practitioners and 140,910 physician assistants. 

Here is a table providing insight on compensation differences between registered nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants in the U.S.:


Registered  nurses

Nurse practitioners

Physician assistants

Mean annual salary




Mean hourly wage




Median annual salary




Avg. annual salary among bottom 10% of earners 




Avg. annual salary among top 10% of earners




Avg. annual salary in highest-paying state for profession 

$133,340 (California)

$158,130 (California) 

$145,390 (Washington)

Avg. annual salary in lowest-paying state for profession

$64,500 (South Dakota)

$99,330 (Tennessee)

$68,270 (Arkansas)

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