Earning potential as a Psych NP
Becoming a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) can be a potentially high-paying career pathway for current Registered Nurses (RN) or nurse practitioners seeking to specialize their practice in the field of mental health.
Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners can work in many types of healthcare facilities, including hospitals, clinics, or private practice. NPs across all industries earn an average salary of $114,510 per year ($55.05 per hour).*
You can find the average NP salary by state below, as well as compare average salaries for nurse practitioners employed in mental-health related facilities below.
Average NP salary by state
|State||Per hour||Per year|
|District of Columbia||$55.84||$116,150|
|State||Per hour||Per year|
All salary data courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Multiple sources suggest the demand for PMHNPs will be on the rise in the near future.
- The National Center for Health Workforce Analysis estimates the demand for psychiatric nurse practitioners will grow 18% from 2016-2030.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of all nurse practitioners to increase 52 percent from 2020-2030, much faster than the average across all U.S. occupations.
Now is an excellent time to begin working towards joining a specialty poised for growth.
Average NP salary by industryi
Nurse practitioners employed in mental health and substance abuse-related facilities can potentially earn higher pay:
|Job / Career||Per year||Per hour|
|Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals||$114,480||$55.04|
|Offices of Mental Health Practitioners (except Physicians)||$126,200||$60.67|
|Outpatient Mental Health and Substance Abuse Centers||$128,840||$61.94|
|Residential Mental Health and Substance Abuse Facilities||$130,830||$62.90|
i. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2020). Occupational employment and wage statistics, May 2020: All data. United States Department of Labor. https://www.bls.gov/oes/tables.htm
Increase your earning potential with a DNP
You can potentially earn a higher salary as a PMHNP by enrolling in a post master’s DNP program and expanding on your graduate-level nursing education.
Medscape’s 2021 APRN Compensation Report states nurse practitioners with a doctorate make about 5% more than those with a master’s degree.1
Frequently Asked Questions
A post-master’s certificate is the best way to bridge from FNP to PMHNP as one of the shortest options for a master’s level education.
Our Post Master's PMHNP certificate program can be completed in 20 months, providing current FNPs a fast path to taking the next step in their NP career.
The role of a PMHNP can overlap with psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and other healthcare professionals who routinely perform psychotherapy. However, the total scope of practice for each role is different and varies by state requirements.
Psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners hold a master’s degree or doctorate in nursing, while a psychiatrist is a physician who went to medical school and completed a residency program specializing in psychiatry.
PMNHPs can do many things a psychiatrist does, including psychotherapy, prescribing medications, developing and managing treatment plans and educating patients and their families.
Psychiatrists are typically able to treat more complex types of disorders, but PMNHPs may treat many common disorders like anxiety, depression, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Schizophrenia, substance abuse/addiction, and much more.
While registered nurses with an ADN or BSN may pursue roles related to mental health and gain professional experience there, working as a nurse practitioner represents the next level of clinical knowledge and education.
To become a board certified psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner, you will need to earn at least a master’s degree from an accredited PMHNP program. View all of eligibility requirements from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).
A PMHNP is a type of Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) who holds expertise in behavioral health and wellness. Their role is to assess, diagnose and treat patients exhibiting psychiatric or addictive disorders. A PMHNP’s job description and scope of practice can include:
- Provide psychological counseling (psychotherapy)
- Prescribe medication and monitor its effects
- Collaborate with additional health professionals: doctors/physicians, nurses, administrators and other healthcare staff
- Conduct research to improve the delivery of mental healthcare
- Educate and consult nurses and other mental health professionals
- Order and interpret diagnostic tests
Whole health begins with mental health—including all ages and demographics across the lifespan. As a nurse practitioner within the mental health specialty, you will have the opportunity to continue your education and focus your experience in many different types of care, including pediatric, geriatric/adult, women’s health, public health and much more.
Where do they work? PMHNPs may work in many different healthcare environments, including hospitals, private practices, mental health centers, primary care offices or governmental institutions.
The National Center for Health Workforce Analysis estimates the demand for psychiatric nurse practitioners will rise 18% from 2016-2030.
In regard to all nurse practitioners, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 52% increase in employment from 2020-2030, much faster than the average across all U.S. occupations.*
Both of those common types of nurse practitioner specialties are highly rewarding and represent a big step forward for a registered nurse looking to advance their career.
- Choose Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) if…you want to be a true psychiatric/mental health specialist, and enjoy giving a voice to patients who are too often misunderstood. An excellent pathway for nurses who have gained practical experience behavioral health or worked in a community mental health facility and want to continue in the psychiatric field.
- Choose Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) if…you want to specialize in the broader field of family practice across the lifespan and prefer a hands-on approach to patient care. You may pursue many different specialties in neonatal (NICU), pediatric or geriatric care. As an FNP you’ll have a strong educational foundation to pursue your unique career path in family practice. Learn more about the Herzing University MSN – Family Nurse Practitioner program.
Learn more about the biggest differences between FNP vs. PMHNP.