How Much Nurse Practitioners Make in California: City by City Breakdown

nurse practitioner california

Whether you are a nurse practitioner, studying to become one, or starting your nursing education, you may be wondering how much a nurse practitioner makes. There are various factors that influence nurse practitioner salaries, one of them being location.

There are many choices when considering location. Within the United States, for instance, you have many states to choose from. Then within each state, you have a wide range of cities. Smaller cities, suburban areas, metropolitan areas, rural communities, and so on. Each of those areas has an ever-growing need for healthcare.

Once you’ve decided on a general area you’d like to practice, it’s time to look and narrow in on a more specific area. What city can you see yourself living in and practicing as a nurse practitioner?

In this article, we will take a look at the salaries of nurse practitioners in California, city by city. We will also look at the salary ranges for specialties and how California compares to the rest of the United States for nurse practitioner pay.

Table of Contents

Nurse Practitioner Starting Salary in California

Nurse practitioners that are just starting their careers can expect to make a decent salary in California. Entry-level is typically defined as those just receiving their degree and having less than two to three years’ level of experience. This varies based on a number of factors, including specialty and city.

On average, though, an entry-level nurse practitioner in California can expect to make almost $105,000 per year, which breaks down to almost $9,000 per month, and about $50 per hour. This is an attractive and competitive starting salary for just coming out of an educational program.


Average Nurse Practitioner Salary in California

Just like with any job and career, the salary for nurse practitioners in California is based on a number of circumstances. Those factors can include location, specialty, type of practice, years of experience, shift differentials, degrees and certifications, and many others.

If we look just at averages, though, a nurse practitioner in California makes about $138,660. That breaks down to $11,560 per month and $66.66 per hour.


Nurse Practitioner Salary in California by Years of Experience

The more experience a person has, the more money they’ll earn. As nurse practitioners advance in their careers, their pay will increase over the years. Pay based on experience is one of the most vital determining factors to be aware of when looking at nurse practitioner salaries.

The average entry-level nurse practitioner salary in California is $105,000 per year, or $50.43 per month. Five or six years after becoming a nurse practitioner, you’ll be earning an average of $129,000 per year. That’s a $24,000 increase in salary in just a few short years.

Looking at the mid-range experience level, nurse practitioners with ten years of experience can expect to make an average of $155,980 per year. Nurse practitioners with twenty years and more experience can make over $189,000 each year.

Years of ExperienceHourlyMonthlyAnnual
Starting (Entry-Level)$50.43$8,740$104,890
1-4 Years of Experience$55.17$9,560$114,750
5-9 Years of Experience$62.48$10,830$129,960
10-19 Years of Experience$74.99$13,000$155,980
20 Years or More Experience$91.32$15,830$189,950

Nurse Practitioner Salary in California: Breakdown By City

You may be familiar with the saying “location, location, location” when hearing about real estate. The same can be said for nurse practitioner salaries. Location is a crucial factor to look at when determining the range of salaries for nurse practitioners within California.

Again, it’s important to keep in mind the type of area you’re looking for. Metropolitan, small city, suburban, or more of a rural town. The pay for each location also varies based on need. You’ll find that the higher the need for nurse practitioners in an area, the higher the pay and more competitive benefits and compensation. These are important to keep in mind when deciding on a location.

Here we will look at some major cities within California.

– Fresno

  • Population: 542,107 in 2020
  • Near the geographical center of California
  • Popular tourist destination, being only 60 miles from Yosemite National Park, 60 miles from Kings Canyon National Park, and 75 miles from Sequoia National Park
  • Almost 600 practicing nurse practitioners in Fresno
  • Average salary of $132,510 per year

– Los Angeles

  • Population: 3,898,747 in 2020; second-largest city in the United States
  • The city is vast and covers almost 500 square miles
  • Popular with tourists due to temperate climate and amount of things to do
  • High need for nurse practitioners due to the high population
  • Average salary of $138,340 per year

– San Diego

  • Population: 1,386,932 in 2020
  • Second most populous city in California, following Los Angeles
  • Mild year-round climate
  • Navy and Marine Corps
  • Average salary of $125,550 per year

– San Jose

  • Population: 1,013,240 in 2020
  • Located on the southern shore of San Francisco Bay
  • Known for high cost of living, with the highest percentage of million-dollar homes in the United States
  • Lower than average unemployment rate
  • Average salary of $136,630 per year

– San Francisco

  • Population: 873,965 in 2020
  • A small area of less than 50 square miles
  • Home to the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, and many other notable attractions
  • Popular destination for wine enthusiasts visiting Napa Valley
  • Average salary of $157,150 per year

California Nurse Practitioner Benefits and Compensation

A salary is obviously one of the major factors to look at when deciding on a career and where to practice. But, another major factor to seriously take into consideration are the perks. What are the benefits and compensation? Just as nurse practitioners are able to negotiate their salaries, benefits and compensation are also negotiable.

In addition to the average yearly salary of $138,660, nurse practitioners in California can find themselves earning an extra $59,000 to $81,000 in benefits and compensation. The range here is dependent on if they’re working in the private sector or in a local or state government position.

Some of the most popular and top benefits and compensation options that are appealing to nurse practitioners include:

  • Health insurance
  • Paid time off (PTO)
  • Employer-sponsored pension plan
  • Professional liability insurance
  • Continuing education allowance

Salary of Nurse Practitioners in California by Practice Setting

As stated previously, the pay for nurse practitioners varies based on many factors. One of those factors is the practice setting. A nurse practitioner can make more or less than their counterparts, depending on where they work. The reasoning for this difference is based on shift work versus a traditional schedule and risk.

Jobs in a hospital, for instance, will have higher risk and less appealing shifts (holidays, weekends, nights, etc). Since there is higher risk and tougher-to-staff shifts, nurse practitioners working in a hospital will have a higher salary. Nurse practitioners working in a hospital in California can make an average of $150,000 per year.

Whereas, those nurse practitioners working in a lower risk area with more appealing shifts will be at the lower end of the salary spectrum, making about $130,000 per year.

These are all variables to be weighed based on personal situation and goals. One may not mind working weekends and holidays, so the pay might be worth it. On the other hand, working weekends and holidays may not work well for someone’s family, so they may be willing to take a lower salary and not have to work on those occasions.

Fortunately, there’s a wide variety of practice settings that can be accommodating for individual goals and situations.

Type of Practice SettingHourlyAnnual
Outpatient Care Centers$12,390$148,680
Doctor’s Offices$11,250$135,050
Other Healthcare Provider Offices$11,230$134,720
Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools$10,880$130,560

Salary of Nurse Practitioners by Specialty in California

Specialty is another major factor in determining nurse practitioner salary. Nurse practitioners in California can choose from a wide variety of different specialties. Nurse practitioners find themselves choosing a specialty based on personal goals and what they find interesting.

Specialties for nurse practitioners include pediatrics, family care, psychiatry, emergency medicine, and women’s health. Each specialty may require specific certifications once completing a nurse practitioner program. Those certifications vary based on each specialty. Some people get bored working in one area for any length of time.

Being a nurse practitioner gives them the option to work in one specialty for a bit and then move on to another specialty. It’s not uncommon for nurse practitioners to work in a few different specialties throughout their entire career.

Listed below are just some of the specialties nurse practitioners can go into and the average salary for each specialty.

– Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

  • Treat patients from early adulthood to older adults
  • Primary care or acute care
  • Hospitals, long-term care facilities, nursing homes, hospice facilities, private practices, specialty clinics
  • Average salary of $131,000 per year in California

– Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner

  • Treat and work with patients with cosmetic issues
  • Four core specialties are: plastic or aesthetic surgery, ophthalmology, dermatology, and facial plastic surgery
  • Private settings, including medical spas, dermatology offices, private practices
  • Average salary of $124,130 per year in California

– Dermatology Nurse Practitioner

  • Treat diseases and medical conditions that affect the surface of the skin
  • Appealing hours for work-life balance
  • Dermatology clinic, plastic surgeon’s office, medical spas, research
  • Average salary of $137,770 per year in California

– Emergency Nurse Practitioner

  • Treat patients in a varying level of acuity, in an emergency room or urgent care setting
  • Diagnose and treat in a fast-paced environment
  • Can specialize in adult or pediatric emergency medicine
  • Average salary of $140,820 per year in California

– Family Nurse Practitioner

  • Treat patients ranging from infants to adults
  • Wide range of family-focused care from health promotion to chronic illnesses
  • Acute care centers, physician offices, hospitals, long-term care facilities, hospice centers, private care with patient’s home, urgent cares, correctional facilities, private practice
  • Average salary of $137,030 per year in California

– Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

  • Treat high risk-infants, usually in a neonatal intensive care unit within a hospital
  • Provide support and education to families for the infants they’re treating and work closely with the neonatologist
  • Hospitals, clinics, home health care services, patient transport, research
  • Average salary of $147,100 per year in California

– Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

  • Treat children of all ages, from birth up to the age of 21
  • Health promotion, along with diagnosis and treatment while working in collaboration with a pediatrician
  • Hospitals, urgent cares, specialty clinics, physician offices, schools, private clinics
  • Average salary of $130,530 per year in California

– Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

  • Treat and care for those with mental illness, and their families
  • Practice in offices, outpatient centers, residential facilities, and inpatient hospitals
  • Average salary of $144,310 per year in California

– Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

  • Treat women for a variety of health services, including acute and chronic health problems that are unique to women
  • Health care, health promotion, and disease prevention usually in an office or clinic setting
  • Hospitals, clinics, family planning clinics, prenatal clinics, women’s correctional facilities, private practices
  • Average salary of $132,720 per year in California

The Future for Nurse Practitioners in California

The future is bright for nurse practitioners. Because of a longer lifespan and advancements in healthcare, people need more healthcare as they age. Combine that with nurse practitioners that are retiring or nearing retirement, there is a need to fill positions in many areas and specialties.

It’s projected that by 2030, California will be short about 8,000 primary care providers, including nurse practitioners, physicians, and physician assistants. Due to this supply and demand issue, the salaries are expected to increase for nurse practitioners in California.


There are a multitude of factors to take into consideration when deciding where to work as a nurse practitioner. California offers many appealing incentives for nurse practitioners to consider making California their home to practice. Not only is the pay well over the average in the United States, the benefits and compensation are also very attractive. Combine all that with the favorably pleasant weather.

California may be worth adding to your list of possibilities.

Frequently Answered Questions

Common questions answered by our expert.

– How Many Nurse Practitioners are in California?

There are about 27,000 nurse practitioners currently practicing in the state of California.

– How Does the Nurse Practitioner Salary in California Compare with the Rest of the Country?

Nurse practitioners in California make about $138,660 per year. The average salary for nurse practitioners in the United States is $111,840. As we can see, nurse practitioners in California make, on average, $26,820 more per year as compared to the rest of the United States.

– Family Nurse Practitioners – How Much Do They Make in California?

Family nurse practitioners in California can expect to make a respectable salary. They will make an average of $137,030 per year. Which breaks down to $11,420 per month or $65.88 per hour.


Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners – How Much Do They Make in California?

Psychiatric nurse practitioners can also expect to make a healthy salary. Supply and demand mean more money for psychiatric nurse practitioners in California. They can earn an average of $144,310 each year. That breaks down to $12,030 per month or $69.38 per hour.


What are the Top Five Paid Nurse Practitioners in California?

In California, the highest-paid nurse practitioner is a neonatal nurse practitioner. A neonatal nurse practitioner in California makes an average of $147,100 per year. The lowest-paid nurse practitioner in California is a family nurse practitioner.

In the long run, it’s only about a $10,000 difference per year in pay between the top paid and lowest paid. Remember, the highest-paid positions are usually those working in hospitals and having to work some holidays, weekends, and nights.

Just take into consideration your own personal goals and weigh the pros and cons of the salary, where to work, the specialty that interests you, and what you hope to achieve.

RankNurse Practitioner SpecialtyYearly
1Neonatal Nurse Practitioner$147,100
2Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner$144,310
3Emergency Nurse Practitioner$140,820
4Dermatology Nurse Practitioner$137,770
5Family Nurse Practitioner$137,030

What are the Top Five Paying Cities in California for Nurse Practitioners?

As we have seen, location can mean everything in terms of difference in pay. The cities in California with the highest pay for nurse practitioners are Modesto, Salinas, Redding, San Francisco, and Vallejo. Modesto is the lowest of those five at (a still very nice) $143,550 per year on average. Vallejo is the highest of those five cities with a yearly salary of $175,060.

RankNurse Practitioner SpecialtyAnnual Average
2San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward$157,150

How Much Do Nurse Practitioners Make in Different Metros Within California?

As we continue to look at location, knowing the range in salary for different metropolitan areas is another thing to keep in mind when looking at nurse practitioner salaries in California. Metropolitan areas include major cities and their suburbs, as well as nearby cities and towns. There are several metropolitan areas in California.

As you can see in the following table, the annual salary varies, along with the number of nurse practitioners employed within that metro. For instance, the Vallejo-Fairfield nurse practitioners make an average of $175,060 each year and there are 150 employed.

The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim metro, on the other hand, employs an impressive number at 4,090. The nurse practitioners in that metro area make an average of $138,340.

Metro# of NPsHourlyYearly
El Centro30$59.53$123,830
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim4,090$66.51$138,340
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura150$65.24$135,700
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario1,540$67.60$140,600
San Diego-Carlsbad1,540$60.36$125,550
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward1,930$75.55$157,150
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara950$65.69$136,630
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande120$58.84$122,400
Santa Cruz-Watsonville110$66.23$137,750
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara150$66.51$138,350
Santa Rosa190$65.10$135,410
Yuba City40$63.44$131,960

Where Do the Majority of Nurse Practitioners in California Work?

As with most jobs, and even within the nurse practitioner realm, positions are held in a variety of settings. Most nurse practitioners in California work in physician offices, over 6,500. Half that number work in hospitals.

Over 1,200 nurse practitioners work in outpatient centers. You’ll find less than 1,000 total working in universities, colleges, and offices of other health professionals.

Practice Setting Type# of Nurse Practitioners
Offices of Physicians6,640
Outpatient Care Centers1,300
Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools460
Offices of Other Health Practitioners430

What are the Annual Job Openings in California for Nurse Practitioners?

There are roughly over 400 new job openings, in addition to over 700 replacement job openings. In total, nurse practitioners in California can find nearly 1,200 annual job openings every year. This number increases every year, as the aging nurse practitioner population retires, and with healthcare advancements and the lifespan increasing.

How is the Job Outlook for Nurse Practitioners in California?

The job outlook for nurse practitioners in California is very favorable. There is expected to be an over 35% increase in job opportunities for nurse practitioners from 2018 to 2028.

Who Gets Paid More? A Nurse Practitioner or a Registered Nurse?

To become a nurse practitioner, you must first be a registered nurse. You then must work as a registered nurse for a number of years before going into a nurse practitioner program.

Registered nurses can make decent money, so some may wonder if it’s worth it to spend money on furthering education for a nurse practitioner program. The time, money, and sacrifice can be worth it if there is a salary increase that’s appealing.

There’s a significant pay increase when advancing your career as a registered nurse to a nurse practitioner. With an advanced degree comes a bigger salary.

Several factors come into play when determining the difference in pay between a nurse practitioner and a registered nurse, but in general, a nurse practitioner can expect to make up to $40,000 to $50,000 more per year than a registered nurse.

Related Reading

Can Nurse Practitioners Make $200,000 per year in California?

When we look at the highest-paid nurse practitioners in California, we see that it actually is possible for them to make $200,000.

With some of the specialties making almost $150,000 per year, it’s definitely possible for them to make more with overtime shifts and holiday pay, depending on where they’re working. Depending on the need in the area the nurse practitioner is working, overtime shifts may be available.

Let’s take a neonatal nurse practitioner, for example. Their average salary in California is $147,100. So, in order to get to $200,000, they will need to make an additional $52,900 per year.

Looking at the hourly rate of $70.72, and factoring in overtime pay (typically a time and a half rate, in this case, it’s $106.08 per hour), they will need to work an additional 39 hours each month to get to $200,000 a year. This is for an average nurse practitioner in California.

With years of experience, especially when looking at twenty years and more, it’s easily possible to make $200,000 per year as a nurse practitioner in California.



Written by Joanne Potter

Joanne, BSN, and RN, is a writer that specializes in health and wellness. She has fifteen years of experience as a Registered Nurse in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). Her years working at the bedside and extensive neonatal knowledge enable her to write with a deep understanding of what patients and families want from their communities. Visit her LinkedIn page.
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