The career of nurse practitioner ranked #2 in the US Today 100 Best Jobs for 2022. But what are the career prospects for nurse practitioners in Washington State?
At $130 840 the average annual salary of nurse practitioners in Washington is the fourth highest in the country and just over 10% higher than the overall average in the US. Licensed nurse practitioners working in Washington also have full, independent practice authority.
This article provides an overview of the average nursing practitioner salaries in Washington State. We also look at how years of experience, qualifications, employer, and location might influence income and compare the average salary of nurse practitioners with that of other nurses and health care providers.
Average Washington Nurse Practitioner Salary
Nurse practitioners in Washington earn an average of $130 840 per year, which represents $109 030 per month, or $62.90 hourly. This is according to the latest estimates provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
These figures only reflect the average income of nurse practitioners, excluding nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives who are reported on separately by the BLS.
The only states where nurse practitioners earned a higher average salary were California ($151,830), New Jersey ($137 010), and New York ($133 940).
The actual income of nurse practitioners might, however, be higher as the above averages do not reflect income from overtime or bonuses. The figures also don’t include a value for other employment benefits like leave and provisions for medical care and retirement.
The picture is not much different when one looks at the median salary – that is, the point at which half of the nurse practitioners earn less and half of them more. At $62.01 per hour, the median is only slightly lower than the average.
The top 10% of nurse practitioners earned an average of $164 900 per year and the 10% with the lowest income earned around $98 500 annually.
|Annual 10th percentile||Annual 25th percentile||Annual median||Annual 75th percentile||Annual 90th percentile|
|$ 98 500||$120 720||$128 980||$152 920||$ 164 900|
Practice Authority of Washington Nurse Practitioners
The above salaries are based on information on 3730 nurse practitioners supplied by employers to the BLS. This means that the income of nurse practitioners who have their own independent practices is not included.
A Washington nursing workforce survey conducted in 2019 found that there were approximately 6985 nurse practitioners with active licenses, of whom 4807 were practicing either full-time or part-time within the state.
The rules and regulations related to nurse practitioners in Washington are often regarded as a model for allowing nurse practitioners to practice independently to the full scope of their education and experience.
After licensure by the state board of nursing, for which national certification is also required, nurse practitioners in Washington are permitted to assume full responsibility as primary care providers for their patients.
This includes the rights to order and interpret diagnostic tests, refer patients, admit patients to hospital facilities and, since 2005, prescribe Schedule II to V drugs if they have met the requirements for prescriptive authority.
Washington Nurse Practitioner Starting Salary
What can a newly qualified nurse practitioner expect to earn in Washington? Starting salaries in a new role will always be influenced by factors such as years of experience, qualifications, and the demand for the specialty or in a particular geographical area.
Salary.com, which obtains data directly from employers, shows that the starting salary for nurse practitioners in Washington was $120 870. This is not much less than Salary.com’s median salary of $123 800 for nurse practitioners, although the figure differs quite a bit from the corresponding BLS figure.
Compared to the average salary of $95 350 per year for registered nurses without the additional graduate education, newly qualified nurse practitioners can expect an increase of around 25% in their annual income. Keep in mind though that they usually also have eight or more years of nursing experience before entering graduate school.
Washington Nurse Practitioner Salary By Years of Experience
Once employed as a nurse practitioner, there is relatively little change in the average salary with years of experience. Although, for the individual, there is always the possibility of obtaining a higher-paid position as they gain knowledge and experience.
According to Salary.com, nurse practitioners in Washington with three to four years of experience can expect to earn around $124 598. After seven years of experience, the average annual salary peaks and remains fairly static at an average of $127 789 per year.
|Years of Experience||Median Annual Salary|
|Less than 1||$120 870|
Washington Nurse Practitioner Salary by Level of Education
In Washington there is very little difference in the average income of nurse practitioners qualified with a master’s degree compared to those with doctoral degrees. Those with a Master’s earn an average of $122 868 while those with a doctoral degree can expect to earn $123 800 on average.
Washington Nurse Practitioner Salaries Compared Nationwide
According to the BLS data, 234 690 nurse practitioners were employed in the US. Nationwide their average annual salary was $118 040, or $53.75 per hour with a range of $79 470 to $163 350.
In comparison, nurse practitioners in Washington earn around 10% more at an average of $130 840 yearly. This compares very favorably with the cost of living index for the state which is 7.4% higher than the national average.
The regional price parities (RPP) of the US Bureau of Economic Analysis compares the cost of living in each state to average national price levels. At an RPP of 107.4, Washington is the 7th most expensive US state to live in. In comparison, the RPPs of neighboring states, Oregon and Idaho, are 102.6 and 91.2 respectively.
Washington Nurse Practitioner Salary by Practice Setting
According to the BLS figures, the average annual salaries of nurse practitioners employed at outpatient facilities was the highest at $134 960, closely followed by those working in hospitals who earned an average of $133 874.
Nurse practitioners employed in physician’s offices earned considerably less at an average salary of $123 114.
This same pattern is seen throughout the US. Nurses employed in settings where they work regular hours, and have weekends and public holidays off, generally earn less than those who are required to provide 24/7 services.
|Practice Setting||Average Yearly Salary|
|Outpatient Facilities||$134 960|
|Physician’s Offices||$123 972|
|Colleges and Universities||$123 114|
The 2019 workforce survey found that 29.1% of nurse practitioners in Washington worked in an ambulatory setting, i.e. outpatient facilities or physician’s offices. Hospitals employed 20.6% of nurse practitioners, 12.9% worked in community health and 4.3 % in long-term care. The remainder worked in a variety of other settings.
Washington Nurse Practitioner Salary by Area
If you are planning to work in Washington State as a nurse practitioner, you might also want to consider the average salaries in different areas of the state.
The table below lists the Washington metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas, number of nurse practitioners in each area, and their average hourly and annual earnings. A metropolitan area includes major cities and towns, while non-metropolitan areas are mainly rural and do not have a major city.
|Area||# of Nurse Practitioners||Average Hourly Salary||Average Annual Salary|
|Mount Vernon-Anacortes||60||$60.50||$125 840|
|Spokane-Spokane Valley||310||$56.31||$117 120|
|Eastern Washington||110||$59.49||$123 740|
|Western Washington||160||$58.37||$121 410|
The Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan area, around Washington Lake in the West, is the most densely populated area of the state. This area has the highest number of employed nurse practitioners and, at $137 830, they also earn the highest average annual salaries.
Generally, the average salaries of nurse practitioners appear to decrease the further a metropolitan area is removed from the above mentioned highly populated region.
Nurse practitioners earn less than the national average salary of $118 000 in Bellingham which is close to the border with Canada; centrally situated Yakima; and Spokane-Spokane Valley bordering Idaho in the East of the state.
On the other hand, the average salaries of nurse practitioners working in non-metropolitan regions, compare favorably with most of the metropolitan regions. The probable reason is the shortage of primary health care providers in these rural areas.
There are an estimated 68 practicing nurse practitioners per 100 000 population in the urban areas of Washington. In contrast, the ratio of nurse practitioners in rural western Washington was 51/100 000 and in rural eastern Washington 35/100 000.
Washington Nurse Practitioner Salary by City
Cities provide the most job opportunities and the highest salaries which is why most people prefer to work in cities. Keep in mind though, that the cost of living – mainly due to the cost of accommodation and transport – is generally higher in cities than in small towns and rural areas.
Below are the five cities in Washington with the highest population numbers and the average annual salary nurse practitioners can expect to earn in these cities.
These average salaries are provided by Salary.com and again differ somewhat from the regional data provided by the BLS.
|City||Population||Average annual salary|
|Seattle||741 251||$126 744|
|Spokane||219 185||$111 745|
|Tacoma||215 766||$122 921|
|Vancouver||182 792||$120 035|
|Bellevue||146 145||$126 744|
Washington Nurse Practitioner Salary Compared To Other Nurses
Graduate study to qualify as a nurse practitioner requires considerable personal sacrifice of time and money. Most graduate students also work and have home and family responsibilities while they are studying.
However, the sacrifice does appear worthwhile as nurses who specialize in a specific field through advanced graduate education earn considerably more than nurses in other categories.
According to the BLS data, the average salary of nurse practitioners in Washington is almost 45% more than that of registered nurses without these advanced qualifications.
|Occupation||Average Annual Salary|
|Nurse Anesthetist||$244 730|
|Nurse Practitioner (NP)||$130 840|
|Nurse Midwife||$111 780|
|Registered Nurse (RN)||$95 350|
|Nursing Instructors and Teachers||$80 080|
|Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)/||$63 250|
|Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)||$38 270|
Washington Nurse Practitioner Salary Compared To Other Healthcare Providers
The table below compares the average nurse practitioner salary in Washington to those of other health care occupations. Nurse practitioners earn well above the average for all health care occupations combined, which is $105 190 per year, or $50.57 per hour.
Note also that the abovementioned average for all health care occupations is skewed by the very high earning health care occupations, like medical specialists. This can be seen when one compares the hourly average of $50.57 to the median hourly salary of $44.56.
|Occupation||Average Annual Salary|
|Family Medicine Physician||$266 190|
|Physician’s Assistant (PA)||$136 130|
|Nurse Practitioner (NP)||$130 840|
|Physical Therapist (PT)||$97 420|
|Occupational Therapist (OT)||$92 650|
|Speech Therapist||$86 740|
Future Outlook for Nurse Practitioners in Washington
Choosing to work as a nurse practitioner in Washington appears to be an excellent option. Not only do nurse practitioners in Washington have full practice authority, but it is also the fourth best-paying state for this career after New York.
Because of a shortage of primary care providers in the state, future job prospects for nurse practitioners also appear to be excellent. Four counties in Washington are among the 15 in the US with the highest shortage of primary health care providers.
Furthermore, Washington is ranked as the top state overall by the US News Rankings and 8th overall for the best state for health care.
Written by Frieda Paton
Frieda is a registered nurse and published author with extensive experience throughout her career in research, scientific writing and journalism. She has now turned to writing full time to share her passion for health and wellness, helping readers to prevent and manage chronic conditions. Frieda lives and works in the small museum town of Pilgrim’s Rest in South Africa.