Starting Salary for a Doctorate of Nursing Degree in the US

Updated February 21, 2017

Nursing is the largest segment in the health care industry with more than 2.6 million licensed nurses in the United States. Pursuing postgraduate education to obtain a higher degree is one of the best ways to advance your career as a registered nurse. A doctoral degree in nursing opens doors closed to candidates with a bachelor's or master's degree. Once you have obtained a Ph.D. in nursing, you will be qualified for a number of highly paid positions.

Job Description

You may choose to work as a researcher, a health care manager, a nurse practitioner or as a teaching professor. Nurses with a doctoral degree are highly trained professionals with strong practice-orientated preparation enabling them to care for diverse populations, work with specialised medical teams and interact with other health care specialists to provide the highest quality health care. In the majority of states, nurses with a doctoral degree are authorised and licensed to open an independent medical practice, without the supervision of a physician. Within state mandated guidelines, nurses with a doctoral degree are authorised to issue medication prescriptions.


Prior to obtaining a DNP nursing license, the District of Columbia, all states and territories require that candidates must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination or NCLEX-RN. Additional eligibility requirements vary by state, which define specific requirements for registered nurses in advanced practice roles. Contact your state board of nursing for rules, regulations and licensing information.


Nurses should be understanding, sympathetic, caring, detail oriented and able to work well with others. Nurses must be levelheaded, emotionally stable, responsive and able to cope with emergencies, human suffering and death. A proficiency in English is required. Excellent communication skills, both oral and written, are integral to supervising others, accessing patient conditions and conveying information to physicians and staff.


The United States Department Of Labor, Bureau Of Labor Statistics, Employment Outlook Opportunity Handbook 2010-11 Edition, reports, "Median annual wages of registered nurses were $62,450 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $51,640 and $76,570. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $43,410, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $92,240." RNs with a doctoral degree in nursing earn substantially more. Nursing salaries are dependent on education, experience, location and level of responsibility. A 2005 National Salary Survey of Nurse Practitioners reports nurse practitioners with doctoral degrees earn approximately $6,500 more than master’s prepared nurse practitioners, averaging more than $81,000 per year.

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About the Author

A passionate writer for more than 30 years, Marlene Affeld writes of her love of all things natural. Affeld's passion for the environment inspires her to write informative articles to assist others in living a green lifestyle. She writes for a prominent website as a nature travel writer and contributes articles to other online outlets covering wildlife, travel destinations and the beauty of nature.