How much do neonatal nurse practitioners make?

neonatal nurse practitioners
neonatal nurse practitioners

Neonatal nurse practitioners (NNP) impact the lives of babies and their families daily. Neonatal nurse practitioners are meticulous, skilled clinicians who work in a fast-paced environment.  They care for infants with both acute and chronic issues throughout their stay. NNPs educate and empower entire families during periods of vulnerability in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).  

A neonatal nurse practitioner gives care to infants born with medical conditions like prematurity, congenital diseases, organ malformations, infection, and a variety of other complications requiring specialized care.  Traditionally, the neonatal period is defined as the first four weeks of life. However, these babies are hospitalized anywhere from days to months. 

How much do neonatal nurse practitioners make? 

Neonatal nurse practitioners often begin their career as a neonatal or NICU nurse.  According to Scrubs magazine, the neonatal nurse average salary is $57,000 to $71,000 per year.  However, becoming a neonatal nurse practitioner comes with an increase in responsibility and a raise in pay.  The overall job outlook for neonatal nurse practitioners exceeds the national average, showing a significant increase of 31% by 2026.  

If you scour the Internet neonatal nurse practitioner salaries, you will see an abundance of salary estimation websites with pay ranging from $78,000 to $138,000. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the average nurse practitioner salary is $110,930 and $53.30 per hour. 

However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reflects the salaries of all types of nurse practitioners nationwide. For an accurate reflection of the average NNP salary, this article will review data from the professional organizations of neonatal nurse practitioners. 

According to a 2016 survey, neonatal nurse practitioners make more than the average nurse practitioner.  The National Association for Neonatal Nurse Practitioner places the hourly pay at $55 per hour and the mean annual salary at $114,000. However, neonatal nurse practitioner salaries vary based on their location and demand.  

NNPs also receive benefits such as yearly bonuses, the opportunity for overtime, pay increases, and an annual allowance to cover expenses to attend conferences, buy books, or other activities to increase knowledge. NNPs often have attractive advantages beyond salary that attract candidates to the position like retirement and relocation benefits. 

What does a neonatal nurse practitioner do?

Neonatal nurse practitioners serve and advocate for babies and their families.  They passionately embody lifelong learning and clinical skill. NNPs practice in a prestigious specialty that requires an advanced knowledge base in neonatology and NICU experience.  Neonatal nurse practitioners make primary decisions about high-risk newborns in hospital nurseries from admission through discharge.  

These nurseries have varying levels of acuity, patient loads, and work requirements. There are many types of neonatal nurseries in hospitals. 

  • Level I nursery is the basic level of nursery care required for a hospital with obstetrics and must perform newborn resuscitation and be able to stabilize infants for transfer.
  • A level II nursery is advanced newborn care for babies older than 32 weeks. 
  • The Level III nursery is subspecialty newborn care for babies born less than 32 weeks or with a critical illness that offers access to advanced respiratory services and imaging.
  • Level IV is the highest level of NICU, a regional center that features the highest acuity neonatal care.  Neonatal nurse practitioners care for babies at each level of care. 

The most common causes of babies requiring NICU care are low birth weight, prematurity, respiratory distress, and infection. Low birth weight babies are babies that weigh less than five pounds and eight ounces.  Premature babies are born before 37 weeks gestation, and one in ten babies come early.  

Low birth weight infants and preterm infants have higher survival rates than they did decades ago.  The survival rate of infants born between 2000 and 2011 increased from 30 to 36 percent. Preterm infants who did not develop neurologic impairments have risen from 16 to 20 percent (source). NNPs are making a significant difference in the life and care of babies and their families. 

What is the benefit of neonatal nurse practitioner DNP programs?

Nurse practitioners who earn a DNP earn higher pay than any other NP degree.  Only 11% of NNPs have their terminal degree, but that number is expected to increase.  DNP prepared neonatal nurse practitioners can expect to make $4,000 more per year than their MSN-prepared counterparts.  The pay increase is likely to increase as more DNPs flood the market. 

Neonatal nurse practitioners programs prepare nurses to be strong, competent providers who save the lives of babies.  NNPs are critical to neonatal care. Nurse practitioners are safe and cost-effective providers with excellent outcomes.   They are also in short supply, with estimates that for each NNP who graduates, there are 80 more job vacancies nationwide.  

Neonatal nurse practitioners improve their lives by giving compassionate care to infants and their entire family.  Decades later, patients and caregivers will still be grateful for the support you provided to save their beloved baby’s life. 

Are you looking to make a difference in the lives of babies and families? Learn more about the value of earning a nursing degree from Baylor University’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing Online.