With Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Physician Assistants (PAs) having some similar duties, many considering these healthcare careers are curious about the salary difference. Both fields can prescribe medication, perform diagnostic tests, and assess patients. Both practices must complete advanced education programs, with NPs attending nursing school and PAs attending medical school. Since these degree programs are neither easy nor inexpensive, salary might be an important factor in deciding which career to pursue.


According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the 2017 median pay for Nurse Practitioners is $110,930 per year, or $53.33 per hour. In comparison, 2017 median pay for Physician Assistants is $104,860 per year, or $50.41 per hour. It is worth noting that salary can widely differ from state to state. The top paying states for NPs include: California, Alaska, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Connecticut with mean annual salaries ranging from $118,500 to $126,770. The lowest paying states for NPs include: Alabama, Montana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Delaware with mean annual salaries between $85,920 to $92,130. In comparison, the top paying states for PAs include: Washington, New Jersey, Nevada, North Dakota and Hawaii, with the mean annual salary ranging from $116,660 to $120,200. The lowest paying states for PAs include: Alabama, Arkansas, Hawaii, South Dakota and Pennsylvania, which have a mean annual salary ranging from $88,750 to $94,000.

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In addition to projected salary, it is significant to note the proposed outlook for each job. The BLS predicts a 36% growth of employment for NPs and a 37% growth for PAs from 2016 to 2026. This is much faster than the average growth for all occupations. With an increased need for advanced-degree healthcare professionals, as well as an increased focus on preventative care and an increased aging population, the job outlook for both careers looks bright.