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  • Nurse practitioners (NPs) are considered advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), which means they have focused their education and clinical training on one specific area of medicine. Becoming a subject matter expert in a single specialty gives NPs the ability to provide an increased level of care to the patients they see every day. In this guide, we take a closer look at the top NP specialties to find the most popular and highest paying of them all.

    Most Common Nurse Practitioner (NP) Specialties 

    According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), there are over 385,000 licensed NPs in the United States.

    Here are the most common NP specializations by primary certification area according to a 2022 survey by the AANP:

    1. Family: 70.3%
    2. Adult-Gerontology Primary Care: 8.9%
    3. Psychiatric/Mental Health: 6.5%
    4. Adult-Gerontology Acute Care: 6.1%
    5. Adult: 5.7%
    6. Acute Care: 2.9%
    7. Pediatrics-Primary Care: 2.4%
    8. Women’s Health: 2.2%
    9. Gerontology: 0.9%
    10. Pediatrics-Acute Care: 0.6%
    11. Neonatal: 0.5%

    Highest Paying Nurse Practitioner (NP) Specialties

    Some NP specialties make more money on average than others—here are the top four highest paying NP specialties by median total cash compensation, according to research conducted by consulting firm SullivanCotter in 2022 that was highlighted in Becker’s Hospital Review:

    1. Pediatrics — Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine

    NPs who specialize in neonatal medicine are few in number when compared to other specialties, but they make the most money on average. In fact, according to the research, neonatal-perinatal medicine NPs have a median total cash compensation of $144,461. Aside from the high pay, NPs choose this specialty because it gives them the opportunity to provide quality care for premature babies or seriously ill newborns. 

    2. Emergency Medicine

    Emergency medicine NPs work in hospital emergency units and urgent cares, helping patients with critical injuries get the treatment they need. This is not one of the most popular specializations for NPs, but similar to neonatal-perinatal medicine, it is one of the most lucrative. According to the research, emergency medicine NPs make a median total cash compensation of $137,280. 

    3. Hospitalist — Internal Medicine

    Internal medicine NP hospitalists work alongside physicians and other hospital staff to care for patients. According to the research, these NPs have a median total cash compensation of $128,483.

    4. Psychiatry

    Psychiatry is one of the more popular NP specialties—these medical professionals work to analyze, diagnose, and treat mental health illnesses in patients. According to the research, psych NPs have a median total cash compensation of $128,480.

    Other Highest-Paying NP Specialties

    Here’s a list of the next highest-paying NP specialties, according to the SullivanCotter research in Becker’s Hospital Review:

    1. Oncology — Hematology and Oncology: $128,264
    2. Urgent Care: $127,320
    3. General Surgery: $127,133
    4. Critical Care Medicine: $126,953
    5. Internal Medicine: $126,239
    6. Pediatrics — General: $125,924
    7. Obstetrics/Gynecology: $123,594
    8. Neurological Surgery: $122,343
    9. Cardiology: $121,984
    10. Endocrinology and Metabolism: $121,721
    11. Family Medicine: $120,682
    12. Orthopedic Surgery: $120,669
    13. Pulmonology: $119,790
    14. Neurology: $117,813
    15. Gastroenterology: $116,329
    16. Urology: $115,812

    Barton NP Locum Tenens Jobs by Specialty

    At Barton Associates, we connect locum tenens NPs of all specialties with facilities that are short-staffed or otherwise in need of extra hands. Here’s a non-comprehensive list of the top 10 most popular NP listings we’ve seen over the past 12 months, organized from most to fewest listings:

    1. Family Practice 
    2. Psychiatry
    3. Urgent Care
    4. Pediatrics
    5. Internal Medicine
    6. Hospitalist
    7. Critical Care Medicine 
    8. Occupational Medicine
    9. Hematology/Oncology
    10. Neonatology

    How to Pursue an NP Specialty

    To become an NP, a person must first be a licensed registered nurse (RN) and have a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN). After that, a prospective NP must enroll in a graduate-level nursing program, choose a specialty, and pass a certification exam from an NP certification board. These certification exams test a provider’s knowledge in their chosen specialty. 

    Become a Locum Tenens NP

    As a locum tenens NP, you’ll be traveling across the country to facilities that are short-staffed, taking temporary assignments to maintain adequate levels of patient care. Reach out to our team today to get started, or check out our job board for our current list of open assignments.

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    About Mike Connors

    Mike Connors is the Content and PR Manager at Barton Associates. Originally from New Hampshire, he joined Barton in June 2023.