Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Salary

In the field of mental health care, psychiatric nurses play a critical role in the treatment, care, management and recovery of individuals suffering from conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and more. An interdisciplinary profession, mental health nursing blends psychological, pharmacological, sociological and biological sciences.

In this position, psychiatric nurses may provide a range of care to patients, including administering psychiatric medication, assisting with electroconvulsive therapy, instructing families through behavioral therapy, as well as providing direct physical care.

Job TitleBottom 10% Annual WageAnnual Median WageTop 10% Annual Wage
Psychiatric Aides-U.S.$18990$26190$40860
Psychiatric Technicians-U.S.$20780$31140$60690
Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Psychiatric nurse careers

Generally speaking, psychiatric nursing falls into two main career paths: psychiatric nurse and psychiatric nurse practitioner.

  • Psychiatric nurse. Typically speaking, psychiatric nurses hold an associate or bachelor's degree and are primary care providers for individuals suffering from mental disorders
  • Psychiatric nurse practitioner. Psychiatric Mental Health Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (PHM-APRN) is an advance practicing nurse, who generally hold a master's or doctorate and are able to handle many of the same responsibilities as psychiatrists, such as prescribing medication or diagnosing mental illnesses.
Job TitleProjected 2012-2022 Growth
Psychiatric Aides-U.S.5.3%
Psychiatric Technicians-U.S.5.2%
Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Nurses working in both career paths may also choose to specialize in a number of areas including gerontology, substance abuse, adolescent, eating disorders, children and adolescents, and more. The main certification for mental health nursing is sponsored through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Nurses who successfully pass the ANCC Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing board certification examination can use the Registered Nurse-Board Certified (RN-BC) credential.

Nurses working both professions work in a variety of both in-patient and out-patient care settings, including hospitals, home care programs, mental health agencies and more. Major psychiatric nursing associations include the American Psychiatric Nurses Association and the International Society of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses.

Salaries for psychiatric nurses

Nationally, psychiatric nursing salaries vary and are not specifically tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov) or other nursing organizations. However, a closer examination of national salary surveys from Clinical Advisor, as well as nursing occupational data from the BLS reveals the salaries for psych nurses typically falls between $66,000 and $97,000.

According to the BLS, nurses working in psychiatric hospitals earned a national average salary of $66,780 in 2013, while advance practitioner nurses earned $91,930. A 2013 salary survey from Clinical Advisor reported national salaries for nurse practitioners in psychiatric averaged $96,631.

Across health care settings, nurses working in state-owned psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals were the highest paid in the industry in 2013 ($67,510), while APRNs working in mental health practitioner offices took home the highest salaries in 2013 ($116,510). Below is a table of 2013 national average salaries for both mental health nurses and APRNs by health care setting:




Offices of mental health practitioners (except physicians)



Outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers



Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals - privately owned



Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals -- state government owned



Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals



Residential intellectual and developmental disability mental health and substance abuse facilities



Residential mental health and substance abuse facilities



Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013

Psychiatric nursing career outlook

As noted above, nurses working in mental health are employed in a diverse range of employment settings. According to the BLS, the five largest health care settings in 2013 for mental health nurses included the following:

  • Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals: 34,690
  • Private psychiatric hospitals: 17,920
  • State psychiatric hospitals: 15,970
  • Outpatient mental health centers: 7,050
  • Residential developmental facilities: 6,590

Nationally, employment growth is projected to reach 19 percent and 34 percent, respectively, between 2012 and 2022 for registered nurses and advanced practitioner nurses. Within the mental health industry, nurses are even in greater demand, especially in outpatient care centers (35 percent). Below is a list projected career growth for nurses within mental health care settings between 2012 and 2022:

Health care setting

Projected Growth (2012-22)

Outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers


Residential mental health and substance abuse facilities


Residential intellectual and developmental disability, mental health, and substance abuse facilities



Clinical Advisor, 2013 Nurse Practitioner & Physician Assistant Salary Survey, http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Psychiatric_Nurse_%28RN%29/Hourly_Rate

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nurse Practitioners, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291171.htm

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses, OES, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses, OOH, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm

American Psychiatric Nursing Association, About Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing, http://www.apna.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3292

Psychiatric Nurse Schools

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            Family Nurse Practitioner Graduate Certificate
            • Programs include Bachelor of Science in Nursing—RN-to-BSN, Master of Science in Nursing, and more.
            • Experienced faculty members provide a practical knowledge of patient care, treatments, and research in the field of nursing.
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            • Online Courses
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            M.S. in Nursing: Health Care Informatics (Bridge)
            • Nursing Degree Programs from Grand Canyon University's College of Nursing & Health Care Professions
            • Degree Variety: GCU offers a full-spectrum of nursing programs including bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, as well as post-master’s certificates.
            • The baccalaureate degree in nursing and master's degree in nursing at Grand Canyon University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (http://www.aacn.nche.edu-accreditation).
            • GCU provides a Christian environment that provides an opportunity for you to embrace a holistic approach to caring for patients: physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
            • Depending on the degree you choose, you could take online, evening, or on-campus classes. Speak with an enrollment counselor to discuss your options!
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            DNP - Doctor of Nursing Practice (CCNE-accredited)

            About Capella University
            An accredited online university, Capella University offers bachelor’s, master’s/MBA, doctoral, and certificate programs designed to take you to the forefront of your profession. Our competency-based curriculum delivers both foundational knowledge and real-world skills, so that what you’re learning in your courses is immediately applicable to your career goals.


            • Online Courses
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            Specialization in Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN)
            South University , Virginia Beach
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            Master of Science in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner
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