Nurses already have one of the most in-demand and stable jobs in the country. However, there are ways to advance your career and increase your nursing salary even further by specializing as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner.
Nurse Practitioners make more money than the average Registered Nurse, but how much more can this specialization help you earn?
In this guide, you’ll learn about the average psychiatric nurse practitioner salary, what they do, and how to become one.
This will help you decide if you’re ready to take the step toward your next professional journey!
Table of Contents
- Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Salary In 2022
- Career Outlook For Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners
- What Is A Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?
- What Does A Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Do?
- What Conditions Do Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners Treat?
- Where Do Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners Work?
- What Benefits Can Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners Expect?
- How To Become A Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
- Continuing Education For Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Salary In 2022
What Is The Average Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Salary?
According to Indeed, In 2022, the average salary for a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner is around $138,324 per year.
In 2021, the average salary was $124,883. This indicates that salaries are increasing for NPs with this speciality.
Also, the salary for a new PMHNP will be lower than someone with years of experience under the belt.
Salaries ranged between $54,000 per year and $224,000 per year in 2021, but are likely even a little higher now.
Average Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Salary By State
The following map displays the average Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner salary by state.
You can see the average PMHNP salaries for each state in the table below.
There is no BLS data for Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner salaries, so all of the data was obtained through Indeed in April of 2022.
|State||Average Annual Salary|
|District of Columbia||$160,327|
Where Do Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners Get Paid The Most?
1. District of Columbia
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners earn the most in Washington, D.C. The average annual salary is $160,327.
However, there are plenty of other states where PMHNPs can expect quite a high salary. The following are the top-paying states for Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners.
PMHNPs in California earn an average salary of $150,205.
This is about 9% above the national average.
In Massachusetts, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners make an average salary of $148,691.
This is about 7% above the national average.
4. New York
The average annual salary for PMHNPs in New York is $147,843.
This is about 7% above the national average.
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners in Washington state make an average salary of $146,874.
This is about 7% above the national average.
Career Outlook For Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners
Nurse Practitioners of all specialities can expect the demand for their skills to rise in the coming years.
According to estimates from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, about 4.7% of Nurse Practitioners specialize in psychiatric mental health.
The demand for healthcare professionals who treat mental health disorders is rising across the United States.
In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health says about 1 in 5 Americans suffers from a mental health disorder.
This means the need for Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners is also set to rise in the coming years and decades.
What Is A Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners, also referred to as Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNPs), are Nurse Practitioners whose specialty is providing mental health treatment.
They diagnose and assess patients suffering from all kinds of mental disorders, illnesses, and even substance abuse problems. They can:
- Prescribe medication
- Be involved in psychotherapy
- Educate patients and their families on the diagnosis
- Help manage patient treatment plans
Coping with various mental illnesses and psychiatric disorders is not easy. That’s why Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners provide valuable assistance to individuals suffering from these problems, as well as substance abuse disorders.
What Does A Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Do?
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners provide care to patients who suffer from mental disorders and illnesses. Their day-to-day duties vary depending on where they work and the kind of facility they’re employed in.
However, their work often entails:
- Collaborating with a psychiatrist in the process of psychopharmacologic management
- Counseling and caring for patients with diagnosed chronic psychiatric conditions
- Treating and diagnosing acute psychiatric crises, illnesses, and problems
- Monitoring typical health care issues
- Referring patients to necessary specialized medical treatment
- Integrating and coordinating multidisciplinary services for patients who suffer from more complex psychiatric issues
- Providing comprehensive mental health education to patients and patient families
- Recommending or performing age-appropriate screening options
- Promoting self-care focused on personal wellness
- Providing family, group, and individual psychotherapy
What Conditions Do Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners Treat?
There’s a wide range of disorders and illnesses that Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners help treat.
These include, but aren’t limited to:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Personality disorders
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Adjustment disorders, PTSD, and trauma
- Panic Disorders
- Bipolar and manic-depressive states
- Substance abuse
- Eating disorders
Where Do Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners Work?
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners can work in many different settings, including:
- Government agencies
- Veterans Administration psychiatric facilities
- Community mental health centers (urban and rural)
- Student Health Clinics
- Public health agencies
- Urban nurse-managed Clinics
- Residential Substance Abuse Facilities
- Private Psychiatric Practices
- Businesses and community consultation
- In-patient psychiatric facilities
- Domestic violence shelters
- Home health agencies
- State psychiatric facilities
- Psychiatric consult services
- Correctional facilities
- Psychopharmacology clinics
- Primary healthcare clinics
What Benefits Can Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners Expect?
Regardless of their specific workplace setting, part-time, full-time, and travel Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners enjoy a similar range of benefits.
The specific benefits you can expect depend on the institution you work in. However, some of the typical benefits for PMHNPs include:
- Dental insurance
- Life insurance
- Paid time off
- Vision insurance
- Family leave of absence
- Certification reimbursement
- Relocation packages
- Health insurance
- Bereavement leave
- Continuing education reimbursement
- Relocation assistance
- Holiday pay
- Retirement options
- Maternity leave
- Health insurance coverage for dependents
- Extracurricular activity discounts
How To Become A Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
As you can see, working as a psychiatric nurse practitioner brings a lot of awesome benefits.
However, that’s because reaching that level of healthcare professional isn’t easy. There’s a lot of studying and work to do before you can become a Psychiatric NP.
The following are the steps you’ll need to take to become a PMHNP.
1. Obtain Your ADN Or BSN
You’ll need to earn either a BSN or an ADN provided by an accredited nursing program. This is a prerequisite for taking any further steps to become a Registered Nurse.
As an ADN-prepared nurse, you’ll have to go through an additional step:
- Go into an accelerated RN to MSN program that lets you work toward your BSN and MSN simultaneously
- Complete your BSN degree first
2. Pass The NCLEX-RN Exam
Once you get your degree, you’ll have to pass the NCLEX examination.
This allows you to become a Registered Nurse.
3. Continue Your Education Or Gain Experience
At this point, you have two options:
- Find work as a Registered Nurse and gain valuable nursing experience before you go back to studying
- Go directly into your MSN program
Which you choose depends on what you think is the best path for you.
However, bear in mind that the majority of NP programs won’t let you enroll without at least two years of work experience that’s relevant to your further education.
4. Complete An Accredited MSN/NP Program
The next step on your agenda is finding an MSN/NP program that allows you to become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner.
There are plenty of options when it comes to nursing schools, so we recommend doing some thorough research before settling on the option that best fits your needs.
5. Get Your Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Certification
Your last requirement is getting the adequate certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
To receive this certification, you need to be an APRN meeting the following requirements:
- Have a current nursing license valid in the United States
- Have a postgraduate degree from an accredited Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program. This program needs to be accredited either by ACEN (Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing) or CCNE (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education)
- Finish a minimum of 500 clinical hours with faculty supervision from your Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner program
- Complete three comprehensive, separate graduate-level courses in Advanced:
- Pathophysiology and physiology
- Health assessment
- Complete clinical training in at least two types of psychotherapeutic treatment
PMHNP Certification Exam
Before you can pass the exam necessary for this certification, there are a few more things you should know.
First, there’s an examination fee that’s around $400. However, you may be eligible for a discount if you belong to certain nursing associations.
The exam itself consists of a 3.5-hour test, and the test itself has 175 multiple-choice questions. Out of those, 150 are scored. The rest are used for statistical analysis of performance.
The PMHNP exam questions will examine your knowledge in areas including:
- Ethical and legal principles
- Psychotherapy and relevant theories
- Diagnosis and treatment
- Advanced practice skills
- Science foundation
Continuing Education For Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners
In every state that you’re licensed in, you will have some kind of CEU hourly requirements.
The specific continuing education requirements vary depending on the state of licensure.
However, NPs usually have to fulfill a minimum of 75 hours of continuing education in their specialty area.
Remember, even though you’ll be working in an APRN role, you also need to maintain your base RN certification. To renew your RN license, you’ll have to:
- Fill out the appropriate application
- Complete the designated number of CEU hours
- Pay the required fee
The specifics of these general requirements depend on your state. Make sure to research what the local board of nursing has to say about license renewal in your state.
Becoming a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner is a great choice if you’re looking to advance your nursing career and help those with a mental health disorder.
The position also pays nicely, though your salary will vary depending on where you live.
If you’re interested in becoming a PMHNP, you’ll want first have to get your BSN.
Then, you’ll need to look into getting your MSN or DNP.
It will take some hard work, but the benefits will definitely be worth it! To get the process started, search for a nursing degree program now!
Sherri Perry, MHA, MSN, APRN is a freelance healthcare content writer and owner of Sherri Perry Health Communications LLC. Her extensive knowledge as a nurse practitioner in behavioral health as well as executive organizational leadership allows her the expertise to write compelling articles that both inform and engage readers.